Mewtwo Returns Review

Although I use the English name of the special and its characters, I was watching the Japanese version subtitled rather than the English dub while actually writing the review. If I'm not using the correct official translation of some term or something, I'd appreciate a correction.

Preface

You can skip this bit if you don't want to read my rambles about how this isn't actually a movie and my difficulties in obtaining it.

Many English-speaking fans are confused about exactly what Mewtwo Returns even is, so I suppose I should start with a clarification. Contrary to popular belief, Mewtwo Returns is not actually an official Pokémon movie in the same sense that Mewtwo Strikes Back is a Pokémon movie; it was released between the third and fourth movies, and if there was any doubt that the fourth movie really is the fourth movie, it was released under the title "Pokémon 4ever" in the US. What it actually is is a feature-length TV special that 4Kids decided would be cool to release on video tauting it as a new movie, because that sounds better than "a really long episode".

What's the difference? Well, not that much, but Mewtwo Returns didn't have the budget of a proper movie, it's tailored for commercial breaks, and a number of dub edits were made to cover up the TVness of the original. And if you're a nitpicky perfectionist like me, you'll want to correct everybody who calls it a movie.

When I first heard of Mewtwo Returns, in my earliest days of Pokémon fanhood, I thought it sounded pretty awesome, so I really wanted to see it. Unfortunately, I had no means of doing so - as far as I know, it's never been released on Icelandic video/DVD and fat chance I was going to obtain it in any other language at the time - so I just sulked and hoped maybe I'd find it sometime. Much, much later, when I was about to start doing these movie reviews, I remembered Mewtwo Returns again and went to try to find it on the Internet; however, I gave up after finding about five billion ways to watch the English dub (and the Swedish, Norwegian, Spanish, German, etc. dubs), one torrent of the Japanese raw without subtitles, and about two or three subtitle files marked Mewtwo Returns that as it turned out were actually a transcription of the dub of Mewtwo Strikes Back. I considered just watching the English dub anyway, but being a nitpicky perfectionist I didn't want to watch this one thing in English all of a sudden for a reason as arbitrary as just not being able to find a sub, so I decided to keep that as a last resort thing.

Months later, however, I actually did find a fansub after looking for it on impulse at a site I'd registered with in order to get the eleventh movie to review. And so I could finally watch this elusive TV special and review it, and here we are.

Thoughts and Synopsis

So, after all this searching, did Mewtwo Returns live up to my expectations?

...No, not really. There are things in it I really like, but I suppose I was just a bit too hyped up about it. I'd gotten the impression, both from fans heaping praise on it and some fanfiction I'd read, that this would be an epic be-all-end-all showdown against Team Rocket, featuring the coolest and most psychopathic Rocket member ever (Domino), and gave Mewtwo the sendoff he deserves after the disappointing end of the first movie. (The DVD cover I'd so often seen, with Mewtwo standing over the viewer forming a Shadow Ball in his hands as if preparing for some great battle, didn't help.) After actually seeing it, it just feels sort of midway between an episode and a movie - there's a bunch of potential, but it's only used halfway. That's not to say it's bad (and man, do my reviews seem to use this sentence a lot); it's just crushingly not-that-great.

We start with a brief recap of the first movie, in the form of a series of short, disjointed clips, which I really, really like for some reason. It's done to feel like a series of flashes of memories rather than a recap, and oddly, a large part of why that works is that the montage has not been rescored, so the background music jumps very audibly with every cut, enhancing the disjointed memory feeling. It sounds like something that would sound terrible, I know, but it actually really works and makes this another one of the many of my favorite moments in these movies that nobody else cares about.

Anyway, in the prologue we find out that since the first movie, Mewtwo has found a secluded place to live with his clones, Mt. Quena. It's basically a huge crater with a lake in it and a small island in the middle of the lake, where they have taken up residence. Mewtwo has still not gotten over his identity issues; he wants them to live far away from everything because they're copies, not 'real'. Team Rocket, however, has discovered him thanks to their magical zoom button that can enlarge satellite photos to the point of distinguishing individual Pokémon, and is planning to go there and recapture him. Thus, the plot of the special. Simple enough.

