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Review The Pokemon Journeys Review Thread

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The Pokemon Journeys Review Thread
While Ash's journey might not be over with 11 additional episodes dedicated to concluding Ash's adventure, after three years, Pokemon Journeys has aired its final episode, with the series main run airing from November 17th, 2019 to December 16th, 2022. The series followed the adventures of Ash and Goh (and sometimes Chloe) as Ash competed in the Pokemon World Championship and Goh worked his way towards capturing the Legendary Pokemon, Mew. Taking place during the 8th generation of Pokemon, Journeys opted for a world tour traveling format, instead of focusing on the new at the time Galar Region. The series brought us back to many locations and offered us the chance to reconnect with many characters Ash has met through the years, such as Gary, Iris, Professor Kukui, Champion Cynthia, and even Paul. After these last three years, how do you feel?
 
I feel Ash was handled well here and his goal was new yet innovative. His Pokemon were not mainly gen 8, but provided powerhouses. Goh was also a nice addition being the motto of the series and Pokemon GO. I feel Journeys was great in the travelling aspect and old companions aspect. I can't write down the amount of nostalgia I felt here and how much I screamed over character returns and teases.

However, it failed to make Galar prominent and kinda ruined it. We never got the isle of armour nor did we get to see Pokemon like Calyrex, Galarian Birds and Hisuian Pokemon. Had they included the isle of armour and more galarian locations, we may have seen this happen. At the same time, making the lab Kanto based did little good. Sure, it worked in episode 114 where Ash goes to pallet town, but it was a lot of travelling. I'd have liked to see more connectivity between episodes. Character development for characters like Chloe, Bea, Leon and Pokemon like Dragonite, Dracovish and Grookey were done poorly. We never got dedicated training arcs induvidually for them. I missed that aspect of old series.

All in all, Pokemon Journeys was good, and might I even go as far as to say it's in my second favourite behind XY. I loved seeing my old favourites return and old locations being showcased again in a new manner where Ash navigates them with experience. Sure, it had it's faults with characters, pokemon and development as well as connectivity between episodes, but still proved to be entertaining and provided a new thrill to the anime
 
-2/10

Actually. -20. I could stomach this garbage as I assumed it was temporary, but the way Ash was handled as well as Team Rocket was downright shocking. Knowing this was their last series is something I don't think I could ever accept.
 
While the climax to it was pretty great (at least for the most part) as for the series itself it is one of the biggest mixed bags I've ever come across.

When Journeys hits, it really hits with some great episodes.

When it misses, it misses a little with either the episodes being mediocre or having good ideas but lacklustre execution.

And when it flops, it flops hard, even in some cases being the worst the anime has ever been in years.

I also can't forgive this series for wasting Galar as well and ignoring so many different Pokémon, gym leaders and places too.

All of this is enough for me to give this a 2/5 because while this was a disappointing series with wasted potential in terms of the region hopping format, it does at least have some good episodes to keep it out of the dreaded 1/5 list.
 
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-2/10

Actually. -20. I could stomach this garbage as I assumed it was temporary, but the way Ash was handled as well as Team Rocket was downright shocking. Knowing this was their last series is something I don't think I could ever accept.
I think Ash was handled pretty well. He really embodied all the development he's gone through.
 
On the premise that we’re not being trolled, what a sad note to end Satoshi, Pikachu and the TRio’s main journey on :cry:
This is exactly it. I'd be sad about all of these characters leaving anyway, but I'd be able to stomach it much better if it happened after a better series. Journeys just feels like such a nothing series to end it on and it leaves such a bad taste in my mouth that this of all series' is their last hurrah (assuming that we're not being trolled, like you said). Even if they continue to appear in the new series as side characters or something, the end of their tenure as mains couldn't have been a little better than what we actually got?

Editing to add my series ranking since everyone else is doing it lol:

OS/SM > AG/DP > BW > JN > XY

(Journeys wins over XY because as frustrated as I am with Journeys as a whole it did at least have some good things going for it that I liked. XY on the other hand was such a chore for me to get through; I was so bored 99% of the time. So while I do think Journeys was written worse than XY the few enjoyable parts put it slightly ahead lmao)
 
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Journeys was quite possibly one of the most mixed bag series we've ever gotten. I saw someone say SM felt like a series with purpose that had a few clunkers thrown in, while Journeys felt like a clunker with a few really great episodes thrown in, and to me, that's the perfect way to describe it. There were things I really enjoyed about Journeys, and things I absolutely hated.

