Review Copy provided by the distributor.
19 Years ago Pokemon USA, along with help from 4Kids Entertainment, unleashed the English dub of Japan’s ever-popular Pocket Monsters Anime in North America, and almost 20 years later the original series is still being watched by millions of kids and adults alike.
This new Blu-ray release thanks to the help of Viz Media, is a wonderful way of returning to the first 52 episodes of the much-beloved series and dub. Let’s jump right into things. This release is a 6 disc set containing 9 episodes each. Every episode is now watchable in 1080p HD making them look better than ever. Having just recently binged through the original series, the restoration done for this set is beautiful. The hand-painted backgrounds still maintain their original look, but look way sharper and clearer, making this one of the best ways to watch the original series.
The presentation is very nice. The box containing the Blu-ray itself is very nice to look at. The outer casing is shaped like a Pokedex, although opening up still reveals a bulky, but nice looking light blue case. Each disc has its own attract menu showing snippets of which episodes are contained on it. All the episodes also contain their original bumpers from when they first aired on TV. It’s a little touch, but seeing those we’ll be right back bumpers and the 4Kids logo during the credits brings back a strange sense of warm nostalgia. Also, yes, the Pokerap is still there for your viewing pleasure. Speaking of the Pokerap, it was a great addition to get the full U.S and U.K versions of the rap as a special feature.
Now if this just came with Season 1 restoration of Indigo League, it’d already make for a fun package, but Viz added a couple of other treats to this package; alongside the 6 disc set, the package also comes with the first 4 chapters of the ever popular Pokemon Adventures Manga, as well as a cookbook recipe for Sweet Potato Pikachu. Aside from those 2 additions, the real special features included on the disc are a bit of a disappointment. On top of the 2 different versions of the Pokerap, each disc comes with a small Who’s That Pokemon Slideshow containing at least 3 Pokemon per disc. It’s nothing exciting and is pretty bare bones. If they really want to attach some cool Special Features, it’d be great to see the aired once and never again episode Beauty and the Beach. Cast interviews with the original voices could also be a fun addition.
At the end of the day, Pokemon Season 1 Champion’s Edition is a great buy for Pokefans old and new. These episodes look better than ever thanks to digital restoration, and having the original dub and bumpers together will make this set even more special if you grew up watching the series during its original airing. This collection runs from around $45-$70, so it’s definitely worth the pickup.
FINAL SCORE: ★★★★☆