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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.
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?
footage - 8 sec
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.
Weren't 90s boy
bands the best?
Here's what dub viewers missed out on:
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.
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
4Kids went for
the whole "let's not confuse the parents
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
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