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YMMV / Pokémon: The First Movie

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  • Animation Age Ghetto: Defied for the Japanese version, according to Word of God. Takeshi Shudō states that he made the movie to entertain children and their parents/guardians as well, and that he'd be "slightly embarrassed" by parents who'd just take their children to see the movie as chaperones. It's a shame that, not only did 4Kids Entertainment dub this as a straight-up kids' film (as opposed to a family film), but many of the later movies in the series would fall squarely into this trope. Not only that, English parents/guardians hated the film, meaning Shudo's fears did come true in a way.
    Takeshi Shudo: "Perhaps this anime is not only for children but also for their guardians: Where is this? Who am I? If you answer, 'This is a movie theater where I seldom come. I am a parent who has a child. —Ah, child rearing is an expensive, tiring job,' I'll be slightly embarrassed by your answer."
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  • Anvilicious: Whether the film's aesop is "all life is equal" (Japanese version) or "killing/fighting (to the death) is wrong!" (English version), there's a scene with all the characters preaching about it from the sidelines. It also manages to completely overshadow the much subtler and more fitting secondary message about how one's choices matter more than one's origins, which nonetheless follows more naturally from the Japanese moral.
  • Ass Pull: The dub's moral of "fighting is wrong" makes sense given the context, but has very little to tie it to the rest of the movie, seemingly comes out of nowhere unlike the original's, and like Anvilicious above essentially tries to highlight "killing is bad". It also causes Mewtwo's "circumstances of one's birth" realization at the end to become this.
  • Awesome Music: "Tears of Life." That is all.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: "Pikachu's Vacation" has several surreal cutaways (mostly scene transitions) to things involving other Pokémon.
  • Can't Un-Hear It:
    • If you watch the Japanese version, try not to hear Masachika Ichimura as Mewtwo. Lots of fans had trouble adjusting to Reiko Takashima's performance as M16's "female" Mewtwo for this reason, with Dogasunote  noting that he kept lapsing into reading Newtwo's dialogue in Ichimura's voice when going through the M16 manga adaptation. When Mewtwo returned as DLC in the latest Smash Bros. game, Keiji Fujiwara's take on it was clearly inspired by Ichimura's performance.
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    • For the English version, this can either be subverted or played straight depending on your point of view, in that both Philip Bartlett and Dan Green (who took over the role in Mewtwo Returns) seem to be equally well-remembered as Mewtwo's voice.
  • "Common Knowledge": The movie has a Broken Aesop about how "fighting is wrong" in a series which involves the titular Mons fighting constantly to grow stronger. Except the problem people misunderstand is that it's actually meant to be "fighting to the death is wrong". The franchise is known for its infamous amount of Non-Lethal K.O. battles in both the games and other media in the franchise, this very movie included, but many people overlook it entirely even though the Pokémon clones versus the original Pokémon they came from are clearly about to collapse due to severe exhaustion in their blind aggression and fighting towards one another, and possibly would've died due to both injury and fatigue had Ash not put an end to it. It's funny that the Irony in all of this is that the movie is so Anvilicious it hurts and yet people constantly make mistakes regarding what the Aesop is even about in the first place.
  • Continuity Lockout: As The Nostalgia Critic points out, if you try to watch this movie without being familiar with the anime, you're going to get lost pretty quickly.
  • Creepy Awesome: Mewtwo, especially in the Japanese original where it's essentially a Psychopathic Manchild who's toying with everyone just to stoke its ego.
  • Critical Dissonance: Did poorly with critics, but ended up being the highest grossing anime film released in the United States. Modern Pokémon fans also have a somewhat higher opinion of the movie, where it is considered polarizing instead of universally bad. However, the Japanese version is usually considered outright good. The biggest point of contention is the fact that the dub changed much of the point of the film, as Dogasu puts it in his side-by-side comparison of both versions:
    I mean, I look at what all those film critics say about the movie back then and am shaking my head because, while they do have some valid complaints here and there, a large majority of the faults they find with the movie aren't there in the original version of the film. "You didn't see the real movie!" I think to myself. "You saw the 4Kids One Piece dub of the Pokémon franchise."
  • Critical Research Failure: Courtesy of the English dub; in one scene Corey refers to his Pidgeot as Pidgeotto, and in the scenes of Mewtwo's lab Team Rocket mistake the silhouette for Scyther as Alakazam, while Meowth refers to the Sandslash clone as a Sandshrew.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Yes, Mewtwo is incredibly tragic and yes, it learns the error of its ways in the end. But some fans take this too far and use it to excuse its blatantly twisted and hypocritical actions throughout most of the movie.
  • Evil Is Cool: It's often agreed that Mewtwo is the best antagonist of all the Pokémon movies, with its immense power, Badass Baritone, cool design, being an actual villainous Pokémon and having darker objectives compared to the other movie villains.
  • Fanfic Fuel: Exactly how Mewtwo kidnapped Nurse Joy is left unexplained. Did it find her himself, hypnotize her and take her back to its island? Did Mewtwo have a different Pokémon abduct her and then hypnotize her? Where did it get her new outfit from?
  • First Installment Wins:
    • Most people know there were at least two movies, but most people (at least outside of Japan) don't know that there is a twentieth movie, and counting.
    • Overlapping with the above Can't Un-Hear It, this version of Mewtwo is by far the most remembered iteration of the character to date. In its appearances in the Super Smash Bros. games, its overall portrayal is based on this specific one.
    • Mewtwo is also considered by many to be the best movie villain in the series, with a sympathetic backstory, strong presence, memorable character, and many cool and badass elements. Many of the later ones fall short in one area or another; be they more "antagonist" than "villain", lacking an understandable backstory or motive beyond "I'm the villain", recycling from a past villain (especially notable if they have a Cool Airship like Pokémon 2000's villain), or being as interesting as styrofoam.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Though it's rather downplayed (and excised completely in the English dub), Mewtwo is Not Evil, Just Misunderstood, and merely seeking a purpose in life (if going about it in completely the wrong way). Later Pokémon films with actual sinister-looking Pokémon as the (apparent or actual) Big Bad would go overboard with this trope, to the point where such a Pokémon either not being evil or making a Heel–Face Turn is a common and tired cliché they share.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Has its own page here.
  • Fridge Horror: Has its own page here.
  • Growing the Beard: Specifically in Japanese, as the movie was one of the first Pokémon products to implement complex ideas and themes that would give older viewers something to appreciate and think about, only beaten out by some early manga or the occasional in-game moment that touched on these (or in the case of Pokémon Adventures, took them and gleefully ran with them over the horizon), with the wider appeal of the anime leaving a heavier impact. While the English dub was much more simplistic, it at least kept the dark tone of the original, and many people still regard it as a step up from the regular episodes.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Several people, including Hellfire Commentaries, have pointed out Mewtwo's similarity to Shadow the Hedgehog. What really seals the comparison is that Mewtwo even has its own Maria in Ai/Amber.
    • For a different comparison to Sonic the Hedgehog, Mewtwo is an anthropomorphic animal with Psychic Powers who halts its attackers via telekinesis and then flings them away, even remarking "It is no use" before showcasing this ability against Ash. Sound familiar? It should. For bonus points, both works were dubbed by 4Kids.
    • The message behind the English version of the movie (as you'll learn multiple times) is that fighting (though to be fair, the kind of fighting that Mewtwo forces upon the Pokémon, not fighting in general) is wrong and that Pokémon aren't meant to fight to the death. It probably wouldn't seem too far out of place for a Team Plasma propaganda film.
    • Because Mewtwo's special Poké Ball wasn't given an actual name in the movie itself, some have actually started calling it a Master Ball because of the "ridiculous" catch rate. A later episode would feature an actual Master Ball, and it failed in capturing a Pokémon (a Whiscash).
    • Take a good look at Raymond, the trainer Ash faces at the movie's beginning, and the pattern in Fergus' backpack pattern. Notice something familiar?
    • A genetically modified, terrifyingly intelligent, all-powerful monster with a primarily white color scheme and an intense hatred for humanity due to being mistreated by its creators? Mewtwo is essentially a redeemable version of the Indominus rex.
    • From the soundtrack, a few of the songs become easily applicable to events in Pokémon's future, as opposed to being completely unrelated to anything in the film. For instance, "Making My Way (Anyway That I Can)", a song about overcoming hardships with newfound courage and strength can easily be seen as Lillie's theme song.
    • This won't be the last time a Giovanni has control over a Mewtwo (though it will, sadly, be the only time he gives it kickass armor).
    • The Western-produced Detective Pikachu movie stars Mewtwo. Not only are the opening scenes a Shout-Out to this movie, it's implied from its personality and a comment about its origins that it is, in fact, the Mewtwo from this movie and Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns (especially since Mewtwo was last seen overlooking a major city at night). Yes, this movie may well have gotten a Hollywood Live-Action Adaptation as a Stealth Sequel.
