Japanese Opening Theme
"Mezase Pokemon Master"
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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Openings Themes
Japanese Opening Theme 01: "Mezase Pokemon Master"
American Equivalent(s): "Pokémon Theme"
Used in Japanese Episodes: 001-080
Used in American Episodes: 101-227
Japanese Theme Running Time: One minute and twenty-nine seconds
American Theme Running Time: One minute
opening line of the song ("Pokemon, getto da ze!"), the show's logo
appears. Next, we Pikachu running toward the screen, ducking
under the legs of the evolved forms of the three Kanto starters before
going under Satoshi's legs and the legs of a Lass. The next few
shots show various pokemon against a black background as their Japanese
names are displayed in English letters. Next, Satoshi turns his
hat around and throws a Monster Ball toward the camera. After
that, we see Satoshi and Pikachu riding on a Lapras in what appears to
be the ocean while a Gyarados and a Hakuryuu leap out of the
water. For the next part of the song, we see Satoshi and Pikachu
standing outside in what we assume is Masara Town. The following
shot shows Satoshi throwing a Monster Ball and releasing a Pigeot who
quickly engages in a battle against Onidrill. We then cut to a
shot of Satoshi, Takeshi, and Kasumi that quickly segues into a shot of
Musashi, Kojirou, Nyasu, Dogasu, and Arbo. After a shot of
Shigeru, we see our heroes running through the rain as members of the
Nyoromo family sit in the foreground. During Orchid-Hakase's
"sore wa sou ja," we see a shot of the supporting characters -
Orchid-Hakase, Hanako, Joi, and Junsa - nodding their head in
agreement. Next, we see a shot of Satoshi and Pikachu running in
a field alongside a Gallop and a Windie. As the camera pans up,
we also see Kanto's three legendary birds before breaking out into
space and seeing Myuutwo and a barely visible Myuu. The final
shots of the opening show Satoshi standing alone in an empty stadium,
triumphantly holding up his Monster Ball as if he's ready to
In Japan, the
first opening theme to Pocket
Monsters is one that has definitely stood the test of
today, more than a decade later, people can listen to the song and
instantly be brought back to the moment when they first laid eyes on
the Japanese version, with its different music and voice acting and
whatnot. While the song may seem a
little dated by today's standards - the synthesizers used have that
distinct "low budget 1990's anime" sound to them - the melody and the
lyrics still manage to come together to produce an energetic opening
that also manages to be catchy as hell. It's one of those songs
that gets remixed every so often and will creep into otherwise
unrelated songs, but nobody really seems to get annoyed by that because
the song is so damn good.
The big question, of course, is "Why would the dub change the theme song in the first place? Why not just record an English version of the Japanese theme - like every other anime dub - and be done with it?" Unfortunately, that's not always the way things work. While there's the time issue - the Japanese opening is about thirty seconds too long - that could have been easily taken care of by either dubbing a shortened version of the song or cutting out the "Pokémon Rap" segment at the end.
No, I think the real reason is that the executives at 4Kids just thought that Pokémon Theme was a better song. End of story. Yes, that seems like a bullshit answer and the fans who love 4Kids' work will try to deny that any executive could let personal biases make their decisions for them. But at the end of the day, I think it just all boils down to someone at 4Kids thinking that Mezase Pokemon Master is not good enough to be the show's theme song for whatever reason. Maybe it didn't do well with test audiences or something. Who knows?
It's a practice that will, unfortunately, continue throughout the franchise's life.
The lyrics on the
left are my translation of Mezase
Pokemon Master. The original Japanese lyrics can be found here.
The lyrics to the English theme song are on the right.
To me, the biggest difference here is that the Japanese song is obviously being sung by Satoshi and, as such, is more about him. We hear about what he wants to do, his vaguely established goals, and how he will definitely succeed. We hear some sound clips of the characters he interacts with (Pikachu, Orchid-Hakase) and hear some very character-specific vocabulary ("Masara Town") sprinkled throughout. The show is about his adventures, so it makes sense to have the show's first song be all about him.
The English version, on the other hand, isn't sung by any particular character and instead allows the listener to place him or herself as the subject of the song. It also spends most of its time trumpeting the show's titular creatures, something the Japanese song doesn't really bother to do at all. Like I said earlier, it's a completely different approach..
Also, notice that at no point does the Japanese version say the name of the show (Pocket Monsters). The English version, on the other hand, pretty much chants the title non-stop toward the end there.
The opening theme to the American version clocks in at about sixty seconds, a good half a minute shorter than Mezase Pokemon Master. So, some things had to be removed to make everything fit.
Below are screenshots of the images that were not shown, in any way, shape, or form, in the English dub.
There are a few interesting things going on here.
For one thing, the opening and closing shots feature the symbols for the (then) seven TCG types, creating the first (and one of the only) link to the card game in the TV series.
The shots of the pokemon with their names beside them that I have up here are actually from the second version of the opening theme. In the first version, each card took up the entire screen and flashed onto the screen in rapid succession. After the incident with the "Electric Soldier Porigon," however, the cards were shrunken down to about a fourth of their size so that the transition from card to card wouldn't cause the entire screen to flash the way it had before.
The shots of the gang running through the rain and the shot of them outside with a campfire are the type of nature-y, "boring" shots that always gets removed from the English openings.
In the Japanese version of the opening, everything from the part with Satoshi running with Windie to the three legendary birds to the shot of Myuutwo and Myuu in space is all part of one continuous shot. The dub, however, splices this in two, moving the second part (with Myuutwo and Myuu) to the very beginning of their opening and then placing about thirteen seconds of episode clips between it and the first part. As a result, the shot of Fire, which originally served as a transition from the first part to the second, was cut.
In all, roughly 56 seconds worth of Mezase Pokemon Master footage was left unused.
There is a lot of footage from Mezase Pokemon Master that doesn't get used in Pokémon Theme. Yet instead of simply removing the thirty seconds or so required to make the American theme fit within the sixty-second limit that seems to have been placed on 4Kids, the dubbers decided to remove almost twice that and then go back and fill in the remaining half a minute with clips from various episodes.
This is a practice that, unfortunately, becomes the norm. I don't know why 4Kids thought it was a good idea to mix the higher quality, brand new opening animation with the noticeably lower quality episode stuff, but it's something that both they and their successors will do for every single opening.
Anyone who's seen the TV series can probably sing at least one of these songs from memory, so I don't really think I have to say too much more about this opening. Everyone has a preference, and no amount of me gushing about the Japanese opening or hating on the English opening will change anyone's opinion. So I'll just end this by hoping that anyone who hasn't seen either one of these gives them a chance.
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