When the first “Pokémon” videogames from developers Game Freak were released by Nintendo in Japan back in 1996, nobody could have imagined that it would spawn an international franchise juggernaut, one of the biggest of all time. First there was a manga series. Then there followed an anime adaptation that continues to air new seasons and episodes year after year. Finally, blockbuster movies were made of the property, first in Japan and now in the US with the upcoming “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu”. The hype for this live-action/CGI spinoff may have spurred the original Japanese producers to return to basics with their next project: a remake:
As Forbes tells it, an upcoming 3D-animated “Pokémon” movie for this year has been revealed in an initial teaser, and from the looks of things, it will be an updated remake of the 1998 “Pokémon: The First Movie” which featured the well-known psychic-type Pokémon Mewtwo (number 150 of the original Generation 1 or Kanto Pokémon). This is pretty much confirmed by scenes from the teaser showing the original theater premiere of the original anime movie over 20 years ago. While this is a Japanese production, the snippets are of the US premiere, highlighting the international appeal of the Pokémon franchise.
The teaser proper itself is a callback to a scene from the original “Pokémon: The First Movie” which also carries the further subtitle “Mewtwo Strikes Back”. It depicts the artificially-generated Mewtwo awakening, wondering where and who he is. Those who have watched the original Japanese-language version may recognize that the Pokémon character is being reprised by his 1998 voice, Japanese actor Masachika Ichimura. Furthermore, the production credits in the end mentions the original film’s writer Takeshi Shudo, who passed away in 2010. This could indicate that the upcoming movie, 3D animation aside, will stick to the original screenplay from 1998.
Back when the “Pokémon” anime franchise was still new in the United States, the release of its cinematic productions were actually treated as if they were Hollywood blockbusters with red-carpet premieres. This practice was eventually discontinued, though it has been seeing a limited resurgence with the more recent anime films, many of which appear to be retellings of the earlier adventures of the “Pokémon” anime TV series protagonist Ash Ketchum (Satoshi in Japanese). The most recent of these films, subtitled “The Power of Us”, had a limited international theatrical run in November of last year.
The 3D remake, called “Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution”, is set to arrive in cinemas on July 12, two months after the premiere of the live-action “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, starring Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith.
Image courtesy of Paste Magazine