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Dogasu's Backpack | Features | Rumor Guide


The Japanese version of the second Pokémon movie confirms Musashi and Kojirou are 25 years old

Rumor Status:  False

How old are Musashi and Kojirou, the criminal duo who follows Satoshi and Pikachu all over the world? Many fans of the characters are convinced a concrete answer can be found in the original Japanese version of the second movie, Pocket Monsters The Movie "Revelation Lugia." But is this really the proof fans have made it out to be?

The dialogue in question

The scene that so many fans cite as proof of the Rocket duo's age occurs about 1/3 of the way into the movie, right before the legendary Pokémon Thunder is captured by the film's antagonist Gelardan:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ムサシ 「コラ、男女交際、好きだ嫌いだでガキんちょがもめるな!10年早い」
Musashi:  "Hey now, you brats are about ten years too early ("juu nen hayai") to be worrying about things like romance or who you like and don't like." Jessie:  "Listen to me, kid. When you get involved with the opposite sex you're only asking for trouble."
コジロウ 「僕たちお兄さんお姉さん5年遅い」
Kojirou:  "And we older folks are about about five years too late ("go nen osoi")." James:  "Yes and that's the kind of trouble...I stay out of."

So here's my understanding of the argument. Musashi states the twerps, who are (probably) ten years old each, are about juu nen hayai, or "ten years too early" to be talking about love. So, if them being ten years old is considered "ten years too early" then that must mean Musashi's saying that you have to be twenty (10 + 10 = 20) to be able to start talking about romance, right?

Kojirou then pipes up and says that the two of them are go nen osoi, or "five years too late."

So, if 20 is the optimal age for romance and Musashi and Kojirou are five years older than that, then 20 + 5 = 25, which means that the Rocket duo is implying they're 25 years old.

The phrase "juu nen hayai"

If you simply plug the Japanese text above into Google Translate then yes, the Rocket duo is literally saying "ten years too early / five years too late." However, this doesn't take into account that juu nen hayai is also a very common Japanese idiom that its users don't normally take at face value.

In English we also have phrases like "not in a million years!" or "I've seen this a thousand times" that we all understand aren't meant to be taken literally. When someone says "I've seen this movie a thousand times" we understand that to mean they've simply seen the movie a bunch of times; we don't typically imagine they've actually counted how many times they've seen the movie, from one all the way up to one thousand.

Or, to provide an example from Pokémon itself, here's a fairly well-known exchange from Episode 025 "Don't Get Mad, Okorizaru!" where Satoshi talks about the origins of his iconic original series hat:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
カスミ 「そういえばそんなことあったっけ?あしたも一応はがき出したけど ~?」
Kasumi:  "Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I sent in a postcard on a whim but I never won anything..."
Misty:  "I didn't know that was an official Pokémon League hat. I remember I entered the same contest too."
サトシ 「あの帽子当てるためにオレはがき1000枚出したんだぞ」
Satoshi:  "Well I had to send in a thousand postcards just to win that hat!"
Ash:  "I had to send in about a million postcards to win that hat!"
カスミ 「アッハハハ…1枚出しただけで当たるわけないか」
Kasumi:  "Ahahaha so that's why. I guess sending in just one wasn't going to cut it."
Misty:  "No wonder I didn't win. I only sent one."

We of course understand that Satoshi didn't literally send in a thousand postcards, or that Ash didn't literally send in a million postcards; the takeaway here, instead, is that the main character of this show mailed in a very large number of entries in order to earn his beloved hat.

The actual numbers used in phrases like these don't really matter. Functionally, there's no difference among the phrases "I've seen this movie a hundred times," "I've seen this movie a thousand times," or "I've seen this movie a million times." Despite the wide range of numbers on display here all three of these phrases mean exactly the same thing.

The Japanese phrase juu nen hayai functions in pretty much the same way. While a clunky word-for-word translation would be something like "ten years early," what this idiom actually means is "you're getting ahead of yourself" or "you're too young or inexperienced to be doing whatever it is you're trying to do." And just like with "I've seen this movie ___ times," the phrase juu nen hayai is also malleable enough for you to be able to alter it. Swapping out juu nen hayai ("ten years too early") with hyaku nen hayai ("a hundred years too early") or
sen nen hayai ("a thousand years too early") is really no different from changing "not in a million years!" to "not in a billion years!"

And Takeshi Shudo, the man who wrote the second Pocket Monsters movie, is known for adding in idioms and turns of phrases and puns and other plays on words into the scripts he writes. Having a character use the real Japanese phrase juu nen hayai and then having another character reply with an alteration like go nen osoi is exactly the kind of wordplay you'd expect in a Takeshi Shudo script.

Examples of the phrase used elsewhere in Pocket Monsters

The second movie isn't the only time the phrase juu nen hayai (or some variation of it) has appeared in Pocket Monsters and so I thought it'd be helpful to show a few more examples to see how this phrase functions out in the wild.
In the examples below I'll provide two translations: a literal one that keeps the "___ years early" part intact, and a more natural sounding one that means the exact same thing.

The first example is from all the way back in Episode 002 "Showdown! Pokémon Center!" during the scene where Satoshi tells Dr. Ookido he saw the legendary Pokémon Houou:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
How the English Dub Handled It
サトシ  「あぁでも!あれに似たのは見ました!虹の向こうに飛んでいったんです」
Satoshi:  "Oh! I did see something that looked like that Pokémon. It flew right over the rainbow!"
Ash:  "But I did see a flying Pokémon like that one. It flew right over the rainbow!"
オーキド博士 「これは誰も会ったことのない伝説のポケモン!君が会うには 100年、千年早いわい」 Dr. Ookido:  "But that's a legendary Pokémon nobody's ever seen before! You're about, 1,000 years away from seeing something like that."
Professor Oak:  "Don't talk such nonsense. You couldn't have seen this Pokémon. Trainers have searched their whole lives and never seen it."
(alternate translation)
"But that's a legendary Pokémon nobody's ever seen before! You're far too wet behind the ears to have seen something like that."

In Episode 006 "Pippi and the Moon Stone," the Rocket duo themselves use the phrase in response to Takeshi's suggestion:

Japanese (original) Japanese (translated) How the English Dub Handled It
タケシ  「石が欲しけりゃその辺の石ころでも持っていけ!」
Takeshi:  "If you want stones so much then just take the ones around here and then get lost!"
Brock:  "You want a rock? Take one of these! Then get lost!"
ムサシ 「なんだい 偉そうに」 Musashi:  "Well aren't you all high and mighty."
Jessie:  "Get lost? How rude."
コジロウ 「100年早いんだよ」 Kojirou:  "You're about 100 years too young to be talking to us like that."
James:  "Let's teach him manners."
(alternate translation)
"It isn't nice to talk to your elders like that."

It's not just variations of the phrase that get used, either. In Episode 017 "The Island of Giant Pokémon!?," the exact phrase juu nen hayai is said, word-for-word, when the Rocket trio call their boss collect in Episode 017 ""The Island of Giant Pokémon!?":

Japanese (original) Japanese (translated) How the English Dub Handled It
サカキ 「バカもん!給料 前借りしといてこちら払いの電話など10年早いわ!」 Sakaki:  "Idiots! You're ten years too early to be asking for things like salary advances and collect calls!"
Giovanni:  "Nitwits! How dare you annoy me with your nonsense! Don't ever bother me like this again!"
(alternate translation)
"Idiots! Just who do you think you are, asking for things like salary advances and collect calls!"

The exact same phrase is also used in Episode 018 "Holiday in Aopulco":

Japanese (original) Japanese (translated) How the English Dub Handled It
タケシ 「突然乱入した大人のお姉さん二人組。自分は決して嫌いではありません が果たして観客の反応は…」
Takeshi:  "Two adult women have suddenly taken the stage. I can't say I dislike this, but what about the audience?"
(Scene removed from the English dub)
タケシ 「おっと!受けています!みんなうれしそうです!」 
Takeshi:  "Oh! They're a hit! Everyone seems really pumped up!"
(Scene removed from the English dub)
ムサシ 「当然」
Musashi:  "Of course they are."
(Scene removed from the English dub)
コジロウ 「10 年早いのよ ボヨヨン」 Kojirou:  "Maybe come back and try again ten years from now... Boi~ing." (Scene removed from the English dub)
(alternate translation)
"Maybe come back and try again once you're all grown up... Boi~ing."

In all the cases above the general sentiment is that the person being talked about -- the Rocket duo to the twerps, Dr. Ookido to Satoshi, Kojirou to Takeshi, Sakaki to Musashi and Kojirou, Kojirou to Kasumi -- are all too young and/or inexperienced to be saying the things they're saying. You can remove the numbers from your translations and the meaning doesn't change one bit.

Officially, no one seems to treat the Movie 2 dialogue as anything noteworthy

The question now is, are the numbers in the Movie 2 dialogue like the numbers in the TV examples above and are largely irrelevant? Or are they actually the entire point of the dialogue? If it was the former, I argue, there'd probably be at least some sort of official acknowledgment of this in the 20+ years since the movie came out. And yet there isn't.

Screenplay writer Takeshi Shudo ran a series of blogs in the late 2000s where he talks at length about the various work he's done, and in the 20 or so entries he dedicates to the second Pokémon movie he doesn't bring up the Rocket duo's ages even once. He goes into great detail about many other lines of dialogue, and guess that Fleura's "about the same age as Kasumi," and spends a large number of his other entries talking about the Rocket trio in the second movie specifically, and yet there's not one single mention of the infamous-among-Westerners juu nen hayai line.

