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Pokémon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back
Pokemon-mewtwo-strikes-back.jpg
Japanese Theatrical release poster. The tagline of the film is "Who is the strongest Pokémon!?"
Directed by Kunihiko Yuyama
Produced by Choji Yoshikawa
Tomoyuki Igarashi
Takemoto Mori
Screenplay by Takeshi Shudo
Starring see below
Music by
  • Shinji Miyazaki
  • Hirokazu Tanaka
Cinematography Hisao Shirai
Editing by Toshio Henmi
Yutaka Itō
Studio OLM, Inc.
Distributed by Toho
Release date(s) July 18, 1998 (1998-07-18) (Japan)
Running time 75 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget ¥350 million (US$5 million)
Money made US$172.7 million

Pokémon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back is a 1998 Japanese anime film directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, the chief director of the Pokémon television series. It is the first theatrical release in the Pokémon franchise.

It was first released in Japan on July 18, 1998. On July 8, 1999, a Complete Version of the film aired on Japanese television. In addition to an added prologue, the updated version included new animation and CGI graphics. The English-language adaptation, produced by Nintendo and 4Kids Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, was released in North America on November 12, 1999. The events of the film take place during the first season of Pokémon: Indigo League.

The film primarily consists of three segments: Pikachu's Vacation, a 21-minute feature focusing on the series mascot Pikachu; Origin of Mewtwo, the 10-minute prologue added to the Complete Version of the film; and Mewtwo Strikes Back, the main 75-minute film feature. Overseas, the prologue can only be seen as a bonus short in DVD versions of Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns.

In Japan, Mewtwo Strikes Back was positively received, with praise directed at the film's emotional impact and exploration of ethical topics such as cloning, genetic modification and existentialism. However, the English-language version received generally negative reviews from film critics, with much of the criticism pointed at the poor voice acting, and the anti-violence message in a film about Pokémon. Further retrospective criticism of the English-language version has been targeted against the removal of most of the ethical topics such as part of Mewtwo's origin story. Despite the reviews, it was a box office success worldwide, topping the box office charts in its opening weekend, and eventually grossing over US$172 million at the worldwide box office. It also sold 10 million home video units in the United States, including 4.2 million VHS sales that earned US$58.8 million in 2000.

During the end credits of Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us (2018), it was announced that a remake and a first full CGI, Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution was set to release on the following year. In December 2018, the release date of the remake was revealed as July 12, 2019.

Plot

Pikachu's Vacation

The Pokémon of Ash Ketchum, Misty, and Brock are sent to spend a day at a theme park built for Pokémon. Pikachu, Togepi, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle cross paths with a group of bullies consisting of a Raichu, Cubone, Marill, and a Snubbull. The two groups compete against each other in sports, but it leads to Ash's Charizard getting its head stuck in a pipe. Pikachu, his friends, and the bullies work together and successfully free Charizard and rebuild the park, spending the rest of the day playing before parting ways when their trainers return.

Mewtwo Strikes Back

Scientist Dr. Fuji is hired by Giovanni, leader of Team Rocket, to utilize his expertise in cloning in order to create a living weapon based on an eyelash from mythical Pokémon Mew. Fuji is revealed to be allying with Giovanni as a means to fund his side project: the resurrection of his deceased daughter Amber. In a laboratory, the weapon eventually gains sentience and is named Mewtwo. Mewtwo befriends the salvaged consciousness of Amber, named Ambertwo, as well as the clones of other Pokémon in the laboratory. However, Mewtwo is left deeply traumatized after Ambertwo and the rest of the clones decompose and die. In order to stabilize him, Fuji tranquilizes Mewtwo, causing him to forget the time he spent with his friends.

After Mewtwo fully matures and awakens from a long slumber in a laboratory on New Island, he learns of his origin as Mew's clone from Dr. Fuji. Infuriated that Fuji and his colleagues see him as nothing more than an experiment, he unleashes his incredibly strong psychic abilities and telekinetically destroys the laboratory, killing Fuji and the rest of the scientists. Giovanni, witnessing the carnage afar, approaches and convinces Mewtwo to work with him to further develop and perfect his mental abilities. However, after Mewtwo learns of his purpose to be a weapon for Giovanni's benefit, he escapes back to New Island where he plots revenge against humanity and Pokémon alike.

After Mewtwo rebuilds the laboratory and establishes base there, he invites several trainers with hologram messages to battle the world's greatest Pokémon trainer at New Island. Ash, Misty, and Brock receive a message and accept the invitation, but when they arrive at the port city, Old Shore Wharf, Mewtwo creates a storm, causing the boats on the wharf to be closed off for safety. As a result, Ash's group are picked up by Team Rocket disguised as Vikings on a boat. After the storm sinks their vessel in the middle of the ocean, Ash and his friends use their Pokémon instead to reach New Island.

Escorted into the island's palace by the woman who appeared on the hologram, Ash and the other trainers who were able to reach the island encounter Mewtwo. The woman is revealed to be a brainwashed Nurse Joy after she is released from Mewtwo's mind control. Mewtwo challenges the trainers using cloned Pokémon coincidentally modeled after the deceased friends from his childhood. Meanwhile, Team Rocket also reach New Island and explore its inner sanctum with a Mew innocuously following them. After Mewtwo's clones effortlessly defeat the challengers' Pokémon, he confiscates them and expands his clone army. Ash chases after his captured Pikachu down the cloning lab, where Team Rocket's Meowth is also cloned. Ash destroys the cloning machine, frees the captured Pokémon, and leads them to confront Mewtwo and his clones. Mew then reveals itself and Mewtwo challenges it in order to prove his superiority.

