Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pokémon Gold and Silver Adventures, Volume 9 by Hidenori Kusaka, Art by Mato

Gold has been attacked in the Ilex Forest while attempting to rescue a Charcoal Burner and his FarFetch'd. But his attacker is wearing a mask, and as Gold attempts to uncover who the villain is by having Aibo pull off the mask, he gets into a fight with the mystery trainer, who apparently is waiting for a shrine hidden in the forest to light up. But when the shrine lights up in the middle of their fight, Gold's attack prevents the mystery trainer from getting to the shrine in time. All Gold is left with is some gold dust from beneath the trainer's cloak, and the satisfaction of rescuing the charcoal burner and his Pokémon.

Meanwhile, he has arrived at Goldenrod City, but without any money. During the night, he is attacked by a Smeargle, and his face is painted. Gold chases it into the city and runs into a radio promoter doing a program in the city. He invites Gold, whose Pokémon have shown excellent teamwork, to be on the program. But at the program is the same Smeargle who painted his face, and his fight with it attracts the attention of Professor Mary, who is also doing a program there, and the Gym leader of Goldenrod City, Whitney, who gave Professor Mary the Smeargle. Gold and Whitney agree to a Pokémon bike race, but when the path is blocked by a huge tree, Whitney is kidnapped by a rampaging Rhydon and Gold and his Pokémon must rescue her, aided by the "tree", a Pokémon known as a Sudowoodo.

But afterwards, when Gold is napping beneath a tree, another Pokémon tries to steal the egg, and Gold's Pokémon try to get it back, causing it to hatch into a Togepi. Elm is happy to hear that it hatched, but all it seems to be able to do is play cards, pool and other games of chance, which make Elm tell Gold he's turned it into a juvenile Delinquent! He tells Gold to take it to the Pokémon Day Care Center, where it was found, and show it to the old couple who discovered the Egg. Unfortunately, they can't help with describing the creatures that laid it, but the old woman tantalizes Gold with the promise of special training for his Pokémon., and he decides to stick around for a bit.

Meanwhile, the old man calls a girl named Jasmine to come see the hatched egg, as she has been interested in it from the beginning. Gold is shoved into a cage to fight several highly evolved Pokémon, while the old woman gives him fighting tips. Gold's Cyndaquil evolves into a Quillava, and Gold can see the benefits to the training. But Ecruteak city has been hit by an Earthquake, and the old couple sends Gold to the city to see if he can find Jasmine, who would have had to pass through the city to come to the Daycare Center. She also gives him a King's Rock, saying it may come in handy.

Jasmine is definitely in Ecruteak city, trapped in one of the buildings. But not only is Gold on his way to find her, but Silver has also heard the news and come to investigate. Jasmine asks her Pokémon Ampharos to send out a signal, and it pulses with light, ensuring Gold sees it. He and Silver make it to the tower to rescue Jasmine, who is at the very top of the place known as Tin Tower. Silver pulls her out of the rubble and sends her off with the Ampharos, while the two of them are trapped in the tower as it collapses. Gold sees a statue in the tower of something called a Ho-oh, and he and Silver must trade Pokémon, including Gold's Poliwag, who has tranformed into a Poliwhirl, and now becomes a Politoed, whose power gets them out of the tower.

But no natural forces were behind the earthquake in Ecruteak. Instead, it was team Rocket and their Piloswine, whose burrowing and ramming took down the town and the tower. They want the Ho-oh, but Gold and Silver fight off Team Rocket and defeat them, causing them to flee. Afterwards, Gold realizes Silver is deeper than he thought, and challenges him to a friendly competition of Pokémon battles to learn about the Ho-oh and what Silver is up to. Silver accepts, and takes a one Pokémon handicap, because he is a better trainer than Gold. But surprisingly, Gold fights him to a standstill, and Silver must resort to using an extra Pokémon to win. In return, Silver acknowledges that Gold could have easily won, and tells him that the Ho-oh is a legendary Pokémon said to nest in the Tin tower, and that Team Rocket destroyed the tower to try and force the Ho-oh to return so that they could try and capture it. As for Silver, his job is to crush Team Rocket. That's what he's there for. Then, he must leave, and Gold now has even more questions.

Gold follows Silver to a lake, which is suddenly full of Gyarados. One of them, a red Gyarados, is sending out a signal that is causing all the Magikarp to evolve. Gold captures the red Gyarados, and succeeds in holding off the others, but Silver sees who is behind all this frenzy, the same trainer who attacked Gold in the Ilex forest, one with control over cold. As this trainer reveals his or her secret past with Silver, the two trainers will have to evade both the mystery trainer's gibes and powerful Pokémon. And meanwhile, far away, the trainer known as Red battles for the leadership of the Viridian gym. But can his weakened arms and legs hold him up through the battles? And can he prevail against a swarm of wild Pokémon attacking the gym, along with the help of Blue, Yellow and Fisherman? And can his arms and legs ever be healed properly?

Another excellently done Pokémon book. Now, the writer is mixing up Heartgold and Soulsilver with the characters from Earlier games like Red and Blue and Yellow, and even Misty and Brock show up. Not having played the game, I can't comment on how much Red resembles Ash and his rival Blue looks like Gary from the Old Pokémon TV series, and is also Professor Oak's nephew, just like Gary was. Are these the game versions of the TV characters? Red doesn't have a Pikachu, but still...

Since Team Rocket was disbanded in an earlier game, here they are once again being set up as villains, who are being gathered by one of the Gym leaders. As yet, we don't know who it is, but we are given clues. One is the mystery trainer's control over cold, and the fact that Red was hurt by a Team Rocket member with the same kind of control over cold. But who could it be? And Gold, with his designation as "Heart" over Silver's "Soul", wants to help the person who has become his friendly rival against Team Rocket. It's becoming obvious that this new series is going to drag in every one. But who will be the one who finally takes down the unknown Gym Leader? Gold, Silver, Red, or will they all do it?

This is better in storyline than most of the other Pokémon manga, but again, that isn't saying much. With the other stories of other characters intruding into the Gold and Silver stories, it can be taken that this is the manga with either the most inclusive storyline for other characters, or that the creator didn't feel that the characters of Gold and Silver were able to carry the story on their own, especially as the other characters seem to be getting more page time with each volume. But I am willing to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, I will say that this is recommended to Pokémon fans, and that even people who don't otherwise watch or read it will find it less samey than the other Pokémon books.

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