I feel a little silly for talking about this title since it is a kids one but, well, I do follow this manga and follow it for fun so why not! Technically this would have been my first manga way back in the fourth or fifth grade, Viz released the first two arcs (Red/Green/Blue and Yellow) and then stopped translating them for a number of years, I think now they're just finishing up the third arc, Gold/Silver/Crystal. In Japan the manga has been running from over a decade and is currently progressing through the Black/White arc (which I think is considered it's own thing? I believe that technically the Heart Gold/Soul Silver arc was the last in the Adventure manga, which is actually called Pokemon Special in Japan) which Viz is also releasing in the US. And with that much explanation I think I should get along to the review!
Pokemon Adventures (Pokemon Special) by Hidenori Kuska, illustrated by Mato (volumes 1-9) and Satoshi Yamamoto (volumes 10 to present)
Based off of the Pokemon video games, not the anime, each arc in this series follows the same basic formula set-up; you have three kids (modeled off of the male sprite, female sprite and the rival*) who are all 10 or 11 about to set off on an adventure, at least one of them ends up defeating all the gym leaders and everyone ends up fighting whatever threat there is in that region (and I do mean everyone, pokemon is a world of badass). That's the basics anyway, there's actually quite a bit of variety between the arcs, the Yellow and Emerald arcs are both a bit different since they use original characters instead of game characters (the plots are also a bit different, funny enough both of them are sequels to a story set in the Kanto region), sometimes all the kids are really big into battles and sometimes just one is, and the relationships between the main trio also vary quite a bit (from R/G/B and G/S/C where some of the characters really don't like the others to D/P/P where they all travel together from the beginning). One thing I do really like about the series is how there are different characters in each arc, there is some crossover but it avoids a big problem I had with the pokemon anime (and this was when I was still in elementary school too) with how Ash always had to start over in a new region. No constant reset buttons here, heck, the original characters even age, the original ones are around 18 by now, which I do like. And the plots are solid for kids shonen, battles rarely take more than a chapter, unless there are a number of legendary pokemon involved the characters never feel crazy overpowered, and I think that most of the main characters are really likable. But what I remember most as a kid was how much I liked that Blue (Green), the female character from the first arc, actually did things and, while she might not have been as powerful as the two boys, it didn't matter because she was so much clever than them. If Viz had kept publishing this series when I was a kid I would've kept reading them for a few more years, I probably would've gotten into manga even sooner instead of waiting five years to try out Fruits Basket. I thought it was cool then and I still think it's a fun series now, now, if only Viz would release my favorite arc from it, or if I could actually find scanlations for Heart Gold/Soul Silver.
Honestly I feel like someday I should do a general overview of the whole series on my livejournal since I feel like I've barely talked about it at all but geeze, it would be so long, currently the series is at 37 volumes and bound to be longer since some of the arcs didn't have enough time to properly finish in the magazines.
*apparently there were plans for their to be a male and a female main character in the original Red and Green (which was later revised and re-released as Blue) so Blue (called Green in the US) is in fact based off of those original designs. As a side note, I've always wondered if my parents got me Crystal instead of Silver because that was the first game with a female player in it, I still remember just how surprised I was that I got to choose my gender and feeling quite pleased about it.