All of the Pokémon originals battle their clones save for a defiant Pikachu and Meowth, who makes peace with his own clone after realizing the senselessness of their fighting. Horrified at the pain and anguish felt on both sides of the battle, Ash puts himself in between a psychic blast caused by Mewtwo and Mew's fighting, leading to Ash to become petrified. Pikachu tries to revive Ash with its electricity but fails. However, the tears of the Pokémon are able to heal and revive Ash. Moved by Ash's sacrifice, Mewtwo realizes that he should not have to be judged by his origins but rather his choices in life. Departing with Mew and the clones, Mewtwo turns back time to just before the trainers leave Old Shore Wharf, and erases everyone's memories of the event.

Back in Old Shore Wharf, the now-restored Nurse Joy has returned to reopen the Pokémon Center to shelter the trainers. The storm outside clears up, Ash spotting Mew flying through the clouds and tells his friends of how he saw another legendary Pokémon the day he left Pallet Town. Meanwhile, Team Rocket find themselves stranded on New Island but enjoy their time there.

After the credits, a brief scene shows Mew flying towards the mountains.

Cast

Character (English dub name) Japanese English
Satoshi (Ash Ketchum) Rika Matsumoto Veronica Taylor
Pikachu
Kasumi (Misty) Mayumi Iizuka Rachael Lillis
Takeshi (Brock) Yūji Ueda Eric Stuart
Narrator Unshō Ishizuka Rodger Parsons
Togepi
Satomi Kōrogi
Musashi (Jessie) Megumi Hayashibara Rachael Lillis
Kojirō (James) Shinichiro Miki Eric Stuart
Nyāsu (Meowth) Inuko Inuyama Maddie Blaustein
Fushigidane (Bulbasaur) Megumi Hayashibara Tara Sands
Lizardon (Charizard)
Shinichiro Miki
Zenigame (Squirtle) Rikako Aikawa Eric Stuart
Umio (Fergus) Wataru Takagi Jimmy Zoppi
Sorao (Corey) Tōru Furuya Ed Paul
Sweet (Neesha) Aiko Satō Lisa Ortiz
Voyager (Miranda) Sachiko Kobayashi Lisa Ortiz
Raymond Raymond Johnson Maddie Blaustein
Mewtwo Masachika Ichimura
Fujiko Takimoto (young; radio drama)
Showtaro Morikubo (young; anime)
Philip Bartlett
Mew
Kōichi Yamadera
Sakaki (Giovanni) Hirotaka Suzuoki Ed Paul
Junsar (Officer Jenny) Chinami Nishimura Lee Quick
Joy (Nurse Joy) Ayako Shiraishi Megan Hollingshead
Dr. Fuji Yōsuke Akimoto Philip Bartlett

Characters that appear in the radio drama and The Uncut Story of Mewtwo's Origin

Character (English dub name) Japanese English
Aitwo (Ambertwo) Kyōko Hikami Kerry Williams
Doctor Fuji's wife Shinobu Adachi unknown
Fushigidanetwo (Bulbasaurtwo) Etsuko Kozakura Tara Jayne
Hitokagetwo (Charmandertwo) Yūji Ueda Michael J. Haigney
Zenigametwo (Squirtletwo) Satomi Korogi Eric Stuart

Characters exclusive to the radio drama

Character name Japanese voice actor
Announcers Kentarō Itō
Katsuyuki Konishi
Saori Higashi
Trainer Saori Higashi
Investigator Shinpachi Tsuji
Researchers Katsuyuki Konishi
Takuma Suzuki
Madame Boss Hiromi Tsuru
Miyamoto Yumi Tōma

1999 Burger King promotion

Burger King released a limited series of toys with the purchase of any kids' meal to tie in with the film. Also promoted were six 23 karat gold Pokémon cards, each enclosed inside a large plastic Poké Ball. Every card is a 23 karat gold plated slab of metal inside a clear protective plastic case that came with a certificate of authenticity signed by Nintendo of America chairman Howard Lincoln. The first run of gold cards sent and released to Burger King locations were packaged in a limited blue box that sold out immediately. A large second print of gold cards were packaged in a red box until the film promotion ended.

Broadcast airing

For TV syndication, the movie was digitally remastered for high definition and aired in TV Tokyo, as well as in other stations, beginning May 3, 2013. The remastered version also aired in Cartoon Network in the United States on January 4, 2014.

Soundtrack

Pokémon: The First Movie – Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture is the soundtrack to the first Pokémon film in the United States. It was released on November 10, 1999 on Compact Disc and Compact Cassette. "Don't Say You Love Me" by M2M was released as a single from the album.

CGI remake

During the end credits of Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us (2018), it was announced that a CGI remake was set to release on the following year. In December 2018, the release date of the remake was revealed as July 12, 2019. Pokémon fansite Serebii reported that the film, titled Mewtwo Strikes Back EVOLUTION, will be directed by Kunihiko Yuyama and Motonori Sakakibara.

On January 22, 2020, it was announced that Netflix would be releasing the English dubbed version of the film.

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