Pokemon Generations Review: Episodes 3 and 4

When Pokemon’s newest series, Pokemon Generations, released on YouTube a few weeks ago, it was met with high acclaim. Each episode centers around stories and plot points that were never expanded on in the games. Many fans gravitated toward the newfound focus away from the franchise’s main canon, despite each episode only lasting around 5 minutes. This week, episodes 3 and 4 were released, so you’re probably wondering whether they stood up to the promise of the series’ first two parts. Let’s take a look at how each played out.

Episode 3 revolves around Blue’s mysterious rise to the top of the Elite 4. In Pokemon Red and Blue, your rival (Blue) awaits you as the final challenge to overcome once you take down the Elite 4. Yet there is never any mention of how he took down such stiff competition to claim that spot. Throughout the episode, a smugly confident Blue crushes the first 3 members of the Pokemon League with ease before reaching Lance. After a spirited effort from Lance’s Dragonite, Blue’s Blastoise proves too much, winning the match and awarding him the title of Pokemon Champion. As Blue revels in the glory of his accomplishment inside a dark room, a door bursts open. Our longstanding protagonist Red has finally arrived for the final battle we all remember fondly from the games.

There’s a lot to love and a lot to be desired from this particular installment of Pokemon Generations. Each battle scene features short snippets of tense action. Unfortunately, they aren’t long enough to develop any real climax. While each encounter highlights the diversity of the Elite 4, exploring the backgrounds of each of these leaders would have added depth to the story. Still, the cinematics are well-executed and memorable, from the opening scene of the four leaders scheming against Blue to the ending where he sits on a throne in the dark. I also enjoyed the choice to not show the end of each match, as it draws us to imagine ourselves how the events unfolded.

In the fourth episode, we follow Lance as he raids Team Rocket’s headquarters. His mission: find and destroy the source of a “radiowave” that’s causing Pokemon to evolve unnaturally. The real hero of this episode is Lance’s Dragonite, who wipes out a slew of Team Rocket minions before they meet the final boss. Yet even the head honcho’s Weezing is no match for Lance’s well-trained Dragonite. They then dismantle the electrical radiowave currencies, setting a herd of enslaved Electrodes free. The episode ends as Laance watches on while the legendary Red Gyrados from Pokemon Gold and Silver – itself a victim of the radiowave epidemic – swims freely in the Lake of Rage.

What makes this segment intriguing is that we learn more about Lance. We empathize with his disdain for cruelty against Pokemon. We fear the power of his dominant Dragonite as it carves through Team Rocket. The setting, however, was a bit too uninspired for my taste. Most of the games involve your character storming the enemy squad’s hideout, looking to defeat the perpetrators of evil. This felt like another round of that familiar set-up with Lance as the main character. Growing up, I always wondered about that Red Gyrados and how it evolved with red skin. While this series provides an answer, that answer is vague and unsatisfying, leaving me wishing they focused on that mystery more than the Team Rocket face-off. Finally, there was a brief cameo from Johto protagonist Gold as the accomplice to Lance’s mission. I wish the episode visited his character more, as he is largely unknown outside of a few unofficial Pokemon episodes.

The verdict? Both episodes are worth a watch. They reel you in with sustained action and nostalgic references. Just don’t expect your burning questions about the games to be answered in full. While each episode provides us a new perspective for the Kanto and Johto regional timelines, the lack of character development hurts the overall unraveling of each tale. With more time, this need could be fulfilled. However, we’ll have to settle for these small, brilliant glimpses into the recesses of Pokemon’s ever-expanding universe.