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Dogasu's Backpack | Features | Pokémon the movie XY Exhibit
The "Pokémon the movie XY Exhibit" (Pokémon XY the movie 展) was a special exhibit held in the summer of 2014 at the observatory of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower in Tokyo, Japan. It opened on July 19th, 2014 to commemorate the release of The Cocoon of Destruction and Diancie and Pikachu, What is This the Key To? and ran until August 31st, 2014.
I had a chance to visit the exhibit while it was open and would like to share what I saw. All the photographs I took can be made larger by clicking on them.
I went to the exhibit on a Thursday morning. I had the time off from work and figured that going to a Pokemon exhibit on a weekday would be a much more pleasant experience than trying to fight the crowds that would inevitably be there on a Saturday or Sunday. I got up early and was able to arrive in time for the doors to open at 10:00.
I went to the front counter to buy my ticket and was in and out in less than five minutes. I was then led to an elevator where I rode up to the 52nd floor. When you step off the elevator you're greeted by a huge mural with a life-sized statue of Satoshi and Pikachu standing in front of it.
Many fans were taking pictures with Satoshi, mimicking the pose he was doing. The picture up there on the right is one I pulled off of Twitter of Nakagawa Shouko doing just that.
Once I finished, I showed my ticket to the lady at the front and entered the exhibit.
The Roppongi Hills Mori Tower is a round glass tower. There are no flat walls or corners in the exhibit space and the outer wall is made almost completely out of glass and so everything has to be displayed along the curve of the inner wall.
The first thing you see when you go around the bend is a giant mural featuring Satoshi and Pikachu from the original Pocket Monsters series. At the top is a quote from director Yuyama Kunihiko. There are also various other messages from the staff on the walls throughout the exhibit, and all of them were presented in both Japanese (obviously) and English. The English translations were all accurate and had clearly been written by a native English speaker. They all used the English dub names, which...eh. I mean, yeah, on the one hand I see why they would decide to do that but, on the other hand, reading the sentence "Rica Matsumoto as "Ash Ketchum"" later on in the exhibit just annoyed the ever-living hell out of me.
Next up was a wall featuring sixteen televisions with each screen showing a trailer from one of the previous sixteen movies. There was no sound playing.
There was a large poster that read like an article about The Cocoon of Destruction and Diancie and Pikachu, What is This the Key To? This had an English translation as well and was interesting to me because it revealed a number of dub names for the characters, places, and key items that appear in the movie months before its official English language release.
There was a small theater that was showing parts of The Cocoon of Destruction and Diancie but I didn't bother to check it out since I had already seen the whole movie several weeks before. It did have a really cook area where you could take your picture with Yveltal, though, something that Nakagawa Shouko did during her visit.
Further along was a timeline of when all the movies came out. It featured each film's poster, its release date, the video games' releases and how they lined up with said film, and the movie's English title.
There was also a small case showcasing miniature models of the various Pokemon jets that the Japanese airline ANA has had made over the years.
Finally, there was a large poster featuring comments made by all the special guest voice actors for the movie as well as English translations of said comments. They're different from the ones that were on the official website and in the movie's pamphlet but they cover a lot of the same territory so there wasn't anything too interesting to see there.
Once I got through this section it was time to head to the most interesting part of the exhibit: the section devoted to the animation production.
Up until this point in the exhibit there didn't seem to be any restrictions on photography. The only exception was the animation section, which was of course the best part of the exhibit and the one I wanted to take photos of the most.
First up was a series of storyboards that had been framed and hung on the wall. There was a storyboard from the beginning of the first movie of Mewtwo bursting out of its tube and a storyboard from the Celebi movie of Satoshi and his friends talking to Yukinari. A museum label off to the side of this Movie 4 storyboard points out that there was a part that was storyboarded but never animated because of time constraints. It's a short segment showing Yukinari making up a senryuu, the type of poetry that Orchid-Hakase would become so famous for later in his life, and everyone else reacting on how he seems to have a gift for poetry. It's a neat little scene that provides further evidence of Yukinari being a younger version of Orchid-Hakase but it seems like the movie's inability to go over its allotted runtime prevented it from making it past the storyboard stage.
