Plot: Now that Ichigo has found some fellow Mews, the quest to stop the aliens and their Chimera Animals continues. Two more new Mews get found, but while one is more than happy to join, the other prefers being a lone wolf.
– I’m sorry, it’s still a little on the creepy side that Aoyama gives Ichigo a bell for the sake of not letting her ‘get lost’ like a cat.
– Pudding’s intro is mixed in with Ichigo’s date filler episode.
– The filler episode with the big party and the English speaking pianist is not included here.
– The filler episode with the hot spring is not present.
– Zakuro’s manga debut is a little different. There’s no suspicion that she might go to the dark side, and the religious imagery is more toned down.
Mint originally believed Zakuro might be a Mew because she’s so amazing and beautiful. The only real connection they have to believing she’s a Mew is thinking they saw her at the zoo on the day of the earthquake. Shirogane tells them to go investigate. They join an audition for models to get closer to her. However, a Chimera Animal attacks during the auditions, prompting Zakuro to transform, proving to the girls that she’s a Mew. She declines their offer to join for similar reasons to the anime.
Also, unlike in the anime where Zakuro has been a Mew for a while, superheroing on her own somehow, it seems like her first meeting with the other Mews is the first time she transforms, if her surprised face is any indication.
In the anime version, they didn’t realize she was a true Mew until she transformed much later when Kisshu tries to convince her to join him. They just strongly believed it was her because a mysterious vigilante had started going around saving people and she matched the silhouette in a picture taken of the vigilante.
– In the manga, the sleepover and pillow fight scene takes place when Mint is upset about Zakuro’s coldness and refusal to join them. In the anime, it’s not until much later (Episode 21) during Mint’s nightmare stint. It’s a shame because there’s a followup scene where Kisshu damn near tries to sexually assault Ichigo and Mint saves her, calling her a dear friend. It’s a quick but cool Mint scene (hehe, cool mint…) that strengthens their relationship and puts Mint in a better light, which I think was needed earlier on.
– In the anime, the girls meet back up with Zakuro at an autograph event. In the manga, they sneak into her hotel by dressing up like playboy bunnies and pretending they’re extras in a show she’s shooting….I understand why this was changed.
– Ichigo’s first attack upgrade, Strawberry Check Surprise, happens during the attack on TV in the manga. In the anime, it happens during a filler-ish episode with Masha getting kidnapped.
Also, Ichigo’s upgraded Strawberry Bell, the Strawbell Bell Version Up, otherwise known as the ‘Redundant Bell Bell More Power Version’ is also not present at all in the anime, which is both strange and welcome. Strange because….why not give it to her? Welcome because, dammit, Ichigo didn’t need MORE weapons and power ups. It should be noted, however, that they do include it in the Playstation game.
– Also, holy shit that thing is ridiculous.
– So, basically all of the suspicion that Zakuro might turn bad, Kisshu trying to tempt her to the dark side and literally all of the religious references, for now, were not present in the manga. Hm.
– From what Ryou said, the aliens in this version are intent on destroying the environment? If that’s true, then they have no intentions on living here, right? Because they’re kinda screwing themselves over if they create widespread environmental destruction in a planet they intend on inhabiting after the humans are killed….
Bottom Line: The manga has less filler, but it also had a much more hollow debut of Zakuro. You learn little about her besides the fact that she’s pretty, smart and unfriendly whereas the anime goes into much more detail and gives her more to do. The manga has a new weapon for Ichigo and a new attack that isn’t ever introduced in the anime, but I’d be hardpressed to say that’s a bad thing for the anime considering Ichigo favoritism is something that endlessly gets on my nerves in that regard. I’m really torn, so I think this is the first time I’ll give an entry a tie.
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Plot: Grandpa Lou is setting up things early for Christmas card photos since they always get done too late. With all of the Christmas stuff in the house, the babies believe it’s Christmas and that Santa forgot about it. They decide to do whatever it takes to remind Santa that it’s Christmas so all of the babies of the world will be able to get presents.
Breakdown: Even though this episode doesn’t take place at Christmas (It’s August) and it’s only a half-episode instead of taking up the full half-hour, it’s still pretty much a Christmas special – a very wholesome one indeed.
I spent more time smiling at the innocence and naivete of the babies in this episode than I remember doing in a long time. I guess that makes sense because this episode doesn’t have Angelica in it to ruin it for me or them.
The story is very cute and believable, and there are several instances of great humor in this episode. I think the way they ‘made snow’ was kinda convoluted, but it’s not that bad. And the resolution was also very believable and cute.
As a final note, the Pickles’ kitchen is either drawn way too big in this episode or it’s a lot larger than I remember. I know it’s a kitchen and dining room combined, but it’s massive.
Overall, this episode won’t blow you away, but it’s a pretty good Christmas special that, if nothing else, will put a smile on your face a few times.
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Plot: Ash, May, Max and Brock meet a girl named Lizabeth and her family who are all performers who put on aquatic shows in floating spheres of water. The group learns that the performers are secretly protecting and transporting a Manaphy egg to a legendary sea temple with the help of Pokemon Ranger Jackie. May accidentally hatches the egg, and the legendary prince of the sea assumes May is its mother. As May and Manaphy bond on their way to the sea temple, a greedy pirate named Phantom stays hot on their tail, ready to follow them to the sea temple and steal the priceless sea crown.
Breakdown: Ah, our first venture into PUSA dubbing territory, as well as a movie I know really nothing about outside of it having a Pokemon Ranger and Manaphy.
I’ll admit, I’m kinda worried about what this has in store. I do like the concept of Pokemon Rangers (I’ve played a couple of the games and enjoyed them fine) but I don’t like Manaphy really…..at all. Hopefully this movie will change my mind, though from what I’ve heard of this movie from Dogasu’s comparison, it’s a laughably stupid movie at several points. So much so that they suggested this movie be up for the LittleKuriboh treatment.
Well, I guess the only way I’ll know is if I try.
We start off with the typical ‘World of Pokemon’ spiel with the return of Rodger Parsons as the narrator! Welcome back, dude! I failed to note this, but Mike Pollack had taken over narrator duty for movies 06-08 after Rodger left for a hiatus during season six, but returned when PUSA took over. In regards to the opener, it’s all much of the same, but I will mention we see Ruby again (Yay!) battling Rebecca from Movie 07….so that’s kinda random. And, of course, when we get to Ash, we sing his praises and then follow up by him just ‘being joined by his friends.’
After that’s said and done, we get to the movie where we see a Manaphy egg being poorly animated through a whirlpool. It continues to flow through the ocean, but I really can’t get over how awkward this egg looks. It looks more like a CGI balloon somehow flying around underwater than an egg floating around through the water.
The Water Pokemon festival we’re treated to is suddenly halted by the intrusion of a Playstation 1 cutscene as planes fly overhead, focusing their searchlights on the egg. Back underwater, all of the Pokemon are again spooked by a giant underwater tank thing that I could swear was designed by a Final Fantasy villain.
The Playstation 1 cutscene continues as they grab the egg with an extendable arm on the tank. The tank/sub thing surfaces and—okay, just please stop with the bad CGI. Outside of the human characters, everything in these shots so far has been either regular CGI or cel-shaded CGI. The cel-shaded shots don’t look bad, but the regular CGI is just awful. Please stop.
And to be completely honest, CGI of this caliber after they’ve been showing increasingly better work over the course of the movies is just unacceptable. Did their budget get slashed or something?
The team of pirates and their Pirate-Captain-y leader marvel at the egg with the captain stating that it will fulfill his desire of a sea crown. One of his crew reveals himself to be a spy named Jack (Nicknamed Jackie) Walker and takes the egg away from him.
Very Late But Necessary Edit 4/3/2022: When I first wrote this review, I didn’t really explore anything involving the switch from 4Kids to PUSA/TPC nor the complete change in cast. I pretty much just noted that the cast had changed and gave my opinion on the new voices. I now realize that I should have gone much more in depth about this, because this whole fiasco behind-the-scenes is pretty important and involves the ever increasing problem of treating voice actors like shit.
None of the original voice actors were happy about being dumped by the new company, even though Maddie Blaustein took it in stride. Eric Stuart said they were driven by greed and even implied that this would be the death of the show, even though we now know that was an incorrect prediction, Veronica Taylor stated PUSA cares nothing about quality and that it’s ridiculous for them to claim it will be identical when they’re gutting everything 4Kids and the original VAs did to the show, and Rachel Lillis was pissed, she straight out said so, especially towards someone I’ll address in a second. In fact, they were all blindsided by both the fact that they were all being ‘fired’ AND the fact that 4Kids lost the rights in the first place. No one told them anything, they just they were being replaced and moved on.
So why were the original cast members shafted anyway? According to Eric Stuart, Veronica Taylor and Rachel Lillis – it was all just to save money. It was cheaper to hire a cast of “sound-alikes” than it was to keep the new cast on board, and they thought the fans would be too stupid to notice or wouldn’t care because, again, voice actors are treated like shit. But, of course, the fans DID notice and DID care, but by that point it was too late.
None of them asked for more money. They all would have worked for the same amount 4Kids was already paying them, which, by implications, was already not that great, but PUSA never negotiated for their contracts or invited them back. They just showed them the door.
To make matters worse, one of the PUSA voice actors, Bill Rogers, the new voice of Brock, made a post on Serebii.net that Rachel Lillis did not take kindly to at all because he made off like the original voice actors’ old contracts had a clause that made it so they couldn’t come over to the new company and could never be involved in future Pokemon projects. According to Rachel Lillis, no such clause existed whatsoever and he had “no idea what (he) was talking about.” and said all of this was incredibly shady.
