Theatrical Pikachu
Short 02






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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Movies

Pikachu's Exploration Party

Movie Stats:

Japanese Mini-Movie 2:  "
Pikachu's Exploration Party"
American Mini-Movie 2:  "Pikachu's Rescue Adventure"
Japanese Air Date:  July 17th, 1999
American Air Date:  July 21st, 2000

Satoshi and his friends decide to stop for a rest.  As the three fall asleep under a tree Togepi gets caught up in watching a group of Ladyba fly overhead and absentmindedly walks into a hole in the ground!  Pikachu and the other pokemon follow and soon find themselves transported to a village under a massive tree!  They soon meet an Elekid and tells it that they're looking for Togepi.  The Electric-Type pokemon leads our heroes to an area where a bunch of nests housing the pokemon Tamatama are lined up, one after the other, and inside one of those nests just happens to be Togepi!  The Tamatama are missing one of its seeds and refuse to let Togepi out of their group until they're reunited with their friend!  As Pikachu and the others search they come across a dance performance by a group of Kireihana.  Later, a strong rainstorm appears over the tree!  The strong winds threaten the smaller pokemon so everyone joins together to help catch the Tamatama before they blow away.  It seems like everyone's efforts aren't going to be enough when a Kabigon steps up and uses its massive strength to pull everyone to safety!  After the storm passes a Lucky appears and announces that it found the Tamatama seed!  As the pokemon are reunited, a nearby Leaf Stone activates the pokemon's evolution into a Nassy!  Now that Togepi is free to go our heroes say goodbye to their new friends and return to their Trainers.  


Thoughts
So the first Pikachu short was this weird, trippy drug trip with a paper thin plot interrupted by psychedelic eyecatches.  The second Pikachu short, on the other hand, goes for the much more conservative "let's make this something people can actually follow along with" style of storytelling.

It kind of works?  I mean the movie starts off with a very Alice in Wonderland like trip through a hole that makes you think that this is going to be an acid trip like the first one but then ends up being ust a regular ol' story about finding some seeds that look like cracked eggs inside a big tree village thing.  There's some fun to be had - Kabigon and Koduck both steal the show, as far as I'm concerned - but you can definitely tell that the producers of this thing didn't allow themselves to have as much fun as they did with the first short.  Had the franchise just become too big at this point for them to be able to experiment the way they could back in 1998?  Was there pressure from the people upstairs to make this Pikachu movie less weird?

The main plot about finding Tamatama's missing eggs is clever enough I guess.  I'm not super fond of the middle part with the dancing Kireihana and the Pippi because it doesn't match the rest of the episode at all but things get back on track once the storm kicks in and the episode ends on a strong note.  The Nyasu subplot doesn't really go anywhere and Matadogas and Arbok are conspicuously absent but it doesn't really hurt too much at the end of the day.

Also, Satoshi, Kasumi, and Kenji apparently have the power to sleep through massive rainstorms.

The animation in this episode has its moments - there are a lot of fantastic facial expressions and poses throughout - but there's also some unforgivably awful animation in here as well.  I guess they spent most of their animation budget on the main film?  That POV shot where a bunch of clip art pokemon sit atop tree branches is pretty awful, and there's also this one shot where the pokemon are clapping and it's literally just two frames of animation repeated over and over.  And then there's the tree swaying in the wind and the shitty looking fire!  At this point in the franchise's life I feel like there had been episodes of the TV series (which, to be clear, was pretty low budget even for the time) that looked better and that's just baffling.

The English dub sure is something else, huh?  I don't understand 4Kids or the decisions they make but I do kind of admire how they're able to take a kids' cartoon and make it as incomprehensible as humanly possible.  That has to take some skill, right? 

Most of the "new" pokemon (Ladyba, Elekid, and Hoho) keep their Japanese voices.

<>Music Edit
Tanaka Hirokazu's and Sawada Kan's original score for this movie is - surprise surprise! - replaced for the English dub.  The music in the Japanese version has a fantastic range that goes from the playful melodies during the opening parts of the film to folksy dance theme that accompanies Kireihana's show to the suspenseful crescendos of the big storm.  The music from this short, like the music from the previous one, will get reused for the TV series years and years from now and will become just as internal a part of the series' soundtrack as anything Miyazaki Shinji produces for the show.  It's a shame it never got a CD release.

The music used in the English version, on the other hand...it's just there, I guess?  It's not too horribly distracting or offensive or any of that but it doesn't really add anything to the film either, y'know?  4Kids will be able to reuse much more of the music from this film than they were able to with "Pikachu's Vacation" because they aren't Mickey Mouseing everything so much so good for them?

Added footage - 8 sec
Right after the "Pikachu the Movie" animation pops up at the very beginning of the movie 4Kids adds a little "Pokémon the Movie 2000" title screen that obviously wasn't there in the original.

Pokémon the Movie 2000

And yes, as you can see from the 4:3 screenshot above the American DVD for this crops the Pikachu movie just like it does for the main feature.  And no, it's never been made available in its original aspect ratio despite the fact that it's been nearly two decades since this movie came out.

