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On this page, I will be documenting differences between the original( American) English volumes of Pokémon Adventures by VIZ Media under their VIZkids imprint, and the new editions published starting in 2009.
When I get the chance, it might also be interesting to compare them to the larger slimmer comic-book-style releases, containing a few chapters each, which preceded the first couple volumes. Maybe when I get my hands on my collection( currently stored at my parents’ house).
The biggest, most immediately obvious, and most important difference is that the re-release is unflipped, and now reads right-to-left in the original Japanese style. While slightly annoying for those unused to it, it doesn’t take too long to become accustomed to and poses little-to-no problem for those of us who have read unflipped manga before. In general this is a big improvement because the correctly-oriented artwork gives the whole thing a much more authentic feeling, for example finally showing Misty’s ponytail on the correct side.
The new books are smaller – judging from the other stuff currently on the shelves at the store, I would say that this is VIZ’s current standard manga size, at least for the VIZkids imprint – incidentally, the VIZ, vk, and vizkids logos are much more prominent on the covers than the old VIZ Graphic Novel label was on the original covers.
There is a new Pokémon Adventures logo, a new style for the volume number indicator, and the Story and Art credits on the front cover are much also more prominent.
The second-most important and notable thing, which makes me very happy, is actually not a change but a lack of one: despite the release of FireRed and LeafGreen, the protagonist’s rival is still called Blue, just as he was in the G/S/C video games and hopefully still will be in HG/SS. I prefer Blue for several reasons: first of all, Blue has been his default name in 2 of the 4 English-language games in which he was nameable, and his set name in all 3 games so far which featured him as a pre-named NPC. Green has only been his default name in ONE English-language game; he has even been Red by default more often. Second, he was/is called Blue in the previous English translations of this manga. The first reasons two add up to it being his most common name in English by far, while the third reason is that it creates a neat little pattern that soothes my obsessive-compulsive side – with him named Blue, Red has the green ‘starter’, Blue has the red one, and Green has the blue one. In Japan, he and Red have each other’s name-color starter, and the girl has her own. :-( Similarly, the series is still called Pokémon Adventures in English rather than Pokémon ☆ SPECIAL.
I have a slight preference that the girl still be called Green when she shows up next volume, but I won’t shed any tears if they call her Leaf – it’s close enough, though the break from the color naming-scheme would be annoying.
A bunch of the stuff from the Volume 1 notes will probably move up to this section once Volume 2 is released and I can buy it to confirm that those things are trends.
The cover is very different, and frankly strikes me as rather bland and less friendly in appearance. The basic color is still blue, but rather darker and with a pattern. The spine is an even darker blue with a different pattern. The front cover art of the new is the back cover art or the first version, but larger and using more subdued colors( inferior in my opinion to the vibrant colors used before), and occupies a much smaller percentage of the cover, leaving much more room for the background pattern, title logo, and huge box containing the Story/Art credits, which, like the pattern, features a sort of digital theme that doesn’t mesh well with the art or the nature of the book. The back cover art is apparently an uncropped version of the Japanese cover art, and looks decent for what it is, despite similar bland coloring. The teaser summary on the back has been reduced from a couple paragraphs to just a few sentences.
There is no sign of the title, Desperado Pikachu, it is simply Pokémon Adventures: Volume One now.
Inside, the paper appears to be somewhat cheaper and flimsier, I don’t know if it’s because they value the title less now or simply because of the bad economy and resultant changes in their standards.
They have also re-done all the sound-effects and background text( they would have to, given that the previous version was flipped); unfortunately all this text now has a lot less character, being of a small, simpler font pool, instead of the old text which was often hand-written/drawn( or at least looked like it) where appropriate, and more artistic; again this is probably due to budgetary reasons and/or the title being afforded less attention. Or maybe the new touch-up/lettering guy is just lazy. It’s a shame he couldn’t simply cut out all the old background/SFX text and paste it back on the unflipped version, though. I won’t be listing most of these changes because they are in just about every panel.
The new letterer( or maybe the editor) also seems to favor using smaller text instead of hyphenating long words, despite how ugly the empty space in many word bubbles is. Narration is now set in italics. Again, I won’t be listing most of these changes because they are pervasive.
The character introduction pages are omitted, meaning everything in the new version has a page number two less than in the earlier edition.( For purposes of comparison, I will treat the table of contents as page 0, so numbers I give will not match up with either edition.)
