Ascended Meme: As the special is based on the first pair of Pokémon games, a lot of scenes play out in the manner of how one would have first played the games:
Picked Charmander as your starter? Bet you know how Red feels facing Brock.
In fact, the whole battle with Brock mirrors many players' experiences, with Onix's Bide causing problems and Nidoran's Double Kick coming in handy (although, technically, Nidoran didn't learn Double Kick at that level until Pokémon Yellow and Pokémon FireRed And LeafGreen came about).
A similar attitude that many players have is keeping their starters in their team no matter what. This is something Giovanni calls Red out on in their Gym Battle.
Red tries to catch the opponent's Pokémon during his first match with Poké Balls. He fails and gets chewed out.
Constantly frustrated by the Safari Zone? Bet you also know how Red feels trying to catch a Chansey.
Recover on Legendaries is a massive pain. Mewtwo heals all of its damage, so it's still nearly fresh facing Charizard.
A really subtle one, but Blue's characterization is extra dickish compared to his in-game portrayal. Most of his dialogue is him insulting Red, Red's Pokémon, Team Rocket and so on while being a Dirty Coward. Suddenly, "Douche", "Bastard", "Asshat" or "DICKS" are all Meaningful Names for him.
Professor Oak does the infamous "Welcome to the World of Pokémon" speech, almost word for word, at the beginning.
In part two, they manage to pull off the infamous "white hand on your shoulder" joke.
Minor NPCs like Mr. Fuji's granddaughter have expanded roles.
Special mention must be done to Giovanni. He has more character development and depth in this 1 hour and 30 minutes OVA compared to 15/16 years of anime!
Always Accurate Attack: Unlike in the main anime, Swift is portrayed true to the games in that it never misses. Not even Mewtwo can outrun it.
And the Adventure Continues: Just after catching Mewtwo and celebrating completing the Kanto Pokédex with Oak, Red realizes that it must have been cloned from Mew, so there's one more Pokémon he needs to catch...cue Mew flying by the window.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: At the conclusion of their first battle, Blue remarks on Red's employment of this strategy:
Blue: You just attack and attack...so predictable!
Audience Surrogate: Giovanni, of all people, for older players of the games. In his episode, he talks about nostalgia, how great it was to be young and love Pokémon, and how he wishes he could reclaim those feelings again of being carefree without business to worry about.
Protip — don't refer to Pokémon as just "business" in front of Red. He doesn't take it well.
Don't call your Pokémon morons in front of your grandfather, Blue.
Beware the Nice Ones: Red is all over this trope. 90% of the time, he's just a sweet 11 year-old kid. Start abusing a Pokémon, harm a friend of his, or engage in illegal activities, and he will — to the best of his ability — try to stop you.
Big Damn Heroes: At Pokémon Tower, when a Team Rocket Grunt's Koffing fills the room with smoke so Red's Jolteon can't see, who should appear but Cubone, whose well-timed Bonemerang clears the smoke and allows Red to lay the smackdown on the Team Rocket Grunts responsible for Marowak's death.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Blue starts out surprisingly nice and friendly towards Red, but it's not long before he becomes an even bigger jerk than he is in the games.
Book Ends: Red's last battle against Blue comes down to their starter Pokémon, just like the first. But this time, Red's starter wins.
In the journey to the first Gym Red meets a mysterious figure in his life who mentors him into properly training and battling Pokemon. Said mentor later ends up being Brock who is the Gym leader. Red later meets an recurring enemy in Giovanni, only to find that he is the Leader of the last Gym.
Bowdlerization: During Red and Blue's first battle with each other, in the scene where Blue's Squirtle uses Bite on Red's Charmander, Charmander's blood-curdling scream (which occurs as Charmander writhes in agony) is somewhat muted/subdued in the English dub.
This also occurs with Marowak's death scream.
Chekhov's Gun: Pokémon Mansion in the montage. Also, the stones given by Mr Fuji.
Compressed Adaptation: It was inevitable. The moments shown in detail are: the beginning, Pewter Gym battle with Brock, the Lavender Town plot, Silph Co., the Viridian Gym Battle, Kanto Champion battle, and Mewtwo. Everything else is shown through montages.