Meanwhile, Ash, Misty and Brock are traveling around the Johto region, and Mt. Quena happens to be directly in their path on their way to the next town. Luckily, there is a bus that goes around the crater; not-so-luckily, it's weekly, and naturally they miss it by a hair. As the bus drives along the mountainside, however, it is picked up by the strong winds around Mt. Quena and seems to be about to crash horribly when it's bathed in a mysterious blue glow as Mewtwo uses his powers to place it safely back on the road, saving the passengers from a horrible death.

Inside Mewtwo's cave (where he was watching the bus from some sort of a screen; I'm guessing it's somehow powered by his psychic abilities), the Pikachu clone we saw in the first movie turns to him and asks him why he rescued those humans. (Naturally, all we actually hear is "Pika-pika! Pikachu!", with Mewtwo repeating the question, but I'll skip mentioning the middle man every time the Pokémon speak in this special; they do it quite a lot.) Mewtwo answers that if there is an accident, more humans will come to investigate, and they might be discovered. The Meowth clone that is also with him suggests that he also did it for the humans' sake, but Mewtwo is quick to dismiss the idea that he would ever actually care about a bunch of humans.

Back to our heroes, Pokémon wildlife researcher Luna Carson lives right next to the bus stop, and she is quite used to housing unlucky travelers while they wait for the bus. Ash is impatient about continuing the journey, however. At first Luna suggests they take a boat up the river, but that plan fails thanks to Misty's fear of bugs combined with the fact this entire area is pretty much a Bug Pokémon paradise. Brock suggests they just climb the mountain instead, but Luna tells them they can't do that since the top of Mt. Quena has some of the last completely untouched nature in the world, including a lake from which flows the Best Water Ever. Then they watch, fascinated, as a swarm of adorable Butterfree fly past the moon towards their birthplace on the mountain.

Meanwhile, Mewtwo and his Meowth and Pikachu clones are watching the same Butterfree swarm. Mewtwo wonders about the meaning of life and how they should live it before asking his companions' opinion; Pikachu thinks that living holed up on that mountain in hiding is no better than being locked up in a dungeon, but Meowth thinks it doesn't matter because the moon is still round. Mewtwo says, yet again, that they aren't 'real' Pokémon, but Meowth responds that whether they're 'real' or not, the moon is still round. Mewtwo considers this and concludes that Meowth may have a point.

At Luna's house, there is a knock on the door. It's a biologist named Cullen Calix and his airheaded assistant Domino, who are here to study the Best Water Ever; Cullen is convinced that this water is the ideal water for all forms of life. Luna, however, is worried that if the water is discovered to be beneficial to human health, people will start trying to exploit it and the wildlife will suffer - and besides, she adds, the mountain is far too difficult to climb.

Suddenly, Jessie, James and Meowth appear, doing their motto with bravado as usual; however, when they announce they're from Team Rocket, airheaded assistant Domino is privately embarrassed on the organization's behalf and suddenly doesn't sound quite so airheaded. Gasp! Obfuscating stupidity at work! The trio nab Pikachu, as so often, and blast off in their now-rocket-powered Meowth balloon while all the good guys stand there helplessly and watch. Now, of course, Luna Carson is all for climbing the mountain to retrieve Pikachu - even though, as far as I can see, there is no actual indication that Team Rocket are going up the mountain at all. They were talking about how the balloon would be caught in the strong winds around the mountain like that bus; I guess maybe the wind system blows everything up to the top of the mountain or something, though one would have thought human trash and things would make their way up there pretty easily if that were the case.

But either way, they all go out to climb the mountain, and Domino keeps up her airhead facade in between dodging falling boulders like a pro. Team Rocket's balloon's rockets run out of fuel and they get blown conveniently straight at the climbers. Rather than crashing and crushing them all against the rocks, the balloon merely gets tangled in the rope they're all holding on to and drifts upwards towards the top of the mountain unharmed, pulling them with it. Luckily, the dangerous winds cease just then, and they're hovering quite comfortably above the lake when Domino pulls out a pair of binoculars that not only have a magic zoom button but can also detect Mewtwo's heat signature from his cave, through what must be many feet of solid rock, and construct a normal, visible image of Mewtwo from that heat signature. One must wonder why Team Rocket don't rule the world already with this kind of omnipotent technology at their disposal. In addition to Mewtwo, Domino also sees the Meowth and Pikachu clones by his side and reports this to Giovanni. He observes that clearly even Mewtwo could not stand being alone and that he needed companions. The camera zooms out to reveal that Giovanni is sitting in a helicopter that is hovering above the mountain.

