|| Pikachu The Movie
Premium Box 1998 - 2010
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Dogasu's Backpack | Features | Pikachu The Movie Premium Box 1998 - 2010 Review
When it was announced that the Pocket Monsters movies would be coming to Blu-ray in one massive set, that old Fry “Shut up and take my money!” meme instantly popped into my head. I mean, the first thirteen movies, remastered in HD!? There was no way I could pass that up.
But how is the set? Is it worth the hefty price tag being asked? How is it, now that I actually have it in my hands? Could it have been better?
Review equipment: PS3 hooked up to a DX Broadtec TV with an HDMI cable
So what exactly is this set?
"Pikachu The Movie Premium Box 1998 - 2010" is a fourteen disc Blu-ray set containing the first thirteen movies (from Myuutwo all the way to Zorro'ark) and five of the six Pikachu shorts that were released theatrically. It came out in Japan on November 28th, 2012 and retailed for 38,640 yen.
Here is a breakdown of the discs:
Disc One "Myuutwo Strikes Back" - Perfect Version
Disc Two "The Explosive Birth of the Phantom Pokemon Lugia"
Disc Three "Emperor of the Crystal Tower, Entei"
Disc Four "Celebi's Encounter Through Time"
Disc Five "The Water Capitol's Protector Gods Latias and Latios"
Disc Six "The Seven Nights' Star of Wishing, Jiraachi"
Disc Seven "The Sky-Splitting Visitor, Deoxys"
Disc Eight "Myuu and the Wave-Guiding Hero, Lucario"
Disc Nine "Pokemon Ranger and the Prince of the Sea, Manaphy"
Disc Ten "Dialga vs. Palkia vs. Darkrai"
Disc Eleven "Giratina and the Sky Bouquet, Shami"
Disc Twelve "Arceus - To the Conquering of Spacetime"
Disc Thirteen "The Illusionary Conqueror, Zorro'ark"
Disc Fourteen "Pikachu's Summer Vacation," "Pikachu Exploration Party," "Pikachu's Nervous Hide-and-Seek," "The Glittering Starlit Camp," and "The Dancing Pokemon Secret Base"
Since Japan shares Blu-ray regions with both North and South America, a lot of you reading this can import this set and play it on your Blu-ray players.
Pikachu The Movie Premium Box 1998 - 2010 comes in a hard cardboard box not unlike the ones that the Pikachu the Movie DVD sets came in. Inside are two Digistacks, labeled A and B. These Digistacks, when fully opened, are further separated into three sections. The “A” Digistack contains movies 1-9 with three discs per section while the “B” Digistack contains movies 10-13 and a disc with the Pikachu shorts with two discs per section.
Additionally, the “B” Digistack also has two empty slots for you to put your favorite DVDs or Blu-rays. This is presumably meant for you to put your Victini and Keldeo Blu-rays in, but the fact that both movies came in two disc sets (the Victini release put both movies on their own disc; the Keldeo movie puts the main feature on one disc and the Meloetta short on a second) means that you’re only going to be able to put one of them in there. Whoops.
I both like and dislike this design. The makers of this set could have had the discs overlap each other in order to save space, but thankfully they decided against that in favor of giving each Blu-ray its own space. Unfortunately, the discs are in there a little too tight - I was actually afraid I was going to snap my Movie 5 Blu-ray in half when I took it out because the darn thing was stuck in there so tight. It became easier to remove after the first time, but still, any packaging that makes you afraid you're going to mess up your 38,640 yen Blu-ray set needs to have more thought put into it.
The discs themselves use the movie posters for the label, just like the Pikachu the Movie DVD set did. Why this is touted as a "special feature" on the back of the Blu-ray box is beyond me.
Finally, there's the fact that this is a fourteen disc set. My question is...why so many? Surely a Blu-ray can fit more than a single 90 minute movie with only two audio tracks, right? Why not cut the number of discs in half and put two per disc? I also wish they had put the Pikachu shorts on the same discs as the main films and included a "play both the short and the main feature" option to help us simulate the way these movies were presented in theaters - I really do think the main films and the shorts should be watched together - but they haven't done that with the DVDs since the Entei movie came out in 2001 so I guess this is nothing new. Still would have been nice, though.
This should go without saying, but the video is where this set really stands out. And unfortunately, I do not currently have the means to capture HD video and therefore cannot provide any comparison screenshots. So you're going to have to take my word for it.
Now I want to say that I think the DVD releases were quite fine. They were competent releases that did the best they could given the limits of the technology. This HD set makes those DVDs – which, again, were very well done – seem like sixth generation VHS bootlegs in comparison.
The movies on this disc are not just the old DVD masters that have been upconverted to HD. These are proper, from-the-original-film remasters. And the results are beautiful. The colors are bright without being oversaturated (for the most part), and every tiny detail can be seen with remarkable clarity. In the first movie, for example, the text on the missing persons poster inside the pier can now be read very easily. And in the fifth movie, the words in the book Zanna and Lyon are reading during the end credits are actually legible now. You notice things you never even knew were there to notice before (who knew that Bongore's nametag in his first scene in the fifth movie actually had text on it?), making the rewatch absolutely worth it.
