Story/Art: Momota Inoue
Original Concept: satoshi Tajiri
Script: Hideki Sonoda
Translation: Adrienne Beck
Editor: Hope Donovan
What They Say:
The Kingdom of the People of the Vale once ruled over the land, but now all that remains is the Sword of the Vale in the city of Eindoak. Ash, Iris, and Cilan arrive in Eindoak during a harvest festival’s Pokemon Tournament and meet the legendary Pokemon Victini, who wishes to share its powers of victory with someone.
Elsewhere in the city, a descendant of the People of the Vale named Damon has arrived who seeks to revive the kingdom’s power with the Sword of the Vale, bringing them back into power over the land. Ash and his friends must stop him before he destroys the land along with Victini!
Though Inoue doesn’t have a long list of prior works, the artist shows some technical skill in this manga, with clean art and expressive characters. Backgrounds are too bland, with few details beyond some trees and bushes. The character designs of course look very similar to the anime, but thankfully Inoue still gives us characters that are fluid and full of life.
Content (Please note that the content portion of reviews my contain spoilers.)
Ash and friends find a lonely creature named Victini who has been trapped n the town of Eindoak for a thousand years. Damon, a descendant of the People of the Vale, has been chosen by the Legendary Pokemon Reshiram to restore his people to their rightful land, and Victini is the key to doing that, but it comes at a terrible cost to the poor Pokemon. Ash is determined to save Victini and bring it happiness, but he might need the help of another Legendary Pokemon to do it.
Pokemon the Movie White: Victini and Zekrom is pretty standard fare for a Pokemon story, amped up to a slightly more epic scale for a stand alone tale. There are a lot of legends coming suddenly to life in this one, and it’s a little irritating how everyone instantly buys into the highly unbelievable circumstances, and that problems get solved by magic dreams that Ash has, but for the sake of the pace it’s pretty useful. For the most part the story moves along smoothly as Ash and co. head to a new town for Pokemon battles, becoming fast friends with Victini and the other townspeople. It starts to snarl up at the end when a bunch of disasters occur at once as everyone struggles to battle Reshirim and the dragon force, a crazy black lightning type element, begins tearing up the planet. It called for the occasional rereading of a page, but in the end I found it simpler to just roll with it
While there are some new characters just for this story, a good portion of the cast comes from the anime. Even with the character intros at the beginning of the book, there isn’t much information provided for newcomers to help them get to know the characters. This generally isn’t a problem, as their two-dimensional traits work in their favor, making it simple to figure out their personalities and motives. The manga of course has the token Team Rocket. Having absolutely no direct interaction with Ash or anyone else in the story, the trio shows up in a handful of panels for no other purpose than to be there, reminding me of why I bailed on the anime years ago.
Most of the new characters fall a little flat, as most of them fail to do anything more important than convey information. The most effective character is Damon, the man who wants to restore his people’s homeland, but even his characterization doesn’t quite make it. Nothing is explained about why he feels it’s so important that everyone returns to the homeland, and without understanding the motive it’s hard to reconcile his kind, decent personality with his callous handling of Victini and his harsh reaction when his own family tries to stop him. He does make a full arc, realizing his mistakes and ultimately rectifying them, but his character is still choppy.
This Pokemon manga is by no means terrible. The story is cute and easy to read, and there are many a Pokemon fan who will enjoy flipping through it. But it relies too much on prior knowledge of the current TV series for newcomers to get really attached, and since it’s based on a movie that’s already in existence this manga is only really good for the Pokemon fan that must have everything, or at least doesn’t feel like watching the movie.
Content Grade: C
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 8+
Released by: Viz Media
Release Date: March 6th, 2012