“Now, before I start this one, I want to make something very clear- there are some chapters I cannot do. The entire final volume, “Surf’s Up, Pikachu,” apparently ran in very, very limited quantities, and as such, is GODDAMN EXPENSIVE. My collection of the first 3 tankobons probably cost about $10. By itself, “Surf’s Up, Pikachu” costs about $65. So, unless I win the lottery by the time I finish tankobon 3, it’s not happening.”
-This very blog, September of 2012
Thank you, ValcorXanthos23 from Amazon. You’ve made me a liar, and I couldn’t be happier.
So, if you’ve been reading this blog’s spotty updates for a while, you may recall a retrospective review of the Electric Tale of Pikachu manga. As the quote above indicates, however, the review was forced to cut off with the third volume out of four thanks to financial reasons. The last chapter of the third volume and the entirety of the fourth were skipped, and I called it a day.
I thought I would never get my hands on a copy of the final volume. I saw the price, balked, and walked away. Initial value plus time almost always equals a higher value, right?
But there are some things that happen unexpectedly. And sometimes, people aren’t out to make as much money as possible- just to sell something they have at a reasonable price. And sometimes, bloggers are in exactly the right place at the right time with the right amount of cash, and magical things happen.
…Ahem. I may have gotten carried away there. Shall we carry on to the review proper? Snazzy.
So, a quick refresher on what EToP is, where we are, and what my opinions were. The Electric Tale of Pikachu is a manga adaptation of the Pokémon anime written by Toshihiro Ono, a hentai artist. It’s better than it sounds, thanks to its many artistic and storyline differences between it and the anime that give it more of a sense of progress than the anime. It’s not without its quirks, though- my biggest complaints are a lack of focus on the captures or the most important battles of the series, as well as a few jokes that are a bit too… risque for the target audience. Or at least uncomfortable to hear coming from and being directed at ten-year-olds.
Overall, however, it’s a good series that gives a fresh coat of paint to some of the anime’s ideas. Like, for example, The Kangaskhan Kid is my least-favorite episode of the show so far. EToP integrates elements of that plot into their strongest chapter in the Indigo League.
As of the most recent chapter I reviewed, Ash finds himself in the Indigo League, but loses to Ritchie, a trainer that he befriends as the League continues. His loss comes from a technical glitch that prevents Ritchie from recalling his own Charizard during their match. The significance of this? Ash’s Charizard was seconds away from killing it. Blood from the neck and everything. The manga’s hardcore.
There’s more to it than that, of course, and you can read the full review here. But all you need to know to just jump in here is that Ash lost his battle to Ritchie, and struck out to train by himself. Segue’ing into the final chapter of Electric Pikachu Boogaloo…
Chapter 14: The Orange Islands
Holy crap, that name. That chapter name brings back a lot of memories.
For the uninitiated, the Orange Archipelago (or Orange Islands for people who hate typing that word out) was a filler arc from the anime that stretched about thirty episodes. Well, I say filler arc. What I mean is that it was a sort of in-between arc while Game Freak finished Gold and Silver. I didn’t mean to imply that nothing happens here- Ash catches a Snorlax and Lapras, gets Charizard to listen to him, battles a (kind of) League Champion… Oh, yeah, and I guess Tracey was a thing.
The Orange Islands arc is usually brushed aside by fans, though, given its lack of an in-game counterpart, coming in between two of the most beloved generations of the series, and its lack of Brock, but it isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. Give it a look on Pokémon TV when it comes around. Or buy the overpriced, stripped-down DVD.
With that, I’ll just drop this off here:
And we can begin.
So, the very first thing we’re greeted with is Ash and Pikachu flying on a blimp to Valencia, largest of the Orange Islands. We’re treated to a number of crowded but superfluous panels before Ash registers for the League. Also, side note- on the panel before Ash does this is a poster for the Orange League, and I swear I’ve seen the guy holding the Poké Ball before. His face and hair are ringing all kinds of bells, but I just can’t place it. Maybe you guys can do better:
Anyway, Ash notes out loud that the closest gym is on Mikan Island before he’s stopped by three local trainers who proceed to talk a big game, challenge Ash to a battle, and get curb-stomped almost instantly. I’d like to draw attention to Hitmonchan here, because it looks kind of like Groot. Typical Toshihiro Ono Pokémon artwork- very different from the base Sugimori art, but not in a bad way at all.
But notes on the artwork aside, this chapter feels very filler-ish so far. I mean, we’re six pages in, and nothing of consequence has happened. Until Ash misses the ferry, though. Probably would have gotten there faster if it wasn’t for that battle. He’s got an hour to kill, so he and Pikachu screw around on the beach for a while.
A page later, Pikachu wakes Ash up from a nap, and leads him to a Lapras under assault by a veritable army of Krabby. Ash decides to think tactically, and instead of just having Pikachu do what it always does to its problems, has Squirtle wash all the Krabby away with Hydro Pump. Common sense says they’d come back pissed, but there aren’t enough pages for that.
Ash attempts to capture it in order to bring it to a Pokémon Center, but it throws a fit whenever he approaches. Deciding that it must be nervous around humans, he has Pikachu negotiate it into the Ball.
Back at the Center, Nurse Joy comments that Lapras aren’t supposed to be in the area around this time of year, and that it might have been separated from its school. She then suggests that Ash take it with him, which he seems shockingly unenthused about. Possibly due to the fact that Pokémon he uses more often got less of an introduction than Lapras has.
Now, granted. It’s nice to see EToP try and fix my biggest bit of frustration that I have with it. But really, given that the series only has one volume to go, it feels a bit hollow. Especially considering that Lapras never gets used in battle.
So, anyway, Ash misses the ferry again. He figures out that he can use Lapras to Surf himself around, an idea that Lapras isn’t too thrilled about until Pikachu talks to it again, and it’s suddenly raring to go. And with that, Ash sets sail for his next adventures.
…You know, after the League two-parter, a breather episode makes sense. The thing is, this feels tacked-on. Especially considering its placement as the last chapter of Volume 3. Almost nothing of consequence happens over the first six pages, then there’s nine pages that introduce a new character. And yeah, it could be treated as an epilogue. For years, that’s how I had to see it. But ultimately, this chapter is… Kind of a disappointment. Barely anything.