Pokémon training, meet boarding school hijinks!

Two years ago, Team Plasma’s Pokémon-stealing plan was defeated, but now they’ve resurfaced with a new leader: a scientist wielding a machine that controls wild Pokémon. It’s up to Blake, an extraordinary young member of the International Police, to stop them. Right now, he’s working undercover at the Pokémon Trainers’ School, and his intel says that the key to stopping Team Plasma’s diabolical machine is on a memory card belonging to a girl at the prestigious school for young Pokémon trainers. But which girl? All he knows is that she’s twelve years old—just like Blake.

Blake decides to use flirting to get close and investigate each of his female classmates. That works out great for him until a shy new girl called Whitley arrives. Most girls seem to love Blake’s attention, but Whitley wants none of it. How will he find out if she’s the one hiding the key to defeat Team Plasma? It’s worth noting that Blake’s flirting is hardly scandalous: he compliments girls’ hairstyles and personalities, invites them on walks, and so on. There is no kissing or sexual content in this book.

As the author’s note proudly points out at the end of the volume, this is the first “school life” story set in the Pokémon universe. It makes good use of boarding school features like dorm rooms, field trips, and the popular “trying to sneak into class late” trope. Everything at the school has a Pokémon twist: all the classes relate to the raising and training of Pokémon, and Pokémon battles between students are part of the curriculum. Simultaneously, many characters—including Whitley and the school’s newest teacher—are still feeling the effects of Team Plasma’s rise and fall two years earlier, and Blake is living a double life: flirtatious student and secret agent for the International Police. Even with all that going on, the story manages to pack in a lot of Pokémon battles. From friendly matches between students to building-toppling throw-downs between heroes and villains, this volume has all the action a Pokémon fan could hope for. As always, the Pokémon battles are bloodless and do not result in lasting injuries.

Our hero, Blake, is a kind of wish-fulfillment character, capable and accomplished to an extreme degree. At twelve years old, he’s already a martial artist, highly skilled Pokémon trainer, ladies’ man, and secret agent who outranks many adult police officers, including his new partner. With smarts, gadgets, and powerful Pokémon at his disposal, Blake always seems to be one step ahead of everyone else. Although he’s the main focus, the story adds interest by dabbling in the viewpoints of other characters, like Whitley and Blake’s school rival, Hugh. Whitley is a skilled Pokémon trainer, but she’s anxious and insecure; she has reservations about attending the school in the first place, and Blake’s attention makes her uncomfortable. However, her unusual background gives her a unique insight on Team Plasma—if she can be convinced to share it. Meanwhile, the irritable Hugh once had a brush with Team Plasma, and he’s hungry for revenge. Other prominent characters include the school’s newest teacher, Cheren, and Blake’s newly-assigned partner, Looker, from the International Police.

The art is bold, active, and straightforward. It favors plain grayscale shading over fancy screentones, and doesn’t get into a lot of fine details. Still, the characters and backgrounds have plenty of visual interest. Like most Pokémon manga, it’s set in a sleek-but-quirky world with a futuristic vibe. Pokémon are everywhere, from the ones attending class with their trainers to those living wild in the woods. In this world, the importance of Pokémon can be seen in everything from architecture to TV shows, and some characters even intentionally dress or style their hair to match their Pokémon buddies.

This volume includes a lot of references to past events, which are summarized at the beginning of the book so all readers have the necessary background. Still, this story might be more impactful and easier to understand for readers who have already read the Pokémon Black and White series.

Pokémon Adventures: Black 2 & White 2, vol. 1 
by Hidenori Kusaka
Art by Satoshi Yamamato
ISBN: 9781421584379
VIZ Media, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages

  • Nic

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Wake County Public Libraries

    Reviewer

    The child of two artists, Nic grew up loving art, reading, and those oh-so-special books that combine the two. Nic got her MLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis was on the best shelving scheme for graphic novels in public libraries; the proposal won an Elfreda Chatman Research Award. She spends her free time reading, drawing, blogging, and writing fiction. She is a Youth Services Librarian at the Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC.

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