Pokémon 2000
review by Dan Lybarger, 21 July 2000

It’s easy to deride Pokémon. Like a lot of popular crazes, it makes little sense to the uninitiated, and even its fans admit the whole thing gets silly. Nonetheless, the appeal of the Japanese video games and trading cards is easy to understand. The creatures themselves are exotic but unthreatening. It’s hard not to enjoy the sort of imagination that would create an animal that is half turtle-half squirrel.

The movies inspired by the game, the cards, and the TV-show are another matter. Despite the abundance of odd creatures, neither Pokémon: The Movie nor its sequel Pokémon 2000 is much fun. For all of the strange characters that inhabit the movies, little about the flicks inspires wonder or much beyond a yawn.

Like its predecessor, Pokémon 2000 is comprised of two segments. The first, Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure, falls short of its title. The "rescue" portion of the story is negligible, and the storyline is so thin that it could hardly be considered an adventure. The segment begins as the little monsters all fall into a giant hole. Falling with them is the treacherous talking cat Meowth. He spends a good deal of time hanging from a branch while the electric mouse Pikachu wanders through a land that is teaming with creatures like him. Legions of popular Pokémon make cameos here, but few leave any sort of impression. The only ones who have any discernable personalities are Pikachu and Meoth. One can learn more about one of these beasts by reading a trading card than by watching the entire cartoon. As a result, the segment seems less like a movie and more like a numbing barrage.

Nothing improves when the second segment, The Power of One, kicks into gear. This time a Pokémon hunter is out to capture three rare and powerful creatures (birds that control fire, lightning and ice) so that he can later harness the power of the bird of the ocean. His obsession with collecting the creatures is never adequately explained. Still, his quest disturbs the natural order as freak storms pummel the word. Fortunately, the brave but impulsive Pokémon trainer Ash Ketcham and his friends emerge on the scene and may be able to rectify the situation. Despite the prospect of global catastrophe, this segment never registers because, as with the first segment, the filmmakers take their audience for granted. The squirming children I witnessed at a recent screening indicate the contempt is mutual. The stories are disjointed (Ash is supposed to collect three magic spheres, but we never find out how he acquired the second one), and the animation is jerky. Furthermore, the dub job rarely matches the characters’ lip movements. It’s almost as if the committee behind this mess is daring the audience to find a moment when they did something right. The irksome puns (When a robot fish crashes, Meoth exclaims, "I hope we have carp insurance!") don’t help.

Those who wish to see what Japanese animation has to offer should avoid Pokémon 2000 and should instead check out anything that Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke) has directed. He, like the creators of Pokémon, has made a healthy income from merchandising. Still, he cares enough about his visuals, his stories and his fans to make cartoons that do more than sell toys. Die-hard Pokémaniacs may like Pokémon 2000, but few others will.

Rica Matsumoto
Ikue Ootan
Mayumi Iizuka
Tomokazu Seki
Satomi Koorogi
Megumi Hayashibara
Shinichirô Miki
Inuko Inuyama
Unshô Ishizuka
Kôichi Yamadera







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