The museum label also stated that the storyboard artists would take a stopwatch to their boards and time everything as thoroughly as possible to avoid going over their allotted time. The stopwatch - a yellow, heavy duty looking device - was kept behind glass.
There were a number of production artwork displayed on the wall as well. A lot of the artwork is stuff that's already been printed in guide books or included as extras on the DVDs so this section wasn't as amazing as it could have been but it was still nice to be able to see all the originals there in one place.
A section on the background paintings showed off many of the gorgeous backdrops they use for the movies without any of the other animation elements in the way.
Next up was a section on the CG work they've done for the various movies. For the first movie they only used CG for the movie's title screen (they're talking about the non-Kanzenban version, obviously) but as time goes on they started to use more and more computer stuff. Now, a museum placard proclaims, they even use CG for stuff like fire and smoke! They talk about the importance of making sure the CG blends in with the 2D animation so you can't tell which is which, and the whole time I was thinking that they should really try harder because there is still a lot of CG in even the modern movies that stick out like a sore thumb.
Several video screens showed off how the CG work is done and how it starts off as blocky placeholders that are, through a series of steps, transformed into fully realized CG. They showed a scene of a herd of Baffaron from Victini and the Black Hero, Zekrom and how they started out as simple blocks to help them track the pokemon's movement. Another screen showed a shot of the Red Genosect and Mewtwo zooming around New Tork City and how pretty much everything except the two pokemon were rendered using CG.
There was another screen showing the various title screens for the movies with a bit of explanation at the beginning of each one explaining what the CG artists were going for. The logo for the Lugia movie, for example, was given all these water effects because so much of the movie takes place in the water. It's all the kind of stuff you can tell just by looking at it but I guess it's neat for those who never paid any attention to this sort of thing.
Across from the CG stuff was a wall showing off Sugimori Ken's character designs for the various human characters who have appeared in the movies over the years. I had seen a lot of these images online throughout the years but it was nice to see them all together in one place. Despite the ban on photography Nakagawa Shouko had a picture of herself taken in front of this part of the exhibit and posted it on Twitter so I guess that sort of thing doesn't apply to celebrities.
The final "no photography zone" area was a wall dedicated to the Location Scouting they do for these movies. Each of the countries the staff has visited over the years were listed along with the movie they went along with. So for example, "Venice, Italy" was listed alongside Latias and Latios, The Guardian Deities of the Water Capital. Comments from the staff about what they get out of these location scouting trips (other than free international travel, of course) were also posted on the wall.
Below that, randomly, was a copy of Nakagawa Shouko's script for this year's movie with her lines highlighted. The script was behind glass.
Throughout all these exhibits were random trivia questions scattered here and there on these wooden flaps that you could lift up to reveal the answer. One asked "What is the name of the footprint-shaped island in the second movie?" with the answer being "Earthia Island." I overheard two young women trying to figure out how in the world you pronounce the English name printed on the card - "Shamouti Island" - much to my amusement. It's been over twelve years since I've watched the dubbed version of that movie and to be honest I'm not really sure how to pronounce it myself!
Another flap stated that director Yuyama Kunihiko has this rule that states that the Rocket-Dan must appear during the bridge portion of the movie's theme song during the end credits. Which seems really interesting! But then I went home and actually checked for myself and discovered that this bit of trivia is just not true. The Rocket trio don't even start appearing during the ending credits until the fifth Pocket Monsters movie and even after that it would take a few more movies for them to appear regularly. And half the times they do appear it's during the main part of the song, not the bridge. So, I dunno, museum placard, I think you've got this one all wrong.
Another trivia bit states that Sugimori Ken based the design of Vicious, the Rocket-Dan member from the fourth movie, on Executive Producer Kubo Masakazu.
Yet another trivia panel tells a story of how Matsumoto Rika hurt her throat while recording Mew and the Wave-Guiding Hero, Lucario and went out for ice cream after her session to help her heal.
