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Review The Pokemon Journeys Review Thread

It might not be accurate for me to rank Journeys yet when I haven't even watched all of the episodes on Netflix yet, but considering how long it will take for the whole to end up there, I might as well at least give out some of my main thoughts on the series out. While I still like Journeys, I do agree that it is a mixed bag with pretty heavy pros and cons.


Goh: I wanted to start with Goh partly because I really like him and partly because this might be one of my more controversial takes here. Despite the backlash he has received since pretty much his first capture spree, I really like Goh. I still consider him to be a highlight of the series. I like his personality and his development. I think that his development of becoming a more empathetic and understanding trainer generally works. It's one reason why despite the misleading promotion, I think Goh getting Sobble worked because it showed that he already learned from his mistakes with Scorbunny. He has a solid friendship with Ash and I like their dynamic. Some of my favorite episodes or moments of the series are about Goh. Goh reconnecting with Raboot pretty much made me love both of them, which is also why Cinderace being put on the back burner bothers me so much, and I absolutely adore Goh's rooftop scene with Drizzle.

I never personally had much of an issue with Goh's catching every Pokemon goal. I can understand why people don't like him to a point and I can understand, if not agree with, some of those points. They probably could have started Project Mew after the Darkest Day arc instead of well after the Suicune episode and giving him a more consistent team would have been nice too, especially when his only stand out Pokemon at this point are the Galar starters. Still, I would say that Goh is fine and gets more hate than he really deserves.

Chloe: She is going to be brought up again later, but I would still say that Chloe was a highlight of the series too. I liked most of her episodes. She is likable and I thought her conflict of not knowing what to do was relatable. It also felt different enough from what happened with both May and Serena to where it didn't feel like the exact same storyline. I especially liked how her focus episodes during the first year showed her slowly becoming more interested in Pokemon and basically building up to her becoming a trainer with Eevee. Even with her focus episodes eventually becoming meeting each Eevee evolution, most of those episode were still pretty good, so even that wasn't too bad. Her biggest problem was not really having more screentime. She should have become a proper main character by the time she got Eevee since that could have done wonders for both her character and the dynamic between her, Ash and Goh.

Continuity: We got a lot more continuity and past characters returning than we ever did in the past. While there were some random ones like Chuck, we got to see nearly every traveling companion return for an episode or so. Most of them were pretty good and helped to create a lot of hype for long time fans. There's only one that really bothered me the more I think about it and I'll explain that more in the con list, but generally speaking, the character returns were handled pretty well.

The Darkest Day Arc: While I don't think that this arc is amazing, I do think it stands out to me in a pretty positive light partly because I think Journeys really could have benefited from having more multi-part events or mini-arcs. Aside from this and the Master Class battles, it felt like the series was allergic to having even two-part episodes. Having more mini arcs in different regions would have potentially helped with making each region feel distinct and give the series a bit more structure. Plus, I think that the arc does a pretty good job at adapting the climax of the Sword/Shield storyline. They should have had more setup prior to the arc, but I think it was better than their attempt at adapting the Sun/Moon climax and my main takeway at the end was wishing that this series was set in Galar, if not a more traditional Galar series.

The slice of life aspect: While there were some really bad filler episodes, I think that some of the more slice of life episodes were pretty fun and enjoyable. Honestly, most episodes of the series are at least enjoyable for me to watch.


The pacing: I've seen people call Journeys too ambitious for its own good and while I don't think that's inaccurate, I think calling Journeys too fast paced for its own good much more fitting. The fast pacing is the root cause of most, if not all of the series' problems. Even with some episodes that I think are good, they could usually benefit from having more setup with another episode. The series seemingly does not want to take time to breathe, focus on the Pokemon or develop its plot points in a more gradual way. I think it has the worst pacing out of any series.