Music Edit
The movie's opening theme,
"Let's Form an Exploration Party!", is replaced in the dub by a song called "Comin' to the Rescue" by O-Town.  Which, for those of you who don't remember, was a C-List boy band in the 90s whose breakout hit was a song about nocturnal emissions.

Weren't 90s boy bands the best?

Dialogue Edit
Remember how 4Kids changed the narrator of the first mini-movie from a kind motherly figure to a soulless Pokédex entry?  And how it was completely out of place and didn't fit the tone of the short at all?

Well this time around 4Kids decided that the best way to screw up the narration for this short - because a desire to screw up the narration is pretty much the only motivation I can think of for these changes - was to eliminate the narration altogether! Japan gets well-known drama actress Satou Tamo to narrate the short while 4Kids decided that not having anyone say anything at all was the best way to go.

Here's what dub viewers missed out on:



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "What's this?  A group of Ladyba. I wonder where they're going?"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "Well, it's the Electric Pokemon Elekid. It seems like it's guarding the place."
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "(something I couldn't quite make out) It's a huge, mysterious tree. It seems like a lot of wild pokemon live in this big tree. To think that a place like this could exist!"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "It seems like these pokemon aren't used to seeing outsiders coming there to visit."
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "Pikachu's telling the pokemon that they came there to search for Togepi."
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "It seems like Elekid might have an idea of where Togepi is!"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "This is where a bunch of Tamatama nests have been gathered."
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "There are six parts who all seem to get along with each other. Wait a minute...what's with the pattern on this one? "
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "There are only five Tamatama!"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "Pikachu and the others have decided to find the missing Tamatama and return it to its friends. If they don't do that then they won't be able to bring Togepi back with them."
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "That was such a great dance, wasn't it? But let's focus and get back to the task at hand, alright?"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "Come on you two! Don't get distracted now! Weren't you supposed to be looking for the missing Tamatama?" Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "A storm's appeared all of a sudden!"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "This storm seems really bad!"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "Are you OK, Pikachu?"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "This is bad! If this keeps up then all the Tamatama will blow away!"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "What's this? The other pokemon are coming to help!"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "As if the rain and wind weren't enough, now we've got lightning starting to come down too! This lightning seems to be dozens of times more powerful than Pikachu's electricity!"
Narrator:  "..."



Japanese Version
English Dub
Narrator:  "Nassy will never forget how everyone worked together to save the Tamatama group."
Narrator:  "..."

Now I will be the first to admit that the original dialogue isn't exactly Shakespeare and that 90% of what Ms. Tamo is given to say is just useless fluff.  But there are definitely a few places that made me wonder how audiences who have only ever seen the dub could figure out what was going on.  And please don't misinterpret that as a slam against dub fans; if you watched the English dub and could follow the story the first time through without any problems then you're a smarter person than me.  But it's hard to imagine someone being able to follow the story of the English dub as well as a Japanese person is able to follow the story of the Japanese version.

I mean the whole reason English dubs even exist in the first place is to allow viewers to watch foreign programming in a language they can understand.  The dubbers take the dialogue from the original version, translate it, and then have their voice talent act out this newly translated dialogue.  But if 4Kids skips all that and just mutes 95% of the dialogue then can we still call it a dub?  Isn't this just the Japanese version with the dialogue track muted and replacement music playing in the background?

One of the big complaints critics had after "Pikachu's Vacation" was that they didn't understand what the hell was happening and so 4Kids responds by making things even worse the second time around.  Why would anyone except the most diehard fan know that Exeggcute are supposed to have six seeds instead of five?  Is that something your parents knew when they took you to the theaters back in whatever year this movie came out (I dunno, 4Kids made it really hard to figure out)?  And why would they know that finding the missing
Exeggcute is the only way they'd be allowed to bring Togepi back with them?  The Japanese version makes all of this very clear but the English dub turns everything into this convoluted jigsaw puzzle that requires multiple viewings to figure out why anyone's doing anything they're doing.

Some people like puzzles.  And that's fine!  But I kind of prefer my kids' movies to be something that kids can actually understand.

Dialogue Edit
Just because I know someone will bring it up if I don't mention it here:  yes, the Poliwhirl in this short say "Poliwrath" and the Poliwag say "Poliwhirl."  No, this doesn't happen in the Japanese version (none of the pokemon's voices can be heard during the concert in the original version, actually).  But yes, 4Kids still has no idea what Pokémon are. 

Cut - 2 minutes, 13 seconds
Like with the last short, the ending credits for this mini-movie was cut out.  It's a shame, because we got to see some really good fan-art during the Japanese ending.  The first bit consisted of the winners of a design contest for the ANA Pokemon Jet '99 and then the second half has illustrations of pokemon having fun just like the first ending did.

4Kids went for the whole "let's not confuse the parents into thinking 'Pokemon the Movie 2000' is only 20 minutes long" route.  I can't say I blame them but I do wish the ending had at least been restored for the DVD since it would no longer be an issue there. 

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