Watching Pokemon on TV in the evenings after school is a staple childhood memory that most of us share. Admit it – we’ve all fantasized about collecting and loving our own team of Pokemon, marrying different types and their strengths and weaknesses. Nintendo games only added to the experience. However, maturation has ensured that we cannot be traced.
This latest Netflix special goes back in time, following Ash and Pikachu as they battle evil teams on a mission to create a new world order. The Arceus Chronicles is a deliciously nostalgic watch, stunning animation work, and a transporting experience into the magical world of Pokemon.
The plot is set in the Sinnoh region, one of the four cores in the Universe. Researchers Ash and Goh come to town to investigate the legend of Arceus. What they don’t know is that they are in for a surprise in the form of an adventure to stop Team Galactic.
Their plan to bring back their boss Cyrus from another dimension wreaks havoc in the city. Team G plans to use Heatran, a legendary Pokemon, to unlock its dimension, forcing an Alpha Pokemon—the first of its kind—to enter.
Pokemon specials have been few and far between. Often these specials are dull and unattractive with unnecessary exposition and exploration of the region. “Arceus Chronicles” has it sorted though. A runtime of just over an hour in the shade is perfect. Complex installation is completely avoided, leaving only the lightest plot for construction.
About a few minutes after Ash and Goh meet Dawn and Brock, we see the central conceit of the plot: Heatran. This special should be considered as one of the many popular sagas in Arceus legend. Because other than that, there’s hardly anything to watch here.
Such continuity exists outside of black space. The Ultimate series is not affected by this in any way. But Arceus Chronicles, which addresses the runtime issue, perhaps leaves the story a bit vulnerable. Some things seem too random and the synergy of the story and characters is unbalanced.
For example, the rivalry between the trio was a waste of time as it didn’t get us anywhere. The Pokemon they caught had to be released a few minutes after being caught as part of the hunt. We wasted a good ten minutes on this, which could have been used to bolster the plot instead.
Things like Brock/Cynthia’s unrequited romance, Team Galactica’s whimsy, and Mount Coronet going berserk would have flourished in a full-season setting. This build would be useful for avid viewers. In Arceus Chronicles, these are very random. Their effects are reduced. The creators’ focus remains on showcasing the genius visual effects that have improved greatly over the years. The rougher parts have been ironed out while retaining the vintage look and feel of the originals.
Heatra’s fire flash version looked so awesome and unique that it brought us back to the days when we watched Charizard go out of control in the same way. Credit must be given to the animators for bringing the story to life quite well. Watching Arceus himself was the defining moment. We have only seen the legendary Pokemon in video games and hardly any TV series before that. It was as if Jesus himself had come down to help mortals and left them in his stardom.
Reconciling these strengths and weaknesses of Arceus Chronicles is somewhat difficult for the viewer. This is a fun experience if you’re a true fan of the Pokemon series that isn’t tied to the objective. But if you don’t have the last part, the special can seem a little boring. Great visuals and animation, but lackluster plot and ‘oomph’ factor.