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Light Novel / Pocket Monsters: The Animation

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Pocket Monsters: The Animation is a Japan-only two-installment series of Light Novels based on Pokémon: The Series, authored by Takeshi Shudō (the original chief writer for the anime, who left during the Johto League). It expands a lot on background details not mentioned or alluded to in the series proper. Many aspects of it have since been contradicted by later seasons of the anime, which leaves its canonical status invalid.

The first, entitled Departure, was released in 1997, and focuses on the beginning of Ash's journey, including some background to his character. The second, entitled Friendnote , was released in 1999, and focuses on his battles in Pewter, Cerulean and Vermillion.

The books were never released in English, but fan translations can be found here.


Tropes present in the novels include:

  • Adaptational Job Change: Nurse Joy is a doctor, not a nurse.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Misty's and her sisters having wildly different hair colors is explained by her siblings wearing wigs. They're all naturally black haired. In the anime, it's just their hair.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: There is an inverted case, where the end of Volume 1 makes a lot more sense than the anime's Episode 4. Instead of the Samurai distracting Ash and blaming him for the Weedle's escape, his equivalent just catches it himself and the Beedrill swarm is just a coincidence. Pidgeotto exits the battle because it's scared of Pinsir instead of inexplicably fainting, and Ash doesn't even try to return Metapod to its ball when the Beedrill attack, making the disaster actually his fault.
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  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Surge is introduced in the following chapter after Ash’s Cerulean Gym match, whereas the anime itself had a seven episode gap between these events.
  • Adapted Out: Not one character of the day from the anime is featured.
    • The samurai from episode 4 of the original anime is replaced with a generic bug catcher trainer.
    • In addition, Brock doesn't use Geodude, nor is he mentioned to catch Zubat.
    • Pewter City's Flint never appears, so Pewter Gym remains in the hands of Brock's younger brother Forrest (who is fifteen in this version, anyway).
  • Age Lift: The anime implies Ash just turned ten. In the novels, he's been ten for several months and is practically eleven.
  • All There in the Manual: Reveals a lot of information about the anime world, though how trustworthy it is is up for question, considering the divergences from it.
  • Alternate Continuity: The novel's version of events differs quite a bit from the anime. Just for starters, Ash never gets Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Volume two ends by talking about how Ash and Pikachu have many more encounters ahead.
  • Animal Talk: Meowth implies that different Pokémon have different languages. Meowth practiced hard to be able to speak with Pikachu.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Brock says he regrets attacking Pikachu with Onix, especially since Pikachu would die if it exhausts all its electricity.
  • Beetle Maniac: Bug Catcher (the character who replaces Samurai) is obviously one. Ash is also shown to be a huge fan of Pinsir.
  • Beige Prose: The sentence structure is very plain. Usually, this works, but sometimes it falls flat.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Pinsir is 1.5 meters tall. (Caterpie is also 30 centimeters, which is pretty big for a bug.)
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • The old man in Pewter City museum who gave Ash a Thunderstone pebble and who may or may not be Ash's great-great-grandfather.
    • In the novelization, Brock has a total of twenty siblings, including eight pairs of twins from nine different fathers, while he only has nine siblings in the actual anime.
  • Cut Short: The second novel includes a note saying it would be continued in Volume 3, but the third volume was never released, plus with Takeshi Shudō dying in 2010, the series was never completed.
  • Composite Character: The lack of Characters of the Day means that Brock plays the role of both himself and his own father.
  • Continuity Snarl: At least some of the novels' information is contradictory to the anime, particularly from Viridian Forest onwards.
  • Crapsack World: Let's just say the Pokémon world looks a lot less kid-friendly once you've read the novels. To wit,
    • Pallet Town is poverty-stricken with few jobs or any access for the residents to better themselves, and most people try and fail to make it as Pokémon Trainers. The one Trainer from Pallet who even made it into the Top 1000 came back all but worshipped, as nobody else had ever achieved anything similar. These two facts combined also mean that most men end up turning to lives of crime to survive.
    • Every parent except for Delia is a total derelict, and even she is a Stepford Smiler who resents her son.
    • The entire police force is run by a single family, Gym Leaders are forced to resort to bribing challengers because their licenses are rescinded after four consecutive losses.
    • Ten year olds are also considered legal adults; they have to pay taxes, they can be arrested, and considering it's said that Misty has "only ever had bad luck with men", the age of consent is likely ten as well.
    • Culturally, leaving home to become a Trainer is tantamount to taking full responsibility for your own life and turning your back your home for good, which is why the trainers who don't make it never come home — they haven't got one, anymore.
    • Pewter City Museum has no weekend traffic and makes up for its lack of major exhibits with whatever they've dug up, from crystals to lumps of coal.
  • Creation Myth: The narrator gives an origin story for the world and Pokémon, which was doubtlessly intended to be exotic to the Japanese readership, but is obviously a take on the book of Genesis. (Except that Pokémon are said to have been created at the end.) This was long before the franchise began to write its own backstory.
  • Darker and Edgier: The world of Pokémon is a Crapsack World where ten year olds are legal adults with all the taxes and troubles that entails, many Gym Leaders bribe trainers because four losses in a row means their licenses are rescinded, and Pallet Town is a desolate, crime-ridden cesspool because there are no jobs and no one ever succeeds at being a Pokémon Trainer. Even the reason behind Ash's Disappeared Dad is dark: Delia Married Too Young and became pregnant at eighteen. Her husband ran off one day on a Pokémon journey, just like her own dad did, and never returned. Delia doesn't love him anymore but never divorced him, and she resents Ash to a degree because she misses her youth.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • The novel reveals some info about Ash's father, though he remains unnamed. Not only that, but Ash's grandfather had abandoned his mother at a young age as well.