This is used for good use in the special, though. Pokémon Mansion is detailed in one of the montages but is a major plot point of the last 30 minutes so it gets a revisit through flashback later.
Cross Counter: Between Red's Charizard and Giovanni's Rhydon during their Gym battle.
Red's first battle against Blue is this. Red's under-leveled Charmander is no match for Blue's Squirtle.
Red's Charmeleon is shown incinerating Erika's Gym with Flamethrower.
Giovanni's Nidoqueen trounces Red's Charizard in seconds at the Silph Co. building, blowing the building's top off. And then the bastard gets away in a helicopter!
Red's Gym battle against Giovanni, where Giovanni's Rhyhorn alone took down five members of Red's team. Red only got to Rhydon because Hitmonlee was able to beat it to a draw.
Blue, when he tried to catch Mewtwo. We don't see the fight itself, but Blue bedridden and swathed in bandages is enough of an indicator that Mewtwo is no ordinary foe.
In the time it takes for a flashback, Mewtwo takes down Red's entire team except Articuno and Charizard. Articuno goes down after the damage inflicted by Blizzard gets nullified away by Recover, and Charizard did little better. Cue Mega Charizard X, who turns the tables on Mewtwo. Just◊ look!◊
Cuteness Proximity: Red has this in his catching montage when he catches his Pikachu. The look on his face simultaneously reads "I've always wanted one of those." and "It's so freaking cute!".
Amongst other things, it stays faithful to the original games by highlighting the Marowak's death.
The battles are also a lot more violent than they are in the original anime. Even Charmander and Squirtile's first battle had the former screaming in pain after the later used Bite on it.
And it acknowledges the dangers of wild Pokémon with Mewtwo, who defeats Blue and greatly injures him and destroys his Pokedex. and Red himself wasn't too far out of danger when he broke Charizard's fall and got tossed in the water during the fight
Foil: Giovanni and Red. It turns out Giovanni was a trainer much like Red, but he forgot how much he enjoyed Pokemon and became a ruthless buisnessman-gangster.
Foreshadowing: Red's Charizard uses alot of physical attacks. This is to highlight the physical attack boost when it mega evolves into Mega Charizard X.
A subtle musical one as well. Its difficult to hear in the special itself, but on the soundtrack there's a beat to the entry section of the Vs. Champion theme that wasn't present in previous versions. Upon closer listening, it becomes clear its the beat to Red's Theme for Pokémon Gold and Silver, slyly indicating who is real Pokemon Master in the battle.
Gotta Catch 'Em All: Believe it or not, this is Red's goal. He starts off with no desire to become a Pokémon Master at the start of the special. He learns about Trainers very early on, and it starts as a secondary objective and snowballs from there. And to his credit, he does pull it off.
Hit Points: These values are made visible via Life Meters displayed on wall-mounted monitors, such as during Red's Gym battle with Brock.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Due to the mini-series being directly inspired from a videogame, Origins features this trope. The Japanese episodes use "Report" (such as Report 1 - Red being the first episode; the term refers to how the process of saving a game is usually referred to as "reporting" in the Japanese Pokémon games). As for the English versions of the episodes? Surprisingly, they retain this trope as well (being faithful to the Japanese titles), although they use the term "File" instead to convey the same concept.
Justified Trope: In the original Game Boy games, there was some Fridge Logic as to how the early Gym Leaders, supposedly the best trainers in the region besides the Elite Four, would have puny, low-leveled teams compared to regular ol' Trainers you would encounter later in the game (A bit like the Degraded Boss trope). Turns out, the Gym Leaders DO have powerful teams; they just choose to use weaker ones based on the number of Badges that their challenger currently holds.
This is brought to light with Red's final battle with Giovanni. Giovanni revealed that he used his weaker Gym Leader team when Green/Blue challenged him to Gym Battle. Since Red challenged him not as Gym Leader, but as the Boss of the Team Rocket, Giovanni opts to use his two overleveled Pokemon instead.
