Blu-Ray Review: Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1

The original, the classic and potentially the best series of Pokemon is here courtesy of Manga Entertainment UK’s release of Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1; but what can you expect from this Blu-ray release of the series? Well let’s take a closer look.

Synopsis:

Take a trip back to the very beginning, when the adventures were just getting started! Explore the world of Pokémon with 10-year-old Ash Ketchum and his partner, Pikachu, as they aim for Ash’s ultimate goal: becoming a Pokémon master.

Our View:

Watching Manga Entertainment UK’s Blu-Ray release of Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1 is like travelling back in time to 1999 as it brings back that nostalgia of watching episodes on a weekly basis via ITV’s early morning Saturday show SM:TV Live; albeit without the addition of commercial breaks or watching Ant and Dec doing battle in Pokemon themed outfits. So with this being said do the episodes contained within Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1 manage to survive the ‘test of time’ in its new upscaled HD format? The obvious answer is yes; but not just from a nostalgia perspective but more from a story perspective.

As of late the Pokemon series have begun to become stale with each new series aimed at promoting (and selling) a new range of games, toys and merchandise. The same was true for the original series of Pokemon however the major difference is that we saw Ash Ketchum, the protagonist of the series, learn to become a Pokemon trainer through the wisdom of his new found friends Misty, the youngest sister of the Cerulean City Gym leaders, and Brock, the oldest brother of the Pewter City Gym. By watching these three interact on a (as then) weekly basis we saw Ash grow as a character and develop bonds with his Pokemon – some of which were obtained/caught through rather deep and thought provoking moments – while at the same time striving to reach his dream of becoming a Pokemon Master. Of course Ash may be the protagonist but we also see support characters Misty and Brock develop in their own unique ways with each one overcoming their own personal issues.

For instance in the episode ‘Charmander – The Stray Pokemon’ Ash befriends the fire type pokemon Charmander who has been abandoned by his trainer in the forest. If this wasn’t already a ‘challenging’ storyline viewers are also treated to the prospect of a Pokemon dying; something which (nowadays at least) is rarely mentioned in Pokemon. Another episode meanwhile, entitled Pokemon Shipwreck, sees a funeral take place at sea for people who were not able to escape the sinking ship and presumed dead. It’s these ‘dark tones’ that have gone missing within the newer ‘happier’ generations of Pokemon and – as an adult – gives these episodes a completely different meaning to when I watched them as a child nearly two decades ago. The same can also be said for Team Rocket who, while they still continue to try and capture Pikachu, their plans within the original series effect everyone rather than a single person or a small group of people.

This ‘Indigo League’ collection dubbed Indigo League – Season 1, consists of fifty-two episodes of the original Pokemon TV series in English and is presented in its original US broadcast order which, as a result, means we do not receive the entire ‘Indigo League’ but more of a large portion of it. The ‘complete’ Indigo League consists of 78 episodes but as this set follows the original US TV broadcast, which was separated into 52 (Season 1) and 26 (Season 2) episodes, we only receive a portion of the Indigo League story. It can be confusing to understand but basically this set does not have the complete Indigo League and as such the final episode ends shortly after ash claims his seventh gym badge.

It’s a real shame that we do not have the ‘full’ Indigo League collection but I mostly suspect that The Pokemon Company is to blame by sticking with the original TV broadcast rules rather with than complete collection for this particular season. For comparison the only ‘English Speaking’ set I can think of that featured the ‘entire’ Indigo League in a single collection is the 2014 US DVD set, and even digital streaming editions of ‘Indigo League’ (which is what this set is based off) use the 52 episode format rather than the complete collection of episodes. It is a shame; but I guess it can’t be helped.

