If you’re part of my generation, or younger, chances are Pokemon was part of your childhood. I’ve reviewed one anime based off of it, the relatively short Pokemon the Origin but there have been a bunch of series for it, many of them going well over a hundred episodes. Today, we’re looking at Pokemon: Mewtwo no Gyakushuu, a film based off of the main anime line. Now, the general consensus among older fans of the Pokemon franchise is that the games are still fun and various improvements like reusable TMs, more trainer customization & the elimination of HMs in favour of ride Pokemon are touted as proof that they’re getting better. The opposite is true for the main anime. Most older fans say it was fine when they were kids but totally doesn’t hold up, often citing the overly repetitive formula & Satoshi being a toolbox. But let’s look at the film and make our own judgements.
We open with a group of scientists entering the jungle to investigate reports of Mew sightings. I remember when Mew was supposedly around that bloody truck but that was all lies and the hours we spent trying to make her appear were all in vain. In any case, they don’t find Mew but they do find one of her fossilised eyelashes. Which is weird because good luck seeing any eyelashes on Mew. But whatever, they take the eyelash back to their laboratory and decide to use it to clone a stronger version of Mew. Unlike the rest of their clones, they manage to make him stable but they have to sedate him due to the trauma he experiences after mind melding with the other clones. He wakes up and loses control, killing everybody and destroying the lab. He’s picked up by Sakaki who puts him to work, but makes the mistake of telling Mewtwo that he will serve humans. At which point Mewtwo tells him to suck a shiny lime green fart and destroys his headquarters. He returns to the island and swears revenge on humanity for trying to use him and thus begins our story proper and we get to see our main protagonists after a good twenty minutes of set up.
The biggest narrative issue is one that’s pretty common to kid’s films. It has one of those situations where something terrible happens to one of the main characters and, just when it looks to be over for them, the power of love and friendship comes to their rescue. It doesn’t really make sense for Mewtwo to grab Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur when he already has clones of them. The ending twist with the lesson being lost for most is a bit bullshit too. It also is a pretty predictable film in a lot of ways but it is a kid’s film and they aren’t as good at recognising the usual media patterns so, it’s fair enough.
One interesting thing is that there is some pretty dark stuff. Mewtwo kills a lot of people, one of the researchers wants to clone his dead daughter, there’s a Fearow trainer who tries to fly to Mewtwo’s island through the great storm and is never seen again. Guess that guy doesn’t get a happy ending. On the plus side, the trainer who fishes up his corpse while looking to catch a Staryu will get some free Pokemon from his bag. She’ll have to release the Jynx with the racist nickname, though. Since you can’t rename Pokemon you get from other trainers.
That being said, I do like the set up stuff at the start. It actually explains quite a few things, like why Mewtwo has deep-rooted issues with the humans and why Charizard Blastoise & Venusaur look strangely contrasted to their originals compared to the other clones. It also sets up the main moral of the story which is all about the circumstances of our birth being irrelevant because “we’re all living beings.” It has some funny moments too. Mew trolling the rockets is pretty good. I also kind of like Meowth not fighting with his clone because the claws look like they hurt. And the Pokemon brawling without restraint or even using their special attacks because they aren’t under any kind of control is kind of a nice touch to illustrate just how worked up they all are. And I do appreciate that the film puts some effort into explaining away some regular shounen tropes. Why does Charizard fare better in the initial fight against the clones than the other starters? It’s not that he’s the protagonist’s Pokemon, it’s because the opposing Charizard uses Seismic Toss, which is a fixed damage move.
This is undoubtedly one of the big areas where the main anime doesn’t hold up. The characters are just very bog standard and dull. The only character who kind of veers away from that a bit is Mewtwo and even he’s ultimately a pretty standard misunderstood antagonist. He just wants to find a place for himself in the world.
The artwork looks pretty good. They put in quite a bit of detail. I rather like the chibi Mewtwo we see at the beginning. The action is pretty good and there are some nice background details. About the worst I can say s that some of the slower scenes also involve some stilted, slow animation.
The actors do a fine job. There are some really good ones including Hayashibara Megumi as Musashi & Ichimura Masachika as Mewtwo. You won’t find anyone’s greatest performance here, but they’re capable enough. The soundtrack is made up of “that song.” You know the one, “that sad song,” “that rising action song,” “that intense song.” It’s largely standard, is what I’m saying.
Really isn’t any romance just in general. Ho-yay or otherwise.
Mewtwo no Gyakushu is a decent film. It has its strong moments and some solid action but, in general, it’s just too predictable and generic to be of particular interest for adults. If there’s a child in your life who you want to watch a film with, this one would make a pretty good choice, provided the kid likes Pokemon. Since it won’t make you want to shoot down a Fearow trainer or anything. My rating for it is going to be a 6/10. Next week, Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi. Because I’ve been too positive as of late.