I Rewatched The First Pokémon Movie And It Messed Me Up Real Good

I Rewatched The First Pokémon Movie And It Messed Me Up Real Good

It's been 17 years since the original release of Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back. Since then, there's been 19 other Pokémon movies. For veteran Pokémon players, I'm guessing that none of the newer movies match up to the original one, though. The First Pokémon Movie, for those that don't know, is actually Mewtwo's origin story. If you've played Pokémon Red and Blue, you're probably already familiar with it: Mewtwo is the result of a scientific cloning experiment that used the DNA of an ancient Pokémon, Mew. As such, Mewtwo holds the distinction of being one of the few man-made Pokémon, ever. The games don't really dig into that remarkable fact. Instead, the games are happy to turn Mewtwo into just another rare Pokémon you can capture, if you're patient enough.

In the movie, you get to hear Mewtwo's voice. You get to hear his anguish, his anger, his rage. He doesn't understand why humans created him, or why humans treat him as if he were just a test subject — and not a sentient being. Unsurprisingly, Mewtwo doesn't really want to dedicate his life to fighting mindless Pokémon battles for the amusement of humans, either. Instead, Mewtwo has dreams of flying. He still has memories of being a Mew, of taking to the skies and soaring.

I Rewatched The First Pokémon Movie And It Messed Me Up Real Good

Looking back now, I'm shocked that the movie went there at all. Think about it: the central fantasy at the heart of Pokémon is that there's nothing wrong with humans forming a society around what is essentially cockfighting. Mewtwo's existence, and his moral dilemma, actively grapples with the issue of humans owning Pokémon. You can't watch the movie without questioning everything about Pokémon's structure and premise.

Now, I'm not trying to suggest that the first Pokémon movie is an intentionally deep meditation on Pokémon. It's a silly kids movie. Why in the world would Ash Ketchum get an invitation to meet the most powerful trainer alive? If owning Pokémon is so awful, why is the first thing Mewtwo does is clone Pokémon to do his bidding? Shouldn't Mewtwo know first-hand how existentially terrifying being a clone is? And why does Ash think he can one v one Mewtwo? Are you serious, bro?

Let's get one thing straight here. The first Pokémon movie is not good. It's cheesy. The central message is about as subtle as a pack of Wailords. And the music — god, the music. This is an actual song that plays during the first Pokémon movie:

It's garbage. The whole thing is just trash.

And yet! None of this matters. Maybe it's the nostalgia talking, but there's a part near the end of the movie...you probably know what I'm talking about, right?

The Pokémon become exhausted trying to fight one another:

I Rewatched The First Pokémon Movie And It Messed Me Up Real Good

But Mew and Mewtwo don't care. They're still fighting at this point, still trying to take each other down. Meanwhile, all the Pokémon around them tear each other to pieces.

Ash, heartbroken at what he's seeing, tries to put a stop to the madness. By which I mean that Ash, the eternal genius, decides to run into the attacks of two of the most powerful Pokémon ever:

I Rewatched The First Pokémon Movie And It Messed Me Up Real Good

Ash then turns into stone. Pikachu, bless its tiny little rodent heart, tries to bring Ash back to life:

I Rewatched The First Pokémon Movie And It Messed Me Up Real Good

He can't.

I Rewatched The First Pokémon Movie And It Messed Me Up Real Good

Touched by Ash's courage, every single Pokémon in the room starts crying. And that's when Pokémongets all DBZ on us: through the collected power of everyone's tears, Ash somehow comes back to life. It's like a Spirit Bomb, except it's made out of tears instead of energy:

I Rewatched The First Pokémon Movie And It Messed Me Up Real Good

I know, it's silly deus ex machina. I don't care. Seventeen years later, after I have become a grown-arse adult, Pokémon can still make me cry. It doesn't help that the Pikachu, with all its cuteness and sassiness, reminds me of my real-life cat. Though I'm sure my cat wouldn't shed a single tear if I died right in front of her. She'd probably just try to eat me instead, the heartless monster. It's no wonder the fantasy of Pokémon is so potent!

I was ready to hate rewatching the first Pokémon movie. I was ready to detail every single flaw I could find, to rip it apart. Instead, the movie reminded me of everything sweet and absurd that I love about Pokémon and why, after twenty years of games and movies, I keep coming back for more.