Giovanni instructs Domino to take action, and she nimbly skirts up the rope into the balloon's basket before ordering Team Rocket's combat unit to launch now. A group of airships and helicopters appear over the horizon as Ash and company climb up the rope into the basket (with no explanation as to why they didn't do that much earlier if they could). A bit slow on the uptake, everyone demands to know just who the hell Domino is anyway, and she introduces herself as Team Rocket Elite Agent 009, Domino a.k.a. the Black Tulip, before she throws an actual black tulip like a dart at the balloon, popping it. Domino has a portable glider and hangglides over to Giovanni's helicopter; Ash and company are sent falling into the lake; and Team Rocket, with Ash's Pikachu, go flying in the deflating balloon towards the island. Where they land, Pikachu gets free and starts to shock them in revenge, but then another Thunderbolt interrupts it. The clone Pikachu has arrived on the scene, and it's not happy.

Now, remember how Mewtwo erased everyone's memories at the end of the first movie? Well, the clones' memories were never erased, and the clone Pikachu still views his original counterpart with resentment inherited from Mewtwo. Meowth translates for Jessie and James's benefit (and the viewer's) as the clone angrily asks Pikachu why it came there, especially bringing humans who might discover the Pokémon clones. Pikachu is completely confused - after all, its memory was erased - as the clone moves in to attack; however, just then Mewtwo appears and tells the clone to stop it because they don't want pointless fights. The clone, after a moment of hesitation, goes for it anyway, running madly towards Ash's Pikachu to tackle it, but Mewtwo telekinetically stops it in mid-air and puts it down, warning it again not to fight: he says there should be no more hostility between the 'real' and clone Pokémon, since even though they're only copies, they still have life. Note that this is the conclusion he came to at the end of the first movie, but this time it highlights the problems still inherent in his worldview: while he's realized that they have a right to live, he still thinks of them as inferior and less 'real'.

Mewtwo looks at Team Rocket and at the approaching helicopters and comments that he wanted them to forget him, but it was inevitable they would eventually return. (Naturally, Jessie, James and Meowth have no idea what he's talking about.) The clone Pikachu says urgently that they must fight so the humans won't take their home away from them, and the other clones that came with Mewtwo agree. Ash's Pikachu protests, and the Meowth clone agrees - because the moon is so round! - but Mewtwo says that the moon is blocked by the sunlight during the day and that the world the sun shines upon is the world of real Pokémon; they, as copies, are only shadows.

The Pikachu clone disagrees passionately. Why, it asks, do they have to be shadows? Why can't they live in the big world outside, too? Why, when Pikachu lives in that world, can't Pikachu's clone live there as well and be free? This is actually a remarkably powerful scene, especially considering it's being rendered in Meowth's rather silly voice, as a translation of a flurry of frantic "Pika-pika! Pikachu!"s coming from a yellow electric cartoon rodent; it's a miracle they managed to work that awkward setup into an impassioned speech about freedom and make it work, but they did, so hats off to them. Especially kudos to the clone Pikachu's voice actor; while the voice sounds kind of weird and squeaky compared to Ikue Ohtani's voice that we're used to, it packs a remarkable amount of emotion for such a restricted vocabulary.

However, Mewtwo is still not convinced; he reminds them that he is a manufactured Pokémon, as are they. Is there a place anywhere for such creatures? As he says this, the Rocket helicopters loom in the sky, and Giovanni says they will attack at dawn.

Back to our heroes, Ash and company are making their way onto dry land while Ash worries about Pikachu. They've landed on the bank of the lake rather than the island, but Luna suggests they make a canoe to get over there, and Ash's Chikorita and Bulbasaur use Razor Leaf to fashion one out of a random log. Convenient, that.