PROS: The continuity in Journeys was outstanding; probably better than any other series that came before. We got to see companions, rivals, and other characters we haven't seen in years. I'm a sucker for continuity (it's why XY will always be my least favorite series; the lack of continuity is inexcusable to me) and Journeys was definitely full of it. I was also a fan of the relationship between Ash and Goh. I know Goh gets a lot of hate, and while I do have some criticisms of his character, the chemistry between him and Ash is not one of them. They were really written like two young boys who can sometimes be friendly, sometimes be at each other's throats, and I appreciated that. It was refreshing to see some different sides of Ash we haven't seen in a very long time. The final battle with Leon was easily one of the best in the anime's history and made for a really nice climax to the series.

CONS: Despite the great amount of continuity, it was very poorly done most of the time. A lot of the appearances had no real meaning behind them and the characters were poorly utilized. Also, the fact that some got just cameos during the final battle with Leon was really lame. In addition, the world traveling concept was horribly executed. A vast majority of the series still took place in Kanto, which wasn't even well done, and Galar was completely shafted as the newest region. We missed out on seeing a lot of the new Pokémon which was really disappointing. Goh was also not always very well written. His development often just seemed inconsistent as well as his personality, like the writers couldn't really decide what they wanted him to be. I also feel that the lack of a female companion hurt the series as a whole. Chloe could've been a great third member of the group, but she was also too inconsistently written and included. And I will never understand why Ash didn't use more of his reserves. We got that one Infernape episode that was pretty good, but that was about all the focus the reserves got. And what the hell happened to Team Rocket?? They had such a great run during SM only to get totally neglected during Journeys.

Now knowing that this was Ash's last series (and therefore, the last series I'll watch in full) I can say that it makes me even more disappointed in Journeys. Ultimately, it does feel like they half assed his farewell, and part of me wonders if that 11 episode "finale arc" is to try and right the ship. I do understand that COVID had drastic implications on the series, but it still doesn't change that most of the time, watching Journeys just made me feel empty. And I hate that I'm leaving the Pokémon anime feeling like the final series left me wanting so much more.

My updated (and final) personal series ranking:

  1. OS
  2. SM
  3. AG
  4. DP
  5. JN
  6. BW
  7. XY
 
Journeys to me, is an extremely mixed bag. I can't say most of the episodes good or bad because most episodes were meh. But if I had to rank it, it would easily be my least favorite series of the Pokemon anime. Journeys is the first series that really made me temporarily stop watching the anime out of pure anger. And it fills me with disappointment as I wanted to like journeys and I wanted to like Goh but instead, the exact opposite happen. And I'm someone who could still enjoy pokemon when it's lowest. I enjoyed BW and didn't hate Iris and I still don't. But in the end, I still stuck around. Because I wanted to see Ash succeed in being able to fight Leon. And knowing that this is Ash's last series just makes me sad, because I know this will be the last proper series I watch since I don't plan on watching the SV series. So I guess I should do my final ranting for journey and ranking every series as a whole.

Journeys final rating....D. I can't rate it as a F because beneath all the crappy and boring episodes, there are still some good episodes.

Ranking

1.DP
2.XY
3.SM
4.OS
5.AG
6.BW
7.JN
 
I find Journeys a tough nut to crack, but the most telling thing for me is that the majority of its best moments involved older characters in some capacity, while a lot of the content native to it ended up underbaked and, frankly, just a bit forgettable.

Ash's rivalry with Leon encapsulates this issue. It's a cornerstone relationship in the story, serving as Ash's motivation for the series, but at no point does the story explore why Ash wants to battle Leon so badly beyond the simple fact he's the strongest. Equally, at no point does the story explore why Leon regards Ash as such an interesting challenger. There's one whole episode of them together, showing us how similar they are in personality and philosophy, implying they're just naturally drawn to one another, but that, on its own, wasn't enough to make a compelling rivalry. The most compelling part of the rivalry was Ash even being allowed to battle Leon on somewhat equal footing, something the show had deprived him of for decades. Without that context, the rivalry wasn't strong to stand on its own.

