I was lucky to be born in time to witness the height of Pokemon hype and even the revival this year. So this movie, Pokemon 2000, was the follow up to the hit first Pokemon movie. With the Pokemon juggernaut being the only great thing in 2016, they have re-released all the original movies on DVD and Blu-Ray. A smart move by Pokemon and Manga Entertainment as they haven’t lost any of their charm and with a new generation being brought into the fold now is the ideal time.
Looking back Pokemon 2000 is set in the Orange Island arc with the anime, where Ash ventures around before he gets to Johto. Kind of a filler series as the Orange Islands aren’t in the games although given the setting you could be mistaken for the Alola region which features in the new Sun and Moon series. The Pokemon in this are still the basic 150 but a few from the Gold/Silver games as they were still easing the new 100 Pokemon in very slowly.
The plot of Pokemon 2000 is very simple, Ash is traveling around the Orange isles and runs into trouble when a weather imbalance threatens the globe. This imbalance is caused by an unknown collector’s greed and pursuit of legendary water bird Lugia and in the process captures the three legendary birds from Red and Blue, Moltres, Articuno and Zapdos. An ancient prophecy has it that a chosen one, which turns out to be Ash, will come along and aid Lugia in quelling the chaos by collecting three treasures from Fire, Lightning and Ice Islands. Now the DVD is a basic release with no new features or extras, which was a shame, but what can you do Pokemon craze part 2 suddenly hit after Pokemon Go and the need to rush these out as soon as possible was apparent – thus is commercialism this day and age.
The movie itself, however, has kept it’s charm. The art style is familiar to those who watch the series but you can tell they have a much bigger budget and used it on quality. The background artwork is some of the best you can see in anime and considering this was released at the turn of the millennium it has stood the test of time with ease. The artwork is just one positive but the real selling point is the score. When watching anime the main selling points of a good series or movie is typically the art style and the storyline. The most overlooked aspect is the audio side and not just the voice talent but the score too, if you nail this part right then it becomes more than a niche cartoon. Pokemon knew this and when you look to world acclaimed anime that hit the mainstream like the studio Ghibli movies and one thing they have in common is a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. Pokemon 2000 followed this lead brilliantly and Lugia’s song is a magnificent piece which would rival any classical operatic piece.
Looking back on the movie as an older man, I began to notice the flaws which as a kid passed me by. In fact, watching as a grown up kind of ruined parts as I had to take off my nostalgia filter and I really wish I hadn’t. First off, let’s address the biggest flaw in the movie, Lawrence the 3rd AKA the worst antagonist ever. It starts promising as Lawrence has a huge flying palace, a giant airship with its own fresco ceiling. Good start, right, then we find out he wants to collect Lugia and add him to his ‘collection’. And now you’re excited thinking “oh he must be some super wealthy bloke with high ambitions and a huge god complex” but then, bang, that’s it. There’s nothing more to him until the very end when we find out his collection, which we don’t see anyway, started with an ancient mew card. That’s right the free card you got when you watch the first movie. That escalates super fast, it’s the equivalent of eating a pack of chocolate animal biscuits and within a month you’re out in Zimbabwe hunting endangered species for sport. I’d love to see his backstory because he sounds like he could be a huge heel in the Pokemon Universe but in this movie, he’s more of a background character who does very little.
Other new characters are underused and are wasted by even being there. Tracey is one of those and the talking Slowking too, you could re-do the movie without them and it’d wouldn’t change a bit. The dialogue was very cringeworthy in places. They had some decent rubbish puns which are a staple of Pokemon but some parts were Excalibur face worthy. The main example was Misty giving Lawrence a good telling off, she passionately says “Pokemon aren’t things to be collected or to used to do your bidding”, with dialogue like that you’ll be sitting there drinking the richest irony smoothie money can buy. Ash’s Mom also goes over dramatic for a woman who has let her 10-year-old son travel the globe alone, that is populated by aggressive Pokemon, the whole “I could’ve of lost my world” speech was overkill if we’re being realistic.
Misty finally shows she has romantic intentions towards Ash, a huge step forward and back in 2000 this was the biggest “will they won’t they” and if they won’t will she love me instead because I’d buy her as many bikes as she wants. Another positive was the action sequences with the three legendary birds as they encapsulated pure destruction perfectly, you could put the footage of those battles side by side with the fall out of Trump winning the election and it’d be identical. The use of 3D graphics was a bold choice but it worked for them and it didn’t damage the beauty of the drawn artwork. Lastly, it can be lost on us how big Pokemon became but you are reminded at the end credits when Weird Al’s Poke-Polka comes on followed by Westlife’s hit flying without wings was a number 1 single in the UK charts of 1999.
Pokemon 2000 was a great trip down memory lane, in fact, the whole of 2016 has been for us Pokemon fans. The movie has kept its charm and as an adult watching, you start realizing what bypassed you as a kid things, like how can 3 ten-year-old kids with no engineering skill and experience turn a yacht into a windsurfer that can climb stairs? But the absurdity of some things don’t matter, it was fantastic to revisit the old times and it gives a perspective of how far Pokemon has come. As with most second movies, it won’t match the first but Pokemon 2000 was okay in its entertainment value. I’d recommend this movie to any Pokefan out there, sure it won’t get watched as much and with over 20 Pokemon movies out and more on the conveyor belt, it might be something for a lazy Sunday. Despite a below par story line and under-developed characters, it is brought into life with outstanding artwork design and music. Well worth getting but more for the collection than the entertainment value.
POKEMON 2000 FEATURES ON THE POKEMON MOVIE 1-3 COLLECTION FROM MANGA ENTERTAINMENT