Rounds, which had been renamed CHAPTERs in the earlier edition( and rightfully so, as “round” only really makes sense in the context of their Japanese titles, which painted each as a fight/battle with a title in the style of “VS. _______”), are named “ADVENTURE”s here( suggesting perhaps that they will introduce the Yellow Saga as “The Second Chapter” and so on afterward, like in Japan/Singapore?), but still keep the same numbers and English titles( though no longer in all caps) they had before.
The extras are included at the end here: The “Coming Soon” page with preview panels from the next volume( even though VIZ also has its own Coming Soon page after all the extras), the Adventure Route Map( I don’t have Chuang Yi volume 1 to compare, but volumes in later sagas included these, so I assume it was there, but, as with everything, they were flipped in Singapore, which could be confusing to players of the games because east and west got swapped. The original VIZ release took special care to unflip panels or graphics with maps most of the time, Chuang Yi does not seem to do so), the Pokédex and team list for the protagonist, and finally the message from the Author, Hidenori Kusaka( in the Chuang Yi versions these are on the inside front flap of the dust jacket, along with a message from the Artist – not sure if VIZ left this out or if Mato just didn’t write one for the first volume).
Inside front cover
The old version has a pattern: a negative image of a wanted poster of Pikachu tiled. The new version has advertising for the publisher’s other manga.
Page opposite inside front cover: The old version has a larger, positive-image version of the wanted poster plastered over the same pattern from the inside cover. The new version simply has the title logo.
- Old version had a note about the original issues that were collected by the volume.
- Greyscale of the front-cover pattern as a background in new edition.
- New PA title logo now center at the top of the page instead of small text title in the print info.
- Text alignment has switched from left to right.
- New credits for: “Miscellaneous Text Adaptation”, “Editor, VIZKIDS Edition”( apparently they have forgotten that the old version was under the VIZkids imprint too, at least internally, judging from the VIZkids logo and URL near the bottom of this page in the first edition), various VPs.
- Different credits for: “Touch-ups & Lettering”, “[Graphics & ]Design”, “Editor[-/ ]in[-/ ]Chief[, Books]” “Sales & Marketing”, “Publisher”
- Interestingly, the copyright on the new version is 2008, but the date for the first printing is June 2009.
- Image of Mew replaced with Pika.
...and other minor changes.
Title page: Old version is nice, a bunch of Pika images crawling around on the graphical title logo for PA v1: DP. New version is nicer: a cool, detailed piece of artwork showing Red with Bulbasaur and the Pokédex and Blue with Charmander and a Poké Ball. You can clearly see those weird back protrusions Charmander had in Green and arguably in Red and Blue.
Character introductions, not included in the new version.
Contents. Old: Black bg with Bulbasaur at the top. New: White bg with Red and Poliwag on the side. Minor changes in the typeface and design.
Old: After the next volume teaser description, there are several pages of ads for other VIZ publications & videos, then the last page is the same as page i. New: After the lame Coming Soon page( VIZ’s) for the next volume, a single page advertising another vizkids Pokémon manga( Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Ginji’s Rescue Team).
Inside back cover
Old: Same as inside front cover. New: a drawing of Mew and instructions on how to read manga right-to-left for anyone who is unfamiliar and opens it the wrong way.
- New sound effect: Red: “TSK TSK”
With the apparent loss of volume titles, I expect it will no longer get the subtitle The Yellow Caballero.
The interesting thing here will be whether they restart round/chapter/adventure numbering from 1 as they did in the first release( I’m guessing no), and whether they split round 45 into two distinctly named/numbered chapters/adventures as before( probably not if they preserve the Japanese numbering, but what will the new title of “ADVENTURE 45” be, then?).
The interesting thing for this saga will simply be if it finally gets published in North America and in English unflipped with a good translation! If it does, I don’t plan on doing in-depth comparisons between this and the Chuang Yi versions, because the English in those translations is terrible, and I am almost certain that VIZ will have an entirely new translation done. You never know, though; they have been a bit cheap with the reissue series already.
Given that HeartGold and SoulSilver will probably still be fairly recent releases in North America then, I would say it has a good chance of release if sales of the series up to that point are decent.
Verdict so far
I would have to say that so far, despite my numerous complaints, the unflipped orientation and editorial changes definitely make this worth picking up for any serious English-language Pokémon manga reader or collector in North America with $8. The old version is still worth a look too, though, for the cooler bg/SFX text and larger size.