Life Meter: Wall-mounted monitors display each Pokémon's Hit Points during Official Pokémon League battles.
Loophole Abuse: Red says he won't accept a Badge from the boss of Team Rocket. So Giovanni disbands Team Rocket right there so he can accept it from a Gym Leader.
As the English pairing for the original games is Red and Blue rather than Red and Green, Blue's green shirt/jacket (which contrasts Red's red clothing) loses a bit of its meaning (with Japan's Green Okido being known as Blue Oak in English). On the plus side, the diametric pairing of "Red's Charizard and Blue's Blastoise" actually gains meaning in the English release, as Charizard and Blastoise are the opposing mascots for the English-released Pokémon Red and Blue, respectively (as opposed to the Japanese release, where Charizard of Red Version was opposite Venusaur of Green Version, while Blastoise was sort of standalone due to the Japanese Blue Version being a separate re-release/special edition).
This actually presents a slight problem in that Red picks Charmander as his starter because it matches his name:
In the Japanese version, when Professor Oak asks Green (Blue in English) if he wants to do the same and pick Bulbasaur, he says that that's not a good reason to pick a Pokémon and chooses Squirtle instead. In the English dub, Professor Oak poses the same question, but the reference to Bulbasaur is changed to Squirtle (a blue-colored Pokémon, thus matching Blue's name). Blue's response is still the same, in that choosing a Pokémon based on one's name is a ridiculous reason; however, as to the reason for Blue's selection, Blue emphatically declares that "since Red chose Fire, I will chooseWater!" (Like the games, this more directly implies that Blue was going to choose whatever had the advantage over Red, as opposed to favoring Squirtle over Bulbasaur as in the original version)
In the Japanese version, Red considers the term "Sepultura" (which was the nickname of a Charmander depicted on the back of the Japanese box packaging of Pokémon Red, meaning "grave" or "burial" in Spanish) as a possible nickname for his Charmander, but later decides against it and doesn't nickname his Charmander. The back of the English box of Pokémon Red contains a screenshot of a "Sandshrew VS. Meowth" battle instead. As a result, in the English version of Pokémon Origins, when posed with the option of nicknaming Charmander by Professor Oak, Red ponders for a second but decides to keep the name Charmander, without suggesting any possible nicknames aloud at all.
Made-for-TV Movie: The presentation of the special in Japan, as one cohesive anime special with four segments.
The subtitle is The Origin in Japan. The English release lops off the "The" prefix and adds an "S" for plurality.
A subtle visual example: The Japanese logo's rendering of the word "Origin" uses red-and-green coloration in the title (as the first pair of Pokémon games in Japan were Red and Green). In contrast, the English logo's rendering of the word "Origins" opts for red-and-blue coloration in the title, as the first English pair of Pokémon games opted for the color blue rather than green.
Meaningful Name: Red was named by his dad because Red is the color of warmth and love (in the English dub, Red's father names him this so that Red will have "the passion and energy of a red-hot fire."). This fact influences Red's starter Pokémon choice of Charmander, and is further reinforced by Red's actions with Team Rocket. What happens when you fight against warmth/fire? You get burned.
Doubly so when Mega Charizard X, who, with one blow, can punch an opponent as supremely tough as Mewtwo across a room. One should note that, prior to ascension, he couldn't even touch Mewtwo.
Merchandise-Driven: Just like the regular anime, but Origins handles the Merchandise-Driven aspect more carefully due to its older target demographic. The only blatant advertising in the special is for Mega Charizard X, which in itself is many older fans' wish fulfillment for a Dragon-type Charizard.
The Mentor: Brock, of all people, acts this way towards Red, using the battle to teach him basic type matchups.
Mini Series: The presentation of the special in the United States, with each segment being released one episode at a time, with a total of four episodes.
Money, Dear Boy: Giovanni's reason for conducting cruel experiments upon Pokémon.
The Pokémon Fan Club president makes a brief cameo in an overview of the journey and he uses his appearance from Pokémon Adventures, of all things!
Blue's team in the montage is faithful to his Blastoise team in the final battle. Mewtwo has its moveset from the original game as well.