This is what makes Journeys so hard to rate. Most of it depends on the past to even function. The Masters 8, for instance, completely flops as an event without the meta of Ash being allowed to battle Champions after several years. Examine it within the context of Journeys' own narrative and you'll find a total lack of developed dynamics among the competitors and few reasons to really care about the outcome. It's hard to believe that in a room full of the most powerful and eccentric trainers in the world, the most interesting the conversation ever got was Iris asking Cynthia and Diantha for a photo. They spent more time giving basic commentary on the battles. Hardly the most riveting stuff.

Nobody suffers more from this than Ash, because he's a characters who thrives from having a wide, diverse cast to bounce off of. He goes from having at least nine characters to bounce off in SM (Rotom, Lillie, Gladion, Sophocles, Mallow, Lana, Kiawe, Kukui, Burnet) to just the one in Journeys (Goh). And as good as that one relationship was, I missed seeing Ash have meaningful things to say to other people. After defeating Leon, overcoming his toughest opponent to date, the most profound thing Ash had to say was "I had fun battling", and it just sucked. Ash came off as one dimensional and boring, during a time when his character was supposed to be at its peak.

I mean, how was it that Chloe could have a fun, interesting relationship with Dawn, yet apparently couldn't have a single decent conversation with Ash, who's very similar in personality and world view?

There's a character with wasted potential. Chloe had such an intriguing set-up, not least because her personality and attitude were in opposition to both Ash and Goh. She was the aloof girl trying to find her own way against the two hyper boys going full steam ahead towards their goals, but at no point did they ever collide. They gradually warmed Chloe up to the idea of Pokemon and travelling, giving her this strong two-parter with Dawn to emphasise her need to try new things, but there was no follow up. A character who was all about exploring many possibilities, didn't do any actual exploring. The final episodes really summed it all up: while Ash and Goh are off riding around on Lugia, Chloe's left behind, by herself. Good job.

Then there's Team Rocket... the poor guys. Bereft of any real purpose or direction, left with a dwindling number of appearances, and not even given their own Pokemon for much of the show.

Journeys had some genuinely good, entertaining episodes that I'll probably rewatch, but as a whole package it never quiet managed to do what it set out to. As a celebration of the Pokemon anime, and a send-off for Ash and Pikachu, it did well bringing back a lot of characters we didn't think would ever return, but didn't quite go far enough. As its own original story, it put all its eggs into Goh's basket, neglecting to develop any other characters on its already small cast. It's legacy as Ash's last show will give it a frostier reception than it probably deserves, but it undeniably fell short in a lot of areas.
 
Journeys was the weakest of the "modern era" series we've received to date for me (BW-present)
and a heap of squandered potential, but when it had good episodes, it had good episodes.

Pros:
- Ash's friendship with Goh and Chloe especially when the 3 are together

- The Slice of Life aspects of some episodes where the characters
are just themselves without any concrete plot being involved (Episode 100, the baking competition episode, etc.)

- The anime continuing to address heavy topics such as death, implied social anxiety and
the psychological consequences of bullying

- Continuity

Cons:
- Professor Cerise's lab being in Kanto when it could've easily have been set in Galar
with him and his staff being on Professor Magnolia's staff

- Chloe should've been apart of the main group form day 1 especially when you
consider that Sun & Moon would end up being the last time the main series had any female leads at all

- Continuity. Yep it goes here as well. As well done as most of the character returns were,
there were some that had me perplexed. Mewtwo and Chuck? I'm looking at you.
Gary becoming a recurring character was cool and all, but I would have kept him away from Project Mew

- Project Mew in general. Some of Goh's mission episodes were fine while
others were just boring. The organization also should've been introduced earlier so Goh
could fail some missions for the element of suspense in keeping the audience
wondering if he'd really qualify for a Chaser or not

- The PWC was a good idea on paper, but needed better execution and rules
such as what determines how many ranks a competitor rises or drops in if they win or lose

- Ash not rotating his team with reserves as this would've been the perfect series to do so

When all is said and done, I give Journeys a 7/10 despite its faults.
Would I sit through the entire series again? No (unless money's involved, then we'll talk :sneaky:),
but there are definitely several episodes that I'd gladly go back and rewatch.

