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Anime Expo Premiere
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Dogasu's Backpack | Movies & Specials Guide | Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution
The official world premiere of Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution took place at Anime Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. on July 4th, 2019. The event was significant for being the first time in the history of the franchise that the Japanese version of Pocket Monsters with English subtitles has been officially shown in the U.S.Back to the page for Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution
This page documents the lead-up to the event, the English subbed version shown at the event, and everything else involved with Anime Expo and Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution.
Anime Expo 2019, the Japanese culture convention held in downtown Los Angeles, announced on June 10th that they would be hosting an exclusive screening of Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution. The premiere was scheduled for Thursday, July 4th, 2019 at 3:30pm.
Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution wouldn't be hitting Japanese theaters until July 12th so this made the Anime Expo showing the world premiere of the film.
As mentioned above, the showing was accompanied by directors Kunihiko Yuyama and Motonori Sakakibara as well as voice actor Rica Matsumoto. Here's what Anime Expo had to say about each guest:
A Pocket Monsters film making its world premiere in the U.S. accompanied by members of its cast and crew is big enough news in and of itself, but then Anime Expo went and confirmed that they would be showing the movie in Japanese with English subtitles.
It is impossible to overstate how much of a big deal this was. For the first time in the franchise's more than two decade history the Japanese version of Pocket Monsters was finally getting an official, legal showing in the U.S. Personally, I would put this right up there with the 1998 premiere of the 4Kids dub in the U.S. as far as important moments in the animated franchise goes.
While attendance to the film itself was free (with an Anime Expo ticket, of course), fans were required to register for the wristbands needed to attend the event in advance. Anime Expo opened registrations on June 25th at 18:00 PDT.
Once registration was open it only took 22 minutes for the wristbands to "sell out."
In the lead-up to the premiere Meg Tsuruda, the organizer for Anime Expo 2019, made sure to tell CBSN Los Angeles that this premiere "will be the first time shown in Japanese in the U.S. We're really excited about that." Anime Expo did their part to make sure fans knew that they had something special on their hands.
According to a report posted on the official website for the film, the three guests - Kunihiko Yuyama, Motonori Sakakibara, and Rika Matsumoto - visited the TCL Chinese Theater (also known as the Grauman's Chinese Theater) on July 3rd, the day before the start of Anime Expo. The theater is notable as being where 4Kids' version of the very first movie, Pokémon The First Movie, premiered nearly 20 years before.
Each of the guests gave their impressions in the lead-up to the premiere:
As mentioned earlier, there were three main events: an autograph session, a showing of the movie Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution, and a live stage show.
The first of the events was an autograph session. Some fans dressed up as Satoshi and took pictures with Ms. Matsumoto. Others brought merchandise for her to sign. And still others, reportedly, camped out the night before to attend the autograph session.
There were limits placed on the number of guests who could get autographs (apparently each guest was only allowed to give out 25 autographs apiece) and so unfortunately not everyone who wanted an autograph was able to get one. Vouchers for Rika Matsumoto's autograph, in particular, ran out about 10 minutes after being made available.
Next up was the world premiere of Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution.
As audience members made their way to their seats Mezase Pokemon Master and Kaze to Issho ni were heard playing over the venue's speakers. Once everyone got seated the bilingual emcee worked to hype the crowd up in preparation for the movie.
I won't go over the contents of the movie itself - check out my review of the film if you want to see what I think of Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution - so instead I'll spend this section going over the English subtitles based on reports from fans who were able to attend the premiere.
According to the official site, audience members were entranced by Mewtwo's proclamation that he will "strike back" at the beginning of the movie. The Rocket trio's song caused fans to erupt in laughter while the scenes toward the end of Pikachu crying for its paralyzed comrade caused audience members to tear up as well.
Unfortunately I was not able to attend this event in Los Angeles and so everything you see below is secondhand information.
The subtitles used the English dub names and terminology. That means "Ash" instead of Satoshi, "Pallet Town" instead of Masara Town, "Poké Ball" instead of Monster Ball, etc.
The subtitles were reportedly more in line with the Japanese script than the 4Kids dub, except for the times when it wasn't. Apparently the subtitles were maybe like 70% - 90% accurate but then, every now and then, the translator would randomly swap out actual translations of the Japanese dialogue for one of 4Kids' rewrites. The two examples I've seen reported the most are from 1) the scene where Nyarth translates what Mew's saying and 2) right before Mewtwo and Mew fly off at the end of the movie.
Other things like the Team Rocket motto were subbed with the dub rewrite instead of accurately reflecting what's being said in the Japanese dialogue.
Mewtwo's line "Was I created by God?" was rewritten to something like "Was I created by Nature?" Later in the film, Takeshi flirts with Sweet in a new scene added for the remake. In the Japanese version he tells Sweet that he wants to eat onigiri (おにぎり) or "rice balls" with her but this gets localized to "jelly-filled donuts" for the English subtitles.
I'm sure there are other examples as well. Hopefully this sub track will be on the official DVD / Blu-ray so we can do further comparisons.
Once the movie was finished it was time for the special guests - Kunihiko Yuyama, Motonori Sakakibara, and Rika Matsumoto - to take the stage.
The three started off with some comments:
Rika Matsumoto worked on the Japanese dub of Beverly Hills, 90120 back in the day (she played the role of Kelly Taylor) so she was reportedly excited to finally get the chance to see the city for herself. She was also excited to see how much fans in the U.S. seemed to love "Satoshi" since she's very much aware that they'd be more familiar with "Ash" instead.
After the staff made their comments the floor was opened for a question and answer segment. The three questions they reportedly answered were:
Q: Will there be any further opportunities for fans in the U.S. to see the Japanese version of Pokémon?
A: Mr. Yuyama confirmed that they do have plans to have more showings like this in the future, yes. Ms. Matsumoto chimed in and told the audience that they could "count on it."
Q: What's with that old Movie 1 trailer featuring what seems to be an adult Misty? Why was it scrapped?
A: The trailer the fan's talking about is, of course, this one. 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. Ms. Matsumoto added that there are so many girls in Pokémon that it's easy to mix them up sometimes.
Q: Why did you redo the first movie in CG?
A: Mr. Sakakibara told the audience that they had had actually wanted to do a CG Pokémon movie for a while now and thanks to their partnership with the L.A.-based Sprite Animation they were able to make their dream a reality.
After that, Rika Matsumoto gave a live performance of Mezase Pokemon Master. Ms. Matsumoto reportedly got the audience hyped up by initiating callbacks; "when I say "Pokemon," you say "GETTO DA ZE!" "Pokemon" ("GETTO DA ZE!")) Fans also, apparently, sang along to the song.
At the end of the event, the approximately 2,800 fans in attendance were asked to come together to take a big group picture.
Rika Matsumoto had this final comment to give:
The event ended with a promotional video announcing that "Armored Mewtwo" will be appearing in Raid Battles in the smartphone game Pokémon GO from July 11th to July 31st. The trailer for Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution featuring that song from Rita Ora was also shown off to the audience.
And that's a wrap on Anime Expo 2019! Hopefully this is just the first of many opportunities like this to be made available for fans in both the U.S. and the rest of the world. It sounds like the event had a lot of interest behind it and so hopefully it won't be long before fans get another chance to watch the Japanese version alongside the people who helped make it.
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