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

When Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution was released on Netflix worldwide on February 27th, 2020, fans noticed a rather welcome surprise; for the first time ever in the history of this franchise, fans have the option of watching the movie in its original Japanese audio!


English Subs

This is huge! We fans of the Japanese version have been begging TPCI to give us a legal option to watch the Japanese version for literally two decades now and it seems like they've finally started listening to us! The Anime Expo showing was one thing, but to actually put it up online for millions of people to see? It really is one of the biggest milestones in the animated franchise's history.

While it is tempting to break out the champagne and start celebrating, there are unfortunately a number of issues with Netflix's presentation of the Japanese version of the film that prevents it from being the dream-come-true release it seems to be at first glance. The purpose of this page is to highlight those issues.

The English subtitle track is just dubtitles

The biggest problem is that the "English subtitles" available on Netflix aren't the direct translations of the Japanese version that you're probably expecting them to be. They're dubtitles, or the closed captioning for the English dub created primarily for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The subtitles are word-for-word the same as the English dub, so any script changes made by TPCI for their version of the film get reflected in the subtitles as well. You'll hear Masachika Ichimura say "Kono dekigoto wa dare mo shiranai hou ga ii kamo shirehnai," but the subtitles will use the English dub's
"I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant" rewrite instead of a more accurate translation. If a line was changed in the English dub, that change is reflected in the Netflix subtitle track.

It might be easier to show you what I mean. In the gallery below, the screencaps on the top are from a popular fansub while the ones on the bottom are the Netflix subs. In each instance the fansub provides the more accurate translation.

Here's the "was I created by God?" line from the beginning of the film. The fansub displays two lines in a single subtitle while the Netflix version separates them into two but that's not what I'm trying to point out here; instead, pay attention more to the wording used.


Kojirou's reworking of a real-world Japanese idiom:


Satoshi brushing off the Rocket trio:


Mewtwo's declaration after Satoshi's returned to normal:


In each of these cases, the fansubs accurately portray the Japanese dialogue while Netflix's subtitles do not.

The problems aren't just with the English subtitles, either; the Japanese subtitle track, of all things, has its own set of quirks! Below, the image on the top is from the Japanese Blu-ray while the one on the bottom is from the Netflix subs.

Sometimes, the subtitles act as closed captions for the Japanese version and match the spoken dialogue exactly (albeit written in a super ugly font):


...while other times the Japanese subs on Netflix are, weirdly enough, translations of the English dub dialogue that are then translated back into Japanese. So a translation of a localization, if you will. Even if you don't know Japanese you should be able to look at the next set of images and see that the subtitles aren't the same.


Just like the English dub script, the Japanese closed captions is a weird mix of the original Japanese dialogue and translations of the 4Kids dialogue, with seemingly no rhyme or reason behind which lines stay the same and which ones get rewritten.

Watching the Japanese version with dubtitles isn't the worst thing ever, of course, but it's worth knowing that the text you're reading on the screen may not always reflect what's actually being said by the movie's Japanese voice actors. This isn't an endorsement or anything but facts are facts; the fansub translations are better.

The missing Japanese theme songs

The other big issue with Netflix's presentation of the Japanese version is that while you can indeed select the Japanese language audio track and hear Rica Matsumoto and the rest of the film's incredible Japanese cast, one thing you won't hear when you switch over to the Japanese audio are any of its vocal theme songs.

The movie's opening theme, Mezase Pokémon Master '98 (2019 Remaster), and its ending theme, Kaze to Issho ni, are both absent in the Netflix release and are instead replaced by the songs that are used in the English dub. Even when you select Japanese audio? Yes, even when you select Japanese audio. What happens is that the audio will be in Japanese and then, when it's time for the film's opening song to start, the English dub theme Pokémon Theme (Mewtwo Mix) starts playing. Once the opening sequence is over the movie switches back to Japanese and remains that way for the rest of the film.

Kaze to Issho ni

Same thing with the ending theme. Once the Rocket trio deliver the final lines of the movie, the movie switches over to using Keep Evolving even if you're watching the movie in Japanese.

At the moment, there is no way to get the original theme songs to play on the Netflix release. I suppose Netflix just never bothered to license the Japanese songs, or TPCI didn't supply them, or maybe some combination of the two? Whatever the case is, this is something that certainly needs to be addressed in future releases. Changing the songs for the English dub is one thing, but changing it for the Japanese version as well? No, that's not OK.

Something else worth noting

This final issue isn't as big as the other two but is still worth mentioning. The source video is the English dub and so anything that was removed / replaced for the English dub simply doesn't exist on Netflix. This basically means that the opening Pikachu animation, the movie's Japanese logo, and the fan art contest winners during the film's closing credits are all missing from the streaming version.


All three of these can be seen in the Japanese Blu-ray and DVD releases.

What's next?

he fact that fans can now legally watch an entire Pokémon film in Japanese is a huge deal, even with the inaccurate subs and lack of iconic theme songs. While there's still plenty of room for improvement, even the most jaded of fans must admit that what we have on Netflix now is at least a whole lot better than the big fat goose egg we'd been getting up until now.

So what's next? Well the North American Blu-ray / DVDs haven't been announced yet, at least as of this writing, so it may not be too late to improve those probable releases. So why not go to Viz's Twitter page and (politely!) ask the following?
  • Will the home video release(s) include the Japanese audio?
  • Will it include accurate English subtitles and not the dubtitles found on Netflix?
  • Will it include the Japanese opening and ending theme songs?
If Viz understands that we fans care enough about these things they may be willing to put in the work toward giving us a presentation better than what's currently up on Netflix. Closed mouths don't get fed, y'know! The Netflix presentation isn't the dream release we've been waiting for but with any luck Viz may be in the position to give it to us someday.




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