Of course it goes without saying that this ‘Indigo League’ collection isn’t short of episodic content as with over twelve hours across five Blu-ray discs we’ve got plenty to watch. As briefly mentioned this Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1 set follows Ash Ketchum as he begins his journey to become a Pokemon Master and during this journey he makes new lifetime friends, encounters new enemies and battles endless amounts of other Pokemon. It’s a journey which sees a young immature boy develop with friends to form a lasting bond with friends and Pokemon alike and despite the shows age it still manages to stand up exceptionally well… nostalgia perhaps but still good fun to watch even two decades later.

Extras:

This Blu-Ray release of Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1 does not feature any bonus content; however the ‘PokeRap’ has been left intact at the end of each episode with all 150 Pokemon being covered after five or six episodes (each episode features a PokeRap song with 25 Pokemon being mentioned).

It is a shame that these ‘PokeRap’ segments were not included as a separate bonus feature, or even as a full song like the US release does, but at least this small ‘blast from the past’ is retained in some shape or form. Speaking of the US version the US release also comes with an artwork gallery; which is another bonus feature that is absent from this UK authored release.

For those wondering the alternative Pokemon songs, such as ‘Two Perfect Girls’ and ‘Viridian city’, that took place at the end of each episode are not included in this Indigo League – Season 1 set as these were originally shown in later seasons of the Pokemon anime.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x5
Region: B
Running Time: 4:06:05 (Disc 1), 4:06:04 (Disc 2), 3:43:40 (Disc 3 & 4), 3:43:31 (Disc 5)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: LPCM 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: N/A
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Nostalgia can play an important role in clouding someone’s judgment and some may say that is what this Blu-Ray release of Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1 has on them. For me it is hard to say but watching Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1 did feel like a breath of fresh air when compared to the more recent Pokemon: The Series X&Y as well as Pokemon: The Series Sun & Moon. I can’t give a definitive explanation as to why I feel this way; but the storylines, the events and the battles felt more sincere and offer stories that we wouldn’t usually see in recent times of the franchise.

In the case of this Blu-Ray release of Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1 we see fifty-two episodes across five Blu-Ray discs in English dubbed form and presented to us in the original US TV broadcast order. As mentioned the number of episodes does mean we miss out on the actual ‘indigo league’ itself but as a story we do see Ash Ketchum embark on his Pokemon journey to catch Pokemon and beat several gym leaders within Kanto. This quest to be the best (that ever was) sees him make new friends, overcome obstacles and defeat rivals through episodic events – some of which feel refreshingly different (Battle of SS Anne, Squirtle Squad, Charmander – The Stray Pokemon to name a few).

In regards to the Blu-ray discs and presentation then unfortunately I have a few issues to report; mainly due to how basic it is. For starters the High Definition upscale is nice but I occasionally saw some interlacing issues (a bit like NTSC to PAL conversion scan lines) on several episodes. It’s not noticeable from a distance (more than 3 metres on a 50” LED TV) and is mostly noticable on the opening sequence; but still noticeable all the same. Additionally episodes only have two chapter markings (i.e. Start and Middle) so it is impossible to skip the opening without jumping halfway into an episode. Speaking of half-way into an episode the ‘Who’s that Pokemon’ segment has been removed; which is also true to the Digital HD variations that are available for purchase on Streaming platforms. Finally the disc menus are extremely bare and basic which leaves a lot to be desired; and thats before we mentioned about the lack of supplementary bonus features (which is nonexistent for those asking).

Overall Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1 is a barebones release that focuses on the fifty-two episodes from the Indigo League rather than presentation and quality. Sure enough the content is ‘good enough’ but the lack of episodes (in terms of the remaining Indigo League episodes), chapter markings and bonus materials (when compared to the US counterparts) is disappointing. On a positive note over twelve hours of Pokemon action awaits and an original story that far outweighs those released nowadays is what is in store.Newcomers or fans alike this was the best generation of Pokemon and it still holds up exceptionally well today; especially so with the new upscaled HD transfer on this Blu-ray set… It’s just a shame that is feels incomplete.

Score: review-stars-3

Pokemon: Indigo League – Season 1 will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD from the 30th October 2017 within the UK.

Advertisements

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: