Astral Animations

Welcome to Astral Animations, where we'll examine the imports of Japanese animation currently available in the United States.

W A R N I N G !

This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the movie.

That said, on to the review!

Now Showing: Pokemon--The First Movie
Broadcast Dates: 1999
Format: DVD

Ash fought his way into the Pokemon League, earning eight gym badges to qualify to participate in the competition. He ultimately came up short, but advanced to no inconsiderable level. Now he's resumed his quest with Misty, Brock, and Pikachu at his side. Little do any of them know, however, that events from their past are about to play a tremendous role in their present and may affect their future. For there is a Pokemon out there searching for a reason for its existence and with a potentially deadly plan in mind to accomplish that search. Of all the Pokemon yet known to humans, this one is the first one truly bent towards evil. Gary Oak once fought this Pokemon, and he barely survived that battle. Now it's Ash's turn to do so. But where did this Pokemon come from? What is it, and how did it become so powerful?

Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket, funded an expedition in search of the rarest Pokemon of all: #151, a.k.a. Mew. The expedition found signs that Mew did exist (or once had) and, using a fossil, attempted to clone Mew. However, Giovanni insisted that the scientists augment the clone's abilitie, wanting nothing but the strongest, most powerful Pokemon in the world to use in battles. The scientists succeeded in their objectives, but the Pokemon proved too powerful. It devastated the lab before Giovanni could arrive and strike a deal with it. That done, however, Giovanni undertakes the training and refining of the Pokemon's raw power, using it in battle against opponents like the unlucky Gary Oak. Eventually, however, the Pokemon turned on its trainer/partner-in-crime and sought its own reason for existence.

Now this dark, devilish Pokemon has arranged a match with the greatest Pokemon trainers in the world. Their opponents, however, will not be each other, or even ordinary Pokemon. Instead, this Pokemon has created super-clones of Charizard, Venusaur and Blastoise, and it is his contention that his clones are more powerful than the originals. Now it falls to Ash and his friends--human and Pokemon alike--to stop this angry Pokemon before the entire world suffers, even if it means sacrificing his life to stop it. Help may come in the form of a curious, fun-loving Mew, but in the end who will prove more powerful: Mew, the world's greatest and rarest Pokemon, or its dark, augmented clone, Mewtwo?

Pokemon--The First Movie features all your favorite Pokemon characters in a desperate struggle for survival against a Pokemon whose pyschic abilities could well mean the end of the world as they know it, for humans and Pokemon alike. As nearly as I can tell, it takes place shortly before Ash and Company go to Valencia Island in the Orange Archipelago, but shortly after Pidgeotto evolved into Pidgeot and Ash let it go to lead the Pidgeotto and Pidgey against the Fearow and Spearow. As near as I can tell, anyway.

I think the best part of this movie would have to be having another Pokemon able to speak human. Before, it was only Meowth that could do so; later it was Lapras (Ash's baby Lapras doesn't seem able to do it yet). Now, however, we have a psychic Pokemon like Mewtwo able to communicate telepathically in human words. I'd say that this opens up a number of doors for the animators. After all, if one psychic-type Pokemon can communicate with humans telepathically, would Pokemon like Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam, Psyduck, Golduck, Ghastly, Haunter, Gengar, Drowzee, Hypno, and others be able to do likewise? Then again, it may be that those Pokemon use other psychic abilities, such as telekinesis, rather than telepathy. Perhaps we'll just have to wait and see.

Another good part? Hmm. I'd say it has to be the very beginning when Ash first appears. The opening battle sequence was outstanding. Not only do we get to meet a new Pokemon--Donphan, whatever number that is--but we also get to see Bulbasaur use its Solar Beam again! Okay, maybe that's a little corny. Seriously, though, the last time we saw that attack was back when Bulbasaur resisted evolution. We saw it when a Gloom at the Xanadu Nursery used it, and when an Ivysaur used it against Ash's friend's Pokemon during the League competitions. But this time we get to see Bulbasaur use it again, and to devastating effect.

I certainly can't finish without talking about Pikachu's Vacation, the mini-movie that opened the movie itself. This film, I'd say, takes place after League competitions but before Ash releases Pidgeot, and that's only because Pidgeotto is still in this film while Misty's Starmie and Horsea aren't (meaning this takes place after she leaves them in Cerulean City). Not only do we get to see two new Pokemon--Snubble and Marrill--but we get to see what kind of things go on when Pokemon meet each other without humans to direct their actions. Seeing all the struggles the Pokemon go through to get Charizard unstuck was terrific, especially since Meowth was there to provide even more comic relief!

If I were you, I'd opt for buying the DVD version of this movie. Not only do you have a chance to see the origins of Mewtwo (okay, from before he awakens in his tube), but you also get a chance to see a preview of the second Pokemon movie! Go for it, get the DVD this time!

You should be able to purchase Pokemon--The First Movie on videotape or DVD at any video store. Otherwise, you can contact Warner Brothers to find out how to order it.

Interested in buying this video? You can! Just follow the links to order the English dubbed VHS versions or the DVD version. You can also visit the Stellar Video Store for other titles.

Comments? Did you see the movie and disagree with what I think? Tell me your own thoughts on the movie. Just click here to send me e-mail.

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