In the original Japanese Dub, when Giovanni loses to Red in the Gym Match, he orders his subordinates to tell ALL the branches that Team Rocket is disbanded. This seems to directly refer to the Johto and Sevii Islands branches of Team Rocket.
Averted just like the game in Lavender Town, whose primary attraction is Pokémon Tower, a memorial for dead Pokémon.
On the other hand, while they don't shy away from Pokémon being dead, the dub avoids explicitly referring to Pokémon actually dying. Particularly notable in a scene at the end of the episode where a woman says "Growlithe, I miss you so. Why did you have to..." Likewise, Cubone "lost his mother" to Team Rocket, rather than Team Rocket killing her. In the Japanese version, it is averted, and the Marowak is explicitly stated to have been killed. In Part 3, the Silph Co. secretary seems rather upset that Team Rocket's experiments have caused Pokémon to "collapse."
Mr. Fuji has this happen when he learns Red is going to fight Mewtwo.
Red gets one when he approaches Mewtwo and he jumps out, ready to fight.
Mewtwo himself gets one when Charizard Mega Evolves.
OOC Is Serious Business: Giovanni of all people goes through this to himself. He's normally very stoic and business-like, but when he battles Red, his attitude changes. In their Gym battle, in particular, he notices that he actually gives a damn if Red is a strong enemy and his disbanding of Team Rocket is driven by the resurgence of old feelings caused by the battle.
Giovanni (aloud): "You disappoint me with your lack of skill, Red."
Giovanni (thinking to himself): Disappointed? He's just a kid with no knowledge of battle theory; why am I disappointed?
Paper-Thin Disguise: When Red gets to the Viridian Gym several Rocket Members are disguised in Dark Jackets and hats. It doesn't take a genius to figure out who they are.
Pokémon Speak: Averted. The Pokémon roar, growl, chirp, hiss, etc., just like real animals.
Interestingly, the Marowak ghost speaks human language before it's reunited with Cubone.
Played straight by Mew's short cameo. Justified here because Mew's name is also an onomatopoeia.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Red's Charizard, definitely. As a result of the series being only four episodes long, he's the only of Red's Pokémon who gets some screentime in battle. Red's Jolteon fares slightly better than most, but generally, battles tend to get skipped over or sped through to the point where Charizard can come in and get the lion's share of the focus.
Victory By Endurance: Gym Battles are played the same as the games where a Gym Leader will always use less than 6 Pokémon versus the challenger's full team of 6. This is demonstrated twice with Red's first Gym Battle against Brock and his final battle with Giovanni.
Vocal Dissonance: This incarnation of Professor Oak sounds much younger than he looks, which can be a bit jarring for viewers familiar with the other Pokémon anime adaptation.
Wham Shot: Surprisingly, the special contains one not just for itself, but for the then-upcoming Pokémon X and Y. Charizard Mega-Evolves during the battle with Mewtwo.... but it's a different Mega form than the one previously revealed. Cue the end of the special showing that Charizard will have two Mega forms, one for X and one for Y.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The President of Silph Co. just flat out disappears during the battle between Giovanni and Red. His office is destroyed, and there's no sign of him, despite the fact that Red, Giovanni, and everyone else in the room are all perfectly fine.
After beating Brock, Red gets a TM for Bide, much like in the original games. However, Giovanni does not seem to give Red the TM for Fissure after he is defeated. Furthermore, Red never seems to use any of the TMs he acquires, save for maybe Blaine's Fire Blast on his Charizard.
Early in his journey, Red tries to capture another Trainer's Pokémon after weakening it. Naturally, his opponent let's him know not to try and steal other people's Pokémon.
Red gives Blue an earful for refusing to help an injured woman call the police, even pinning him against a wall.
The Worf Barrage: Any of Red's Pokémon that aren't Charizard are quickly dispatched on-screen in order to justify Red bringing out his starter. The most egregious examples include skipping over the majority of Red and Blue's Champion battle to get to the battle between Charizard and Blastoise and Articuno being defeated in one hit after attacking Mewtwo.