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5 differences between the ‘Pokémon’ manga and anime

The anime’s lighter storylines is still a hit or miss with many original fans.

Ash Ketchum and Pikachu from Pokémon
Image via The Pokémon Company

As one of the most popular manga and anime offerings of all time, Pokémon continues to gain a new slew of fans with each passing day. The story of the dark-haired Ash and his mission to catch all Pokémon has transcended generations since. Many are not aware that while both the manga and anime are still extremely popular today, the Pokémon games are the original material for the characters and iconic creatures.

However, the manga and anime have a number of differences that continue to polarize fans. While some appreciate the darker, more serious tone of the manga, the anime has been praised for its lightheartedness. In the same vein, some believe the anime is too childish and strays further away from the original games.

Here are five major differences between the Pokémon anime and the manga.

There are multiple main characters in the manga.

The Pokémon anime has one main character and that’s Ash. Whether or not fans of the manga have grown tired of his constant presence on screen is up for debate. However, it must be noted that Ash has had little to no development in the several decades he has appeared, and the fact that the writers are unwilling to age him up has posed a problem for some.

In the manga, the character Red exists in the main capacity in several issues, and although he very closely resembles Ash, he uses his other Pokémon a lot more and does not get Pikachu till later in his story. Other characters like Yellow or Gold also take over from time to time.

Team Rocket is a running gag in the anime.

The members of Team Rocket are very different in the anime as they are portrayed to be comically clueless antagonists. In the manga, they are a more serious threat to the main characters. The Rocket team in the manga follow the motto that is posted on the walls of one of their bases, which reads “Steal Pokémon for profit. Exploit Pokémon for profit. All Pokémon exist for Team Rocket.” In the anime, Jesse and James have sometimes taken on antihero roles, and have helped Ash and his friends in their quest. 

Brock and Misty are gym leaders in the manga.

Just like Team Rocket, Brock and Misty are very different from their anime personas. Both are not only gym leaders, but Brock was taking care of his siblings after his father abandoned them. Even with his father’s return, he continued taking care of them, a role which is amplified in only a very little capacity in the anime.

The characters have to live with the consequences in the manga

The manga delivers some darker storylines than the light-hearted ones the anime offers. The manga allows the characters to not just hold Pokémon, but in some battles, the master and the Pokémon fight side by side. Pokémon get killed and are sometimes sold for profit, and characters have to live and learn from their mistakes. The anime delivers a much lighter tone and some current fans continue to lose interest in Ash because it seems he never learns from his mistakes.

The manga has more in common with the original source material than the anime

The Pokémon anime and manga are just one of the many adaptations of the original games that came out on Gameboy, Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue. When comparing the anime and manga to the games, the manga has way more similarities, and even though the settings and characters are introduced in both, the anime offers a lot more originality, which is a hit or miss for fans.

About the author

Demi Phillips

When he’s not out exploring the underground music scene, Demilade Phillips covers entertainment news and other exciting topics for We Got This Covered. He scored his Bachelor’s in International Relations and has been writing for almost a decade on the things he’s most passionate about: music, black excellence, anime, and pop culture.