Top 10 episodes:
#10: JN077
#9: JN087
#8: JN082
#7: JN037
#6: JN065
#5: JN063
#4: JN132
#3: JN105
#2: JN002
#1: JN111 / JN112

Honorable Mentions:
Pokémon: The Arceus Chronicles
JN114
JN117
JN136
 
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Very mixed for majority of the series though I think it gradually became a lot better in its final year

PROS:
  • Art style is the best it's been in a long time, being able to keep some of the loose nature of SM while still staying more visually appealing
  • Being more liberal with things such as Ash's team or having Goh catch every starter this time around
  • The ease of seeing other regions throughout the series is nice and opened up opportunities for them to showcase a lot of the world
  • Continuity being used in a meaningful way to develop characters (Serena, the reserves/Paul, the Alolan episodes) as well as give proper closure to the past characters
  • Lots of strong heartfelt episodes
  • Having a general base allowed for more grounded slice-of-life episodes
  • Ash as a character is fun to watch in Journeys
  • Strong finale for Ash (we don't talk about everything before :X3:)

CONS:
  • Galar gets shafted HARD. Only half of the gym leaders in SS got to make a debut and too many of the Galarian Pokémon either got dealt very brief cameos (Flapple, Cursola, Orbeetle, Obstagoon) or just.. did not show up period. It's a shame because I think this gen has one of the more interesting lineups
  • No female main character is disappointing and I think the series definitely could've benefitted from a third character to bounce off of. Chloe should've been prominent from the start instead of the awkward in-between of a protagonist and a side character we ended up with
  • Neither Goh nor Chloe's arc really ends up being that compelling for me throughout the series
  • Development for Ash's team is too sparse across the series and it's crazy to think Sirfetch'd ended up with the best out of all of them
  • Many Pokémon prominent early on in the series end up falling off. What was the point of Mr. Mime going to the lab if it only got used in a battle once?
  • Outside of Cinderace, the rest of Goh's starters also end up being underutilized
  • Ash does not face any conflicts outside of JN036 which was handled poorly
  • TR do not get enough to do outside of catching Pikachu in this series, and the one niche they did have ends up coming near the tail end of the series. Also a shame they were not allowed bonding episodes w/ their own Pokémon this time around
  • Lack of Miyazaki :(
I'm still optimistic the post-Journeys episodes can help make a stronger send-off for Ash/TR, but if their arcs were to end today I'd say there was a lot left to be desired

OVERALL SCORE:
5/10

RANKING RELATIVE TO OTHER SERIES:
DP > SM > XY > AG > OG > JN > BW
 
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There is one major pro and one major con to Journeys being Ash's last series. The pro is that we finally get a new protagonist after Ash which would be a breath of fresh air for many people. The con is that Ash, the first protagonist's journey will ultimately end on a very mediocre note. That's really the best way I can describe Journeys, medicore. It has some genuinely good or even great moments and episodes, but the series is brought down hard by so many problems from its pacing to the underdeveloped pokemon to having one of the most disappointing final seasons in the anime's history IMO to the point it almost rivals BW's terrible finale, this series really felt like it had no idea what it wanted to be. It tries to be an episodic comedy that SM was but it also tried to have a set narrative that gens 1-6 had, and it just results in the series having a very clear lack of direction and structure.

Journeys spent most of its time meandering around with no direction whatsoever to the point I'd say it's pacing is worse than DP and Jotho's, the team is underdeveloped with Lucario being the only fleshed out member of the group, and Chloe is my least favorite companion in the whole show for how much of an afterthought she felt like in most of the series. Seriously, it felt like you could remove her Eevee storyline and almost nothing about the series' general story would change at all.

These problems would've been fine if Ash was going to continue into the next series anyway, but as we all know that is not happening, so now we are supposed to look at Journeys as the grand finale to Ash's Journey, and honestly? Ash's Journey felt like it ended on a mediocre note. Sure, Ash vs Leon was great, but one battle that was only four episodes long can not save an entire series. There is so much more that I want to get into but I'll save those feelings for another day. Anyways Journeys is mediocre af and is weaker than BW IMO (I thought BW was OK, far from the best series but not as bad as people made it out to be) and let's hope that the Gen 9 anime will be better (I don't want to call it the "Pokemon 2023 Anime" or something like that though).
 