By the time they head out towards the island, it is almost dawn, and the Team Rocket airships are approaching. Mewtwo is watching from his cave and decides he won't fight them, the creatures who gave him life; will he and the clones have to escape again, find another safe, secluded place to stay where they won't be found? Meanwhile, the clone Pikachu is making another speech to the other clones: he says unless they escape now into the wide world, they will be caught and made into lab rats by these humans. The clones lock Jessie and James in a prison cell that's somewhere down in the cave for God knows what reason, but bring Meowth along with them because his translation abilities are useful. Then they head out, with the Water-types swimming across the lake and carrying the ones who can't swim. Mewtwo watches from above with the clones who remained behind, saying that he will continue to protect the ones who stayed, but the others may leave because he forcibly brought them into the world and to restrict their freedom afterwards would be selfish.

Ash and company sail through a cave entrance into a part of the underground dungeon and head up a staircase that is also there for God knows what reason. They eventually come back outside to another little lake or spring, and Cullen Calix hurriedly takes a sample of the water to find that yes, this is indeed the Best Water Ever. A bunch of adorable little Rhyhorn and Nidoqueen babies appear and there's a bit of a discussion of how awesome they will be when they grow up because they live on the Best Water Ever. Yes, Nidoqueen babies, which is nonsensical on more than one level, but can be explained by the fact that the parents were some of Mewtwo's clones which, since they were born in their evolved forms, could sensibly be argued to be unable to produce their pre-evolved forms as offspring if we make certain assumptions about Pokémon genetics; however, this doesn't explain why nobody seems to find this the slightest bit surprising. I won't touch the glaring deviation from the in-game breeding logic, since this could be a conscious change for the anime's sake.

Anyway, the escaping clones arrive at the bank of the big lake, but just then a Team Rocket helicopter comes along with a machine that paralyzes them before Pokéballs rain down from one of the airships to capture them. Meowth frantically tries to help his paralyzed clone, who stoically insists that the moon is just as round as usual, but Meowth drags the clone with him anyway to escape along with the two Pikachu. Eventually they're cornered against a cliffside and the machine aims a paralyzing blob at them, but at the last second, a Shadow Ball destroys it: Mewtwo has come to help them, and he quickly releases the captured clones from the Pokéballs.

This was exactly what Giovanni wanted, however, and now his helicopter extends out a platform that he stands on with Domino as he greets his creation for the first time since Mewtwo was young and confused.

Mewtwo warns him that his powers have gotten greater since they last met, but Giovanni responds that they've now created a machine that will seal his powers. As if to illustrate his point, two robotic devices come out on either side of Mewtwo and start sparkling with power before blasting him into the ground. Mewtwo is incredulous that Giovanni expects to be able to beat him using a mere machine and manages to blast the machines away. Giovanni is impressed and admits that true power can only be possessed by living things, but goes on to say that hearts are also a great weakness before declaring that the true battlefield will be the island in the middle of the lake, which the airships have now reached while Mewtwo was distracted.

Domino uses a jetpack (seriously, omnipotent technology) to go to the island as well, where she captures Ash and company and brings them with her out to the spring with the Best Water Ever (they'd returned to the dungeons after concluding Pikachu wasn't at the spring). She picks up one of the baby Nidoqueen; the Nidoqueen and Rhyhorn parents leap down to defend their babies, but she throws her omnipotent black tulip down at the ground and it emits strange blue sparks that paralyze them before she restrains them with the same strange devices she is using on Ash and co. She needlessly explains that she doesn't care about Pokémon and the ones living on the island will all be guinea pigs before having the heroes taken away to be locked up in the dungeons.

Naturally, Mewtwo hurries over to the island with the clones that are with him to help the ones that remained behind, but the helicopter follows him, and as he orders Domino to let his comrade go, Giovanni tells Mewtwo that to save the clones, he must submit to Team Rocket and serve them. Mewtwo would rather die than serve him and tells him so, but Giovanni counters by saying that they will use the clones for experiments that will very likely kill them. Mewtwo reluctantly agrees, and two new machines appear, producing a strange blue light that Giovanni explains will break his will to be subservient to them, while Domino threatens to hurt the Pokémon if he doesn't comply and uses her omnipotent tulip to shoot blue blasts of energy at the two Pikachu to prove her point.

So Mewtwo steps into the light, to his clone companions' cries of protest, and the light levitates him up into the air as he declares that they may take his body but they cannot take his heart. The machines then inflict horrible pain on him while Giovanni nonchalantly talks about what a nice place this is and that it will make a lovely location for a new Team Rocket base where he can train the strongest Pokémon army in the world with an obedient Mewtwo at its head.

Meanwhile, our heroes are trudging through the dungeon with some Rocket guards when the two Pikachu, the two Meowth and a random Wigglytuff appear, all restrained by the same devices as the humans. I don't understand how this happened; the last we saw of them was Domino blasting them with the tulip, and they don't appear to be accompanied by more Rocket members, so this is quite out of nowhere, but whatever. The Pikachu both collapse in exhaustion, and Ash runs up to help them, surprised that Pikachu was captured too. Cullen Calix instructs Luna to give the Pikachu the sample of the Best Water Ever that he collected earlier, and she does so, magically making both Pikachu fine again thanks to the awesome properties of this water. Once they've been healed, however, Domino comes along after them and demands they be locked in the prison immediately.

After leaving them in the cell, Domino talks to Giovanni on a walkie-talkie to ask him about Mewtwo. Giovanni is losing his patience: they're not reading any changes in Mewtwo's brainwaves, while his body is weakening. Domino comments it would be a waste to kill him, but Giovanni considers this a battle of wills between the two of them and, in anger, squeezes the walkie-talkie so hard it breaks.

It appears Domino is having Jessie and James scrub the floor, and Team Rocket appear to be building a base, which is releasing copious amounts of pollution into the water, already. This seems quite absurd, but let's go with it. The pollution is noticed by the Bug Pokémon living around the lake, and suddenly Beedrill, Butterfree and Ledian swarm towards the new Rocket base. The Butterfree put a couple of grunts to sleep, so one of them drops the blowtorch he's holding and causes a massive explosion; this magically breaks the bars of the dungeon prison cell while leaving Ash and company unharmed inside, so they hurry out of there. Domino's efforts to fend off the swarm of Ledian with her omnipotent tulip are foiled by three Scyther, and then she unceremoniously slips on the floor she was having Jessie and James clean and ends up with her head in the washbucket. Jessie and James act like they totally planned this.

Ash and company make their way outside to where Mewtwo is, and Ash announces he wants to help him. Mewtwo tells them to stop the light that is torturing him, and true to character, Ash immediately concludes that running headfirst into the machines is the best way to do it. Pricelessly, with the help of the two Pikachu, the two Meowth and Brock, they actually manage to overturn one of the machines by doing just that, but this doesn't actually stop it working. Instead, Mewtwo decides to summon all of his strength to break free, risking killing himself if he doesn't succeed. As he screams in agony, Ash orders both Pikachu to hit one of the machines with Thunderbolt, and with their combined efforts, it successfully breaks, the other machine is useless without it, and Mewtwo falls limply to the ground.

He says weakly that nothing can be done to save him now, but the Pikachu immediately suggest that he should be taken to the spring with the Best Water Ever, since after all that healed them perfectly with just a tiny sip earlier. As they prepare to pick Mewtwo up, however, the Rockets surround them and demand they hand him over. Misty and Brock leap forth to send out their Pokémon to fight them back, and all the other clones as well as the Bug Pokémon join them. Giovanni declares they will kill them all if they have to, but while they're distracted, Ash supports Mewtwo (with Chikorita and Bulbasaur's help) through the dungeons towards the spring. On the way, Mewtwo asks why Ash is helping him; Ash just replies that he helped Pikachu and he's returning the favor.

Luna and Cullen are still at the spring after going there to check on it when they were first released from the prison; when Ash tells them just drinking the water won't be enough to help Mewtwo, Cullen protests that this water is important and could make for breakthroughs in medical science, but Ash just throws Mewtwo in anyway, with a remarkable strength for an eternal ten-year-old.

As Mewtwo sinks into the water, it feels familiar. He remembers the tank he was born in, or possibly genetic memories of being Mew in a bubble in the ocean, and he sees Mew before him; he wonders, as so often, who he is and what his purpose is, and finally concludes that really, it doesn't matter, because he's a living being with the same right to live in this world as any other.

Up above, Giovanni's Rocket helicopter appears and begins to fire missiles around the spring, but then Mewtwo bursts out of the water, more powerful than ever, and declares he will not allow him to hurt anyone else. A great light spreads out from him, forming a column of light towards the sky...

It is night. Team Rocket grunts look in confusion at the barren wasteland around them. The spring has completely disappeared; Cullen worries initially, but he still has his original sample vial of the Best Water Ever, so he can continue his research.

Far down below them, Mewtwo explains to Ash that he moved the spring (as well as them and the clones) underground and then comments that he should probably erase everyone's memories and leave this place. However, Meowth protests on behalf of all the clones, making a little speech. This speech, however, unfortunately just doesn't quite make any sense, because the whole thing is about the clones not wanting to lose their memories, while the ones whose memories Mewtwo would sensibly erase (and whose memories he erased in the first movie) are everybody else. But either way this impassioned speech, ending in concluding that the clones have as much of a right to live and remember who they are as everybody else, makes Mewtwo realize it's true and they have the right to live anywhere on the planet, just like other Pokémon. He will, however, erase the memories of those who seek to harm them.

So he mindwipes and teleports Team Rocket back to their base, where they look around in confusion again and Giovanni demands to know why they have an army assembled. Meanwhile, Mewtwo prepares to fly all his clones off the mountain to be free to go where they like, and somehow not only has the Meowth balloon been fixed but a Pikachu balloon has also appeared out of nowhere for the heroes to use. As they part, Mewtwo tells them that if they hear their names called, they should look, because he may be standing there.

In an epilogue of sorts, we see Luna and Cullen waiting for the bus, seemingly just in order to tell the bus driver they won't actually be taking it because Cullen is staying there to continue his research. Well, that was pointless. Then we see Ash, Misty and Brock are walking around a city when they hear Mewtwo announcing his presence to them telepathically. Though they don't see him, we get to see him standing at the top of a skyscraper, watching over the town. The end.

The Good

Well, first of all, this special does a better job with Mewtwo's development than the first movie did. It picks up fairly naturally from the state of affairs at the end of the movie, shows us believably that Mewtwo still hasn't resolved his cloning blues without undoing what was learned then, and gives him much more gradual development that lets his actions make sense throughout and work pretty smoothly with the plot. This is probably largely thanks to the fact he is a protagonist rather than an antagonist, allowing more sympathetic focus on him without having to cram something in to make the day be saved from him.

My favorite character in this special, however, is probably the Pikachu clone, who provides an interesting, alternate but not villainous, perspective on things and is just generally a really sympathetic, believable, fleshed-out character with some genuine motives and beliefs of its own. Its jealous resentment towards the original Pikachu was heartfelt, the speech about freedom quite stirring, and it just really won me over right away. In general I enjoyed the focus many of the Pokémon characters got, with several Pokémon being given speech through Meowth or Mewtwo's translation and voicing actual opinions that matter.

Domino is pretty cool while she lasts; it's always nice to have competent villains, and Giovanni mostly delivers as well, being threatening, deeply evil and acting intelligent throughout without being ridiculous or cheesy like the Iron-Masked Marauder.

Finally, the plot is fairly intense, with the viewer already invested in Mewtwo's fate and the threat of the Rockets providing a pretty powerful antagonistic force for the good guys to fight against.

The Bad

Oh, boy.

I'm unsure what to mention first, but in the end I would have to go with how poorly it follows through with the promise of, well, everything. Even the aspects I specifically consider to be the strengths of the special aren't immune - in the second half, the clone Pikachu does little but act as a duplicate of Ash's Pikachu, even replicating all of its movements exactly in what I'll charitably not chalk up to lazy animators but only because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Domino is set up as being pretty cool and competent, but once they're actually on the mountain the most interesting thing she does is fight a few Bug Pokémon for ten seconds before slipping on a wet floor, effectively undoing all the setup trying to make her awesome.

