Title: Pokemon Sword & Shield Manga Vol. 1
Author: Hidenori Kusaka
Release Date: August 10, 2021
Publisher: VIZ Media
I’ll admit, the Pokemon universe has gone beyond my textbook understanding of the original 151 creatures, but I still find myself coming back whenever I can. When it comes to the expanded universe of varied media, the series has a rather extensive list of manga adaptations, and Pokemon Sword & Shield Manga Vol. 1 is just the newest one. Let me preface that this is largely a manga for children, so don’t expect any groundbreaking plot lines.
Pokemon Sword & Shield Manga Vol. 1 introduces us to Marvin who has recently moved to the Galar region and is excited to learn more about the unique Pokemon types and especially the mysterious Dynamax Pokemon. After finding himself in a bit of trouble, he’s saved by Henry Sword and Professor Magnolia. It turns out Casey Shield has been developing a Dynamax Simulator, which was the cause of Marvin’s misfortune.
The story attempts to follow all three characters, but I feel like we are supposed to be Marvin learning the ropes of Pokemon training and this new region. It may seem a little strange that professor Magnolia is just hanging out with a bunch of kids and even asks Marvin, a stranger before this, to join them, but people seem to trust her, so just go along with it.
It turns out Henry and Casey are trying to fight through the gym leaders but to do this, they’ll need a recommendation from a champion. After a few chance encounters, that’s exactly what happens. Everything in the story follows this same pattern, there’s a problem, and the solution lands on their lap. Unfortunately, even one of the epic Dynamax battles doesn’t quite deliver on the action you’d expect.
The rapid-fire plot progression is definitely aimed at younger readers whose attention might drift at times. It works in that regard as the plot is constantly moving forward, but you barely have time to understand the world or characters. We learn a bit about Marvin, but the story needs to slow down a bit. Regardless of the structure, though, the volume is short and sweet and includes various Pokemon within the panels.
The art for the manga is actually pretty good. The characters have well-defined characteristics with lots of shading added. There weren’t too many locations visited, but I think everything had a nice flow to it. I’d like to understand the region more, though, instead of just being in an RV aimlessly driving around until something happens. Hopefully, the future volumes address this.
Pokemon Sword & Shield Manga Vol. 1 provides key details about this new region and the characters who will take us through it. Unfortunately, there are a few too many coincidences used to push the plot, making me want everything to slow down. However, this is a manga for children, and it nails that tone expertly.
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