It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for Crossroads Comics!
This week, in honor of it being our 150th issue, I decided we’d take a look at Team Next-Gen by my partner, Penpeaches. Team Next-Gen is a gijinka based ask blog that opened its inbox earlier this year. Loosely inspired by the events of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky, Team Next-Gen is meant to act as a sequel to Penpeaches‘s old comic, PMD: Team Fire-Fox. Due to the demise of Smackjeeves, it’s not possible to read this comic anymore. In addition to the fact that Penpeaches has stated they have no intentions of reuploading the pages, they also lost the pages while transferring computers just before starting Team Next-Gen. However, newcomers can rest easy, as no knowledge of the previous story is required for the enjoyment or understanding of this ask blog. A general knowledge of the plot of PMD: Sky will help in understanding some of the references to various locations and more, but overall this blog can be enjoyed without that too. So to break down exactly why this blog is so great and why you should read it, today I’ll be going over its story so far as well as its artwork and character designs, which I feel like are the blog’s biggest selling points. So without further ado, let’s get started!
As previously mentioned, Team Next-Gen is a continuation of a previous comic, PMD: Team Fire-Fox. Since the previous comic was a PMD: Sky retelling, it was theoretically supposed to cover the main story of that game. As such, Team Next-Gen loosely follows the events of the post-game in PMD: Sky. While the overarching story does seem to be following a similar path to the post-game of PMD: Sky with the pursuit of Darkrai, thus far it has yet to show many other similarities to the post-game story. However, this is by no means a negative, and rather is a positive for the story since not only does it feel like a more natural extension of the previous story for those that read it, but also it feels a lot more independent as well, thus not hindering the reading experience of newcomers. The story does still rely on some knowledge of PMD: Sky as a whole, including mentions of locations such as Blizzard Island or characters such as Dusknoir, but overall even if you’re not familiar with the game, this is still a worthwhile read.
Now let’s get into the actual story itself! Given this blog is still relatively new, Team Next-Gen hasn’t fulled developed its plot yet, but what it has established thus far is pretty interesting. Team Next-Gen follows Eugene Yamada and Kuno Anophos, the Umbreon and Armaldo gijinkas, and the leaders of Team Next-Gen. The duo work as bounty hunters protecting the Treasure Town and Drenched Bluff areas to from bandits and other outlaws. As the sons of the heroes that stopped the Planet’s Paralysis approximately 20-30 years prior to the events of Team Next-Gen, Eugene and Kuno decided to continue their mothers’ legacy by gathering the children and relatives of the members of Team Fire-Fox to form a new rescue team: Team Next-Gen. Their biggest aspiration at the moment is to catch the one behind the collapse of Temporal Tower, Darkrai, but since the so-called “King of Nightmares” is rather illusive, they’re currently focused on a local outlaw leader instead.
That said, the duo has their own personal problems to attend to as well. As the current prince of Drenched Bluff, Kuno also spends a fair amount of time studying in preparation to be king. Whether he actually wants this honor is unclear, but it does seem like he enjoys sneaking out on occasion and shirking those duties in favor of spending time with Eugene instead. He also spends a fair amount of time on his various hobbies, such as gardening, which brings us to our next character: the Cucumber Shaymin. A mysterious blue Shaymin that appeared in Kuno’s garden one day, the curious being doesn’t seem to be capable of speech, communicating completely through non-verbal methods. The Shaymin also appears to have no memories of how it ended up in Kuno’s garden in the first place, leaving the readers with more questions than answers about this mysterious Shaymin and its origins.
Additionally, there are many other members of the cast as well that have their own hidden stories that we’ve only started to scratch the surface of so far. As previously mentioned, pretty much all the members of Team Next-Gen are the children or relatives of the members of the prequel comic’s cast, meaning that their parentage or relationship with these members is a bit of a mystery on its own. This is especially true with the characters of Delilah and Kenneth, whose origins are the least clear. Delilah is a Feebas gijinka who only speaks the lagoon dialect of the water language, leading her connection to Team Fire-Fox shrouded in a mystery until we can get a proper translator. I personally have my suspicions based on my knowledge of the prequel comic, but for the sake of some fun and mystery, I’ll keep those quiet for now. Kenneth is also a rather interesting character, as he was supposedly born to an “Exiled One” in a prison on Blizzard Island. Additionally, it has been hinted at that he knows the infamous Dusknoir personally. What this means for the story is unclear, but it definitely leads to some great question fodder for Kenneth in particular. And this is just two characters in particular, since the various other members of Team Next-Gen all have a set of varied and interesting designs that leave us with a lot of great potential questions to ask down the line, but we’ll get more into the designs in a bit.
Next up is the art and designs featured in the blog. Normally I don’t spend much time complimenting the artwork of a comic just because I think it mostly speaks for itself, but: A) This is my partner, who is my favorite artist of all time, so I will gladly seize any opportunity to talk about how much I like their art, and B) the character designs in this blog in particular are very interesting and something I feel like is worth highlighting. First, I want to emphasize how cool it is that this is a gijinka ask blog. Humans are hard, no doubts about it, so most ask blogs have entirely Pokemon casts. It’s very rare to see blogs featuring humans, with the only ones I can think off off the top of my head being Crewel Intentions, The Red Vaporeon, Ask Another Clone, and Ask the Isle, only two of which actually feature their human cast members. So to have a blog whose entire cast is gijinkas (with one exception) is incredibly unique, not only because humans are generally rare in the community, but also because gijinkas are even moreso. So that in its own right already sets Team Next-Gen apart already, but let’s delve further into the designs of these gijinkas.
As the kids of a previous cast, this gave prime opportunity to make Team Next-Gen‘s cast primarily consistent of fusions, which Penpeaches promptly seized. For example, Eugene is an Umbreon Absol fusion, which you can see through the shape of his tail and his “rings”. While this fusion is definitely a bit more obvious in his Pokemon form, it’s still obvious that Eugene isn’t a purebred Umbreon in his gijinka form. This is part of what makes these designs so well done. Many of the designs have alterations from their official Sugimori counterparts, yet no matter whether they’re in gijinka or Pokemon form, you can still tell at least one of the Pokemon their heritage consists of, and sometimes both. It’s a hallmark of very well thought out and put together designs, something that should be applauded and praised. The characters are also dynamic and expressive. From the use of ears and tails to convey emotion, to the variety of poses and facial expressions we see, the characters are all able to very easily convey a variety of emotions and feelings easily through body language. It adds a bit of spice to the story, since it really emphasizes what the characters are thinking and feelings as they answer these questions.
All in all, Team Next-Gen is a worthwhile read, especially with so many new potential questions to be asked. I can’t say much more due to the fact that I have some inside trader info about the story and where it’s set to go in the future, but you can trust me on this when I say, it’s worth following this one for the long haul, because it’s going to be one heck of a ride. You can find Team Next-Gen over on Tumblr and free to send in asks even as anon users. You can also support the author by following Penpeaches on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
And without further ado, let’s check out the rest of this week’s lineup!
PMD: Chanterelle Instant regret for Thai.
PMD: Explorers of Life Will it be enough to overpower her?
PMD: Wildfire The experts are on-site!
Pokemon X Adventures Victory!
Renegade Redemption Nighty night!
Shinka: The Last Eevee The backgrounds in these panels are so pretty.
The Shaymin Cafe Sneaky snack time!
Aura & Soul They’re alive!
In Blood We Rise My man out here dispensing words of wisdom.
Pokemon Hometown Well this doesn’t sound good.
PMD: Godfallen Well that seems counterintuitive.
PMD: Mitigation New chapter alert!
PMD: Tower of Glass Nightmares are the worst.
Pokemon: Runaway Well that’s got to be quite the shock.
Sundowner Time for some intel gathering.
Fallen Flowers Undyne.. no…
Hypoxia That is such an adorable Mareep design.
Milos From Home I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole. Diggy diggy diggy hole!
PMD: Rescue Rangers Worldbuilding time?
PMD: The Bonds Between Time Falcon PAWNCH!!
Rainbow Tour Pewter hoy!
TC-96 What a bombshell…
Trick of the Night Those flowers look so cute on her.
What the Water Gave Me He’s got that connection with the Pokemon!
Ask Galactic Pals Seems one Saturn is aware of the other.
Ask Guardian Gallade Telepathy probably does catch a lot of people off guard.
Ask Olly and Azure And away goes the flying green hero!
Ask the Isle It’s party time with Ask Deoxys!
Asking Sticky Paws Time to escape!
Cain and Mabel Aww what a tender moment.
Genesis: A Gijinka Story Look at all these new faces!
Team Next-Gen Interesting… so he knows who Dusknoir is?