    • Brock's family has gone through nine dads. Nine.
  • Earth Drift: Unlike the rest of the franchise (including the actual anime) which is more of a Fictional Earth, it is implied to take place in a world identical to ours except for the addition of Pokémon. Real-world animals existed in the past, historical figures are mentioned by name, the Kanto region is confirmed to exist in a country called Japan, which shares the globe with other real nations, and the Gregorian calendar is used. That said, it's still not our world, and there are differences here and there such as Hollywood being in Kanto, so there is some overlap with Fictional Earth.
  • Egopolis: Pallet Townnote  is said to have been named after Professor Oak's ancestor, the only resident to ever become even an average Pokémon Trainer at rank 931th and was made mayor for it.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Delia is mentioned to usually wear miniskirts, while in the show she wears a longer, regular skirt.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Members of the Jenny family tend not to appreciate their number based Family Theme Naming.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Bug Catcher in Viridian Forest.
  • Extinct in the Future: It's stated that this is the reason why real-life animals aside from humans don't appear in the Pokémon universe. An early draft of Pokémon 3 would have explored this further by having a plot revolving around a revived dinosaur fossil.
  • Family Theme Naming: The Officer Jenny family are given number themed naming. (The name Jenny, Junsa in Japanese, is their surname.)
  • Fictional Age of Majority: The light novels takes it further regarding 10-year olds in the Pokémon world, in constrast to both the games and the anime. Here, ten year olds who completed elementary school are considered legal adults with all the responsibilities that entails.
  • Gratuitous English: As a foreigner, Surge sprinkles his dialogue with a lot of random English.
  • Heroic Lineage: Professor Oak descends from the greatest Trainer in the history of Pallet Town (though that isn't saying much). His brothers are also the mayor and the postmaster. It is implied that Gary's attitude is a result of feeling pressure to live up to his family's accomplishments.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Takeshi Shudo loves his puns. The Fan Translation does its best to use Woolseyisms combined with translation notes at the end of each chapter.
  • Improbable Age:
    • According to the novels, a person in the Pokémon anime world is legally an adult at age ten.
    • Nurse Joy, who is a fully licensed doctor in this novel, is younger than 20.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: Being able to be stored and transported as data is a property of the Pokémon themselves instead of technology. In theory, they could be housed in a glasses case instead of a Poké Ball. This is never explained, but later confirmed to still be canon (and not just Early Installment Weirdness) in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. However, this fact originated from the guidebook Pocket Monsters Encyclopedia published a year earlier.
  • Lemony Narrator: The narrator often has a snarky and convivial tone.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Brock even hits on Misty when they meet (which is while he's still an active Gym Leader unlike in canon), even though, in the anime, he only flirts with girls and women that aren't his traveling companions.
  • Married Too Young: According to the book, Delia married her unnamed husband in her teens and gave birth to Ash at 19. When Ash was young, his father decided to run off on a Pokémon journey. He hasn't been heard from since. Delia is no longer in love with her husband, however she hasn't bothered to divorce him. It's noted that, as a child, Delia's own father also ran away on a journey and never came back.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: It is said that Ash’s mother is often mistaken for his elder sister by those unaware of their relation.
  • No Sense of Humor: James does not recognize figures of speech, and has to look them up in a dictionary.
  • Obligatory Swearing: Only an artifact of the Fan Translation, of course, but it is very jarring to read Ash exclaiming something like "Damn straight!"
  • Parents as People: The books go into depth on Delia more than the actual anime. It's also mentioned that, though she loves her son, she was happy to have him out of the house so that she can live her youth. She also has severe issues with the abandonment by both her husband and her father.
  • Power Incontinence: The Nurse Joy of Pewter City advises against Ash against using a Thunderstone on Pikachu because prematurely evolved and inexperienced Raichu are likely to electrocute themselves so badly they induce cardiac arrest, and the ones that survive are often so terrified that they stop using electricity entirely and their body begins to decay.
  • Really Gets Around: Brock's many siblings from early on in the series are actually the result of Brock's mother's numerous relationships. As anyone who's seen the show can tell you, they somehow all look like her husband.
  • Self-Deprecation: Shudo calls himself a terrible writer in the introduction.
  • Sequel Hook: Volume two’s epilogue features Bill, hinting at volume three covering the episode set at his lighthouse.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Ash's mother was 18 when he was conceived.
  • This Is Reality: The narration frequently describes an unrealistic trope as being like something in an anime or video games, while saying that such a thing does not happen in the book. Also, the Team Rocket trio break the fourth wall at one point, to complain about how them saying the motto the second time would be considered Padding in a novel (as opposed to a cartoon).
  • Uncertain Doom: Towards the end of the first book, the narrator outright states that it was impossible to know whether or not Team Rocket survived the Beedrill attack. They do return in the second volume, but are left in another ambiguous situation at the end.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: Brock's dad in relation to his kids, biologically speaking. In the anime, Brock's siblings are all both of his parents biological children. Here, they're the product of several different relationships.
  • Unreliable Illustrator: Some of Sayuri Ichiishi’s illustrations don’t match what’s written. For example, Gary is described as “wearing a frilly shirt with a tuxedo and a cattleya flower pinned to his breast”, however the accompanying illustration depicts him in his usual outfit from the show.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: At age 17 Delia was featured on the cover of a adult-targeted magazine called 'Pokémon Pals', becoming both a symbol of pride for the remote and ignored Pallet Town as well as being far too good for the men of Pallet Town after such recognition.

Alternative Title(s): Pokemon