Theatrical Feature
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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Movies

Movie Stats:

Japanese Movie 4:  "Celebi A Timeless Encounter"
American Movie 4:
  "Celebi the Voice of the Forest"

Japanese Air Date:  July 7th, 2001
American Air Date:  October 11th, 2002
Important Characters:  Vicious (The Iron Masked Marauder), Yukinari (Sammy), Miku (Diana), Towa (Diana's grandmother), White-san ("Man")
Important Places:  The Forest of Ubame (Ilex Forest), Ateno Village (Arborville), The Lake of Life (Lake of Life)

Forty years ago, Celebi, the God of the Forest, was being chased by a hunter.  It transports itself and a young boy named Yukinari into the present, where an elite member of the Rocket-Dan, Vicious, is searching for it.  As Vicious searches, Satoshi-tachi come across the young boy and Celebi and help nurse the little pokemon to health.  Satoshi becomes friends with Yukinari and Celebi before Vicious finally arrives.  Using his custom Dark Ball, a Monster Ball that turns the captured pokemon evil, Vicious manages to catch the God of the Forest!  Vicious uses the pokemon to wreak havoc on the forest as Celebi uses the various leaves and branches in the forest to create a giant monster!  The Legendary Pokemon Suicune wards off the giant monster while Satoshi catches up with Celebi to confront it.  He reminds it of the fun times they had before, and Celebi snaps out of its spell.  The vine monster is destroyed and the forest is saved, but Celebi is severely wounded.  Satoshi and the others can't get any reaction of the pokemon and, thinking it to be dead, start to cry for their fallen friend.  Suddenly, a bunch of Celebi appear and heal the Celebi in Satoshi's arms.  The pokemon are ready to return Yukinari to his own era, so Satoshi bids farewell to his friend. 


Thoughts
Well, here we are with Pocket Monsters movie number four.  Even if it's obvious that director Kunihiko Yuyama saw Princess Mononoke before starting on this movie, it's still an enjoyable film.  In my opinion, this is the first movie to have a comprehensible plot--movie one's plot was pretty minimal and kinda fell apart after they got to Myuutwo's island, movie two's plot was too incredibly predictable, and movie three's plot was just nonsensical. In addition, other than a few CGI parts that I'll mention later, the animation and artwork in this movie are really well-done.  I wish Kasumi and Takeshi had a bigger role (other than Takeshi battling with Vicious' Bangirasu, he really doesn't do much in the movie at all), but those two always get the shaft in the movies.  Anyway, this movie and the next one are my favorite Pocket Monsters movies so far, and I can't wait to see what kind of movies they'll give us next.

So, what about the dub?  Well, a lot of interesting things are going on here.  For starters, Miramax took over from Warner Brothers as distributor of this movie, which meant that the movie got a super-limited theatrical release.  The movie would rotate from theater to theater, never staying at any one place for more than two weeks, making it very difficult to keep track of it.  It also didn't help that there was no advertising or list of where the movie would be playing, so fans who wanted to see the movie had to basically play detective in order to find it.  The movie was seen as a flop, but given the circumstances of its release, it made a pretty nice chunk of cash ($717,061 on opening weekend). 

This movie is also significant because it's the first Japanese animated movie (that I know of) to actually have scenes animated and added to the film by the American distributor.  4Kids actually went and spent the money to have three scenes, totaling at four minutes and 26 seconds altogether, storyboarded and animated by OLM all to drive home a major plot point in the film.  Since it's by the same animators, the new scenes don't look out of place at all, but it must have cost 4Kids a ton of money to get done.  Other than that, though, 4Kids did a good job with the movie.  To the surprise of everyone, they actually kept the Japanese score!  It feels really good to hear that music in the dub, and I hope that all the future Pocket Monsters movies keep their soundtrack as well.

Celebi and Suicune keep their Japanese voices, because legendary pokemon are special like that.