There is a downside to the video looking so beautiful, though. Scenes where the animators cheated and didn’t provide as many inbetween cels as they should have looked fine on DVD because of the blur that the format automatically places on everything but look much worse now that we have such a clean image. This isn’t something the Blu-ray authors could have fixed outside of going to OLM and having them reanimate those scenes, though, so we can’t be too hard on them.
The only other oddity in the video that I found was in the sixth movie. For some reason, all the reds in that film are so oversaturated that they actually bleed out a little, erasing some of the other lines in the process. And considering that both Haruka and Dianne have tons of red on them, it's an issue throughout the majority of the film. They've luckily fixed this for the Deoxys movie (another film with lots of red), but it's still worth bringing up.
I don’t have a decent sound system (I do live in a Japanese apartment with thin walls, after all) so I can’t really judge how well the sound mix was. Everything seemed fine on my TV’s speakers, though, but then again so did the DVD releases.
So this is what prevents me from being able to tell you guys that you should definitely, without question, pick up this set.
Long story short: there are no extras on this Blu-ray set. None. No textless openings or endings, no trailers, no character model sheets or production artwork galleries, no English dub for the first three movies, no closed captions, no booklet, no "Yadoking's Day" short, nothing. All you get on each disc is the movie and nothing else.
Which is weird because the DVDs have all of that and more. What gives? Did they think we wouldn’t want HD versions of the textless opening and ending animations? That they couldn’t have added those extra audio tracks? That they wasn't a billion other things they could have made extras out of?
Additionally, the third Pikachu short, “Pikachu and Pichu,” is missing from this set. The short is pseudo-banned due to Sakai Noriko, the lady who narrated the short and sang its ending theme, being arrested for drug possession back in August 2009. Which, in Japan, is a pretty huge deal. While the Pokemon company isn’t trying to deny that the short exists the way they do with, say, the Porygon episode (the short’s still listed on the franchise's official website, for example), they also don’t seem to have any intentions to ever release it anymore. It was also removed from the 2011 re-release of the third movie DVD and doesn’t air on Kids Station, so its absence from this set is at least consistent with the way they've been handling this short ever since Ms. Sakai's arrest.
Now I certainly don’t want to tell Japan how they should handle crises and I don’t want to judge the people who decided to ban this short. Japanese culture handles things differently, and it’s not our place to look down on them and tell them that they're overreacting. At the same time, however…this is the Pikachu The Movie PREMIUM Set. For the price they’re charging for this Blu-ray set that, again, has no extras, the very least they could have done was redub the short with a different narrator (She has what? All of five lines in the entire thing?) and swap out its ending theme with another. Problem solved. But no; instead, they just omitted the short altogether, meaning we have to add a little asterix when we describe this set as having “all the movies and Pikachu shorts."
Maybe they don't want to edit the shorts, you may say. But then there's the fact that there are edits in this set; during the ending themes for the first and second Pikachu shorts, Rougela's skin color is changed from black to purple. It's not a big deal at all, but still; if you're willing to edit this, then go ahead and edit the Pichu short to make it "suitable" for inclusion!
Rougela in the original DVD release
It's entirely possible that Shogakukan decided to make this set bare bones so they can go back later and re-release these all as single Blu-rays and then put all the missing extras on those, but I'd like to believe that they wouldn't be that evil.
You may notice that I keep bringing up the price. This set retails for 38,640 yen, which, as of this writing, translates to US $446.00. THAT’S ALMOST HALF A GRAND, PEOPLE! If you divide that price by 13 (I'm not counting the shorts because I figure they should be coupled with the movies with which they aired), you're paying roughly 3,000 yen (about US $36.00) per movie. I got my set through Amazon Japan because they're selling it for 27,372 yen (over 11,000 yen off the MSRP), but it's still expensive as hell.
I certainly can't blame people who pass up on this set because of the price.
Here's the thing, though: ShoPro actually thinks paying more for a Blu-ray set you would for the Blu-ray player itself is actually reasonable! On the episode of Pokemon Radio Show! The Rocket-Dan's Secret Empire that was broadcast on December 16th, 2012, Musashi, Kojirou, and Nyasu talked with ShoPro's Kudou Yui about the set for their opening drama segment. Here's my translation of the drama:
So yeah...there are actually people out there who think paying this much is anything other than "fucking insane." Huh.
So should you get Pikachu the Movie Premium Box? I guess it really depends on whether or not extras matter to you. The movies themselves – aka the whole reason you’re even buying this set in the first place – look better than they ever have before. And after watching the movies in high definition, I just can't go back. The DVDs look ugly to me now, and I'm definitely going to reach for the Blu-rays whenever I want to rewatch these movies in the future. The difference is really that great.
I'm happy with my purchase and don't regret it for a second, but at the same time I can certainly understand how the lack of extras, missing short, and high price tag can turn people away. The set is limited edition, so if you do decide to get this set you'd better do it sooner rather than later.
Pikachu the Movie Premium Box 1998 - 2010 can be purchased from Amazon Japan and CD Japan. Media Factory's official site for the set can be found here.
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