The worst part of this is that the first half introduces a whole lot of different individual aspects of the plot and most of them don't actually get much done with them, in the end. The most obvious one is that at the beginning they dramatically pose the question of whether it would be right to take the Best Water Ever and use it for medical research. As it turns out, this is never addressed properly again at all: they find it and spend a little while waxing poetic about how this is indeed the Best Water Ever, and then when Ash brings Mewtwo to the spring, Cullen is all "Oh, no! Don't throw him into the water! It could contaminate it!" - but then Ash just throws him in anyway, Cullen never follows up on this, and at the end he's perfectly happy to just continue his research with the little sample he had before he even came there, the water's medical potential completely forgotten. Luna Carson, too, is sort of pointless, never doing much of anything in the special, even though they set her up as being the one who knows the mountain best out of all the characters. The clones who rise up against Mewtwo and try to leave never attempt to go again after their first escape attempt is foiled, until the very end when Mewtwo takes them all with him; their conflict with Mewtwo simply dissipates, and like I said, the clone Pikachu's issues with its original counterpart just suddenly vanish into thin air. Further, the non-Meowth-and-Pikachu clones in general are horribly underused; they're a bunch of powerful Pokémon, but they serve mostly as backdrop, getting helplessly captured by Team Rocket at one point and otherwise just being sort of there, with a vague implication they could be making use of themselves offscreen near the end but otherwise nothing.

Secondly, as you may have picked up on if you read the synopsis, this special has a truly exceptional amount of nonsense, plot holes and general ridiculousness. Noticeably, characters keep standing there not doing anything when they have every opportunity to take action against what's happening: Ash, Misty and Brock don't send out their Pokémon to stop Team Rocket taking Pikachu away at the beginning even while Jessie is lengthily declaring her lust for Cullen; Ash and company don't climb the rope up into the balloon until after Domino has merrily used her magic binoculars and contacted Giovanni; Mewtwo doesn't just teleport all the helicopters away when they're approaching even when everything seems to suggest he would be perfectly capable of it; Mewtwo doesn't just blast Domino to kingdom come when she's threatening the clones; Mewtwo doesn't levitate Giovanni into the air, take him as a hostage and demand they leave. There's a lot of this with Mewtwo especially, simply because the writers fell into the trap of making him so powerful that it was impossible to get him into believable trouble. As it is, it just doesn't make sense that Team Rocket can in any way coerce the same Pokémon who is shown casually being able to do things such as selectively picking multiple people up simultaneously with telekinesis, levitating them, teleporting them and erasing their memories; they took the right approach in making them approach him from the emotional side by threatening his weaker companions, but he is so powerful he simply ought to still be easily able to save his companions from them without much trouble, and yet he doesn't. Even then, however, the clones themselves also don't do anything when they're being threatened, or having paralyzing blobs shot at them, or pretty much anything, when even aside from the issue of unused potential, one would inevitably expect them to be doing something.

Characters not acting when they should be aren't the only problem in this department. First Luna doesn't want them to climb the mountain and says it's too hard; then she takes them there without objections. There's a random prison cell and hewn stone steps in an area that was explicitly described as being untouched nature. Team Rocket are somehow well on their way to building a base in this place, with a fully-functional waste disposal system, huge metal tanks of flammable gas, girders, etc., within hours of when they first come there, without us ever seeing any of these materials arriving on the island (and one would think that would be pretty noticeable). An explosion neatly blows metal bars out of the way without harming the people just behind those metal bars. We jump from one scene to another and suddenly the two Pikachu and the two Meowth have been captured without explanation. Somehow everyone expects Mewtwo to be about to erase the clones' memories, and the argument for not doing any memory-erasing is based completely on that, even when there was no reason he'd have erased their memories in the first place. There's a sudden Pikachu balloon, here in this oasis of supposedly unspoiled nature where humans have never been. No matter how you look at it, this list is terrible. This isn't even fridge logic; it's just blatant illogicalities, and it's way too many of them for it to be excusable in a one-hour special.

Finally, there is the downright silly Team Rocket technology. I know this is a world where living creatures can be caught in little balls, but come on; magical zoom buttons and omnipotent tulips are just rather ridiculous.

Conclusion

Overall, I have to say I found it rather underwhelming, honestly. It gets something promising going in the first half, but then manages to make awfully little of it, and the good is bogged down by the multitude of plot holes. It is, however, rather different, and I think I'd call it worth seeing anyway just to see the clone Pikachu's rebellion and the conclusion of Mewtwo's character arc, which are actually pretty well done.

Page last modified August 12 2016 at 22:34 GMT