#1 Back to the Pokémon roots
The Pokémon anime began airing in 1997 and is still seeing new iterations and continuous success to this very day. Not only are there over a THOUSAND episodes of the original anime, we are rapidly approaching a thousand unique Pokémon as well. Exciting for fans, but daunting to casual viewers.
“There are too many Pokémon nowadays” and “the anime is too long” are the complaints I have heard most frequently, but others have also expressed that the designs of the Mons is too different now or even that the artstyle of the entire series has changed for the worse. There are arguments to be had there, but Origins, as its name implies, caters to exactly those people by providing a new story in the setting of the first season.
The original 151 Pokemon, the familiar Kanto regions and its iconic characters, and a visual style that nicely balances the ’90s look and feel with a modern touch. It’s refreshingly old school, while still feeling new and refined. This direction should appeal to old coots like myself, while also staying interesting for the modern fan who can appreciate a focused side-story.
#2 Fight animation
Animation quality has improved tremendously over the years, as has people’s perception of how Pokémon should look. Even at the time, the animation of Pokémon wasn’t always the best or the most intense, so it makes me very happy that the original story is given a second chance to shine now.
Battles are dynamic and full of little details that make each Pokémon feel just right. A little Ratata dashes its way up the body of an Onix like the swift little pest that it is, a Gengar dissipates into smoke as a normal-type’s tackle passes through it, the anime is full of such careful details. The directing work also makes these battles feel faster and more impactful than ever before. Even as an adult who has long ago lost interest in Pokémon, this was just plain cool to watch.
#3 Reverence for the retro games
Those who played and fondly remember Pokémon Red, Blue, or Yellow will find that Pokémon Origins is a rollercoaster of nostalgia. Right from the get-go the anime starts on a lavish recreation of Professor Oak’s opening speech, and references like that do not let up.
The anime is not a remake of the original series and, in fact, outright distances itself from it. The most obvious example of this is that Pokémon don’t speak at all. They don’t repeatedly shout their own names and instead have beastly grunts and roars like the old sound-effects. Similarly, this is not a remake of Ash’s story and it instead follows video game protagonist Red. This means we finally get a proper adaptation of interesting chapters like Lavender Town, The Elite 4, and the age-old rivalry, which were altered beyond recognition in the anime from the 90’s.
There were so many moments throughout Origins where I got a rush of nostalgia, especially in regards to the soundtrack and sound-design. It honestly made me feel like playing the game again sometime and seeing where the series is at right now.