Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday animation: 劇場版ポケットモンスター ダイヤモンド&パール ディアルガVSパルキアVSダークライ (Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai)

The movie randomly selected for today is the tenth Pocket Monsters/Pokemon movie, which takes place during the tenth season of Pokemon.  By the time this movie came out, the Pokemon fad in the U.S. had long since died.  Sure, it was still popular, but the movies were no longer being released in American theaters.  The series was still going very strong in Japan, of course, and this movie did indeed go to theaters in its home country.

Unlike the first couple Pokemon movies, this one doesn't have a nostalgia factor for most people because most probably have never seen or even heard of it unless they are Pokemon fans.  I myself did not watch it until fairly recently simply because I'm still pretty behind in the Pokemon series (currently up to season twelve).  For that reason, I'm not sure whether it should be judged more or less harshly than the previous films.  Hmm...I'll do my best to just take it at face value.


(Screencaps were all created by me since I was not able to find any on the Internet!  D:  But they are not high quality, sorry.  I ripped them from an online source not a DVD.)

Overview: Pocket Monsters Diamond & Pearl the Movie: Dialga vs. Palkia vs. Darkrai (known in the U.S. as Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai) is a Japanese anime film released in 2007 based on the popular television series, Pocket Monsters/Pokémon.  The film performed moderately well in the Japanese box office.

Art: It's the same style as the show, but it is greatly enhanced, much more colorful and full with more shading, fluidity, and angles.  There are actually some really pretty scenes and backgrounds.  It still has that very anime-esque feeling with some held frames and no lip movements, but it is definitely many steps up from the television show.  The style isn't particularly eye-catching, but again, they were limited to the source material.  The movements are quite good and smooth, and there are some great facial expressions.  A lot of care and effort definitely went into this film.  My only gripe is the use of CG.  I normally don't mind CG in hand-drawn films, but it is used WAY too much in this film.  It is used so much and sticks out so much that I don't think the animators were trying to enhance the beauty of the art with it.  I honestly think they were trying to cut some corners.  CG does make things a little easier, but it really detracts from the look of the film.  The amount and placement of the CG are just so jarring, which I do not find acceptable for a film made so recently.  Geez, not even the CG in Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin looked this obvious, and those were among the first hand-drawn films to extensively use CG effects.  CG should only be used in hand-drawn films for truly difficult scenes or objects to animate or to enhance the overall beauty of a scene such as light rendering.  Otherwise, it just really cheapens the look of the film.

I really like this shot.  "That boy, Satoshi!"
Obvious CG is obvious.

Really obvious CG is really obvious.
This is an example of CG use that actually makes the scene prettier and isn't too jarring.

Pretty.


Oh, the CG, even in little spots like this that could've been hand-drawn.



Moar CG.

There are a lot of interesting facial expressions in this movie, but this is by far the funniest.  I have never seen a more bizarre look on Satoshi/Ash's face.


CG!
Gorgeous.
WHY?!

Again, WHY?!

Enough!

ENOUGH, I SAY!

Seriously, this is ridiculous!

WHAT IS THIS?  I DON'T EVEN.

...

CG to the very end.


Wow, those lights!
I love this big stained glass window.




Sound: I am only reviewing the Japanese audio since I always like to review the original, but I do love the English dub.  Clear and high quality as you would expect from a modern film.  As with the whole Pokemon series and the movies, the music is excellent.  It's dramatic, it's fun, it's epic, it's haunting, it's beautiful.  Also, one of the music pieces is titled "Sono shounen Satoshi" which translates to "That boy, Satoshi."  That's adorable.  :3  Also worth noting is the ending song titled "Be With You" sung by Sarah Brightman and Chris Thompson which means that yes, it is in English.  It was confusing at first to hear an English song, but it's very pretty even if it's also quite melancholy.  What I really don't get is why the dub chose to write a new song instead of just using this song that's already in English?  It's way better than the one used in the dub.  And, as always, the voice actors are excellent, especially Rica Matsumoto and Ikue Ootani, the respective voices of Satoshi and Pikachu.  I could not rave enough about those two.