The PWC: I've talked about this a lot, but I absolutely hate the PWC. I think that fans have overhyped it for years. Despite Ash getting to battle against Champions and ultimately winning it, it just felt like the tournament was a poorly handled mess. Defeating random nobodies with random Pokemon like Meganium and Elekid at the beginning didn't make me think that Ash was making huge steps in becoming a Pokemon Master or that he was one step closer to Leon. It felt like they wanted to give him a goal where they didn't have to devote full episodes to his battles, at least initially. They did make improvements with the Hyper Class and onward and seeing the excitement of Ash defeating Leon still made me happy, but I hesitate to say it was all worthwhile when the tournament itself was so poorly handled. It's hard to convey it as this huge milestone for Ash when they had no problem giving him off screen victories too. The combination of fans overhyping it along with its terrible first impression kind of soured the PWC for me to where I don't think it could fully recover. Even the improvements like pairing trainers together kind of made me annoyed that they didn't do that earlier. Removing te random encounter feature of the first two classes would have helped a lot.

Ash's team: Ash's Pokemon were really not handled well. Aside from Lucario and maybe Sirfetch'd, I don't think that they had enough development to make their strength feel believable and earned. While the idea of Ash defeating Champions might have been a tough sell for a lot of people regardless, I think that Ash's team having such little screentime and virtually no on-screen training made it worse. The audience is just suppose to believe that his Pokemon are just that strong because they're fully evolved. Even stuff like Ash getting a Mega Lucario doesn't work as well as it could have. It wasn't forced exactly, but it relied on a lot of characters telling the audience how strong their bond was instead of showing it because Lucario's screentime was limited after it evolved. Ash bonding with his Pokemon is pretty much the show's bread and butter. It doesn't always work, but it's something that they've been easily able to pull of for ages, so that scene just stands out a lot to me in that regard. This still isn't Ash's worst team, but it just feels too lackluster in spite of their huge victory against Leon.

The world tour: The world tour was handled poorly. While it did allow for them to showcase different traveling companions more easily, I still don't think it really was effective. Most regions felt generic and with having to go back to Kanto at the end of most episodes, they couldn't really do much with the different settings.

Galar: The lack of Galar has been really disappointing. Not getting to see the new locations, most of the Gym Leaders and even the newest Pokemon has been really sad for me. One of the selling points of the anime for me has always been about seeing the newest region, Pokemon and their take on the storyline, so basically missing that for Galar, one of my favorite regions with my favorite set of Gym Leaders, was a huge disappointment. There was no attempt at balancing out old and new Pokemon either, which kind of made the world tour aspect even worse. Having the Cersie Lab in Galar instead of Kanto could have helped. At least we probably would have seen new Pokemon regularly. I also genuinely don't know why they bothered to include Hop to watch the Master Class battles. Yeah, he'd like to support his brother, but Hop and Leon didn't even get any on-screen interactions as far as I know.

The lack of a prominent female lead/Chloe: As much as I like Ash and Goh's dynamic, I think it was a huge mistake to not include a prominent female lead in this series. It felt like a huge step backwards for the anime and it didn't really make much sense when the female leads tend to be pretty popular in each series. I still hate that part of the opening with Ash and Goh running off together while Chloe stays behind. It gives off such sexist overtones. While I like Chloe, she really does suffer from not being a main character since actually exploring more of the world could have given her a better idea of what goal she wanted. Her conclusion about keeping her options open is reasonable, but it probably felt like a lackluster conclusion to a storyline they had been building up to for most of the series.

Dawn: This is the one return that does frustrate me a lot. Personality wise, Dawn is fine. She feels more in character than she did in BW, she has a believable friendship with Chloe and it is still fun to see her bounce off Ash and Goh. I'm just so upset that unlike virtually every other returning character in Journeys, she has made no progress off-screen. She has done Contests over the world, but her team is the same and she never felt the need to catch any more Pokemon to help with her performances. It's pretty unbelievable and upsetting. Dawn is my favorite female lead and I think she had the strongest writing out of all of them, but she just didn't get any proper focus on herself despite returning so much in Journeys.

Team Rocket: Their screentime has been just terrible in this series. I didn't hate the Gotcha machine as much as other fans did, but Team Rocket bonding with their Pokemon has always been one of their selling points, so missing that for most of the series was just sad. Morpeko was such a weird and virtually pointless capture too, especially when Jessie didn't catch anything.

