Breathe Out - Pokémon: Paldean Winds Episode 1 Review - Go watch this right now!
(Please note: This review contains spoilers. If you haven't watched the episode yet, go watch it now before reading on!)
Paldean Winds tells an original story that still follows the game's core theme of treasure hunting. There are three original characters, all with their own unique personalities and stories, with Ohara being the first focus. Ohara is a talented flutist who has been experiencing burn out and pressure due to parental expectations, with her father being a renowned conductor. The flute has been her life, but she’s unsure if she still has the passion for it. She wants to quit, but is unsure what do with her life afterwards. She’s also been tasked with making a promotional video for the academy with her classmates Aliquis and Hohma, but is trying to find herself before she can help with that. It’s thanks to a chance encounter with Arven, an angry Cetitan and the help of her loyal Fuecoco that she realizes that she loves playing the flute, and that it is her treasure alongside her partner Pokémon. The video is only 11 minutes long, but the way it managed to convey an entire story and message in that amount of time is amazing.
I think Ohara’s story is easy to relate to for those who are following their parents’ footsteps in their respective fields. This got me thinking about how I had no talent for piano despite my mom being a piano teacher. I quit piano as a kid, and spent my childhood wondering what I’d become before finally walking the path of becoming a writer, and here I am as one. Having said that, I still find myself wanting to learn piano again someday.
The animation in this first episode was simply amazing, and they really were immaculate in their attention to detail. There were three scenes that stood out to me in terms of animation. The first is showing off how small Gimmighoul is. It’s a very tiny Pokémon, so for the camera angle to show off how big everything and everyone is compared to its small frame was seriously amazing. The scene with Tinkaton playfully chasing after Corviknight was beautiful as well. They seriously kept to the lore presented in Tinkaton’s Dex entry regarding her history with the Raven Pokémon. I loved the small detail of her holding her trainer’s hand, and then letting it go to chase after the Corviknight. Lastly, everything regarding Glaseado Mountain was seriously high quality. The way Arven was running away from the angry Cetitan was extremely well-animated. Seriously, there’s a reason why WIT Studio is highly praised. On top of that, ufotable, Liden Films, and Studio Hibari were involved in the project too! I think every anime fan knows how well ufotable animates; I’m not too familiar with Liden Films’ or Studio Hibari's anime projects, but they both also have their fair share of quality works.
The original characters have so much personality. Ohara is reserved and unsure of herself. Aliquis keeps to himself, but has a short temper. Hohma is easily excitable and knowledgable. Fuecoco has so much personality as well! The way it is so loyal to Ohara is sweet. It’s a bit childish, but how it still goes the extra mile to find her flute moved my heart. The fact that they went out of their way to give these characters so much life and personality shows the love and care this project has. This also applies to the actual canon characters from the games! Nemona has a small cameo, but her passion for battles still lingers when she gets super excited to teach younger students about Terastal. Arven’s stoic personality shows too, as it’s canon that he doesn’t really involve himself with others unless they help him out. This is applied here, where Arven was just walking by and staring at Ohara, not caring about her situation or what she’s doing on the mountain. He only talks to her after she helps him out, and then they bond a bit over having high status parents; he then tells her to cherish her Fuecoco. Clavell isn’t shown much, but he’s still the same director who cares a lot about his students. I also love the details of the Academy teachers attending Ohara’s band concert alongside Nemona. Seriously, this animated series is super high quality and I’m getting way too emotional over it.
The voice acting is really good too! I actually watched this in both English and Japanese and both sides did a great job in terms of acting. Aside from Pete Zarustica who voices Clavell, most of the English actors are relatively new faces, but they all did an amazing job. I really like Cat Protano’s acting as Ohara in particular. She really nails it. I hope that the other episodes focuses on the other characters because I want to see more!
It's only the first episode, but I think I can safely say that whether you’re a long-time Pokémon fan or a casual anime watcher, Paldean Winds is a definite must-watch! Sadly, unlike Twilight Wings, it seems this anime will only run for a total of four episodes, but that's no excuse to not go and immerse yourself in the beauty that is Paldean Winds.