Pokemon adventures with Ash happen all the time. He’s a mainstay. We know him. Odds are, we grew up with him. So with the volume 1 of the new Pokemon Journeys manga, Machito Gomi wisely decides to not make him too much of the focus. Yes, Ash is there with Pikachu. He’s displaying many of the personality traits we know and love. But this gives new Pokemon protagonist Goh and his Scorbunny an opportunity to gain some attention.
This begins with both characters’ introductions. Gomi doesn’t dedicate too much time to either protagonist to start. Rather, each is established in their own way. Ash is shown traveling with Professor Oak. We’re aware of their connection. Goh comes up on his own, searching for Lugia. The fact that he basically “predicts” the Legendary will show up highlights his own knowledge. Then, the two are thrown together. They share an important moment with Pokemon. It serves to show how strong each of their connections are to the creatures. It puts them on equal footing. It also shows that hey, these two kids would get along.
From there, the first volume of the Pokemon Journeys shows the progress Goh makes as a trainer and person, while also setting up Scorbunny. We know Ash has experience. But we quickly see how green Goh is. He’s idealizing his experience. He has an unrealistic expectation of how things should start. Which means that while we see a genuine love of Pokemon, it takes a bit of a push to make him understand. That comes in the form of a Scorbunny encounter to realize he needs to be a bit more flexible.
As for Scorbunny, the Pokemon has a lot of the personality traits in the manga that make Pikachu so identifiable in anime and manga adaptations. We first meet it as a wild Pokemon that doesn’t seem so used to humans. Rather, the character is closer to Nickits they befriended. It is only through Goh’s kindness and outreach that Scorbunny decides to pursue a different life. Which means we also get to see Scorbunny overcome its own insecurities and walls to become a better individual… just like Goh.
The situation also ends up all being juxtaposed quite well against Ash and Pikachu. The two become a model for Goh and Scorbunny to follow. We see how the newcomers’ match goes, for example. (Not well.) Then we see the established partners and how they succeed where the other two failed. We watch Ash and Pikachu earn the respect of other trainers and step in to save the day during bad situations. However, the manga as a whole ends on a brighter note. The first volume comes to a close that offers a potentially optimistic outlook for Goh and Scorbunny.
The result is a good sense of progression in the first volume of the Pokemon Journeys manga adaptation. Ash still gets his moments. Especially since in this story, he’s the veteran trainer. He and Pikachu have an established partnership. They know what they’re doing. It’s Goh who’s finding his footing and Scorbunny who’s growing. Not to mention that, once the first volume comes to a close, it’s in a good position to follow additional plot threads.