The second adaptation of Pokémonnote and the longest-running adaptation of the series, Pocket Monsters is a Slapstick manga by Kosaku Anakubo that originally only vaguely resembled the games it is based on. It's been a CoroCoro Comic mainstay since its debut in 1996, only ending its run in the main magazine in 2019 and moving to sister branch Bessatsu CoroCoro from then on.
It stars Isamu "Red" Akai, the first Pokemon protagonist, on his adventures around many regions. Unlike any of the official protagonists, he starts out with a Clefairy... aaaaaand it all goes downhill from there. While Red is pretty much the standard Pokémon Protagonist, Clefairy is a lazy bum who can't be arsed to know any actually useful moves.
Not long after, they find Clefairy's cousin Pikachu, who is smart and competent - and not even in comparison - and the trio is formed. They set out on the standard Pokémon Journey... while trying to stay one step ahead of the trouble Clefairy causes, sometimes through his own machinations, sometimes accidentally.
This series provides examples of:
- Aerith and Bob: Protagonists and rivals; you have people like "Blue" and "Red" against people with normal names. There's a mix between randomly chosen Meaningful Names and names taken from the games.
- Adaptational Badass: Okay, Badass might be pushing it, but Clefairy is a lot stronger than his game counterparts ever were. He racks up an impressive record over the series, beating Pokemon he really shouldn't have a chance against.
- Art Evolution: It eventually grew out of a '90s type art-style. Quite noticeably, Pikachu lost his green eyes and the manga started looking more like the games (even using the game!Pikachu design rather than the anime one).
- Combat Pragmatist: Clefairy, lacking any useful techniques, will use absolutely any tactic to win when his back is to the wall. (He's probably done everything under This Index Fights Dirty at one point or another.)
- Continuity Cameo: It appeared as a Show Within a Show for the anime, and the Clefairy made a cameo in Episode 360.
- Denser and Wackier: Quite self-explanatory, where it is even classified as a gag manga.
- Early Adaptation Weirdness: All Pokémon speak human except for one and can "devolve", made-up Pokémon that appear nowhere else, strange-looking Pokémon,◊ and probably more.
- Expy: Sapphire resembles her anime counterpart (May) quite a lot, right down to her starter choice and her being a coordinator.
- Fan Disservice: Red gets hit with this ever so often, either being shirtless or buck naked (with a complete aversion to Barbie Doll Anatomy at that). Unlike Ash or other versions of Red however, the art style makes him resemble a Gonk more than a Badass Adorable or Bishōnen.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: Between Pikachu and Clefairy in one chapter. Pikachu quickly masters Clefairy's abilities and puts them to surprisingly productive use; Clefairy... doesn't.
- Hidden Depths: Not too hidden for Pikachu - who's an out-and-out genius - but Clefairy is a good cook and has a number of other physical talents, notably building and structure construction.
- Identical Stranger: Yellow looks similar to Isamu. Red looks similar to Isamu, though less so because he's based off the remake design.
- Intelligible Unintelligible: While most Pokémon talk, Pikachu is the exception, generally communicating in Pokémon Speak.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Clefairy will generally try to get out of fighting - but when he does fight, he's actually pretty strong for his size, which when combined with his cleverness and stubbornness means there's surprisingly few foes (not just Pokemon) he can't take down one way or another.
- Long Runner: It went on since 1996 (including sequels), running longer than any other Pokémon manga.
- Meaningful Name: Red and Green's names have kanji with their nicknames in it, which refer to their game counterparts and the original games.
- Mythology Gag: When the manga was referenced in Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire, a strip was made up with Isamu and the other characters referencing to said appearance.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Much like Ash, Red has been the same age for over twenty years. He's gone through several regions without aging a bit.
- One-Steve Limit:
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Isamu and Kai are only referred to by their names once in the series◊, at the very start. They're otherwise referred to as "Red" and "Green". Internationally fans usually refer to them by their names rather than their nicknames in order to distinguish them from other incarnations of the characters.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Clefairy, albeit only as much as a Normal (now Fairy)-type could be expected to be. More than a few chapters end with the team hastily leaving a town or area that he's (usually accidentally) destroyed.
- Sudden Eye Colour: Inverted. Red's Pikachu originally had green eyes for the first few volumes. When the manga shifted to game-accurate designs, he was later given Black Bead Eyes like all Pikachu.
- Sword and Sorcerer: Sums up Clefairy and Pikachu's fighting styles.
- Talking Animal: Pokémon can talk.
- Toilet Humor: Used at least once◊, with Pikachu letting out a huge pile of feces.
- Verbal Tic: Clefairy has one along with all other talking Pokémon.
- You Don't Look Like You: At the start of this manga, very few Pokémon resembled their official designs. Rumor has it the designs were based off what the mangaka thought the sprites looked like, which looked incredibly off◊. As the series went on the characters started looking more like their game counterparts, even resembling the official art better than other adaptations in some examples.