It's all neat stuff that I didn't know but as I was doing research for this write-up I'm finding out that this was all common knowledge to Japanese fans. Oh well!
After the animation stuff we were allowed to take pictures again but quite honestly there wasn't a lot there worth photographing. There was this cute little maze thing for kids that allowed them to pose for pictures with large cardboard cut-outs of a bunch of pokemon. There was a room called "Touch the Monster Ball!" (Touch the モンスターボール！) where you'd press down on these Monster Ball mounted on top of these pedestals to "release" a pokemon on the screen in front of it. So, for example, you'd press one Monster Ball down and Keldeo would pop out. Walk over to another Monster Ball and Lucario pops out.
As I reached the end of the exhibit proper, I saw posters for all the movies and the Pikachu shorts hanging from the ceiling.
I also saw a line for the Pikachu Café, the special restaurant with Pikachu-shaped food exclusive to this exhibit. I remembered passing a sign as I entered the building saying that people will be asked to wait on the 52nd floor if the Pikachu Café is full. I thought that was weird but I also thought it was probably a sign that the cafe was really, really popular. Turns out it was.
The cafe opens at 11:00 and I got in line at about 10:40 or so. At that point the line was already about 30 people long. As we waited the staff passed out menus for us to peruse so we would already know what we wanted to order by the time we got up to the front. The food prices were pretty insane but I guess that's normal for these kinds of things:
I decided to go with the Pikachu Thunderbolt Parfait because 1) it was fairly cheap-ish, all things considered, and 2) I was going to meet a different friend for lunch later that day and I didn't want to eat a full meal.
Once you got to a certain point in line you'd come across a vending machine with all the food items posted on it. You'd insert your money into the machine, choose what you want, and then take the ticket it spits out. After being shown to your seat you would then take your ticket over to the front counter. Go back to your seat and a few minutes later your order arrives at your table.
The parfait I had was...alright. Parfaits are kind of common here in Tokyo and there are a lot of places that specialize in them and to be honest I've had better. It was fine, but it didn't really wow me. The Thunderbolt part was basically pure sugar and the actual pudding part that made up Pikachu's face didn't really have much of a flavor to it. It was also put in this really cheap plastic cup that did what it was supposed to do but still made the whole thing feel cheap.
I will say this about the food, though; from what I saw of my order and of what people had at the other tables, the food that you get looks identical to the professionally taken photographs they have on the menu. None of this nonsense, no siree.
After I finished, I left the cafe area, exited the exhibit, and went down to the shop they had set up downstairs. The gift shop had a few things made specifically for the exhibit - postcards, file folders, pens - but the overwhelming majority of it was filled with merchandise from the Pokemon Center stores elsewhere in Japan. I was hoping there would be some kind of book you could buy that reprinted everything you saw at the exhibit - some exhibits have them and some don't - but unfortunately no such pamphlet was on sale. There was also a ROOTOTE FACTORY booth where you could design your own original tote bag by picking from the legendary pokemon who have appeared in the movies so far. The bags went from between 2,000 yen and 3,300 yen but I didn't get one because of the lack of Rocket pokemon. I mean come on, Nyasu has been in every single movie and Sonansu's been in most of them and yet neither one of them made the list? Lame.
After not buying anything I left the gift shop and the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower.
Pokémon the movie XY Exhibit was a fun time. The animation stuff was as interesting as I thought it'd be and the Pikachu Cafe was overpriced but pretty cool nonetheless. While I know the exhibit was opened to commemorate the release of a specific movie I don't see any reason why they couldn't make this a yearly event or why it couldn't be exported to other countries. There must be interest out there, right?
"Pokémon the movie XY Exhibit" (Pokémon XY the movie 展) ran from July 19th, 2014 to August 31st, 2014 at the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower in Tokyo, Japan. The official website for the exhibit can be found here while its official Twitter account can be found here. Plans for future exhibits or locations have not been announced.
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