Pokemon: Black & White, the 14th season of the Pokemon anime series, made its debut on Cartoon Network on February 12, 2011. In this season, Ash Ketchum arrives in the Unova Region. When he first gets there, black clouds suddenly appear, and a lightning bolt hits Pikachu; it's suspected that this bolt came from the legendary Pokemon Zekrom. Ash meets Professor Juniper, as well as meeting his new rival, Trip. In addition to being a Pokemon trainer, Trip is also an amateur Pokemon photographer.
When Ash went to the Unova region, neither Dawn nor Brock came with him. As he starts his journey in Unova, Ash meets two trainers who become his new traveling companions. First is Iris, a wild girl from a village that has many Dragon-type Pokemon. Iris' main Pokemon is the Dragon-type Pokemon Axew.
The other is Cilan, an A-Class Pokemon Connoisseur and a Gym Leader in the Unova League with his brothers; however, he decides to leave his post to join Ash on his journey. Cilan's main Pokemon is Pansage. Team Rocket also make an appearance in Black & White; however, they have been promoted and take on a more serious role than in previous seasons.
Personally, I feel that Black & White is the weakest incarnation of the Pokemon anime series. When you're watching Black & White, it feels as if they tried to do a partial "reboot" of the franchise. However, since it's only a partial reboot, there are things that you find yourself questioning. While this series acknowledges that Ash has had his adventures in the previous regions, he's making mistakes that amateur Pokemon trainers would be making.
Also, at the beginning of Black & White, it's blatantly stated that Ash is 10 years old. However, with all of the adventures he's had in the previous 13 seasons, enough time should have passed that Ash should have aged at least a couple of years by this point.
Another issue I have concerns Team Rocket. In the previous 13 seasons, Jessie, James, and Meowth have been portrayed as bumbling idiots. Also, Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket, had basically tried to disavow their existence by sending them to far-off regions and not giving them any major jobs. However, in Black & White, they have suddenly become some of Giovanni's most trusted members of the team, and have been given the important assignment of infiltrating the Unova region. I really have a hard time using my willing suspension of disbelief for this sudden reversal in Team Rocket's characterization.
I also have been underwhelmed by Ash's new traveling companions. I find both Iris and Cilan to be rather annoying, and have seen very little in the way of character development to make me want to care about them. While Ash has had friction with his female traveling companions, especially Misty, these conflicts were somewhat amusing. His friction with Iris, however, comes across as annoying more than anything else.
It really makes me wish that Brock was still around; even though his continual flirting with just about every female he meets can get a little tiresome, he at least had an interesting character to him. Also, the rivalry with Trip feels rather forced; there has been nothing in the anime for Ash to have any real strong rivalry with Trip.
Several of the early episodes of Black & White felt like retreads of episode ideas from the very early seasons of the Pokemon series. However, as the series has progressed, there's startws to be a little less of the recycled idea feel to the stories.
As I've watched Black & White, I've really come to the conclusion that Pokemon as an anime franchise is running out of steam. While there may be a little more mileage for it as a game franchise, I really am beginning to think that perhaps it's time for the producers in Japan to wrap up the Pokemon anime franchise.
|Pokemon: Black & White||48||2010-2011||Kunihiko Yuyama/Norihiko Sudo||Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions||Pokemon USA, Inc./Viz Media|
|Pokemon the Movie: Black-Victini and Reshiram||N/A||2011||Kunihiko Yuyama||OLM, Inc./Production I.G/Xebec||Pokemon USA, Inc./Viz Media|
|Pokemon the Movie: White-Victini and Zekrom||N/A||2011||Kunihiko Yuyama||OLM, Inc./Production I.G/Xebec||Pokemon USA, Inc./Viz Media|
|Pokemon: Black & White: Rival Destinies||49||2011-2012||Kunihiko Yuyama/Norihiko Sudo||Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions||Pokemon USA, Inc./Viz Media|
|Pokemon the Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice||N/A||2012||Kunihiko Yuyama||OLM, Inc./Production I.G/Xebec||Pokemon USA, Inc./Viz Media|
|Pokemon: Black & White: Adventures in Unova||11||2012-2013||?||Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions||N/A|
|Pokemon: Best Wishes! Season 2: Episode N||14||2013||?||Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions||N/A|