Format: DVDMultiple Formats, Animated, Box set, Color, NTSC
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The 50-episode Battle Frontier adventure comes between the Pokémon Advanced Battle story and the Diamond and Pearl Saga. Ash, May, Max, and Brock roam through forests, towns, and islands, making friends with humans and new Pokémon. Although Max does little but read out the data from the Pokédex, May and Brock have larger roles than usual. May competes in Pokémon Contests, a combination battle and performance that suggests rhythmic gymnastics with an edge. Unlike Ash, she doesn't always win. Brock reveals an unexpected paternal streak when he adopts a baby Bonsly that needs constant bottle feeding and cuddling. Ash and Pikachu remain the focus of the stories, and they win several Frontier "symbols" (rather than badges). Some of the material has obviously been re-edited as Ash wins his second symbol in Episode #4, but the episode in which he won the first one isn't included. Episode #15 features an obnoxious, effete gay male stereotype who's out of keeping with the normally innocuous tone of Pokémon. The new voice cast takes some getting used to, as Sara Natachame lacks Veronica Taylor's familiar rasp as Ash. Battle Frontier is an unusually lavish Pokémon set, with lots of CG special effects (bubbles, fire, rainbows, etc.) and strange machines for Team Rocket to pilot. But it's one of the less endearing entries in this long-running franchise. (Rated A, suitable for All Ages: minor cartoon violence.) --Charles Solomon (1. Fear Factor Phony! 2. Sweet Baby James, 3. A Chip Off the Old Brock, 4. Wheel of Frontier, 5. May's Egg-cellent Adventure, 6. Weekend Warrior, 7. On Olden Pond, 8. Tactics Theatrics, 9. Reversing the Charges, 10. The Green Guardian, 11. From Cradle to Save, 12. Time-Warp Heals All Wounds, 13. Queen of the Serpentine, 14. Off the Unbeaten Path, 15. Harley Rides Again, 16. Odd Pokemon Out, 17. Spontaneous Combusken, 18. Cutting the Ties that Bind, 19. Ka Boom With a View, 20. King and Queen For a Day, 21. Curbing the Crimson Tide, 22. What I Did For Love, 23. Three Jynx and a Baby, 24. Talking a Good Game!)