Side Note
The whole "World of Pokémon" featurette, which has been used as an extra on the DVD's in the past,  wasn't present in the Japanese version.  I think it's kinda pointless myself, since only the really hardcore fans would even be watching the movie in the first place, but whatever.  I'm kinda surprised that Miramax didn't put this as an extra on the DVD or something, so whenever you watch the movie you have to fast forward through this introduction before you get to the real movie.

Side Note
After Celebi teleports Yukinari away, we go to the scene with the hunter being interrogated by Vicious.  Well, when the scene does the transition from the past to the present, there's a subtitle that says "40 years later" in the Japanese version.  This subtitle is absent in the American version.  I'm sure 4Kids was just given a copy of the film without the subtitle (the same way they get creditless opening songs from the Japanese producers), so they could have easily slapped on a subtitle in English.  I mean, with as much trouble as the dubbers go through to dumb down the movie to make sure little kids get every single plot point, you'd think they'd take the chance to alert kids that the setting has changed.  Ah well. 

I also wanted to point out that the Iron Masked Marauder's (God that's a terrible name) voice is really really bad.  Give me Shirou Sano any day of the week.

Also interesting is that 4Kids leaves in all the liquor bottles left on the floor of the hunter's trailer when I was so sure they'd paint them away.

Dialogue Edit
The narrator starts things off with a seemingly harmless remark: 

Narrator:  "Today we find our friends waiting for a ferry that will carry them to yet another Pokémon Gym as they continue their Johto League Journey."

None of the Japanese movies ever mention Pokemon Gyms, ever.  That would connect the movies to the TV series, which they haven't done since the first movie (I'm pretty sure that the allusions to the other movies in the TV series are dub inventions).  In the Japanese version, the narrator just said they were going to the next town. 

I mean, there's already evidence that this movie doesn't take place between any two episodes in the anime.  For one thing, Satoshi has already visited the Forest of Ubame before, back before he even had his Waninoko and when his Chicorita was still a Chicorita.  For another thing, throughout the entire movie, Satoshi never once thinks about the time he saw Suicune in the very first Jouto episode.  Surely with as many times as he sees it in this movie, he would have made the connection at SOME point, right? 

Music Edit
To nobody's surprise, the opening song was redone.  In the dub it's the fourth American opening, "Born to be a Winner."  Also, like in the first movie, the dub adds some dialogue during the song.  In the Japanese version, before Pikachu sends out its Thundershock attack, we can see Satoshi's mouth move but don't hear anything.  In the dub, he says "Thunderbolt Attack!" because 4Kids can't have anyone move his mouth on-screen without SOME sound coming out. 

Cut--43 seconds
Addition--60 seconds
The reason this movie is so special is because of some redone/added scenes.  4Kids, in an effort to make absolutely certain that little kids got the point that Sammy and Professor Oak are the same person, actually went to the Japanese animators and got them to animate some new scenes for them.  The new scenes basically serve one purpose:  to drive home the fact that Sammy and Oak are the same person. 

For Satoshi's first conversation with Oak in the movie, 4Kids completely threw out the Japanese scene and had the animators redo it.  Originally, Orchid-Hakase identifies the pokemon in the book as Suicune and tells Satoshi that there isn't a whole lot known about it.  He tells him that it's the reincarnation of the northern wind and has the ability to cleanse contaminated water.  Satoshi says he wants to see it again while Orchid-Hakase makes up a haiku about Suicune.  Then Satoshi's Betobeta comes onto the scene, starts smothering Orchid with affection, and an embarrassed Kenji (who's been standing behind Orchid-Hakase the entire time) bids them goodbye before cutting off the monitor. 

