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Dogasu's Backpack | Features | The Rocket-Dan's Emergency Meeting
On July 13th, 2020 an event was held in Tokyo, Japan called "The Rocket-Dan's Emergency Meeting" (ロケット団主催・緊急会 合). The meeting was presided over by the voice actors of the Rocket trio - Megumi Hayashibara, Shin-ichiro Miki, and Inuko Inuyama - in-character as Musashi, Kojirou, and Nyarth, respectively.
This page is one part event report, one part archive of a very unique Pocket Monsters experience that took place in Japan in the summer of 2017. It has been compiled by a combination of my own personal experiences, the event report that was posted on the official website for Pocket Monsters The Movie "I Choose You!", and the accounts of other fans who were also lucky enough to be able to attend.
The event was announced with almost no lead time, all things considered. On July 5th, 2017 (eight days before the meeting was to be held) news that a "Rocket-Dan Emergency Meeting" (ロケット団主催・緊急会合) would be taking place was announced on the official social media accounts for Pocket Monsters The Movie "I Choose You!"
The official announcement - which is still online, as of this writing - teased the details.
Attendance was decided via an online raffle, though unfortunately the online form you had to fill in isn't up anymore. The event was announced on July 5th but applications were due on July 9th so there wasn't really a lot of time to act!
The 100 people who won the raffle received an e-mail detailing the time / place of the meeting. I know this because I was one of them! Here's a translation of the original e-mail, which I think is probably OK to post now since it's been a few years since the event took place. All times are in JST.
I replied to the e-mail, and that was it! All that was left to do is wait.
I arrived at the venue at around 19:00 or so and a few fans were already waiting in the lobby. Some carried backpacks with various Rocket buttons / keychains attached to them, while others were in full cosplay as Rocket grunts.
I went to the reception counter and picked up my ticket. We were also given a file folder featuring the poster art for Pocket Monsters The Movie "I Choose You!", the movie that was scheduled to come out just two days later.
Next I went down to the 1F Seaside Deck to see this "sudden announcement." What I saw was...a giant Nyarth balloon!? That's right! Someone had apparently commissioned a 25 meter tall real life, fully functional Nyarth hot air balloon and the idea, apparently, was to full inflate it right there in front of all of us.
I actually posted a video of this at the time:
During all this - and I never actually confirmed 100% if I saw what I think I saw - I saw Megumi Hayashibara, Shin-ichiro Miki, and Inuko Inuyama all standing among the crowd being as incognito as they could be. Nobody around them seemed to notice who they were. I kept looking back, trying to get a good look at the three, but since I didn't have the nerve to just turn around and gawk at them I can't really say for sure. Junichi Masuda and Tsunekazu Ishihara were also among the crowd; Mr. Masuda even posted pictures of the event from his personal blog. All these Important Pokémon People™ just effortlessly mixed in with the crowd.
The fans gathered around all clapped and cheered on the staff as they all worked to inflate the balloon but unfortunately it was too windy that particular night and so they had to stop.
Since there was nothing else to do there we all went back inside for the main event.
I found my way to my seat. Rocket-Dan Danka played over the speakers over and over on a loop for the entire 30 minutes or so we sat in our seats, waiting. There are like half a dozen other Rocket trio songs they could have used, of course, but they just stuck to the most recent one instead for some reason *shrugs*
As I found my seat I spotted Mr. Tsunekazu Ishihara sitting off toward the back of the theater. No one went up to him to bother him, and I think it's kind of nice that everyone respected him enough to let him sit there and enjoy what was about to happen.
Once 21:00 rolled around the emcee, a young woman in a black Rocket grunt uniform, and a person in the giant Nyarth costume they tend to break out for events like these both walked out into the front to start the show. Inuyama Inuko provided the voice of Nyarth from afar; I imagine she was sitting off in a room somewhere, watching a live feed of the theater, maybe? The two go over some housekeeping items first, reminding everyone there that video and audio recordings are forbidden, showing them where the emergency exits are, etc.
After a while of this Musashi and Kojirou - Megumi Hayashibara and Shin-ichiro Miki - interject with complaints that the emcees are talking too long to get things started. Just like with Nyarth, we don't actually get to see the actors. It was all just...voices over a loudspeaker. The trio recites their motto (much to everyone's delight) and then have a little chit-chat where they bring up how they don't get as much screentime as they used to. At the time of this event (July 13th, 2017) the Rocket trio had been absent in 15 of the 33 Sun & Moon episodes that had aired so far, and they were absent in four of the five most recent episodes up to that point.
After that the trio held a little question and answer time with the audience. The order of this might be off from what it actually was but I'll try my best to be as accurate with this as possible. The trio asked where everyone came from, and while most fans seemed to live around the Tokyo area one person apparently came all the way from the Kansai region! That's further away than Washington D.C. is from New York City, and a one-way bullet train ticket from, say, Osaka to Tokyo costs about USD $120. Both the Rocket trio and everyone else in the crowd was impressed with this level of devotion.