Story: The story...is kind of confusing.  It centers around two Pokemon named Palkia and Dialga who are fighting...for some reason.  Palkia rules over space while Dialga rules over time, so the two of them fighting cause rifts in the spacetime continuum...or something.  Apparently, they don't even live in the same dimension, so it's a big deal that they are actually knocking heads with each other.  Ash and his friends happen to arrive in the town that is being affected by the distortions caused by Palkia and Dialga's battle.  Darkrai, a Pokemon that causes nightmares, is thought to be the cause of these disturbances, but it is revealed that Darkrai is actually trying to help save the town from the two fighting Pokemon.  After playing a song called "Oración" which is said to soothe even the fiercest of rages, the two Pokemon stop their fighting and return the town to normal.  To be honest, the story is actually kind of boring.  The characters are awesome just like they are in the show, but they are unfortunately not enough to make up for the plot.  It's confusing and gets really dull at times.  It's also not particularly imaginative, just kind of the same stuff you would expect to see in a typical Pokemon episode.  There really is nothing new here.  Also, action-hero Ash/Satoshi is noticeably absent from this film, and I really feel that action-hero Ash/Satoshi is an essential component of any good Pokemon movie.  The closest he gets to appearing is when he runs after Darkrai on his own, but other than that, he's not really there.  Surprisingly, Satoshi doesn't really have much of an active role in this film at all.  In fact, none of the characters do.  This is a very plot-driven film with some not very interesting action scenes thrown in.  There are some humorous moments which amused me, but overall, it's kind of a dull film.

That boy, Satoshi!  And his beloved Pikachu.  :3

Takeshi/Brock, forever a virgin.

I really wish these movies would give Team Rocket more focus.  They are just hilarious.


Oh, the CG!  Darkrai is giving Satoshi a nightmare.

When he finally wakes up from the nightmare, he finds that his friends decided to bring him to the Pokemon Center.  I'm not even kidding.  They bring him to a freakin' hospital for POKEMON.  My guess is Takeshi/Brock cared less about Ash and more about an opportunity to hit on Nurse Joy.

Can I just say how weird it is to see Satoshi wearing white?  After all this time, I'm still not adjusted.  :O

Here it is, the closest action-hero Ash moment we get in the movie, and it's really not very action-hero-ey at all.


At one point, one of the human characters turns into a Lickilicky.  I'm not kidding about that either.

Alice has the same bizarre hairstyle that May used to sport.  o.O


Piplup trying to fly after falling.  :b  Poor little penguin Pokemon.



CG!  But it's pretty.

How I was feeling by the end of this movie.  Bored to tears.  xD  Actually, Hikari/Dawn is crying because Darkrai disappeared, which is weird because it's not like she or anyone else showed any particular attachment to it...?  Just another of the confusing things about this movie.
Personal appeal: I am a huge Pokemon fan, but I remember right after watching this, my first thought was that this was easily my least favorite Pokemon movie I had seen.  It has great music and much better animation than previous films (even with all of the CG since all of the previous Pokemon movies overuse CG), but the plot is just so confusing and boring.  The characters are awesome, but they can't save the story.  I can't say it's bad, but I was just really disappointed with how lackluster the whole thing was.  Some more character-driven plot would've really helped, but sadly, the characters are moved by the plot and just kind of go with it.  I wouldn't ever want to watch this again, not even in the background, not even just certain scenes of it.  There is just nothing about this film that makes it worth another watch.



Pokemon fans should see it just because it sets the scene for the next two movies after it, but it is not worth a watch for non-Pokemon fans.  It has wonderful music and some nice imagery, but it will definitely put you to sleep.  Overall, I give it two peridots.

Rating:

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