The English version is a bit different.  Here's the dialogue that goes with the scene 4Kids added: 

Oak:  "But there's one more possibility.  Did it look anything like this?"
Ash:  "Yeah, that's it Professor."
Oak:  "It was a Suicune."
Misty:  "A Suicune?"
Brock:  "What kind of Pokémon is it, Professor?"
Oak:  "It's one of the legendary pokémon, Brock, and not very much is known about it.  And according to folk tales Suicune personifies the north wind and it's believed to have the power to purify tainted waters."
[shows a picture of Suicune healing water]
Ash:  "Wow, I hope I get to see Suicune again.  It sounds like it's a pretty cool one."
Oak:  "Believe you me, kids, those tales are definitely true."
Ash:  "Really?  How do you know that for sure, Professor?  Have you ever seen a Suicune before?"
Oak:  "Yes, I sure have, but only one time."
Ash:  "Wow, where?"
Man:  "Hey, Ash, come on!  We've gotta go!"
Ash:  "OK!  Uh, bye, Professor."  [hangs up phone]
[cuts to Prof. Oaks' lab]
Oak:  "I wonder if I should've told him before he hung up.  Hmmm"
All that was 4Kids-animated.  They used the music used in the Japanese equivalent of the scene, but starting with the Man's (White-san in the original) line and until the end of Oak's scene, generic dub TV music is played. 

There are several differences between both versions.  For one thing, Kenji is in the background of Orchid's lab in the Japanese version, but he's nowhere to be found in the dub.  Geez, what does 4Kids have against Kenji anyway?  Also, White-san (the movie's random tour guide for Satoshi-tachi) is sitting there on his bike watching the entire conversation, but in the dub he doesn't come into the picture until he calls Ash to go to the ferry. 

Addition--59 seconds
Here's another added scene, this time involving Team Rocket.  Here's what happens:

Iron Masked Marauder:  "Don't you worry.  We'll find Celebi."
Jessie:  "I'd rather find some lunch."
James:  "So would I."
Meowth:  "Or a bathroom.  Huh?"
Jessie:  "Huh?" [sees a peach tree]
James:  "Lucky us!"
Jessie:  "It's a peach tree!  Grab that big one there Meowth!"
Meowth:  "You got it Jessie!"  [leaps for the peach]
James:  "Eee!"  [all fall off from the Iron Masked Marauder's mecha]
[Jessie, James, and Meowth fight each other for the peach, and in the struggle the peach flies upward, where it's taken away by a flying Pidgeotto]
James:  "Nice catch."
Jessie:  "It was peachy."  [hears mecha stomping away]
All:  "Huh?"
Jessie:  "There goes our driver!"
Meowth:  "Wait.  Come back!  Don't leave us!"
James:  "We'll even chip in for gas!"
[shot of the night sky with the moon shown to transition to the next scene]
While the last added scene served a purpose (to get kids to start thinking about Oak and Sammy being the same person), this one doesn't serve any.  It's just a random useless scene, and basically exists to show off how 4Kids has made so much money off of Pokémon over the years that they can afford to blow all this money like this.

By the way, this scene uses dub music throughout.

Dialogue Edit
As if 4Kids isn't pointing out enough of the obvious...

Misty:  "Take it easy, Ash.  You might be hurt."

Noooooooo...really!?  Ya think?  Y'know, he's only lying on the ground, doubled over in pain, after being falling a good ten feet from the top of a giant mecha.  Thanks for pointing that out, Misty.  Appreciate it.

Side Note
Is it just me or did Suicune's big entrance look really crappy?  It was poorly-done CGI that didn't blend with the rest of the movie, and it just sticks out like a sore thumb.  And while I'm thinking about it, the vine monster (known as "Golem Celebi" in Japan), while nice-looking in photos, doesn't look as nice when you see it in motion.  The animators didn't even bother to give it decent walking animation--it just kinda moves up and down, as if it's attached to a popsicle stick and somebody off-camera is moving the stick up and down.  Instead of rendering CGI berries and CGI tree branches, wouldn't it have been a better investment to just spent a little more time giving Golem Celebi at least one scene where it doesn't look like it's ice-skating across the forest floor?

Cut--45 seconds
You remember how, in the third movie, they shifted a scene from the end credits to an earlier spot in the movie to let kids know that Molly's dad made it back OK?  Well, this movie has a similar scene with Yukinari.  We see him return to his original time safe and sound, but it was cut by 4Kids.  After Yukinari disappears in the Celebi's flash of light, the scene shows Yukinari arriving at his own time, and he kinda looks around for a bit.  Towa greets him and asked him what happened and Yukinari, with a smile on his face, tells her that he just had the most wonderful dream.  I don't know why 4Kids cut this, since it basically tells us that Yukinari made it back home alright.  I mean, they even had the opportunity to drive the Sammy-Oak thing down our throats even more by redubbing a few lines, but they didn't take it.  Then again, can you imagine what they'd have him say?  "We'll meet again soon, Ash...and then, I'll be an old man with a lab coat and I'll live in Pallet Town, and I'll give you your first pokemon and will give you helpful information from time to time.  And you will call me Professor Samuel Oak, because that is who I will grow up to be in the future..."

Addition--2 minutes, 27 seconds
Here's the long added scene in the movie.  It happens at the end:

Brock:  "You were right, Professor.  That Pokémon we saw was a Suicune."
Misty:  "Yeah, and we met a Celebi, too.  It even traveled through time!"
Oak:  "Well, well, it sounds like you saw some very rare and highly unusual Pokémon out there. Huh?  What's the matter, Ash?"
Ash:  "Uh..."
Oak:  "You haven't said a single word yet.  Didn't you enjoy your little adventure in the forest, too?"
Ash:  "Oh, sure, Professor.  But, you see, I met this Pokémon Trainer and we got to be friends.  But I...I just don't think I'm ever gonna see him again.  He decided to go back to where he came from, Professor...to another time."
Pikachu:  "Pika"
Oak:  "I wouldn't worry, Ash."
Ash:  "Oh?"
Oak:  "True friendships can withstand the test of time and I have a feeling this one will.  I'm sure you and Sammy will be friends forever."
Ash:  "Mm.  Heh heh.  Thanks Professor, I think so too."
Pikachu:  "Pikachu!" [whistle blows]
Brock:  "I think we'd better get going."
Ash:  "Yeah, I don't want to miss the boat again.  We'll tell you everything when we get to Pallet Town, OK?"
Oak:  "Fine.  I'm looking forward to it."
[Ash and the gang run toward the boat]
Misty:  "Hey!"
Brock:  "What's the matter, Misty?"
Misty:  "How'd Professor Oak know Sammy's name?  We never mentioned it to him."
Ash:  "Yeah, that's right!"  [whistle blows]
Pikachu:  "Pika!"  [Ash and the gang scream]
Brock:  [while running] "Professor Oak's amazing!  He knows everything!"
[Ash and the gang boards the boat]
Pikachu:  "Pika!  Pikachu!"
[cut to Oak's residence]
Oak:  "Hmmm...It seems like it happened only yesterday..."
[looks through Sammy's sketchpad]
Holy crap that was a long scene.  This movie basically told its audience everything short of screaming "Hey!  Professor Oak and Sammy are the same person!  THE SAME FREAKIN' PERSON!!!!!"  Seriously, we get the point already.

Music Edit
The ending theme, Ashita Tenki ni Shite Okure, was replaced in the dub by "Celebi-R-A-T-E" by Russell Velasquez.  It was a kinda catchy song, but it really gets on your nerves by the end of the ending credits. 

Final Thoughts
Well, if it weren't for the added scenes I'd call this the best-handled Pocket Monsters movie yet.  I knew that 4Kids would try to cram the idea that Sammy and Professor Oak are the same person down our throats, but I had no idea they would actually take the time and money to animate completely new scenes to achieve that.  I liked the subtle nature of the plot point in the original version, but the fact that 4Kids is shouting that message to its audience really damages the film as a whole.  If adding new scenes that mess up the flow of the story is the price to pay for getting the original music back, then I hope they just replace the soundtrack of the upcoming movies from now on.

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