Journeys being Ash's Swan Song; Maybe it isn't fair to judge the series in this light when the special episodes have aired yet and the news still feels pretty raw for me. I keep going back and forth being being okay to being sad about it. It's been hitting me harder than I expected for a few reasons at least. But at the same time, I think that this makes a lot of the problems with Journeys even worse, particularly the PWC, Ash's team and Team Rocket. It puts the series in a different light, if not give a more depressing note. Yeah, Ash is a World Champion and that is cool, but because of my issues with his team and the PWC, it feels a bit more hollow as a final note for him as the main lead.

It also doesn't help that I'm positive that Journeys was not planned initially to be Ash's last series at the main lead. It doesn't really make sense with how the first year in particular was handled and especially with how Team Rocket have become such an afterthought. I don't think it's the worst note to go out on and maybe the special episodes will be able to give both Ash and Team Rocket a good sense of closure, but it just doesn't quite feel right to me. To be fair, part of it is also probably because I still don't see Ash defeating Leon as this huge peak where he can't go any further and I never really bought into the notion that Ash was the source of the writing problems in the anime either. For years people acted as if replacing Ash would drastically improve the anime and I still don't buy it. It will probably give the writers more wiggle room now that they don't have to write around Ash's experience, but I don't think that will necessarily guarantee better writing or that the same kind of problems they've had in the anime for years won't be an issue with new leads. Obviously, we'll have to wait and see, but my point is that I don't think that having a completely clean slate is going to drastically improve the writing like fans have claimed for years.

Despite having a lot of problems with Journeys, I don't hate the series. It has a lot of really solid moments, but also a lot of major problems, often within its foundation, which leads to a lot of low moments too. I still think that BW is my least favorite series. Ash's BW team is worse, I still hate Iris with a passion and I think even anime Bianca is worse than any character in Journeys. There are more elements that I can appreciate in BW partly due to Journeys, mainly the traveling aspect and getting to see Gym battles, but as a whole, I still think BW is my least favorite. Journeys being Ash's swan song as the main lead does lower it down a bit for my personal ranking though. Right now, I think my ranking would look like this:

DP > XY > AG > SM > OS > Journeys > BW

I'm tempted to rank SM higher than AG since a lot about AG hasn't aged well in my opinion, but right now, this feels pretty accurate to how I feel about every series.
The first third or so is largely directionless with Goh not having a goal beyond catching as many pokemon as he can, and Ash's journey being subject to convenient for the story when it was finally introduced. The recurring element of the Team Rocket gacha machine wore out its welcome fast, with the draws usually being gag related and it meant the TRio only had Morpeko as a new member so we didn't get Jessie and James being close to their team like previous series (the best part about them IMO).

The world tour aspect was very badly done. This should have been a continuity-fest with old travelling companions, friends and locations galore, yet it was almost always in Kanto or generic locations in other regions. As others have said, Galar was very much neglected and the way the starters were allocated out was given a lot of criticism. Ash not getting any of them was very controversial, and Grookey was introduced so late Goh's one never developed or evolved.

The handling of Ash's team left a lot to be desired. Gengar, Dragonite and Dracovish went a long time without appearing while Riolu, later Lucario, made Infernape and Greninja look restrained in how much focus was given to them. There wasn't as much of the campsite downtime previous series have had, showing how everyone act in a relaxed or uneventful situation.

The final third did pick up with Project Mew, giving Goh direction and re-introducing Gary as a recurring character rather than a one-off guest spot. Unfortunately fewer episodes meant it was competing with the Masters 8 for screentime, and real world staffing issues didn't help either since it necessitated hiatuses and recap episodes that hindered the pacing of the Masters 8 tournament.
It was alright overall. The series has some amazing episodes but ironically the actual Journey is the weakest part. I appreciate what they tried to do but the series got screwed over by its own pacing and internal issues. This stuff really shows as there’s an overall lack of cohesion and consistency within this show. It really shines during its character returns and old/new interactions. I love Ash’s team individually but their lackluster screentime was a huge issue for me. A real shame because these are some of his most powerful and unorthodox members. Goh’s great imo, his progression has been haphazard and it’s dumb how they didn’t think of something like Project Mew from the beginning. Giving a character a vague goal without a proper framework or interesting rivals to back it up is just a recipe for disaster. But that did remedy any gripes I’d have with him and I really enjoyed learning about his backstory and watching him develop. Despite his flaws, I’d still place him in the upper tier of companions. He doesn’t reach Brock/May/Dawn etc for me but has done much more than most male ones. Chloe is pretty average for me, she started interesting but after getting Eevee just felt repetitive. Some of those Eevee eps were great but she felt overshadowed most the time, and honestly like a filler character. It’s good to see her independent though, just hope she doesn’t keep running around in circles