The trio asks if anyone in the audience had attended the Rocket-Dan's Secret Live event from back in 2013. I raised my hand, and I think maybe only one other person did as well, but that was about it. That event four years earlier was also one where attendance was based completely on a random drawing and so it's not surprising that so few people were able to be selected for both events.
At one point, Musashi calls out "that old man in the back" and when everyone turned around to look they saw that it was Mr. Tsunekazu Ishihara! He told everyone there that he's become a member of the Rocket-Dan now, which seemed to make a lot of people happy.
Next up, Musashi asked "What would you do if you worked for us? What's your special skill?" (私たちの部下になったら何ができる？特技 は？). One person (who wasn't me, by the way) answered "I can speak English" (英語です) and both Musashi and Kojirou said "That'd be so much help" (助かる～) in unison!
After the chit-chats were finished the trio announces the true purpose of this gathering; to announce the huge project that will shake up the world!
...except not really, because their announcement was that a real, life-sized Nyarth balloon like the one we all saw on the dock earlier that evening will start touring all over Japan. Which, like...that barely shook up Japan, much less the world. You'll actually be able to ride the balloon and get your picture taken in it and everything! The following video, which unfortunately only seems to be available embedded in a tweet and cuts off before it's finished, can be seen here:
The trio announced that more information about the balloon can be found in Pokémon Fan magazine and the TV shows Oha Suta and Pokénchi. I picked up Issue 54 of Pokémon Fan when it came out a few days later and, sure enough, it had a two-page spread on the trio's announcement.
Once this (not so earth shattering) announcement was made it was time for the special showing of the series' very first episode.
The second big part of this "emergency meeting" was the world premiere of the (most recent) HD remaster of the very first episode of the original Pocket Monsters TV series. Which, like...OK, I get it, the movie that's gonna come out in a few days takes its title from this episode, and the only reason anyone even thought about remastering anything in the first place is because this is, first and foremost, a promotional event for the movie. But on the other hand...this is literally the only episode in that entire first series to not feature the trio whose event this is being shown at! I 100% understand why this was the episode that got the special treatment, but still!
Anyway, this was the version that was eventually put on the Japanese Movie 20 Blu-ray later that year so there are ways to enjoy this even if you couldn't attend the event.
One thing that was kind of funny to me was how everyone in the room of this Rocket-Dan event cheered very loudly during that three second part in the opening where the Rocket trio appears.
The episode plays and the HD remaster honestly breathed new life into it. This isn't one of those upscaled SD jobs like the ones you see in the North American Blu-ray set; this is a proper, fully HD film scan. Being able to see this on a big projector screen was like nothing else, though at the same time seeing a crystal clear image blown up so much only made the parts where the show cut corners that much more obvious. The video and audio during this showing were unfortunately a few seconds out of sync for most the episode but thankfully the version on the aforementioned Movie 20 Blu-ray doesn't have this problem.
Once the episode finished airing we were all asked to gather around for a big group photo. We were all asked to do this finger-pointing pose that they called the kimi ni kimeta - or the "I Choose You!" - pose. This is the photo posted in the report posted by the official website which was never uploaded at a higher resolution, I'm guessing due to privacy concerns. Speaking as someone who's actually in this photo (I'm toward back there!) I do appreciate that some randoms on the Internet can't just zoom in on my face, though at the same time I still wish we somehow could've gotten a larger version for ourselves.
A video of this photo being taken was later uploaded to the movie's official Twitter:
After we took the photo the Rocket trio got a "phone call" from their boss Sakaki. He's apparently upset because this hot air balloon project of theirs is way over budget and says he's going to take this out of their salaries. The Rocket trio, not wanting to rack up any more debt than they already have, brings the meeting to an abrupt end before hastily exiting. The emcee thanks everyone for joining this emergency meeting.
There wasn't much left to do after the meeting was done. The shopping mall the theater was located in was pretty much closed for the night and everyone had to catch their last trains (the Tokyo metro does not run 24/7) and so nobody really lingered around that much afterwards.
The next day, probably, the official website for Pocket Monsters The Movie "I Choose You!" created a little sub-site just for this new project. It's offline now but I randomly had the foresight to make a backup of it before it was removed so you can check that out here.
The Rocket-Dan's Emergency Meeting was a really fantastic event. I mentioned this in my write-up for the 2013 Secret Live event but the trio of actors who portrays the Rocket trio are the Rocket trio, point blank period. The way Hayashibara, Miki, and Inuyama effortlessly bounce off whatever the audience throws at them, while never breaking character even once, is something I will never stop marveling at. It was also really cool being surrounded by so many fans who love the Rocket trio as much as they do. These people were willing to drop everything to come out to a sorta-kinda remote area of Tokyo, on a weeknight, for some vaguely defined event all because it was being held by the Rocket trio. It was a magical night for sure.
I don't know if there will ever be another event like this again, especially not in this post-COVID world, but hopefully one day they'll find a way to give fans more chances to meet the Rocket trio in person.
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