POKÉMON: THE FIRST MOVIE
Before you jump to inane conclusions about my mental condition, consider this... I defy you to not like Pikachu. Sure, at first glance it's a hella ugly big and yellow rat, but sit down for one half-hour episode and observe that little critter. I guarentee you will at least crack a smile, if not roll around on the floor laughing uproariously. It has been a long while since the U.S. has witnessed such a revolution in Saturday morning cartoons. Power Rangers made a valient run, but eventually it fell flat on its face. Yes folks, Pokemon is here to stay, so you will have to suck it up, and force yourself to like it whether it's against your will or not. Just ask any 10-13 year old you know! =)
The latest Pokemon fad to hit the market is aptly titled, THE FIRST MOVIE... perhaps suggesting there will be many more to come! Oh joy! =) You can take that as a genuine reaction or a sarcastic one, because after watching the first movie, I have come to the conclusion that Pokemon can be a good thing if taken exactly as what it was meant to be... a children cartoon. Nothing more, nothing less. You see, this entire craze has been blown out of proportions. We see kids slaughtering each other over trading cards, and mucho underaged gambling. Keep in mind all this spawned from a simple cartoon show meant to entertain. Enough rambling, let's get on w/ the killing! Oh wait, sorry... that's from GameSpy. =)
I am actually reviewing this after watching a pre-screened Japanese version w/ English subtitles, but that shouldn't make too much of a difference. Anyways...
A quick history lessons for those that know absolutely nothing about the TV series: In the world of Pokemon, there lives multiple strange creatures w/ unique fighting abilities known as Pocket Monsters. These guys vary from cute, to downright nasty. Most belong in the former though, and that's what made it such a huge hit w/ the younger audience. Also in that world, there is a profession known as Pokemon trainer, where a human takes upon the task to capture the pocket monsters ghost buster style w/ pokeballs. After they capture the pokemons, they discipline them and hone their special fighting abilities in the quest to become the best pokemon trainer ever. Our protagonist is a teenager named Ash, whose relationship w/ his pokemons have become personal to a level which they are more like favorite pets to him than fighting slaves. Not to mention he is also a rising star when it comes to being a pokemon trainer.
The movie is based on the story of two of the rarest pokemons of all time. Mew, and the mysterious legend Mewtwo. I won't spoil the plot, but I'll just let you know that the movie DOES reveal to you the background of Mewtwo. The introductory scenes lead up to current time, where Ash & his pokemon trainer friends receive an invitation to go to the ultimate pokemon trainer's castle. Being the aggressive and enthusiastic character Ash is, he immediately accepts the invitation and takes off for the destination. But wait, it looks as if the ferry has shut down service because of a fast approaching hurricane. Doh!
Revealing any more than this will probably ruin the movie for you, especially considering that the entire movie is only an hour and a half max! There are two conflicting feelings I have for this film. Looking at it objectively, it's really a sub-par japanese animation, compared to such modern day anime's such as Ruruoni Kenshin (highly recommended). Plus, it's totally meant for kiddies, definitely not aiming for any oscars or best director accolades. The plot is predictable, and there is the mandatory tear-jerker scene in the end which is also predictable, not to mention that it doesn't really make much sense / fit into the plot. Any half-assed movie buff will be able to point out inconsistencies every 10 minutes and scoff at the lack of background explaination tying together the entire movie.
But... I couldn't help but like the movie. My brother is probably the biggest Pokemon zombie in the world. He owns, and beat, all the pokemon gameboy games, owns a life-sized Pikachu stuffed animal, deals w/ Pokemon cards and can name all 150 in less than 45 seconds or in one breath, whichever is shorter. Did I mention he taped every single episode? This past summer I spent most of my time during the dog days laying on the sofa watching old episodes w/ him on tape. I couldn't help but get influenced! Pokemon The First Movie was an abolute joy to watch, because it brought out the kid within me. I laughed at the irresistable Pikachu. I growled at the draconian Mewtwo. I felt desperation when all the Pokemons were gobbled up by the black Pokeballs. Hell, I even fell for the tear jerker at the end, extending my sympathy towards the characters. Laugh and jest at me all you want, hide behind your "mature" facade and snort in disdain whenever anything related to Pokemon is brought up. Deep down inside, you know that these enticing pocket monsters are damn entertaining to watch!!
Going back to my original
point that if you take Pokemon, and watch it as what it was meant to be, a children's
cartoon, it definitely succeeds at what it does and presses all the right buttons.
Remember the days of Inspector Gadget, or Garfield & Friends? Ah, yes. My point
exactly. Pokemon is to the younger generation what those old classics were to us. Cartoons
that milk the imagination, yet teach a subliminal moral lesson at the same time.