And she was right to think that way because some of the original cast were eventually invited back to play bit parts and reprise some of their roles (none of the main cast) briefly, barring, oddly enough, Veronica Taylor of all people, and Eric Stuart. Taj Productions, which was originally 4Kids’ dubbing partner and was PUSA’s dubbing partner for a bit, went out of business in early 2008 and was replaced by DuArt Film and Video. They made the decision to bring in some of the old voice actors, although to what end I really don’t know. None of them reprised big parts, except Dan Green who got to reprise Mewtwo, and Ted Lewis, who got to reprise Giovanni, and the parts they got that weren’t reprisals were kinda insulting (the last two roles they gave to Rachel Lillis before she left were voices of Pokemon….) The biggest roles the old cast seemed to land were Erica Schroeder, who originally voiced Nurse Joy, voicing Bianca in Black and White, and Jason Griffith, who really only had CotD/CotM parts in the original series, eventually voicing Cilan in Black and White.
So, yeah, let us all welcome PUSA with a finger….or two…..right in the middle of each hand. I won’t sit here and say PUSA is worse than 4Kids. I can imagine if the roles were reversed 4Kids also wouldn’t give a flying fuck and would just do their own thing. That’s pretty much what they do to the original Japanese anime companies all the time. And they also don’t tend to give a crap about their audience anymore than PUSA seems to. Sadly, this isn’t the first nor will it likely be the last time I’ve seen pretty much this exact same thing happen. Let me drive this home – voice actors are treated like shit.
I am heartbroken that I never knew this. I don’t know why I never really thought to look into this either. The transition between 4Kids and PUSA did happen during a time where I wasn’t really into watching Pokemon much anymore, but I’d think I would have heard about this discourse over the years, especially as I’ve gotten back into Pokemon (well, in terms of current-rewatch, I’m back into Johto…..give me time, okay? It’s a long series, and I’m horrendously scatterbrained) Now, I have had my criticisms of the 4Kids voice acting over the years, but I will admit that it’s some of the most memorable voice acting in all of English dubbed anime. These characters and actors were a huge part of my childhood, and I felt very disappointed when I heard that they were all being replaced. I don’t deny for a single second that all of these actors care deeply about these roles and this show and were crushed when the rug was pulled out from under them after nearly a decade of playing these characters.
That being said, that doesn’t mean that this situation is a free pass to shit all over the new PUSA crew. I don’t know exactly how any of them feel about this situation besides Bill Rogers, and we already see how he was either blatantly lying or horribly misinformed and made the mistake of publicly discussing contracts that weren’t his. It’s possible this was just something PUSA fed him to make it so if he blabbed to anyone it wouldn’t reflect badly on them, but I can’t know for sure. As for everyone else, I dunno. I feel like many of them just saw it as another job. They probably had no idea how shafted the original cast was – it was a role, it was a paycheck, it was a job. Maybe they even feel different about it now, but dammit all if there’s nothing they can do about that.
As sad as it is, we have to continue on. Bear in mind, the following notes beyond the break were all written long before I knew any of this. My opinions were not painted by these revelations. I just learned of them while I was cleaning up blog posts and felt like I had to edit this in here. Thank you for reading. Enjoy the rest of the review.
Already, the voices aren’t that good. The pirate captain’s okay, but he can’t sound angry at all and Jackie is going the opposite direction by hamming it up. Oh and he can also run on walls and bend steel bars with a single kick like they were made of play-doh. I just thought I’d mention that.
Jackie continues to get away because bumbling goons were never good at chase scenes. They seemingly corner him with the captain releasing his Pinsir and Parasect to attack. Wow, guys. We’ve found the second character to ever use a Pokemon from the Paras line. Give him a round of mild applause.
Jackie uses his capture stylus to wrangle up a nearby Mantine and uses it to escape.
We then get our title screen, which is animated better than the previous sequence, but it’s hard to tell because it’s so dark, so little is going on and I still have to mark it down for being flooded with a dark urine color motif.
Now to our heroes who….I wish would stop talking. To everyone open to watching anime dubbed in other languages besides Japanese, do you know that feeling when you watch a show and like it in one version but then you watch it in another and, despite being fine, it just sounds really wrong? Those times where you’re so used to it being in Japanese or English or some other language that hearing it in a completely different language, no matter how well it’s done, you just can’t get into it? I hope that’s what’s going on with me right now as I transfer from 4Kids to PUSA.
This seriously is, outside of a few scenes here and there of Diamond and Pearl, the first time I’m really sitting down and listening to these new voices. I have never followed Pokemon beyond about mid Hoenn. I never thought the day would come where I would be yearning for 4Kids, but dammit I’m so much more used to their dub. I’ve been watching that dub since I was nine. It’s really difficult to work around.
And I’m going to be completely biased here and give my breakdown on the voices of each character.
Ash – Veronica Taylor → Sarah Natochenny. Sounds, surprisingly, more realistically boy-like than Veronica Taylor’s portrayal, but she also sounds a hell of a lot raspier. It’s a toss-up.
Brock – Eric Stuart → Bill Rogers. Why is he so nasally, and why does he sound like he’s doing a bad Butch impression?
May – Veronica Taylor → Michele Knotz. Fine voice, but not fitting for May. It belongs more with some ultra-big-eyed moe character – not quick-tempered May.
Max – Amy Birnbaum → Kayzie Rogers. Now that I’m listening to it fully instead of the snippet I listened to after dub Movie 08, I guess it’s fine for him to have such a dorky voice, but it really is higher pitched, nasally and mostly unpleasant. Plus, half the time he loses the dorky sound and sounds more like an energetic old lady.
These voices may grow on me. I may just be experiencing the jarring shock everyone else went through when this first happened back when PUSA first took over, but I never did since I mostly stopped watching around that time. Hopefully I’ll adapt just fine.
We’ll move on to Team Rocket later. For now, onto the movie.
Ash and the others are, surprise, lost again. How…new…They’re all baking out in the harsh sun and now they’re out of water. Ash and the others spot some weird floating orbs of water and find a Trainer and her Politoed training Pokemon within the orbs.
So, instead of asking what the hell is going on, Max immediately asks the girl if they can have some water. She agrees, and the others run up to introduce themselves when we see that the reason the orbs of water are floating is because of her Medicham and Meditite psychically maintaining them.
Brock magically deduces that this girl’s name is Lizabeth, and she’s the star of the Marina Underwater Pokemon Show, because he creepily knows everything about even semi-famous women. This seems like they’re directly ripping off from the last movie when Brock gushed and prattled on about Kidd. Unless this is just something Brock does overall now.
Lizabeth introduces them to her family – her grandpa, Ship, her father, Kyle, who sounds like he’s doing his damnedest to make his voice as low and emotionless as possible, and her mother, Meredith.
They load up on water, which I still don’t quite understand. I don’t remember where I brought this up, but I have mentioned in the past that it doesn’t seem possible for the group to ever be out of water as long as they have Pokemon who know Water Gun. Yeah, it’s a little gross, but it’s better than dying.
Lizabeth’s Buizel runs up to a loft and turns on the light for a small container, revealing the Manaphy egg from before. May gives it a quick glance and Kyle quickly closes the curtain and walks away. Great place to hide things you don’t want others to see – In plain sight in a small area where you’re inviting strangers.
Ash asks what they do in their show, and Ship says it’s better to show them, which triggers our opening credits. No theme song again. 😦
They show the….show, which is kinda like a mix between a circus and a water ballet. Also, we see a guy in a Sharpedo costume ‘swallow’ a bunch of Remoraid in floating water orbs and then ‘poop’ them out as Wooper. Stay classy, Pokemon.
By the way, it’s obvious that the Psychic Pokemon aren’t helping the humans move here yet they can somehow jump out of the water like they’re dolphins.
They bring Ash and the others into the water orbs to be part of the show (How are they all breathing in there?) and with one Psychic burst of the orbs, the show ends.
At least I can say this is a more original opening credits sequence than the usual battles or doing practically nothing.
Buizel steals the egg and hands it to May who again wonders what it is before a clown grabs it and gives it back to Lizabeth.
Now for Team Rocket’s voice analysis.
James: Eric Stuart → James Carter Cathcart; known better as Jimmy Zoppi, voice of Weevil (Yu-Gi-Oh) Tarb (Mew Mew Power) and yes, Gary. James is now voiced….by Gary.
I will be fair here and say Mr. Cathcart has plenty of range as I never would’ve guessed James was using a voice anywhere near Gary’s or any other role of his……but, my god, James sounds horrible. Eric Stuart was not the absolute original English voice of James. That honor goes to Ted Lewis, who used a more suave and serious take on the character. Fitting because that’s basically what he was in the first handful of episodes, the only ones he dubbed.
Eric Stuart brought a great mixture of sounding suave when the time called for it but also having a fairly good ‘goofy idiot’ voice.
This version is full blast ‘I’m a complete moron.’ I listened to his voice in this scene several times wracking my brain because I knew he reminded me of something so much but I couldn’t place it. Then it suddenly hit me.
“Holy crap, he sounds like a slightly more energetic Droopy Dog.”
Listen to him in this scene and watch a Droopy Dog clip. Tell me I’m hearing things.
Jessie: Rachel Lillis → Michele Knotz. Because I guess they’re keeping up the tradition of multiple main roles per one voice actor, Michele Knotz is voicing both May and Jessie. I have to say, she does a much better job voicing Jessie instead of May, but, like May, she still makes Jessie sound a bit too nice.
Meowth: Maddie Blaustein → James Carter Cathcart, whom I’m just going to refer to as Jimmy Zoppi since that’s what I know him best as. Again with the dual role tradition, James and Meowth are voiced by the same person. I have to say Jimmy Zoppi does a much better job voicing Meowth than he does voicing James. He does a pretty good job here overall, but no one will be able to replace Maddie Blaustein as the true Meowth voice to me.
After spying on May and the egg, James shows Jessie and Meowth a Team Rocket Gazette, which I guess is a magazine that updates all of the Team Rocket grunts on special items and Pokemon that are wanted at the time…..Criminal mastermind Giovanni is. He explains that a man named Phantom, the pirate captain from before, and by the way what a beautifully cliché name you have, is pursuing the egg, and Team Rocket wants to call Phantom with the tip in hopes of getting a reward. Yeah, because Giovanni wouldn’t want that egg. Oh no sirree.
They call him and drop the tip as the convoy moves on.
Lizabeth, really wanting to keep the egg safe and secret, puts it on a table behind a curtain….again. Guys, curtains are not the pinnacle of security or secrecy. Try a safe, a lockbox, a cookie jar, a cardboard box – anything but an easily movable somewhat translucent curtain.
Later that night, Buizel gets the egg again because curtains.
He presses the little button on the canister which makes it glow again, but this time it glows much brighter, throwing May into a vision. I’m going to guess that this movie is skewing main characterness to May like Max was kinda the protagonist of Movie 06, right?
In her vision, May floats around under (pink) water with a bunch of Water Pokemon when she sees a huge underwater tower that is later revealed to be the titular sea temple. Manaphy shows up and swims all around her before going to the temple. She tries to call it back to her, but May suddenly wakes up.
Later, at lunch, May tells everyone about her dream. Lizabeth and her mother explain that Lizabeth has had that same dream before since they’re from a nearly wiped out civilization called ‘the people of the water’. The group clamors and says that’s amazing even though they haven’t been told what the people of the water even are yet.
Meanwhile, back with Team Rocket, they break into the RV and try to steal the egg.
Meowth: “Not anudda egg!” Am I missing something? A) This is the egg they were looking for. B) What first egg is he talking about and why is he upset over it?
They all touch the canister, causing it to glow, and when the light dies down they find they’ve all switched bodies. Because we haven’t done that trope in Pokemon yet, so why not? And of course make their own voices come out of each others bodies too because that never made sense.
Meowth is in James’ body, Jessie’s in Meowth’s body and James is in Jessie’s body.
Back with the group, they explain that the people of the water were basically aquatic nomads who lived alongside Water Pokemon. As a show of gratitude to the Water Pokemon, they built the sea temple that their people see in these mysterious dreams. They assume that May, and by extension Max, might be descendants of the people of the water because she had the same dream, but I think we can all conclude that she had the dream because Manaphy put it into her mind.
The gang spots Team Rocket as they return from lunch and they do their (different?) motto. They then fly away with the egg on their pedal-powered balloon thing. Ash tries to shoot it down with Pikachu, but the clown from before, who reveals himself to be Jackie, tells him not to out of fear of the egg being damaged. Instead he ‘captures’ a nearby Fearow to follow them. Ash sends up Pikachu with Fearow, and he successfully grabs the canister while Fearow does what all Flying Pokemon are meant to do – pop Team Rocket’s balloon.
I know I’m out of the Poke-loop, but why do Ash, Max, May and Brock know what a Pokemon Ranger is? It’s a bit understandable that Team Rocket knows, but how do Ash and Co. know?
Jackie explains that the canister is holding a Manaphy egg, a Pokemon that is only described as being very rare and living underwater (hoo boy, we’re really getting creative with these Legendaries). He’s been protecting the egg until it hatches with the help of the Marina group so he can bring it to the sea temple. Suddenly, Phantom and his Playstation helicopters show up to take the egg. They run off, and a Beedrill very nearly gouges Ship in the face, holy shit, and Phantom jumps down from his helicopter and dies….Oh excuse me. He’s fine and chases after them on foot.
Jackie and Ash pull a switch right in front of Phantom’s face (gee, why did Jackie suddenly take the time out to cover the egg with a cloth? Why did they both go behind that huge rock? And where did that other boy go? Oh well, get back here with that egg you totally have, Jackie!) and we get some slapstick a la Phantom. Because nothing says ‘tension’ like a pirate villain who partakes in slapstick.
Phantom can somehow lift a giant (horrible) CGI boulder above his head and throw it 50 feet through the air with Jackie on it. It doesn’t do anything to him, but he does that.
Back with Ash, who has met back up with May and Max, they are confronted by another grunt and his Beedrill. Ash has the egg knocked out of his hands by the Beedrill’s Sludge Bomb, but May catches it, making it her responsibility now.
Phantom confronts May because I guess Jackie lost sight of him somehow (he was still right in front of Phantom even after he threw the boulder) and after a struggle, the lid pops off of the container, sending the egg flying. May catches it again and Manaphy hatches.
Manaphy starts bawling because babies. Congrats everyone – we now have a replacement Togepi. Whoohoo.
By the way, I’m not really a fan of how Manaphy looks. Not only is it yet another small and cutesy Legendary, but the ‘eyelashes’ and shape are just weird to me. And of course the high-pitched voice and crying….
They manage to escape Phantom and his cronies, and May is able to calm Manaphy as they ride in the trailer. Manaphy starts to sleep so Merideth asks if she can relieve May for a bit. She agrees, but uh oh. Not the mama!………Did I seriously make a Dinosaurs reference? One that works? Do I get a badge of honor now or something?
After all of 1.5 seconds of trying to quell Manaphy’s cries, and by that I mean saying “No, not again! Stop! Please?”, Merideth passes Manaphy back to May. Boy, you must’ve been one hell of a mother to baby Lizabeth.
Back for more Togepi-ism, it’s revealed that, since May was the first person Manaphy saw when it hatched, it’s taken May to be its mother.
Phantom shows back up and tries to stop the convoy with cables attached to the helicopters. They jump to the truck and release the trailer, sending the trailer careening over the edge of a cliff and losing Phantom.
It’s at this point where you seriously realize that, yeah, this pretty much is the arrangement of Movie 06 – just replace Jirachi with Manaphy, Max with May and the brother/best friend bond with that of a parent-child and it’s the same thing.
Back with Team Rocket who somehow landed right on the building that the group was headed to, they wake to find they’re back to normal again. Why did they do that switch and what caused them to turn back? Being too far away from Manaphy?
Also, I guess I never really got to this part in the series. I remember James getting a Mime Jr., but now he’s a comic relief Pokemon who bursts out of his ball without warning to…..just mimic people? And holy crap, he does not need to be imitating another comic relief Pokemon (Wobbuffet). This is further compounded when James and Jessie put Wobbuffet and Mime Jr. away at the same time. It’s like it’s a subtle acknowledgment that this shtick is incredibly old.
I’m just now noticing that even the 2D art and animation for this movie is lower than it usually is. Certainly not even touching what they accomplished in Movie 08. I’d even go so far as to say, at times, it’s worse than the TV show. Especially when they focus on Team Rocket.
The group makes it into the ancient building, somehow not noticing that the helicopter and Phantom are hot on their tails. Using his magic ‘people of the water’ bracelet, Ship activates a glowy combination lock for a hidden door in the wall. Following soon after, Phantom uses a broken bracelet he somehow has and also activates the lock. However, they don’t show him actually putting in the combination and there’s no way for him to have known one, so how he really got in is beyond me.
Using their Water Pokemon, the group travels through a waterway to another part of the building. After some crazy flat voice acting by Ship and Merideth as they recall their Pokemon, the group enters a beautiful cathedral-like area. Lizabeth and her family explain that the sea temple is called Samaya, and that it is perfectly hidden from those not a part of the people of the water due to the fact that it blends in perfectly with the water.
And dear god, I swear Kyle is getting worse and worse with his voice acting by the minute.
The sea temple holds an item called the sea crown that many people have tried and failed to steal. Many years ago, the temple broke away from it’s original resting spot and started traveling with the tides, making it even more difficult to find. However, the temple is said to be made visible during a full eclipse.
In order to actually find it, you need a Manaphy. The Manaphy of the world have taken the sea temple as their home, and every Manaphy is born with the innate ability to find it. That’s why Phantom is after Manaphy. He doesn’t really want Manaphy – he wants to find the temple and steal the crown.
Ash: “So who is that guy?”
Jackie: “Phantom the pirate. He’s one mean dude.” PUSA: they’re one bad writing staff.
After Team Rocket pathetically grovels to do the lowest of grunt work for Phantom, we see that Phantom has utilized high-tech scanning equipment to analyze the building. They reveal that there are many water routes underneath the building that they may have used to escape, and it’ll be very difficult to find which way they went. Phantom doesn’t care because he’s already set a trap for them wherever they’ll end up and claims it’s just a waiting game now.
We actually get one kinda funny scene when Team Rocket, having overheard the conversation, starts clamoring over the sea crown. One of Phantom’s cronies and his Chatot (because he’s a pirate and needs a parrot) glare back at Team Rocket as they laugh and they awkwardly go back to work. It’s not the most hilarious scene in the world, but I have frequently questioned why no one ever seems to hear Team Rocket when they say suspicious things like that, and it was nice to have a scene where they joke about it.
Back with the group, Jackie thanks Ash and co. for their help so far, but says once they get off the boat they’ll be leaving them behind because bringing Manaphy back to the sea temple is a Pokemon Ranger’s job and he doesn’t want them getting any more involved than they already are. Even though you’d think leaving would be ill-advised given that Manaphy is greatly attached to May. But I guess it doesn’t matter too much since Manaphy will part ways with May soon enough anyway.
Sure enough, when they get out of the tunnels, Ship gets his boat out of dock, and Lizabeth and her family as well as Jackie take Manaphy and proceed to set sail. I should mention that three older guys take care of Ship’s ship while he’s traveling and they seem like complete fanboys of his for some reason. *shrug*
As predicted, Manaphy starts wailing as soon as they leave port, and May feels an odd feeling in her heart as she watches the boat leave. Are they seriously playing her up as being one of the people of the water or are they establishing some mystic motherly link between her and Manaphy?
The three nameless fanboys encourage May and the others to follow them anyway, and they agree. Thanks for serving some purpose that kinda wasn’t needed because this whole scene seems like padding, nameless fanboys!
As they run towards the boat, Manaphy starts flipping out and glows. It touches one of its weird head tentacle things to Jackie’s head and the other shoots red lightning through the water and onto the dock where Ash steps on it. After it dies down, we see Jackie and Ash have switched bodies.
I’m sorry, is there some point to this power? Like, at all? Because it just seems like an excuse to stop the plot, pad the movie some more and try to make weird jokes that don’t work.
Jackie explains that this power is called Heart Swap and that it uses it to escape danger…..How…does switching people’s bodies….make it escape danger?
Case and point – the very first example of this happening was Team Rocket switching bodies. That didn’t prevent it from getting kidnapped because the three people switching bodies were all people that wanted to steal it.
In this example, sure, I guess it prevented it from getting separated from May, but that’s really only because A) Lizabeth and her family were polite enough to decide to get Ash and Jackie back to normal by bringing everyone on board and waiting out the effects and B) They don’t know what happens when two switched people are extremely far apart. Though, if my guess on what happened with Team Rocket was right, they’d just switch back. If they wanted to, they could just say ‘sucks to be you, Ash and Jackie. We’ll run to the temple and back and you’ll probably be back to normal after some time.’
I guess Ash could try jumping off the boat with Manaphy so they have no choice but to turn back, but without his Corphish, I don’t think he’d be able to get away very well. He doesn’t know how to use a Ranger Stylus to capture a Pokemon to help him either. Plus, that might put Manaphy in danger for literally no other reason than ‘we wanna go have an adventure.’
Also, Lizabeth suddenly blurts out that Manaphy are known as the prince(s) of the sea. Thanks for that clunky dialogue/exposition, Lizabeth.
After cuddling with Manaphy, it suddenly reveals that it can mimic some words with its first word being ‘Happy,’ and it quickly mimics even more words from Ash, Brock and Max. So, its two main impressive abilities are causing people and Pokemon to switch bodies temporarily and…..talking.
I’ve already pointed out how disappointed I am in the former, but the latter…I know it’s not a legit ‘power’ but so far that’s one of the only things this Pokemon can do that most others can’t. But it’s not impressive in the least given that, despite not being the norm, many other Pokemon can talk.
Getting the obvious example of Meowth off the table, and that’s more impressive given that he’s a regular Pokemon who struggled through hell to learn how to do that, most Legendaries can talk or otherwise speak through telepathy (Mewtwo, Lugia, Entei, and Jirachi) and there are other Pokemon, mostly featured in movies, that aren’t Legendary and can talk in this same manner, such as Slowking and Lucario. Hell, this very movie features a Chatot – a parrot Pokemon who has been mimicking human speech this whole time.
I was disappointed enough with Jirachi and his ‘I steal shit’ “wish-granting” ability. Please tell me Manaphy has more impressive abilities than this.
Kyle walks out and—dude, seriously, someone fire his voice actor. I couldn’t sound as bored as this guy if this movie was about watching rocks erode in real time.
He stops the boat and explains that it’s time for Manaphy to be released into the ocean so it can choose its own path. May agrees and releases Manaphy into the water. Manaphy happily jumps through the water and the group continues…..their….
……you okay? You look….kinda spacey……do you need to sit down?…..Ash?
……….Okay then, you probably just need a minute. A quick segue into the next scene should make you feel better.
Lizabeth and her family take Ash and the others down to the hull where they reveal a glass viewing port to watch the Water Pokemon and Manaphy.
We cut through dusk, night then the next day without any plot advancement, but I do have something to say during Jackie’s para-sailing scene – Ms. Natochenny, please tone down the deep raspiness of Ash’s voice. I feel like you’re going to blow out a vocal cord.
Really, the past three minutes or so is nothing but dicking around in the water with Water Pokemon. If this was any other movie I’d say it’s to show off the CGI, but oh god why?
Ash: “Hey, so why’d you become a Pokemon Ranger in the first place, Jackie?”
Jackie: “I was a kid.” ….Most people were, Jackie. Maybe start off this story with the less awkward “When I was a kid….”
Jackie explains that he got caught in a terrible snow storm up in the mountains as a child. He managed to find a cave to take shelter in, but was still so cold that he feared it was the end of him. Suddenly, a bunch of migrating forest Pokemon such as Swablu and Furret gathered around him to keep him warm. He wanted to be a Pokemon Ranger ever since.
Wait, that doesn’t really explain why he specifically wanted to be a Pokemon Ranger. Also, Jackie pronounces Pokemon ‘Pokeymon’…..That has nothing to do with anything either, but it’s irking me.
More dicking around in the water.
The next night it becomes painfully obvious (no pun intended?) that we’re getting to the peak of May and Manaphy’s friendship when she teaches it to say ‘I love you.’ Seriously, it’s a little annoying how blatantly this is trying to rip-off the Max/Jirachi friendship from Movie 06 (And it’s also a little paranoia-ly funny that this movie, 9 is 6 upside down.) Gee, I wonder if May is soon going to come to the realization that she’s going to need to part ways with Manaphy and someone will give her a pep talk about it.
…..*cough* Sorry….I love Lapras.
Another scene that is basically just dicking around. I know they’re really meant to show how attached May and Manaphy are becoming, but you can do that without constant *Manaphy being cute* *May/Manaphy cuddles* wash, rinse, repeat stuff.
Not like there’s any tension anyway. We know Phantom isn’t following them because Jackie’s been on constant lookout for helicopters. It’s not like Phantom stated he had a trap laid for them already, nor has it been established that Phantom has easy access to an underwater tank thing. Not like Jackie was on it when he was undercover or anything. Not like they have sonar that, while following Manaphy, should also easily detect the sub. No sirree.
May overhears Jackie asking Ash to help separate May and Manaphy because he worries Manaphy won’t go home if he gets too attached to May. May comes into the room and says not to worry about that, but Jackie asserts that the separation must happen. Manaphy is the prince of the sea, and it’s his responsibility to lead all of the Water Pokemon at the sea temple – What? Since when?
From the way you guys were talking earlier, it sounded like there were a bunch of Manaphy at the sea temple. Why is this one specifically destined to be leader? Where are Manaphy’s real parents? Did it just spawn from nothing? Why wasn’t the egg anywhere near the sea temple to start out with? Where did this thing come from?
It now makes perfect sense that they gave Manaphy the ability to talk. What better way to juice some more emotion from this forced separation than having Manaphy keeping parroting ‘Happy’ and ‘Love you’ over and over?
May runs off crying at Jackie’s words and seeing Manaphy swimming around outside of the glass. Lizabeth tries to console her by saying in a totally not caring voice ‘I know it’s hard.’ Then May completely breaks down sobbing in her arms.
Hey, what do ya know? They are being followed Phantom in his underwater tank thing. Who woulda thunk?
That night, they stop for a while, and Manaphy starts singing on a rock, calling the Water Pokemon of the sea to gather around him…..It’s not a terrible song, but it’s definitely not giving off the striking beauty I imagine they wanted from this scene. Manaphy’s voice just sounds a bit too whiny for that. I know during the singing parts that they’re using Manaphy’s Japanese voice, but that doesn’t change my opinion.
Lizabeth then gives May her bracelet, which is actually a mark of the people of the water. I feel like this movie would’ve fit better if Misty were still around. Who better to be a pseudo person of the water than someone who strives to be a Water Pokemon Master? Then again, her having two baby Pokemon who grew attached to her as a mother through imprinting might be incredibly redundant.
The next day, Manaphy comes up from dicking around in the water to eat lunch and it starts looking for May. As a way to keep them separated, Ash lets out all of his Pokemon so they can dick around in the water with Manaphy. *sigh*
May tries to put her bandana on, but it flies off with the wind. Manaphy, seeing this, goes after her bandana, even though it keeps getting carried away by various Water Pokemon. And because the most intelligent thing you can do with a baby Pokemon who is leading you to a legendary sea temple that hardly anyone ever gets to see while you’re being pursued by a bunch of criminals who want both Manaphy and the sea crown that is at said sea temple is lose sight of him for hours on end……..they lose Manaphy for hours on end. They decide that they have to find him with a submarine.
May blames herself for Manaphy’s disappearance, claiming it probably ran away because of how she was treating it….Uh….huh? Treating it how? Last time she saw Manaphy, she ran off crying. Last time Manaphy looked for May, Ash distracted it. She never once yelled at it or pushed it away or anything.
Phantom begins to make his move, and Manaphy manages to finally retrieve May’s bandana. Ya know, May doesn’t seem too attached to that bandanna. She loses it, doesn’t say anything about it and walks around like nothing happened.
After some nauseating CGI Pokemon shots and May crazily talking to a window, Manaphy somehow manages to find them. However, they quickly get caught in a riptide. Lizabeth loses control of the submarine and radio contact with Ship, Kyle and Merideth. Manaphy, who has no problem in the current, directs them away. Not like that matters because Lizabeth clearly said she lost control of the submarine, meaning she can’t direct it anywhere and they can’t follow Manaphy.
So they follow Manaphy and make it safely out of the riptide. *cough*
Because they managed to time this right as a lunar eclipse was occurring, Ash and the others vanish underwater. As the eclipse starts, the moon turns red, which somehow turns the water purple…..oh I get it….red plus blue equals purple…..
