Sapphire and Ruby are superstar Pokémon trainers. Years ago, they and their Pokémon saved the world, and with the help of their friend Emerald, they’ll soon have to do it again. Scientists have just detected a giant meteor headed for the planet, and its impact would destroy the entire world. How can it be stopped? Scientists are working on a plan, but they’ll need the help of Sapphire and Emerald’s powerful Pokémon. Meanwhile, Ruby tries to make contact with an ancient and secretive tribe that prophesied the meteor’s coming. They might know a way to save the planet, but Zinnia, the tribe’s Lorekeeper, isn’t exactly friendly…
This short, fast-paced volume tries to establish a lot at once, and many of its numerous characters are not introduced or explained. Before this story takes place, Ruby, Sapphire, and some of their friends saw plenty of action in the Ruby and Sapphire and Emerald arcs of the Pokémon Adventures manga, and those events are often referenced. A brief summary at the beginning of the volume gives some background, but not much; the focus is on current challenges, merely hinting at past ones. With its large cast distributed across several locations, this volume also jumps around a lot. In addition to the overarching plot to save the planet from the meteor, there are several subplots; for example, a collector of rare stones investigates mysterious alpha and omega symbols discovered in a cave painting, while a TV show host tries to figure out what Ruby is up to. The significance of these subplots isn’t always clear, though it may be revealed in later volumes.
The artwork is bold and active. Each character has a distinctive look, though I’ll admit I occasionally got them mixed up anyway, as there are a lot of them. The focus is on the characters—humans and Pokémon alike—and the backgrounds are mostly simple. Like other Pokémon manga, this volume includes plenty of battles between Pokémon, full of flashy special moves with no bloodshed or lethal violence involved. Unlike other Pokémon manga I’ve read, this volume contains faint hints of suggestiveness. In one scene, for instance, Ruby appears to be trying to grope a girl’s chest until it’s revealed that he’s recognized her to be an illusion, grabbing a Pokémon he knows is there. That’s about as far as it goes, though, no overt sexuality or nudity.
Although this is the first volume of Pokémon: Omega Ruby Alpha Sapphire, it wouldn’t be one of the easier entry points to the Pokémon universe. Readers will have an easier time understanding this volume if they’re familiar with the Ruby and Sapphire arc of the Pokémon Adventures series.
Pokémon Omega Ruby Alpha Sapphire, vol. 1
by Hidenori Kusaka
Art by Satoshi Yamamato
VIZ Media, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages