Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday animation: 劇場版ポケットモンスター ミュウツーの逆襲 (Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back)

Oh, boy.  :b  It's been awhile since I've reviewed an animated film, so I was hoping for a more aesthetically pleasing or cultural one for today, but alas...the first Pokemon movie was selected.

I have mentioned many times in this blog that I am a huge Pokemon fan.  It will always be one of my biggest fandoms.  For this reason, I adore the first movie, but I also recognize that it's really not that good.  Even within the fandom, it's kind of confusing and even annoying at times.

This movie was a huge deal when it came out.  Pokemon had taken the world by storm, so kids all over the world and certainly in the U.S. were dragging their parents to see the first movie.  Pikachu on the big screen?!  Heck, yes!  Subsequent films also went to theaters, but none had as much success as the first movie.


Overview: The Pocket Monsters Movie: Mewtwo's Counterattack, known in the U.S.A. as Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back, is an anime film first released in Japan based on the popular anime video game and T.V. series, Pocket Monsters/Pokémon.  Although it received mostly negative reviews, it was a huge box office success and remains the most well-known movie in the series.

Art: The art is a huge step up from the anime series.  It is exceptionally better.  That said, it still isn't spectacular.  The colors and lines are clearer and crisper, the backgrounds look much nicer and are more detailed, and there is more fluidity.  Still, the movie has a very anime-esque feeling in that there are held frames and limited lip movements.  Also, the design is nothing particularly impressive.  Many of the characters have similar facial features and only really differ in terms of hair style and color.  I like how this film does not rely too heavily on CG effects, especially compared to the films that follow this one.  So, ultimately, it's not very impressive, but it's certainly not ugly.  There aren't any dazzlingly beautiful scenes, and in fact, there are very few pretty scenes in general, but it still is a visually pleasing film.  The animation itself is nothing impressive, but it's not a distraction.  It's okay overall, I suppose.

These last screenshots are actually from the credits, not the actual movie.  I wish the actual film had more scenes like these.

Wow, this is a nice scene.  That reflection in the water is beautiful, and so is the rendering of the sun's rays.
Sound: I'm only rating the Japanese soundtrack and voices.  The American version has some awesome pop songs thrown in and also has great voice acting, but I always try to stick with the original.  The music is mostly instrumental, all of which is fantastic and fits the mood of each scene well.  Seriously, the soundtrack is wonderful and easily the most redeeming aspect of the film.  The stand-out song is definitely the re-recording of the original Japanese theme song, Aim to Be the Pokémon Master '98.  Rica Matsumoto, the voice actor of the main character, Satoshi, sings the song, and boy, she is INCREDIBLE.  I don't mean to say that she has a fantastic singing voice, but her emotion and sound is so raw and perfect.  The Japanese theme song is not as good as the American theme, but Rica's voice alone really makes the song.  She is also an incredible actor, of course.  She, along with the voice actor of Pikachu, Ikue Ootani, are the stand-outs in this movie (and in the Pokemon series in general).  The other voice actors are also fantastic, though.  I love Team Rocket's voices and the voices of all the Pokemon.  Overall, great sound quality, great voices, great acting.  The music and voice choices are part of the reason why I love Pokemon so much.

Story: Okay...this is where the film really kind of fails.  The story isn't really that bad, but it has a lot of parts that are beyond cheesy, silly, and just plain irritating.  The film also needs the context of the T.V. series to be fully understood.  The other movies really are standalone films, but this one can be confusing if you are not familiar with the T.V. series, which was most unfortunate for the many parents who had to sit through this movie.  Basically, the main character, Satoshi, and his friends are invited to an isolated island to meet the world's greatest Pokemon Master.  Once there, they discover their host is actually Mewtwo, a clone of the legendary Pokemon Mew.  Mewtwo is angry at humans for creating him to be used only as a tool and plans to exact his revenge on the whole of humanity.  To achieve this end, Mewtwo has created clones of all of the Pokemon that the trainers he invited to his island brought.  The clones and real Pokemon end up fighting, really fighting, not just battling like they usually do.  Mewtwo and Mew also start fighting.  Action-hero Ash--er, Satoshi--reveals himself when he jumps in the middle of the two most powerful Pokemon fighting.  He dies (I think?), but...er...the Pokemon all start crying, and their tears resurrect him.  I'm not even kidding.  The film pulls the most cliched Care Bears-esque ending EVER and pretty much negates any other awesome parts of the film.  But oh, it gets worse.  Mewtwo is touched by Satoshi's sacrifice and decides to end the fighting, and then...he decides to erase everyone's memory of the event while he and the clones go off to find their own place where they can live in peace.  Yeah, so in the end, it's like it NEVER HAPPENED.  It's one of those films where you're like "What was the point of all that?!"  All of the lessons they learned about not fighting and being equal, completely GONE.  The story was okay up until the end, but the end is just so bad that I can't possibly say that this is a good film.  The characters make up for the story a little.  Team Rocket is especially funny, and the other characters are all the same personalities from the show, the same likeable characters.  At the very least, the film is certainly not boring.  Silly and cheesy, but there is plenty of humor and heart brought by the characters.

Even Gary made it into the movie.  Gary Motherfucking Oak...

Okay, some CGI here...

The most epic battle EVAR.

Action-hero Ash/Satoshi cannot be stopped once he starts.
Ash dies, and his beloved Pikachu starts crying...

And his other Pokemon...

As do Takeshi/Brock's and Kasumi/Misty's Pokemon.

Even Pokemon who don't even KNOW Satoshi join the crying fest.

The tears somehow float in the air and pool toward Satoshi's lifeless body...this is a joke, right?
Holy crap, it WORKED.  The tears actually brought Satoshi back to life.  You have just GOT to be kidding me.  Dx  WHAT YOU DOING TO ME, POKEMON?!  HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DEFEND YOU AS A SHOW THAT ADULTS CAN ALSO ENJOY WHEN YOU DO THINGS LIKE THIS?!



Personal appeal: Well, I'm a huge Pokemon fan, so I do love the movie, but it is definitely a guilty pleasure, and the ending ALWAYS makes me cringe.  I've seen it a million times, but I don't actually plan on watching it again anytime soon.  If it's on T.V. or if a child I'm with wants to watch it, I'd be fine with it.  So, basically, I only like the movie because I'm a Pokemon fan.  It has nothing to do with the art or story.  It's just because it's part of my fandom.

No idea what just happened and learned absolutely nothing...yup.
Overall, I would give this film two peridots out of five.  The music is fantastic, but the art is just okay, and the story is really weak.  It's not a terrible movie, but it is in no way a good movie.  It's worth a watch if you're a Pokemon fan, but otherwise, it has little to offer besides the music.


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