The sea temple is revealed to all, and they finally notice that Phantom is following them.
I don’t know why, but everyone’s VA is being just terrible in these past ten minutes or so. They’ve actually been pretty decent (major exclusion being Kyle’s VA) up until now. I don’t know what happened.
They arrive at the pretty-but-not-that-unique-or-fantastical sea temple where they realize that they can both exit the water within it and breathe the air, despite still being extremely deep underwater.
They make their way into the temple and Manaphy starts singing. The temple seemingly sings back and May’s bracelet and Lizabeth’s necklace start to glow in response. The cascading waterfalls which were blocking a pathway then open, allowing them to pass.
Phantom arrives and follows closely after the group, taking the time to laugh maniacally. Team Rocket, having stowed away in an empty tank, emerge to follow him.
James: “Diamonds and pearls….”
Meowth: “Let’s get through this season first.”
Ya know, I let the earlier utterance of ‘diamonds and pearls’ go because, despite being blatant plugging for the next generation, it still fit the lines of treasure and whatnot. So you decide to not just push the plug button again, but this time you’re so unabashedly blatant about it that you’re breaking the fourth wall to drill it into our heads that Pokemon Diamond and Pearl is what you’re really talking about?
Not only is this stupid and unnecessary, but how terrible of an idea is this from a writing perspective? “This movie/season/generation in general is such a chore to get through that we feel compelled to remind the audience that this will be ending soon and the totally much better Diamond and Pearl will be starting up in the near future.”
Back with Ash and the others, they make their way to some room with a big plaque in it but can’t decipher what it says. Suddenly, Phantom appears behind them, stating that he can read it just fine, and that it’s pointless to stop him because, even combined, they have no chance….Uh, why? I mean, this isn’t an advisable place to have a Pokemon battle, but, together, they have a hell of a lot of Pokemon and Phantom has like three.
He reads the plaque, which says that the door can only be opened by someone with the mark of the people of the water. Behind the door lies the sea crown, and anyone who wears the sea crown is the king of the sea.
He reveals his mark of the people of the water, and all he says on how he obtained it was that he went to a lot of trouble to get it. Okie dokie.
He uses the mark to reveal the lock and somehow knows the combination to get in.
Back on the surface, the eclipse is ending so Jackie and the others lose sight of the temple.
Phantom and the others reach the sea crown, which is a big cluster of crystals about 15 feet high encased in suspended water….How do you wear that?
Manaphy happily jumps from May’s arms and into the water to swim around. However, when Phantom tries to pull some of the crystal out of the sea crown, he sends Manaphy, now trying to protect it, flying out of the water and onto the floor, causing it to start crying.
Gee, I sure hope that screwing around with this ancient mystical treasure doesn’t trigger some massive terrible event.
So the massive terrible event starts with the water that was encasing the sea crown suddenly bursting. More water juts from the walls, nearly knocking everyone over the edge of the platform they’re on. From the outside, Jackie, having captured a Mantyke, observes the temple coming back into view with odd beams of light shooting around it.
After Max nearly falls to his death, Lizabeth convinces Ash and the others to leave the temple, essentially leaving Phantom to destroy the crown and the temple, much to the dismay of Lizabeth.
Insatiable greed leading to the certain doom of our enemy? You spoil me with clichés, movie.
Ash and the others make it back to the submarine where they meet up with Jackie who proceeds to go take down Phantom while they escape. Jackie starts taking crystals from Phantom and putting them back into the sea crown, but Phantom manages to corner him as they fight over one of the crystals. More water bursts from the walls, causing Jackie and Phantom to lose their balance and fall into the water. Phantom goes down one underwater tunnel while Jackie has no choice but to be sucked into another. Phantom loses the crystal down a water chute and cannot follow after it.
As they’re about to leave, Manaphy decides to make one final effort to save the sea temple. It lunges from May’s arms, swims up the waterways and attempts to return the crystals back to the crown, though it can barely lift any of them. Ash and May jump in to help only to find that, once all of the crystals in the room were replaced, one was still missing.
Phantom and Team Rocket wrestle for the sub, but end up getting waterlogged, blasting Team Rocket off and showing that their role in this movie was more pointless than usual. Jackie, who has amazing balance to be standing on the edge of a dome like that, jumps onto Phantom’s sub and takes it, along with his Chatot.
Ash and May get lost trying to find a way out of the somewhat ironically sinking sea temple and end up conveniently stumbling across the final crystal. Ash grabs it before the place floods some more, and they also conveniently stumble upon the tank Team Rocket was in earlier. He puts Manaphy, May and Pikachu inside of it, claiming he has to return the crystal and save the sea temple.
Uh….Ash….I applaud you for your bravery and selflessness. Really, I do….even if this is just you forcing yourself to take the reigns as hero during a movie where another character is technically the main protagonist again. However, I have to ask….you’re really going to seemingly sacrifice your life…for….this? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful building that is important to a near extinct culture who doesn’t get explored much, and a bunch of Water Pokemon, I guess. Still, we don’t know why it’s such a literal life or death situation to save this place outside of it being something important to a handful of people.
Yeah, Manaphy can’t take his rightful place as king of the sea without the sea crown, for some reason, but we never know why that’s so necessary anyway. Really, the only consequence is one Jackie explained earlier.
Jackie: “Remember that Manaphy is the prince of the sea and destined to become leader of all the sea temple Pokemon.”
Got news for you, buddy. There are no sea temple Pokemon. In this whole huge temple, there are no Pokemon at all. The only Pokemon we see here outside of ones owned by the characters are ones outside of the temple, and there aren’t even that many of them. If those are the Pokemon he’s talking about, they seem to do fine without Manaphy.
I also feel compelled to ask the obvious….What does it matter….if an UNDERWATER SEA TEMPLE sinks? The sea temple is encased in an air bubble, but are you seriously telling me that the people of the water made an underwater sea temple that couldn’t handle being flooded?
It might mess up some of the décor, but I don’t see why it’d be so damaging. People don’t even go there anymore, and the Water Pokemon who are supposedly so reliant on it would be able to access it with no problem even if it was entirely flooded because they’re Water Pokemon. Actually, now that I think about, many Water Pokemon wouldn’t be able to enter the sea temple unless it was flooded because they can only travel in the water. Ash and the others could just give one of their Water Pokemon the crystal and tell them to put it back after they got back to the sub or boat, fixing the problem and keeping everyone safe.
There is no logical reason whatsoever that Ash feels the need to basically die for this.
Just to get on another stupid rant, that tank doesn’t look like it can be controlled, is motorized or even looks like it would float. May and Pikachu might be as good as dead in that thing anyway. To prove my point….it doesn’t. Yeah, the next few times we see them, the tank is just sitting underwater. I guess it could be that he put them there to keep them safe until he got back but;
1) He has no plan for getting them back to the boat even if he does survive and get back to the tank,
2) Does he think this thing won’t move?
For all he knew, he just put his friends in a tank that may have rolled off of the temple and sank to the bottom of the ocean where it would be crushed by the pressure.
Ash makes his way to the sea crown, and here’s something 4Kids would never keep – the shot of Lizabeth obviously praying. Though I have to wonder what deity the people of the water worship.
Ash wastes all of his air and energy trying to get the crystal freed after it gets stuck in a little nook. He falls unconscious and starts drowning while the crystal falls even deeper into the depths of the temple. May keeps hoping for Ash to be alright, and suddenly Manaphy demonstrates another power – makeshift telepathy. It places one tentacle on May’s head and another on the tank to somehow transmit May’s thoughts through the tank and the vast amounts of water between them to Ash, somehow waking him up and prompting him to swim to the surface and get a breath.
Manaphy a deus ex machina? Holy crap, you totally are a new temporary Togepi.
Ash gets a breath, the last one he’ll be able to get considering the space available above his head, and he rushes down to the crystal, back up to the sea crown and replaces it all in one go. Geez, Ash. Screw being a Pokemon Master. Go into professional swimming. You’ll clean up at the summer Olympics.
With the sea crown whole again, the temple glows and starts correcting itself – draining the water and floating back up. A bunch of golden tentacles grab the tank that May, Manaphy and Pikachu are in.
The temple, for some reason, surfaces even though it wasn’t on the surface before the crystals were removed. I will admit, in this one shot, despite the still incredibly questionable CGI, the temple looks pretty awesome.
The golden tentacle was nice enough to put the tank on a flat spot on the temple. May states that Ash must’ve saved the temple, but then they all start getting upset under the belief that Ash died in the process. Uh, if you know that Ash succeeded in replacing the crystal, why assume that he’s dead? I mean, sure, he could’ve drowned anyway, but the temple was draining water pretty quickly and surfaced even more quickly. If Ash has Olympic swimming chops, I’m pretty sure he’s fine.
Phantom pops back up (literally) and takes Manaphy away again, claiming that as long as he has Manaphy he can always find the temple again and get the crown…..which is stupid because he knows screwing with it causes it to sink. I suppose he could prep up in scuba gear and get it, I don’t know.
And here we are at what is supposedly the big scene of the movie. What the fans have coined as ‘Super Saiyan Ash.’
Let me back up. When the sea crown’s final crystal was replaced, it imbued Ash with the title of king of the sea….because….doing that is equal to wearing it? As a result, he was cloaked in a golden aura, given the ability to breathe underwater, to swim incredibly fast and even, to a degree, fly. Which is another pseudo-theme in these movies.
Think about it – Ash is usually flying either through magic or riding on a Legendary Pokemon through many of the movies. Mewtwo’s psychic abilities in 01, Lugia in 02, (Charizard might count a little in 03), Celebi’s psychic abilities in 04, Latios in 05, half-counting Flygon in 06, Deoxys’ psychic abilities in 07. The only movie I really can’t count is 08.