    • The gag with Team Rocket dressing as vikings, given that Pokémon Sword and Shield would give Meowth a viking-based regional form.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Mewtwo; while there's no denying that it's a dick, it had an incredibly tragic life up to the point where it vowed revenge on humanity. Even more so in the Japanese dub, where it just wants to prove itself worthy of its own existence.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Mewtwo is the clone of the Mythical Pokémon Mew and a confused being wondering why its alive. Enraged at his seemingly pointless existence, Mewtwo vowed revenge against humanity. Constructing the Pokémon Palace on New Island, Mewtwo brainwashed a Nurse Joy to serve as a proxy and issued invitations to the palace proclaiming to be the world's greatest trainer. Mewtwo then created a hurricane around the island to weed out only the strongest and bravest trainers. With those that he wanted at the island, Mewtwo battled them with its own clone Pokémon and stole their Pokémon with special Poké Balls. When Ash freed the orginals as Mew arrived on the island, Mewtwo challanged Mew to battle with its army of clones against the originals. As the battle ended with Ash petrified, Mewtwo watched in amazement as both clones and original cried over him, and left with the clones to find a place for them to belong while erasing the memories of everyone involved.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Pokémon aren't meant to fight. Not like this!" note 
  • Narm: A few examples, mostly thanks to the changes 4Kids made to the original film:
    • 4Kids' editing and script changing is a source of this, though there seem to be just as many people seeing their work as Narm Charm instead.
    • During the sad scene where all of the Pokémon are crying over Ash's petrified body, the Dewgong start making sounds that are downright hilarious, especially in the Japanese version. Mood Whiplash at its finest.
    • Some people, critical of the English dub, find the "Brother My Brother" song to be a case of Soundtrack Dissonance.
    • The Harbor Master's Info Dump on the prophecy of a "great storm", supposedly the one being created by Mewtwo. Aside from being blatant exposition on what's to come, many may be tempted to believe she isn't all there reciting this bizarre story to them.
    • Team Rocket's viking disguises, which has to be one of their least credible, treats us to this quip from Ash that "They mostly live in Minnesota".
    • It's hard to resist telling Pikachu to "Stop hitting itself" when his clone is beating him up.
    • "Bruteroot" and "Shellshocker".
    • Misty's response to Mewtwo's evil plan? "You're just a bully!"
    • The entire message about how fighting is wrong is made of this, which countless fans have mocked for it being completely out of place in the series. It does not help that the English dub tries so hard to force it into the audience's heads.
  • Narm Charm: Similar to The Transformers: The Movie, a lot of people enjoy the English dub due to nostalgia, the pop soundtrack, and Mewtwo's badassery as a villain, despite everyone acknowledging that the movie isn't one of the best around (as evidenced by its very, very low Rotten Tomatoes rating).
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Blastoise in this movie is voiced by popular seiyuu Tessho Genda in the Japanese version. "KAMEEEE~!"
  • Retroactive Recognition: Billie Piper (credited simply as Billie) sings one of the end credits songs, "Makin' My Way (Any Way That I Can)."
  • Signature Scene: Ash being Taken for Granite after trying to stop Mewtwo and Mew's fight and getting hit with their psychic blasts.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: The original theatrical and VHS releases of the movie play Pikachu's Vacation first — so viewers would have to endure a saccharine, completely irrelevant 30-minute piece of fluff before the real movie can begin and we see Mewtwo slaughter its creators in cold blood.
  • Snark Bait: There's no small amount of snark over the English release subtitling it "The First Movie" ("Pokémon: We're Going To Milk This Until It Bleeds" etc...) It's worth noting that the second movie was already out in Japan, so it was a safe choice.
  • Subbing vs. Dubbing: The dub is far more well-known in the Western fandom, and quite a few fans even ignore that the Japanese version exists. Despite this, people who can find the Japanese version tend to prefer it (thanks, Shudo).
  • Vindicated by History: To some extent. The movie used to be on the IMDb Bottom 100 when it debuted, but now sits at an average rating. Most of the votes were initially from disgruntled adults taking their kids to see the movie, but they later became dominated by grown Pokéfans. Easier (but not outright "easy") access to the original Japanese version of the movie also helped, as it motivated quite a few Pokémon fans who aren't too fond of 4Kids' dub to revisit the movie and develop a more positive opinion.
  • What an Idiot!: The scientists who created Mewtwo; their utter lack of concern for him and treating him as truly nothing more than a grand experiment is the thing that triggers Mewtwo's quest for vengeance, which starts with him outright slaughtering the lot of them.
    • Perhaps even more egregious is Giovanni telling Mewtwo right to his face that he was inferior to humans and was meant only to serve him. Taking Mewtwo's self-awareness in mind and the fact that Giovanni had already witnessed Mewtwo's raw destructive potential in the aforementioned incident, you'd think he would take pains not to anger the creature. Chalk this one up to pure arrogance. He's lucky he wasn't killed for it.
    • Ash and company, along with the rest of the trainers accepting a vague invitation from someone claiming to be the world's greatest Pokémon master, and remaining blissfully unaware of the death wish this was right up until the moment Mewtwo reveals his intentions. Then again, it wouldn't be a Pokémon movie if they did anything less.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Many fans unfamiliar with the Japanese version tend to be rather surprised at the "meaning of life" themes, Mewtwo's greater complexity as a character, and the occasional mentions of God in relation to said themes. Which becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when you realize that ever since Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, there actually is a known God in the Pokémon world.


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