You can watch the first Pokémon movie on YouTube here.


Comments

    How fucking arrogant were they to call it The First Movie?

      The sequel was already out in Japan before the first one even got released in the US.

      To be fair, they're making #19 now. There are precious few series that get 19 movies and counting. I think their arrogance was a little bit justified

      As everyone else has said. In Japan it wasn't called the first movie.

      Also the second one was way better

      Last edited 04/02/16 11:48 pm

      ...because they knew they're already making more Pokemon movies in Japan at the time?

    I won a competition to see the movie 5 days before it came out (still have the ticket somewhere), and this scene made 10 year old me cry. 26 year old me would probably still cry.

      As a goddamn adult (pretty sure I was 18, I think it came out here in 2001), I went and saw it in cinemas with people even older than me. We got a Pikachu CCG card with our ticket.

      That's about all I remember. I'm pretty sure none of us cried. Pretty sure.

        Same. I was probably in 3rd year Uni around that time, and I remember being the oldest person in the cinema... that wasn't a parent with their kids. It was pretty great, but as a parent now, it feels kinda weird.

          Pretty sure I was the oldest person in the cinema, at my showing, being 18 at the time. Drew the short straw for who had to take the youngest brother to see it, when we were down in the city one weekend.

          Pokemon's a hell of a thing to go into, completely unaware of the whos and whats.
          "So... this idiot who only ever uses the one rat-thing, that you say still hasn't Evolved into its second form like the game, and completely ignores his other slave animals is the best trainer? How does that work?"
          "Something something player avatar - shut up and watch."
          "... The first person who tells me Bone Collector was awesome and I really missed out is getting a punch in the face."

      did you get the ancient mew trading card as well?

    This scene reminds me of an Astro Boy scene but involved cars or something....

    Last edited 04/02/16 1:46 pm

    Does anyone get the feeling that we are developing into culture that seems to feel the consistent need to objectively justify and qualitatively assess our personal preferences or entertainment choices? I mean, for half that article Patricia seems almost ashamed of enjoying something, noting all the production or narrative "flaws" - dismissing the story as "silly" by adult standards despite it genuinely being confronting to the perspective of a child. It's almost as if she's bracing for an oncoming storm of hate because she hasn't "objectively" justified her enjoyment to others enough. It's a weird feeling to have whilst reading about Pokemon.

      I think subjectivity needs to have its limits. Surely there's a point where a certain deviation from cultural norms transcends "personal preference" and becomes something else?

      I think if a grown adult likes Pokemon out of something other than nostalgia or mindless entertainment then they should feel a little bit embarrassed. Calling it their opinion shouldn't be enough to prevent me thinking they're a bit weird.

      I blame the internet no matter what you say there will be some sort of negativity or nit-picking

        You missed a comma or full stop between the words "internet" and "no".

        You also missed a full stop at the end of your sentence.

    I always wondered when that M2M song came out for pokemon if people realised the subtext of the song was a girl being pressured by a boy to have sex?

    WOW, what the hell are the chances? I myself JUST rewatched it for the first time since it was in cinema this past weekend.
    I haven't read the article yet, just thought that was amazing.
    You know my favourite bit? When Pikachu was getting slapped by the clone Pikachu and he just wouldn't fight back. It was adorably cute and funny as hell. Like the Pikachu who was doing the slapping was getting equally hurt/exhausted and he JUST WOULDN'T STOP. Even though there was clearly no winner in that fight. Even though the other one wasn't fighting back!
    OMG I nearly died laughing.

    Loved it

    I still have the mewtwo card that came with the vhs tape...yeah. pokemon breaks you emotionally every time. Darn team rocket plot to make you weepy.

    The internal monologues of Mewtwo at the start of this movie are incredible.

    Fucking spoiler alert, come on!

    Okay, but seriously, this movie is complete and utter trash, and I LOVE IT. There are errors everywhere, it's cheesy, the majority of the movie stays in one place, and its morals are practically forced down your throat. But they're some good morals. And the end is still tear-jerkingly awesome. I still have Tears of Life, the song that plays at that heart-wrenching moment, on iTunes and I can't help but to listen to it every time.

    Fuck, it's trash. It's hot garbage. But I can't help but to love it anyways.

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