Ash and Phantom have an….’epic battle’ which is really just Ash chasing Phantom through the water as Phantom goes around in circles on his little metal jetski thinger that can also go underwater. Dude, just move away from the temple. You’re outrunning him pretty well. Just make your way to shore where he can’t touch you with these powers.
Phantom is suddenly faced with a ton of Water Pokemon when Kyogre pops up and pushes him back above water. Oh shi – did I mention Kyorge’s in this movie?! He’s appeared totally randomly in two shots and now he’s trying to be a part of the plot. Isn’t that cute?
Ash snatches Manaphy away from Phantom and he crashes into the water. It seems like they’re home free, but somehow Phantom managed to land directly on top of his big underwater tank sub thing. It’s now gunning for the sea temple, and the Water Pokemon are all trying to stop it. The tank uses its synthetic Supersonic, which confuses the Water Pokemon and shoos them away.
Manaphy breaks free of Ash and starts singing and glowing again….somehow calming all of the Water Pokemon down….I know I said I wanted Manaphy to have better powers, but it’s really just pulling stuff out of its ass at this point.
Manaphy sends the Water Pokemon off to charge the tank, slowing it down, nearly knocking Phantom off and cutting off their power supply.
Kyogre, under command of the riding Manaphy, uses Hyper Beam to blow apart the tank. It’s weird to see Pokemon attacks do things like that sometimes because it makes for a lot of fridge horror. Like if that Hyper Beam can rip apart a tank, what would happen if it hit a Pokemon in a battle?
Just when you think Phantom might finally be done, he reveals that he is strong enough to hold up a falling part of the tank with his mecha exo-skeleton they just decided to reveal under his clothes.
Okay, I guess that explains why he was strong enough to lift up a boulder with a person standing on it and throw it through the air….but….why have something as cool as a super strong mecha exo-skeleton and not only not visually put any focus on it but also not imply much with it? Yeah, he threw a big rock with a person on it, yeah he stopped falling steel from crushing him…..But that’s not doing nearly enough with that fairly unique-to-the-series dev—Oh nevermind, it broke and the steel ended up crushing him comically anyway. Whatever, movie.
Oh and upon the reveal of the mechanical exoskeleton that they can fully see and acknowledge by the way;
Jackie: “Wow, I didn’t think a guy like that took vitamins.”
…..I paused the video at this line because…it’s obviously meant to be a joke, they even pause afterward to give the audience time to laugh but….I don’t get it. He has a mecha exoskeleton….vitamins….guy like that would….not take vitamins…but…he’s clearly using a mechanical device to lift these things….not…..why would….
If I had to make some weak correlation here, Phantom is a pirate and traditional pirates were known for getting scurvy due to lack of sources of vitamin C….But…he’s a modern day pirate. He obviously gets vitamin C….and even with that weak connection that I doubt they’re really making anyway, why the hell is that line proceeding a shot of Phantom lifting steel with the help of a mecha exoskeleton!?
Wouldn’t this line have made just slightly more sense when Jackie was first facing Phantom? He….Oh wait….*rewind*
Jackie: *he and the boulder get thrown by Phantom* “Man, you’re strong Phantom. You take vitamins?”
……That was deemed funny enough for an end-of-movie throwback quip? One that doesn’t even make sense with the reveal of the exoskeleton? Hell, even if he didn’t have that exoskeleton, that line still wouldn’t make sense because why would he say he didn’t think Phantom was the type of guy who took vitamins if his first theory as to why Phantom was so strong before was that he took vitamins? You lazy unfunny non-sense-making bastards.
Later, everyone gets to go Super Saiyan and dick around in the water again because I suppose Ash can transfer the power to others or at least let them borrow it. Zooming out, we see that the many tentacles of the temple have webbed around the building to make a crown shape, what is truly the sea crown.
…..So you have to wear a building? I really am thinking about this way too much.
After the purty light show is over, the sea temple decides it’s time to go back underwater. That means that it’s also time to say goodbye to Manaphy. It jumps into May’s arms one last time, and May tearfully says her goodbyes. Manaphy sends her off by saying ‘Love you’ again but this time adding ‘May.’ She replies saying she loves Manaphy too, and then it says ‘Love you’ again, this time adding ‘Mama.’
Manaphy hops out of May’s arms and back into the water, swimming towards the temple as May looks on with a bittersweet smile saying she’s not fine now, but she will be.
Our end credits song is replaying the song we got in the middle of the movie, just with lyrics now, ‘Together We Make a Promise,’ and I still like the song just fine. As for our end credits shots, of which most are painted, which is a nice change up, we get those completely pointless Ship fanboys welcoming his return, Jackie and Officer Jenny hauling in the wrecked underwater tank thing along with a shot of Phantom and his first mate in chains, the group departing from Lizabeth and her family, then as we transition back to the animation we get….
Jackie capturing a random Zapdos and riding on it?
….Huh? Why did he capture a Zapdos? How did he capture a Zapdos so easily? How did he know a Zapdos was here? Do we just have easy access to Legendaries now? I guess that would make sense considering Ash sees at least one a year. This is even more random than the Kyogre. At least that was a Water Pokemon who kinda belonged, even if it was unannounced and came from nowhere.
We then see Team Rocket cloaked in darkness with just their eyes visible (oh you silly cartoon tropes) when they suddenly get expelled with water upwards, and we see that they were really inside a Wailord the whole time and it just shot them out of its blow hole….ewww.
Random Kyogre shot, then we see the sea temple littered with the Water Pokemon who were no where near it earlier, lead by the happy Manaphy. We get Ash and the others camping because that’s new, and an animation error that leaves the line for May’s closed smiling mouth on her face even though she’s now drinking, and then we see them walk off into the mountains.
First and foremost, I don’t know if I’d say this is the worst Pokemon movie ever, mostly because I still haven’t caught up and seen the rest beyond this, but it’s high up there because it’s just so incredibly sloppy.
Let’s address that title – Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea. Jackie’s not a huge part of this movie, nor is any other Ranger seen but him. He does talk to some unnamed woman at the Ranger station a few times, and there is a shot of a blue haired female Ranger during the ‘World of Pokemon’ section, but that doesn’t really count.
We don’t learn much about Pokemon Rangers in this entire movie. We only learn that they protect wild Pokemon. We don’t learn about their practices, their training, why they use styluses to ‘capture’ Pokemon instead of using Pokeballs or anything. Don’t put something in the title of your movie if it doesn’t have that much bearing on anything in the movie. If you wanted, you could remove Jackie from this whole movie and it would only cause a few easily corrected problems.
Next, Manaphy, while it did grow on me, was still very annoying with its super high-pitched voice, wailing and repetitive talking. It was also incredibly inconsistent with its powers, going from a weird and seemingly useless ability to cause people and Pokemon to switch bodies to underwater makeshift telepathy and a widespread Pokemon calming ability, all of which seem to be emitted by the same light that comes from his head tentacles.
Manaphy didn’t seem to do much in the big finale. The Water Pokemon were already attacking the underwater tank thing – did they really need Manaphy almost comically yelling out ‘Manaaaa!’ with his arm pointing ahead for them to continue doing it once they weren’t caught in confusion anymore? Usually the featured Legendary Pokemon gets the final big hurrah, but this time it just seemed like it was orchestrating it.
It’s really so necessary that Manaphy become king of the sea? Really? Because when the temple goes down, no one brings up that Manaphy can no longer do this. You’d think, as the temple was sinking, Jackie would yell something like ‘Oh no! If the temple sinks then Manaphy can’t become king and (more terrible thing) will happen!’ They don’t explain what his real role is anyway, just that he is meant to be a leader to a bunch of Pokemon who, by all means, have no reason for a leader.
Phantom was a joke as an enemy. I can say he’s the worst conceived Pokemon movie villain to date. Lawrence the Third may have been omitted from most of his movie, and the Iron-Masked Marauder may have had little backstory, but at least they seemed like threats and at least they seemed interesting.
They purposely made Phantom comical so the tension was almost entirely drained, leaving him almost as minor of a threat as Team Rocket. Despite giving him something cool that could’ve been pretty great in his super strong exoskeleton, they waste it entirely. It’s almost like that was an afterthought to give him more of a threat when it was only used twice, both for completely pointless purposes.
They don’t even explain why he’s so dead-set on becoming king of the sea, or how he got that mark of the people of the water or how he knew the combinations to get into the locks throughout the temple or how he can read the language of the people of the water. I thought they’d reveal that he was a rogue descendant of theirs, but nope. If he is, they don’t mention a damn thing about it.
No backstory, no decent motivations and no threat = Terrible villain. That doesn’t have to really be a dealbreaker either, if the guy is entertaining enough, but he’s not. He’s not funny at all, he’s not crazy enough, he doesn’t have fun one-liners or even quirks. He’s just blah.
Lizabeth and her family were…fine. They’re supposed to represent the connections to the people of the water and how much the sea temple means to them, but their role was pretty weak. None of them made strong connections with the main characters. They tried to have May and Lizabeth bond a little when May started crying and when she gave her the mark of the people of the water, but it was really just one-note “Yeah, I know. That sucks” and “Here, have this bracelet.”
They also note on the Wiki that Lizabeth is one of the few girls that Brock lusts after that actually likes him back. Uh, where was that? I mean, yeah she talked about cooking with Brock once or twice, but that was about it. Lots of girls that Brock has lusted after have ‘liked’ him. Lizabeth never showed any inkling of liking him romantically.
