Review: “Pokémon the Series: Sun and Moon – Ultra Legends” Provides A Strong And Unique Adaptation Of Its Successful Source Material
The latest season of the long-running Pokémon anime has arrived with “Pokémon the Series: Sun and Moon – Ultra Legends.” With 22 seasons and well over 1,000 episodes under its belt, the series has definitely made its mark as the longest-running animated series based on a video game ever. This adaptation of the bestselling 3DS titles has come into its own as one of the most unique entries in the long-running series and a testament to the franchise’s lasting appeal.
This season follows the characters’ further studies at the Pokémon Academy in Alola, and a host of entertaining scenarios within. The season leads off with a play about a legendary story in Alola, and hilarity ensues as a result. Other situations include trying to contain an outbreak led by an Alolan Golem as well as an out of control haunted house. Along the way, there are misadventures with an energetic Eevee with long hair as well as the Rotom Pokédex helping take part in a popular in-universe detective TV series. A mischievous Pokémon known as “Stufful” (who resembles a teddy bear with a firm grip) also causes havoc in a laboratory owned by the Aether Foundation. These and many other events prove there’s always something to enjoy in Alola.
While the season varies significantly in style and tone from previous incarnations of the series, it has also carved out a creative new way to explore the world of Pokémon in a similar vein to the video games they’re based on. The animation style has perfected its use of fluid movements and varied color palettes, with similarities to action in series such as “Cowboy Bebop” and “One Piece.” Familiar monsters such as Pikachu cross paths with new ones such as the lightning-fast feline Zeraora and the massive “Ultra Beast” known as Guzzlord. The third go-round through the Alola region sees Ash not only reunite with old friends Misty (voice of Michele Knotz) and Brock (voice of Bill Rogers), but also new characters including the laid-back rival Hau and more members of the villainous Team Skull. Notably, this season finally sees the arrival of their leaders, the self-proclaimed “emperor of destruction” Guzma and his lover Plumeria. As the journey in Alola winds down, it’s clear the series has overcome initial skepticism from longtime fans and makes the distinct differences in story structure and art design work.
Overall, “Pokémon the Series: Sun and Moon – Ultra Legends” rises to the challenge of being a unique adaptation of its critically-acclaimed and massively successful video game source material. With this May’s “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu,” the all-CGI “Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution” and the highly-anticipated “Pokémon Sword and Shield” coming to the Nintendo Switch also in the wings, it’s never been a better time to be a fan of the series.
Verdict: 5 Out of 5 Stars
Review by Steven Pryor
At a Glance:
Starring the voices of Sarah Natochenny, Rosie Reyes, Marc Swint, Laurie Hymes, Jessica Paquet, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Eddy Lee and Ikue Ohtani with Daniel J. Edwards, Abe Goldfarb and Marc Thompson
Network: Disney XD (Check your local cable or satellite listings)