James: This is like a sequel to a movie I missed.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Just about every Pokemon fan out there has fond memories of the anime’s first ever movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back. Most of those memories come down to the movie’s portrayal of Mewtwo. The movie established the character in such a unique and moving way and gave him an ambiguous sendoff that hinted at more adventures involving him and his clones. Well about two years later we got this feature-length TV special to do so. When I first saw a cover of this at the ancient civilization that is a video store the cover looked amazing; it gave the appearance of Mewtwo embroiled in this ultimate showdown. What we got however was ultimately underwhelming. Most of it boils down to having great potential but ultimately doesn’t use much of it. Most of the wasted potential comes down to being a TV sequel to a movie.
After the events of the first movie, Mewtwo and his clones have settled in a mountain deep within the Johto Region called Mount Quena away from the harsh judgments of humans. Though he wiped out the memories of everyone he lured to his island in the last movie, his creator, Giovanni of Team Rocket was not on the island and as a result has never forgotten about Mewtwo. Giovanni eventually finds him and formulates a military plan of assault. Ash, Misty, and Brock find themselves roped in due to passing through and Jessie, James, and Meowth in their antics to steal Pikachu stumble upon Mewtwo and his clones.
To the special’s credit, it does give further development for Mewtwo showing that he still feels the pain of being a clone (and having created several others feeling the need to look after them for doing so) in a ways that legitimately continue the story while not forgetting what he learned in the previous movie. Mewtwo this time is voiced by Dan Green and while he’s not Phillip Bartlett well…it’s the voice of Yugi he makes just about anything sound awesome (particularly in the opening flashback).
Another set of interesting aspects of this special are the clones of Ash’s Pikachu and Team Rocket’s Meowth. Mewtwo seems closest to these two as their traits largely reflect Mewtwo’s past and present outlooks. It’s rather intriguing in just how much different and similar Pikatwo is from his original counterpart. Although he’s far more aggressive he’s still very much a leader among his fellow clones willing to go to war to anyone who means to cause them harm similar but different to how Ash’s Pikachu guides fellow Pokemon through reasoning
Domino aka Black Tulip, Giovanni, and the rest of the Team Rocket forces were entertaining villains in just how threatening yet masterful they could be. And in no way do they seem over-the-top. And it’s nice to see Team Rocket actually be portrayed as a major threatening force as the times where this happened were few and far in between. Overall the villains provide work in a way for Mewtwo’s conflict.
The ending is a nice one with Mewtwo coming to terms with his identity and willing to keep everyone’s memory capped off with a brilliant speech on level of his famous quote from the first movie.
And of course finally this special gave us this classic line. You can never hate it for that.
However this special is not free of fault as it has some glaring plot holes. For instance, we see a baby Nidoqueen in the movie. I can buy there being older or younger forms of base form Pokemon (in this case we had a baby Rhyhorn and in a later episode of advanced generations we would have an elderly Treeko) but this is in no way impossible.
As much as I like the ending when Mewtwo and Ash go their separate ways Ash says that this time “they’ll both be able to remember.” This is implying Ash in some way knows about their previous encounter but we never got any knowledge of this prior and assuming he does know is that really all Ash has to say about this?
Luna and Cullen are two characters of the special introduced here who feel rather pointless in their investigating of the healing spring by Mount Quena. This is furthered by the fact that they lose their memories at the end of it all along with Giovanni and his henchmen.
In the climax when Giovanni attacks, we see a revived Mewtwo threaten Giovanni with a huge psychic wave but the thing is entirely off screen, which is a far cry from the showcasing of Mewtwo’s power in the first movie. In fact most of Mewtwo’s interactions with Giovanni only take place towards the last third.
This special introduces a lot of interesting aspects in the first half that very much fade into the background in the second half focusing a lot more on Giovanni’s invasion. This ties into the problem that this is only a special and not a movie because if it were a movie it could have had a lot more time to flesh these things out to be on par with the first movie.
On the whole, this isn’t a bad special. It’s got some nice expansion for Mewtwo and the clones but it’s just really underwhelming when it introduced a nice story on paper but is just dragged down to underwhelming by the fact that it’s very much an expanded episode (and some gaping plot holes) resulting in it being rather underwhelming. It’s not so much the writing’s fault as they did their best with the time and money they had as much as it is the fact that this isn’t a movie. All in all it’s not a major arc one might hope for a major Pokemon but it’s a decent continuation of the first movie. And at least we know the anime couldn’t screw up Mewtwo.