Back to the family as a whole, they never talk about stuff from the culture of the people of the water, just that they were nomads who traveled the seas, lived alongside Water Pokemon and built a temple in their honor that works from some magic powers they somehow have but are never explained. They’re excited about seeing the sea temple, but don’t say or do much when they actually see it. Lizabeth does get a somber look on her face when she realizes they need to abandon the sea temple as it’s about to flood, but that’s it.
These people of the water just seem like madlibs entries no one built on. “And the (building) was built by the ancient (culture/race). And it’s totally important to them for (reasons).”
Brock and Max were more useless than usual this time around. They did 100% pure nothing. Just to drive that point home, I ctrl+f’d Brock’s name on this document, and the only times he’s notable enough to mention are when he explains who Lizabeth and her family are and me being confused as to why Ash and the others know what a Pokemon Ranger is already. Max nearly falls to his death and that sums up his role.
Team Rocket….I don’t even know why they’re in this movie, moreso than usual. It’s like they shoehorned them in under contractual obligation. They alert Phantom to Manaphy’s location, pointlessly swap bodies just to pointlessly display Manaphy’s pointless power, become the janitorial service for Phantom and spend about three scenes giggling about how they’ll get treasure only to be easily pushed out of the movie by the flood waters never to be seen again until the end credits.
Now for the biggest issue – Ash completely hijacked this movie from May.
I was actually going to praise this movie for a while because, while being a complete rip-off of Movie 06, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I liked Movie 06 and how they handled Jirachi and Max’s relationship. Sure, May and Manaphy’s scenes were mostly just dicking around in the water and super gushy cutesy scenes, but they were fine. It’s understandable for May to get so attached to Manaphy and vice versa, much in the same vein as Misty and Togepi. Even though it seems like they unnecessarily crammed days worth of bonding in when, in Movie 06, the days of bonding and travel had a purpose in that they were waiting for the comet…
…..Wait, in this movie they’re waiting for an eclipse. Do you have no shame, Movie 09?
It seems all fine until we get to that climax when Ash wrestles the limelight away from her and suddenly decides to risk/sacrifice his life for the sake of the temple. Sure, Ash is self-sacrificing, but he has no emotional connection to this place nor is it really that big of a deal if he lets it sink.
If this wasn’t a life sacrificing/largely risky task, it would be more understandable, but from the way it’s presented, it seems like Ash is really going off to die in order to just possibly save the temple – and, he does nearly end up dying. The only reason he didn’t was because of Manaphy’s grab bag of powers.
Why did the focus suddenly shift to Ash to the point where we got a superhero-esque confrontation out of it? Why did it shift to him at all?
In Movie 06, Ash stayed away from the limelight because it was Max’s movie. He did do one heroic thing because main character, but he never stole the show from Max. The climax was more of a team effort with Ash, Max and Butler if anything. Contrast that to Movie 04, where one of the main negatives there was Ash stealing the show from Sam and, to a lesser extent, his relationship to Celebi. We’re moving backwards in character and storytelling abilities as we move forward in movies.
There’s no reason whatsoever why May couldn’t have been the one to go down there and fix the sea crown. Absolutely none. Given everything that has been built up until this point, it’s almost like they intended to have that happen in the first few drafts then changed it to Ash at the last second because main character.
Think about it. May has that dream about Manaphy, which Lizabeth says indicates that she may somehow be a descendant of the people of the water. It’s unfounded and unexplored, but there you go. Lizabeth also gives May one of her marks of the people of the water.
These facts seem to nudge that May would be the one to save the sea crown and become king queen of the sea.
Not to mention that she has way more motivation than Ash does. Let me rewrite this entire ending for you.
May, realizing that her beloved Manaphy will never become king of the sea without the sea crown intact and the temple back to its former glory, decides she must sacrifice herself to restore the crown. When they find the tank, she shoves Manaphy into Ash’s arms and explains what she must do. He tries to talk her out of it, but she stands firm in her resolve. Ash begrudgingly accepts this and wishes her luck before they enter the tank and lock the door.
May makes her way through the temple, reaches the crown and drops the crystal. As she attempts to retrieve it, she runs out of air and loses consciousness. Manaphy, sensing May is in danger, transfers its own thoughts to May, saying ‘Love you’ a couple of times before saying ‘Love you, May!’, which triggers her mark of the people of the water and wakes her up. She gets one more breath, grabs the crystal and puts it back in the crown. The sea crown, recognizing May’s mark of the people of the water and maybe her possible people of the water bloodline, gives her the powers of the queen of the sea.
After the crown is restored and the temple surfaces, Phantom steals Manaphy yet again. Sensing Manaphy’s in danger, due to her queen of the sea-ness, May bursts from the water with her new Super Saiyan powers and takes on Phantom, retrieving her beloved Manaphy and earning a touching reunion.
Later, after the climax, she and Manaphy say their goodbyes and she transfers her queen of the sea powers to Manaphy before he jumps back into the ocean and leaves.
That was a tiny bit fanfic-y, but it makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it? The whole flow of the movie gets derailed because Ash couldn’t help himself but be the hero when it clearly wasn’t his movie. Meanwhile, our supposed heroine gets to sit still in a tin can literally just hoping the hero can save the day. I’m glad they didn’t have her tears or something transfer to Ash too because my eyeballs practically escaped my skull from how hard I was rolling them during the finale of the temple scene.
I’m trying really hard to not put a sexist slant on this, but it’s very difficult. All May does the entire movie is react to stuff, cry and be a mama to a baby. She’s not even the one who saves Max from nearly falling pointlessly to his death – Lizabeth was. In fact, Lizabeth does way more in this movie than May does, and even she does less than Ash.
Admittedly, May does help put the crystals back in the sea crown, but that was only because she was stupidly running after Manaphy. Yeah, sure wouldn’t want Manaphy to get trapped in this sinking building….the one falling underwater…..where he’s strongest….can swim against all currents….and can easily breathe. Oh no.
Plus, as you already know, she didn’t even do that alone – Ash helped there too.
Not that this movie’s story is all that much to get excited over anyway. It could’ve been worse, but we’ve seen this same exact story several times in this movie series already. It’s like a mish-mash of several Pokemon movies with a new coat of paint, and the paint is smelly and pea colored. If you’re going to rip-off other movies, especially in your own damn universe, you have to bring new things to the table that make it unique and interesting to allow it to stand on its own.
But no. We get an annoying mix of Togepi with a cutesy Legendary, a bunch of dicking around in the water, a villain who is completely forgettable and non-threatening, side characters who are completely forgettable, a Pokemon Ranger whose character is mostly wasted, random appearances from other Legendaries to, I guess, make it more interesting, and the only things standing out being hilariously awful CGI and Super Saiyan Ash. Even the names in this movie were forgettable placeholders; Phantom, the people of the water, the sea temple, the sea crown, the prince of the sea and the king of the sea.
It’s not a huge chore to sit through, I wouldn’t even say it’s unpleasant, but if you asked me if I’d be interested in watching this movie again I’d probably say no. There’s no reason for me to ever watch this again…..even though I have to when I do the subbed version review.
I will say that the soundtrack for this movie is fantastic and that the climax was fun and impacting, but otherwise this movie is bland, boring, sloppy and disappointing. Seriously, guys, this is what you follow up Lucario and the Mystery of Mew with? I guess you were serious when you said this is something to ‘get through’ until we get to Diamond and Pearl.
Recommended Audience: Nothing happens. E for everyone.
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Plot: Told in flashback, a talking bird named Melody explains how a neighborhood on Heptune street went from dingy and grimy with no Christmas spirit to a happy and bustling Christmas town thanks to a little girl and her father.
Breakdown: Ah, Rankin/Bass, creator of so many memorable stop-motion and animated Christmas specials that are still airing during the holidays to this day. Rankin/Bass closed their doors in 1987, but then they suddenly sprang back up and dusted off their production studio for one more Christmas special – today’s feature, Santa, Baby! – The last piece of media Rankin/Bass, as a studio, would ever produce before the studio was officially shut down entirely.
So, did they go out with a bang or limp out with a wheeze?
I hate to say it, but it’s the latter.
The animation is pretty cheap and stiff. It’s not bottom of the barrel, but it’s got a lot of obvious roughness to it.
The CGI has not aged well, in the slightest, I was nearly laughing during the opening credits. Character designs range from okay with the humans to very confusing with the animals. Melody doesn’t look like a partridge – she looks like Big Bird’s offspring after someone glued a purple mop to her head. And there’s a reindeer so small, it might as well be a cat. I get that it’s a runt, which is why it was rejected, but it’s ridiculously small.
Next, the music ranges from passable to terrible, which in itself is a big waste because they got Patti LaBelle and Eartha Kitt for this. The first song (not the one running over the credits) is one of the most horribly arranged things I’ve heard in years. It couldn’t catch a beat to save its life, the melody was all over the place, and the singing was blech.
The voices aren’t much better. At least I can say most of them are trying a little, especially Patti LaBelle, who seems to be having a blast, and Eartha Kitt (Who voices, who else, the cat), but the girl playing Dakota, Kianna Underwood, is really hard to listen to for long periods of time. She has this nasty habit of having her voice crack all the time and it’s a nightmare to listen to. Her dad is one of the worst since he’s really phoning it in. He sounds disinterested in everything.
As for the story, I think this one of those times where I need to walk you through everything to get the best scope on the problems.
A bird named Melody flies around a neighborhood on Heptune Street that is bursting with Christmas spirit, but she explains that it wasn’t that way last year. In a flashback to the previous year, we see a little girl named Dakota putting up signs to adopt animals at the local shelter. The shelter specializes in housing misfit animals that rarely ever get adopted and tend to cause trouble in town.