I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say this is by far my most despised series of the anime. I think I'd rather revisit all the worst moments of Best Wishes a hundred times over than ever watch any Journeys episode again. because inexplicably overpowered Ash is just as insulting, if not more so, than inexplicably stupid Ash.

It ain't a case of "weak is bad, strong is good", this was a very delicate balancing act between two extremes and here they went way too far on the  other end for my liking.
 
To be fair, I don't think people had much of an issue with Ash losing Leagues until the Sinnoh League. As contrived as some of those defeats were, I don't know if forcing Ash to lose is worse than making him extremely powerful. It's hard to sell this as the cumulative of Ash's skill over the course of the various series when his team is largely underdeveloped and he has little struggle in a world wide tournament.
 
I think the very first episode of this series was a perfect preview of what was to come:

An episode that showed us something we had never seen before but was something a lot of people were excited to see- Pikachu's backstory. What was he up to before he became Satoshi's partner? We went in expecting a cool backstory and instead got an incredibly lame, boring episode about a Pichu bonding with a random Garura. No reason given why he didn't like being in a Poke Ball, we didn't see him being captured by Okido, very little backstory to Satoshi, nothing from the Rockets...a complete missed opportunity.

And that's what this series was- a collection of missed opportunities.

I've said it many times before, on paper this series was the perfect sendoff for Satoshi. Instead of competing in a region's gym quest and league, he travels around the world competing in a world championship. He reunites with familiar faces, we get closure to some older storylines, and it culminates with him winning the championship. But oh boy, it managed to take that premise and make it utterly, utterly disappointing. I remember the first year or so of this series and how we were outright trolled by the PR team of this show. Naming an episode Fushigisou, Isn't it Mysterious? but then making it have nothing to do with Satoshi's old Pokemon. Having an episode take place in Sinnoh featuring a Pochama and a Gureggru, but having it be a random competition and the Pokemon are owned by two COTDs. Having the "Battle Frontier" be a random tournament with no connection to the arc that lasted over a year. It really felt like we were constantly being shown what could have been, but then blamed for getting our hopes up.

Eventually they stopped doing these fake-outs and gave us proper continuity, but even then a lot of it was pretty hollow. I think the episodic formula did not help either- it made it harder to tell more meaningful stories when they mostly had to be completely wrapped up in 20 minutes.

I didn't hate Gou like a lot of people did, but I thought his whole schtick of catching every Pokemon he sees did not fit this show or its world-building. The idea of catching hundreds of Pokemon works in a mobile game where you don't really interact with the creatures very much, but in a show that is built around portraying Pokemon as living, breathing animals and their relationships to humans, having a main character just catch dozens of them randomly, only to throw them in an enclosure and barely interact with them, is a bit ehhh. Especially when it wasn't ever really used as a source of tension. I would have loved for this difference to be a source of conflict between Satoshi and Gou, but this show hasn't been allowed to have interesting dynamics between the main cast since 2013.

The Rocket trio's showing in this series was also pretty abysmal. I still think their Best Wishes selves were much worse, but they didn't give us much to enjoy here. They barely appeared, and when they did they used that dumb Gachat machine after reciting their stock animation motto with their generic theme music.

The art style in this series, when the animation director knew what they were doing, was honestly great. It took the bounciness and expressiveness from Sun&Moon and refined it a bit, adding in some of the detail that was lost. I've made it no secret I was not a fan of how the Rocket trio looked this series, especially after seeing how much nicer Yamato and Kosaburo looked when they reappeared. The new music done by Yuki Hayashi was a big mixed bag- most of the pieces were fine but didn't really fit the show. I'm glad they eventually started adding back in the older Miyazaki stuff, but that just made the new stuff sound even worse by comparison.

This series had some nice moments and I loved the climax of the Masters 8, but it does not make up for three years of mediocrity.

If I had to rate each series, keeping in mind I've not seen all of them in recent memory and my tastes change pretty frequently:

OS > SM > DP > XY > AG > BW > JN
 
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