The two manga adaptations of the movie don't bother with it either. The
ani-manga -- a comic adaptation made by taking screenshots from the movie and then rearranging them into comic book panels -- apparently didn't think it was important enough to leave in because it skips the scene where this dialogue takes place, while the black and white manga adaptation by Toshio Tanigami omits the Rocket trio from its retelling altogether.

Movie 2 Ani-Manga
The Ani-Manga Toshio Tanigami's manga adaptation

None of the various guide books released about the movies call any attention to the Rocket duo's dialogue either. The ones dedicated solely to Movie 2 -- such as This is Animation: Pocket Monsters The Movie "Revelation Lugia" & "Pikachu's Exploration Party" (left) or Pocket Monsters The Movie "Revelation Lugia" & "Pikachu's Exploration Party" Cho-Zensho (right) -- do not make any mention of the Rocket duo's juu nen hayai dialogue.

This is Animation
Cho Zensho
This is Animation
The Cho-Zensho

The guide books released years later that cover all the movies released up to that point -- such as Pocket Monsters The Movie DP All Movies Perfect Guide (released in 2007) or Pocket Monsters Best Wishes! The Movie Perfect Guide ~ Satoshi's and Pikachu's Adventure Logs ~ (released in 2012)  -- didn't seem to think the dialogue warranted a mention, either.

Pocket Monsters The Movie DP All Movies Perfect Guide
Pocket Monsters Best Wishes! The Movie Perfect Guide ~ Satoshi's and Pikachu's Adventure Logs ~
All Movies Perfect Guide
Satoshi's and Pikachu's Adventure Logs

Officially, no one seems to be treating the Rocket duo's juu nen hayai dialogue as an age reveal and are instead giving it the same importance they give to pretty much every other throwaway joke, pun, or play on words that appear in these movies.

Other considerations

There are other arguments against taking this excerpt from Movie 2 at face value.

For one, the entire premise of the Movie 2 dialogue serving as an age reveal rests heavily on the assumption that Musashi and Kojirou already know how old the twerps are. But when would they have found this out? It's possible they learned the kids' ages off-camera at some point, I suppose, but going into this movie we wouldn't have had any reason to assume the Rocket duo already had this information.

Two, Musashi is far, far too much of a narcissist to let someone reveal her real age to a group of people, much less her sworn enemies, without getting angry and blowing up in everyone's faces about it. So why is she so calm here? We've seen her explode countless times throughout the series for people calling her names like obasan ("old woman") and yet in this movie, she's perfectly fine with Kojirou more or less letting everyone know she was born in the early 1970s...? That doesn't sound like her.

Episode 040 "The Four Eevee Brothers"
Episode 108 "Tag Battle! The Final Gym!"

Three, why would writer Takeshi Shudo use this random throwaway scene in this random movie to reveal something as important as the ages of some of the show's most ubiquitous characters? Anime movies like Pocket Monsters The Movie "Revelation Lugia" are typically made to be self-contained stories so that TV-only viewers don't miss out on anything important (it's one of the reasons fans debate the canonicity of the movies, actually!) and so it would be very, very odd to choose this movie, and this movie only, to reveal something this major.

Finally, why would Mr. Shudo reveal their ages in such a roundabout way? Takeshi Shudo literally had the narrator in the first episode tell us the audience, directly, that Satoshi is ten-years-old, and yet for the Rocket trio he's going to make us solve a little riddle to get that same information?

OK, so you're saying the Rocket trio *isn't* 25 years old?

We simply do not know how old the Rocket duo is. Musashi and Kojirou are clearly coded as being "adult" characters -- there are plenty of scenes of them driving cars, working part-time jobs, drinking alcohol, and doing other things the kids in this series generally aren't allowed to do -- and so the answer is that they're probably meant to be at least somewhere in their early 20s. But, as this tweet from Pokémon Radio Show! The Rocket-Dan's Secret Empire's official Twitter account from 2012 indicates their actual ages are still, officially, a mystery.

You're asking "Hold old is Kojirou-san??" Don't you know, our heroes of evil are ageless!

「コジロウさんって何歳なんですか??」悪の ヒーローに、年齢なんて無いんだぜ?

Given all this, I would propose this alternate translation of the Rocket duo's dialogue from this scene that retains a similar play on words while also not inviting any misinterpretations:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ムサシ 「コラ、男女交際、好きだ嫌いだでガキんちょがもめるな!10年早い」
Musashi:  "Hey now, it's a bit premature for you brats to be worrying about things like romance or who you like and don't like." Jessie:  "Listen to me, kid. When you get involved with the opposite sex you're only asking for trouble."
コジロウ 「僕たちお兄さんお姉さん5年遅い」
Kojirou:  "While it's a bit post-mature for the two of us." James:  "Yes and that's the kind of trouble...I stay out of."

It's entirely possible the Rocket trio actually is meant to be 25 after all, but this simply has not been officially stated anywhere. Not even in the second movie.

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