With an arc for every major game in the series, it might be a little intimidating to dive into Pokémon Adventures -- a manga often referred to as THE Pokémon manga. The series has been running since the start of the Pokémon franchise and has remained popular with fans and casual audiences that whole time. It manages to craft a multi-generational narrative, switching protagonists along the way.
Despite how that may sound, every arc is not necessarily an entirely self-contained story. So, while it might be tempting to jump in at the point of your favorite Pokémon game, that may not be the best way to experience the series. With Viz releasing new omnibus volumes centered around each core arc, if you're considering reading Pokémon Adventures, now is an excellent time to start. But if this is your first Pokémon adventure, where do you start?
The Core Pokémon Adventures Saga, From Red to Emerald
The first three arcs of Pokémon Adventures form one easy-to-follow narrative centered around trainers Red, Blue and Green, with Yellow joining in the Pokémon Yellow arc and Gold, Silver and Krys joining in the Pokémon Gold and Silver stories. The first fifteen volumes follow a central storyline, with each arc taking place after the prior one in sequential order. While new focal characters are introduced throughout, the old cast doesn't disappear but instead matures into supporting roles -- building their successors' narrative. The villains of each of these three arcs -- Team Rocket, the Elite Four and Mask of Ice -- feel interconnected, also building upon what came before.
In volume 15, the Ruby and Sapphire arc begins, which means that Pokémon Adventures progresses past its core characters -- or at least puts enough distance between them so that you could read the Ruby and Sapphire arc without reading the prior three. The villains -- Team Aqua and Magma -- are mostly disconnected from the previous Team Rocket-related threat. However, after Volume 22, the FireRed and LeafGreen chapters begin, leading to the Emerald arc. This means that Pokémon Adventures' first 29 volumes all tie into the same singular throughline, with Emerald serving as a grand finale of sorts.
After that, the story starts to diverge further, focusing on a new set of protagonists in every arc. However, that is not to say that the prior protagonists are entirely forgotten, instead, the older characters are phased into the background as the story focuses on new leads. The previous Pokédex holders do play roles later on, though they are significantly limited. Notable highlights go to the HeartGold and SoulSilver arcs and the Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire arcs.
If you were to collect the Viz Media Omnibus volumes -- each of which contains three separate volumes -- that would mean, to read up until Ruby and Sapphire, you would need to buy Omnibus volumes 1 - 5. Afterward, you would need to collect up until the as-of-yet unreleased 10th omnibus before you could read the entire core arc straight through.
Post-Emerald Arc Pokémon Adventures
The Diamond and Pearl arc for Pokémon Adventures saw a change in the entire style of how the manga flowed from arc to arc -- namely, that each one would be more isolated. While the other trainers would appear or be referenced in later chapters, you didn't need to read the different stories to follow along with what was happening.
If you are interested in reading a more stand-alone adventure, we recommend focusing on a game of your choosing. Some arcs are connected, such as Diamond and Pearl, followed by Platinum, or Black and White, followed by Black 2 and White 2. However, for the most part, these arcs function fine as separate entities, with far less connective tissue between regions when compared to the previous stories of Pokémon Adventures.
Suppose you want to read Pokémon Adventures without reading the first core from Red's initial adventure to the Emerald arc's climax. In that case, the following volumes are an ideal jumping-on point: Volume 30 for the Diamond and Pearl into Platinum arc and Volume 43 for Black and White into Black 2 and White 2. After that, the arcs were collected into their contained mini-volumes, making it harder to compare to the original collection system. However, they are all broken into categorized collections -- X & Y, Sun and Moon and Sword and Shield. Reading these does not require extensive knowledge of the prior Pokédex holders, save for the Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby arc.
Pokémon Adventures is a sprawling manga with several points for readers to jump on. For the full adventure, start at the beginning. However, for those who want a contained journey in your favorite region, you are with plenty of options.