Mewtwo Strikes Back
The First Trailer

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Dogasu's Backpack | Movies & Specials Guide | Mewtwo Strikes Back!


As with pretty much every other movie in existence, the Pocket Monsters films had trailers to help promote the movies. However, with Pocket Monsters The Movie Mewtwo Strikes Back! / Pikachu's Summer Vacation, one very strange and mysterious trailer exists that's remembered more for the general WTF!?-ness of it than for actually showing us a sneak peak of the movie.It doesn't have an official title or anything, so let's just call it "The First Trailer."

The Trailer

The trailer starts with the camera zooming in on a grassy field where three young women are sitting. We see the three girls - Voyager, a girl who looks like an older version of Kasumi, and an unidentified little girl - staring up at the clouds as they change into various Pokémon. 

Pikachu in the clouds

he opening lines to Pocket ni Fantasy, the third ending theme to the original Pocket Monsters TV series, play in the background:

Sachiko Kobayashi:  "Hey, what's you guys' dream?"
Children:  (all together)  "To catch all 151 Pokémon!"
Kobayashi:  "Wow, that's the same as me!"
Little Boy:  "Eh!?  But you're a grown up! How weird..."
Kobayashi:  "What are you talking about? You're saying I'm not allowed?"
Little Girl:  "Well, it's not that you can't do it..."
Kobayashi:  "Hey, do you have any other dreams?"
Little Girl:  "Any other dreams? Well..."

At this moment, the movie's logo is displayed.

Pocket ni Fantasy continues to play.  The rest of the trailer plays out like so: 
  • We see a shot of Satoshi and Pikachu running through what looks like an erupting volcano before being blown away by an explosion.
  • In the next shot, we see Satoshi falling into some water with Pikachu in his arms - not unlike a similar scene we'll see in the actual movie itself - before being carried away by a current.
  • We see a very quick shot of Mewtwo's face covered in shadow. It appears to be in a lab of some kind.  Curiously, this shot appears on the official Pokémon website even though it's not from the actual movie itself.
  • Next, we see Takeshi, Kasumi, and Kasumi's Koduck running through what appears to be the same mountainous area we saw Satoshi running through earlier. Rocks fall all around them.
  • Pikachu is seen riding on top of Pigeon (Satoshi's Pigeon?). Pikachu smirks as it approaches the camera, sparks coming out of its cheeks.
  • Musashi, Kojirou, and Nyarth pull aside a red curtain as the camera pulls back to reveal the three of them standing on a large battleship.
  • A shot of Voyager and the little girl smiling.
  • A close up of the little girl.
  • A shot of the older orange-haired girl and the little girl smiling.
  • Pikachu standing under a tree, looking out into a grassy meadow. Pikachu turns around and looks at the camera and smiles.
  • We see the three women - Voyager on the left, the orange haired girl on the right, and the little girl in between the two - taking a nice walk together.
  • We see a hand (the little girl's?) reach out for Pikachu's paw. In the next shot, Pikachu has jumped into the girl's arms and is licking her face.
  • A bird's eye view of the park or wherever it is they're at starts to zoom away. We see that Voyager, the older orange-haired girl, and the little girl are not alone; other children are playing there as well.
The trailer ends with a female voice that sounds not unlike Kasumi's telling us that Pocket Monsters The Movie Mewtwo Strikes Back! will be in theaters "this July," though she doesn't give an exact date. The titles of the movie and the Pikachu short are displayed in plain white text (no logos) against a black background. Text at the bottom of the screen tells us that this movie "refrains from using any extreme scenes," most likely to calm down parents after the Pokémon Shock incident from late 1997.

Waitaminute...that scene's not in the movie!

Every one of these early movie trailers has something in common: little to almost no scenes from the actual movie itself. This trailer and the first trailers for pretty much every movie that follows show all these exciting scenes that look really awesome but then nothing ever comes out of them.

Satoshi running through fire

Why is this, though? Why go to the trouble of making brand new footage and then use said footage to deceive your audience? Why not just show footage from the movie being advertised? Takeshi Shudo, the man who supervised the original series and wrote a number of key TV episodes and movies, gives us a little insight:

It's been pointed out that there are scenes in the trailers that aren't in the actual movie itself. Since the movie's running time is calculated from the storyboards, we don't end up having a lot of leftover scenes like they do in live action movies. As you can imagine, the more scenes we end up not using, the more time and money we have to waste. 

The aforementioned storyboard is made from the final draft of the script, so any scenes you see in the trailer that don't end up in the actual movie should be thought of as promotional scenes made from before the script was finished.

本編にないシーンが予告篇にあるという指 摘があったが、アニメは絵コンテで上映時間が決まるから、実写映画のように余ったシーンが作られることはない。 余ったシーンが出るほど時間的にも経済的にも余裕がないのが普通である。

絵コンテは、脚本が決定稿になってから作 られる。だから、本編にないシーンのある予告編があるとしたら、脚本が完成する前に作られたPR用としか考えられ ない。

So what he's basically saying here is that these early trailers shouldn't be thought of as commercials unrelated to the process of making the film itself. They want to show something to audiences early on to get them excited about the movie, but since not enough of the animation from the actual movie is finished at that point they have to end up creating new footage instead.

This is a trend that more or less continues even to this day.


So, what in the world is this trailer, anyway?

Unfortunately, we know next to nothing about it. We know that it exists, and we know it's an advertisement for the first movie, but that's about it. Apparently the trailer aired in theaters and was on the first printings of the VHS tapes back in the day, but I haven't been able to confirm that for myself yet (it's not on my VHS of the first movie, for example). Even if that is true, there's still not a whole lot that we know for sure, so what I'm going to do is throw out a couple of theories and explain why I think these are the most likely scenarios. To do that, I'm going to start backwards and look at the final scene we see:

Final Splash

We can guess that this debuted in early 1998 thanks to the big splash page at the end of the trailer. We get the names of the movie and the Pikachu short at top followed by the text
"In theaters in July for Summer Vacation!" This tells us that it aired at some point in 1998; if it had premiered in late 1997, it probably would have said something like "in theaters next July" or "July 1998" instead. But why say July instead of "July 18th?" Did they not have the premiere date finalized yet?

The text at the bottom of the screen says "Pocket Monsters the Movie refrains from using extreme scenes" (劇場版ポケットモンスターは過激な映像表現をおさえて制作いたします), a line no doubt put in there because of the Pokémon Shock incident from late 1997. This little blurb is there to assure parents that, despite whatever's happened in the past, it will be perfectly safe to take their kids to the theaters to see this movie.

So, early 1998, huh? Can we narrow it down any further? Well, I think the promo debuted at some point during the four month hiatus the show took because of the Pokémon Shock incident. If the trailer had debuted any later than that - say, after the show returned in April - then they would had the finalized premiere date ready by that point. The lack of a specific date tells me that this was put out way in advance.

The Rocket-Dan's battleship

The song that plays in the background during the trailer is Pocket ni Fantasy, the third ending theme to the original Pocket Monsters series. It
is performed by Sachiko Kobayashi and Juri Ihata under the names Sachi & Juri (さち&じゅり). When this trailer aired, Pocket ni Fantasy had only ever played one time: at the end of "Cyber Soldier Porygon." Which kind of sucks when you think about it; Sachiko Kobayashi's ending theme for the TV series finally debuts and then all of a sudden BAM! - one episode in and the show's taken off the air for four months. 

On his blog, Takeshi Shudo reasons that if the Pokémon Shock incident hadn't happened, then both Pocket ni Fantasy and Rocket-Dan yo Eien ni, the commercial for which aired during the Porygon episode, would have been much bigger hits than they ended up being (あの事件がなかったら、ロケット団の歌も小林幸子さんの歌も今の倍の数はヒットしたはずだ).

But why even use Pocket ni Fantasy in the first place? Wouldn't it have made more sense to use
Kaze to Issho ni, the actual ending theme to the movie? 

My guess is that Kaze to Issho ni wasn't finished when this trailer debuted so they had to end up using another one of Sachiko Kobayashi's songs. So why not use Pocket ni Fantasy, a song performed by the same person? I mean, sure, it had only ever aired once by that point, but that could have actually helped give people the illusion that this was a song made specifically for the movie. Everything else about this trailer is deceptive as hell, so why not?

Next, let's look at the characters who appear in the trailer: Voyager, little girl, and what appears to be an older looking Kasumi.


Voyager is pretty easy to explain. She's voiced by Sachiko Kobayashi and is a character who actually debuts in the movie, so it makes sense to use her.


Now what about that little girl? We don't really know. If I had to guess, I would say she's an animated representation of Ihata Juri, the little girl who sings with Ms. Kobayashi in both Pocket ni Fantasy and Kaze to Issho ni. Juri was ten years old in 1998, and this girl could pass for ten, right? Some other theories floating around out there is that this is Satoshi's and Kasumi's daughter, but that idea's too insane for me to spend the time explaining why that's most certainly not the case.


The inclusion of this orange-haired girl is puzzling. Everyone assumes she's meant to be an older version of Kasumi because, well, look at her, but during a Q&A session at Anime Expo 2019 held after the world premiere of Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution, director Kunihiko Yuyama apparently confirmed that this girl is not Kasumi:

Q:  What's with that old Movie 1 trailer featuring what seems to be an adult Misty? Why was it scrapped?
A:   Mr. Yuyama says the girl in the trailer isn't Kasumi but concedes that the hair is similar and so he can see how people could make that mistake. Rica Matsumoto added that there are so many girls in Pokémon that it's easy to mix them up sometimes.

So she's a random orange-haired girl then, apparently. *shrugs*

Some people believe that this trailer is meant to be showing the conclusion of the series, but I don't buy that at all. Animator Masa'aki Iwane, among others, have stated that the first series was originally planned to last a year and a half, and since it started in April 1997 that would have put the end date at October 1998 (assuming the Pokémon Shock incident had never taken place, that is). This trailer probably aired in the first four months of 1998 so they still had like half the series to go. It was way, way too early to start promoting the end, especially since the decision to extend it had probably already been made by the time this trailer was created.

Seeing the trailer yourself

So if all this wasn't enough, the trailer hasn't been put on any of the DVDs or on the Blu-ray set, meaning you have no choice but to turn to sites like YouTube and Nico Nico Video to watch it. And since they were never released on a decent format, those uploads you find online are from either those early VHS releases (assuming they actually do have them) or from a TV airing. We don't have access to a higher quality version of the trailer.

I don't know why they wouldn't put this on the DVDs along with all the other trailers for the movie, but I guess that's fitting for a movie trailer as perplexing as this. It's a weird and confusing part of the movie's history, but I hope this page was able to shed a little bit of light on the first trailer to Mewtwo Strikes Back!




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