Gotta say the visuals are lackluster. It doesn’t have the sharpness of XY nor the fluidity of SM. These are likely production issues once again but that bogs the series down even more for me. Particularly the battles, most of them were missing the intensity from previous series which sucks considering how big some of them were. This is also the shortest series but felt like it needed the most episodes. A lot of character returns could’ve been 2 parters and we could’ve fleshed out PWC properly. The amount of pointless fillers (like those 2 in 1 eps) just amplifies this. The series was also in a weird state of continuity baiting early on, but that’s long gone thankfully. Despite how much I’ve defended it, it does fall pretty low on the rankings unfortunately. There were a lot of outside factors that impacted it, much more than previous ones so I’m more lenient on it. I never hated it. Each episode was enjoyable enough for me but they felt pretty disconnected at times and some of the big stuff doesn’t feel as narratively satisfying as it should be. For a series celebrating the 25th anniversary I think it generally did a good job, since continuity was its strong point imo. Also giving huge props to 123, version 1 and 4 were absolutely amazing imo and highlights the best part of this series and what it could’ve been like. Still, I genuinely enjoyed watching it and will miss all the speculation, discussion and crazy moments lol

I’d say my ranking (for the best not exactly my favourites) is
DP > XY > SM > AG > OS > JN > BW
I feel this series had 2 gigantic flaws that prevented it from being passable at least. The first one is the terrible beginning. Instead of planting the seeds for the amazing stuff Ash will do later, they just left him sitting there doing nothing until more than 10 episodes in. And Goh, oh boy, this hurted his character forever. The idea of a character who can only makes friends with Pokemon but not with humans and who only wants to catch what he thinks is "his perfect Pokemon" is very interesting, but they just quickly turned him into a perfect catching machine, because Go promotion or whatever. The regions are also specially terribly showcased, with zero continuity for the past ones and Galar looking pretty meh, and looong arcs of just Kanto locations. Your opinion may vary on when exactly those issues were fixed, but the series never recovered from their impact.

The second would be the lack of drama, which is sadly one the series never fixed. Ash and specially Chloe's development were straight lines with minimal turns, and the reduced appearances of Team Rocket meant that some fillers had the simplest or most boring conclussions ever. It did not help either than the "villanous plots" had as minimal buildup as possible. In SM that kid-friendly tone worked because of the setting and the variety of the characters, but as a series that was a competitive climax of the last 25 years they should have stepped up their game.

However, if you look past those issues there's actually an interesting series behind. Project Mew increased the stakes of the series and managed to give us Goh development alongside interesting concepts, so even if he had a terrible beginning he stands as the best developed male character. Bea, Leon and Chryssa were interesting characters that were not what they appeared to be. Continuity and nostalgia were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, including story continuations, many main character returns and Ash finally battling champions, to the point many want the upcoming series to keep having it. This series was a wild ride, and even if it could have used a lot more polishing and focus it has some pros that shouldn't be overlooked.
Honestly other than Ash rightfully becoming world champion, Journeys sucked. It should have only been 100 episodes, max.
@Vengeful Ghost @SatoSerefan5229 If anything, the series should have been longer since the pandemic screw up some of the production of the anime.
It's hard to say how much the pandemic affected Journeys' production. They did take a hiatus for a few weeks initially, so that could have affected some of their plans, but in terms of the length of the series itself, I think it's pretty unlikely that was affected. Even if the pandemic never happened, Journeys still would have been a three year long series because that's how long the eighth generation lasted. They might have been able to start Horizons earlier in order to better tie in with Scarlet/Violet's release, but even that might not have happened with all of the breaks in-between the Master Class tournament.
@Hidden Mew You have a point, and I am sure that they probably only had a few more episodes planned. However, I really do wish they didn't do so many recap episodes during the Master Eight Tournament.
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