Among them are the typical dog, cat and bunny, but we also have a chicken, a pig, a chameleon and the aforementioned reindeer.
They explain why the reindeer doesn’t have a home, because some Christmas showrunners booted him when they discovered he was too small to pull a sleigh, which…well, duh. But who in this urban area is going to adopt a reindeer as a pet? Is that even legal?
….Oh yeah, and there’s a lobster too….*shrug*
Dakota actually seems like one of the few people in this area who lives in a really nice apartment. Her dad, Noel, writes music for a living, but he’s going through a rough time right now because his producer wants him to change up his music style to sound more like the hit hip-hop group, Streetbeat, who sound abysmal.
If you want a taste of how odd and lame Noel, is, he snaps at her, and when he decides to go to her room to hang out to make up for this, he suddenly has a fit and leaves because she innocently put on a Streetbeat CD for them to listen to together. Not that it would justify his childish behavior anyway, but she didn’t even know the thing about him being told to sound like Streetbeat before, and he didn’t explain it when he stormed off, so by her perspective she thinks she upset him because she wanted to listen to music. Nice.
She saves a really ugly bird from freezing to death, and it turns out that not only can she talk, but she’s voiced by Patti LaBelle and is magic. She’s is the literal partridge in a pear tree, and apparently that gives her magic powers. She can not only summon the other parts of the 12 Days of Christmas song, but she can also grant wishes and do random feats of magic like she’s the Genie from Aladdin.
Dakota wishes for her dad to write another new hit song so he’ll be happy again. Melody agrees, and her first step on getting him to this goal is making him one of those charity Santas who stands outside waving a bell to get donations. Uh…okay.
But he’s not waving the bell…well enough? Dakota dances in the street with it for a while and gets a bunch of money and people actually cheering, because that would happen. I understand that the bells are a legitimate instrument, but that’s the bells, plural. You can’t really play a singular bell well. You either do it fast or slow. The triangle has much more versatility than a single bell.
Despite Dakota helping him out and showing a desire to help more, Noel gets irritated and shoos her away. Nice.
Later, we get our titular song when Dakota’s mom, Alicia, suddenly starts singing it to Noel while he’s out on the street dressed as Santa. I guess that fits, but you’d think the song would be in a more important place when the entire movie is named after it.
I can’t say I dislike this musical number because it’s ‘Santa, Baby.’They got Eartha Kitt to reprise it and even got Patti LaBelle to sing a bit of it. I don’t like it as much as the original version, mostly because it’s too fast and the instrumentals are kinda flat. Plus, it’s a bit crowded having three different women singing this song at the same time. Vanessa Williams (Alicia) does a fine job singing her part, but it’s just a little too much.
Noel’s a big asshole about it, though, and marches off, upset that his wife and daughter know he’s in a Santa suit raising money for charity. Oh no….How…terrible? Do people really give each other shit for this?
He goes even further by saying he doesn’t care for Christmas, which just kinda came out of nowhere. And oh the irony in someone named Noel hating Christmas. It’s Itsudatte, My Santa! all over again. Fun fact, my middle name is Noel. I’m 98% certain that has no connection with my love of Christmas, though.
The next day, Melody puts him back in the Santa suit, and for some reason he now seems to be really embracing his role as Santa, pulling a complete 180 with absolutely no prompt. She sends him out to collect coats for a coat drive, deliver food to the senior center, painting ‘Peace on Earth’ on a very unsafe platform that he falls off of and nearly dies. They don’t even help save him, despite watching him fall. Melody is magic, and yet the only thing that saves him is a series of convenient ventilation shafts that somehow allow him to slide out into the alleyway safely.
For a second, I thought Dakota was trying to save him by putting a dumpster filled with garbage at the end of the chute, but she walks right by. What was even the point of her doing that?
Next, they have him cleaning up the local park, which is covered in garbage, and now even the local kids are pitching in – even the ones they showed earlier who were complete assholes to a newsstand owner and a bunch of littler kids, knocking them over and dumping their fliers everywhere…
More people show up and sing ‘Jingle Bells,’ because they don’t have to pay for that song. 50% of it is pretty good, but the first verse is terrible, and when Alicia shows up the song starts playing way too fast. Like, comically fast.
Mr. Sweet, who is the superintendent for the entire neighborhood (is that a thing?) comes in to wreck their fun. He whines about the Christmas decorations, and demands Mrs. Garcia, owner of the shelter, to control her animals once more. Even though he is a grump, I agree with him on the animals. They’re running wild all over town, and they trespass all the time. She has to be breaking several laws by just letting them roam like that. Not to mention that it’s weird to have a bunch of shelter animals basically be strays all day.
Alicia reveals that he’s a grumpy gus because his wife passed away last year. He actually used to be really nice but clichés. (Seriously, how many ‘grumpy old guy’ backstories are traced back to their wife dying?) Not that that matters, because, in the middle of the night, Mr. Sweet opens up the pipes in the shelter so much that they burst, quickly flooding the shelter, destroying the place, and nearly drowning all of the animals and sending them soaking wet into the frigid inner city, where they’ll surely die anyway.
The shelter is so badly damaged that they get shut down.
But it’s okay.
His wife died.
Noel tries to make a new song, but it sucks and his producer hates it because it sucks. Even though Noel was just in a super jolly mood, he gets angry because his new song sucks. He even takes it out on his daughter….again.
Not only does he completely blow her off when she rushes through the door in a panic saying something terrible has happened, but when he learns about the shelter and that the animals will probably freeze to death without homes, he tells her it’s a tough world out there and she should stop caring about those “dumb animals” and instead start looking out for herself because caring for others is not getting her anything.
So, tell me again why we’re meant to root for this guy? I get that he’s frustrated, but he has the biggest most childish mood swings and treats his daughter, who has done nothing but help him this whole movie, like garbage.
Also, when Melody shows back up, he blames HER for Dakota hating him. The only reason I’d ever want him to get his stupid hit song is for the sake of Melody and Alicia because I don’t know if he’s their only source of income or not. If Alicia makes good money, then he can kiss my holly jolly ass.
Melody reveals to him that Dakota wished for the song, but the reason he can’t get it is because he won’t stop thinking of himself. (That’s a prerequisite for the wish? What a dumb wishing system. She wished for him to have a hit song, which can be terrible, good, heartfelt or shallow. It’s just popularity.)
After pulling a more reasonable, but still way too fast, 180 again, he and Melody walk through the biggest snowflakes in existence to find Dakota (Seriously, the snowflakes are so big and there are so many of them I really have trouble paying attention in the following scenes). Cue sappy clipshow of nice moments we’ve never seen between the two of them, reminding him of how much his daughter means to him.
He finds Dakota in the alleyway, so upset that she lost the ability to move her mouth when she speaks. She won’t go home until the animals have a home too, so Noel goes into the shelter to see what he can do. There’s a weird scene where he’s climbing the pipes to get to the shelter kitten, but the pipes collapse (Well, duh, the pipes all burst, what did he think would happen?) and despite Dakota yelling like Noel is falling and every indication given that he’s falling, the next shot has him climbing out the window. *shrug*
On the roof, the weathervane falls onto a utility box, knocking out the power to the whole block. The sparks also cause Noel to fall, catching the kitten and, somehow, they both hang from the gutter, fall soon after that and hang from the flagpole. The whole neighborhood comes out to investigate, and Mr. Sweet, pulling a similar 180, suddenly feels bad and tries to climb up to save them…err…well, I guess just the kitten for some reason.
Mr. Sweet: “Look, I just wanted your animals out. I didn’t want this.” Oh, blow it out your ass, dude. You nearly drowned the animals and completely decimated her shelter.
He saves the kitten, the crowd saves Sweet when he falls, and for some dumb reason they all leave and forget that a human being’s life is hanging in the balance. Melody has to come and save him while everyone else is in the shelter fixing it up….Oh yeah, they’re suddenly doing that now.
When Melody points out how everyone is helping, she credits Noel saying that this is what happens when people stop being preoccupied with themselves and start thinking of others. But this message really falls flat when you remember that they weren’t thinking at all about the man who was hanging from an icy flagpole outside, just so they could suddenly go inside with their magically conjured tools and equipment and fix up the shelter that now looks about 10x as big as it was before.
It’s really weird considering 1) The newsstand guy specifically wanted to save Noel and 2) If they learned how to not be selfish from Noel, why is he, of all people, the one they’re leaving to die?
Noel starts writing a new song on the wall, which is kinda counter-intuitive to what they’re trying to accomplish, and Alicia shows up completely randomly to help out.
Admittedly, this song is pretty okay. The singing is a bit off of the rhythm sometimes, but it’s still decent. Not sure it’s a song I’d really remember after watching this, though.
Within less than a night, probably just an hour or two given what happens next, they have the shelter, inside and out, fixed up and looking brand new, which is insane, but Christmas magic I guess.
Since Noel now has his song, he thanks Melody and she brings him to Santa with the power of the five golden rings, which are actually nine. Call me nitpicky all you want, I have eyes and I can count.
How the rings teleported them there, I don’t know, but now the story is just kinda going where it wants. Santa has a bum leg, so he’s assigning Noel and Dakota to the task of being Santa and delivering presents this year. Melody was sent out to find a replacement and acts like she’s been training Noel this whole time to be Santa, which means….she kinda lied, didn’t she? Technically, we don’t know if Noel writing that song was a fluke or a part of Dakota’s wish.
By the way, what does painting a billboard and nearly falling to your death have to do with being Santa?
Cue a faster more hip-hoppy to rap version of ‘Santa, Baby’, still sung by Eartha Kitt, and I kinda hate it. ‘Santa, Baby’ is meant to be a fairly slow song – it’s literally the singer sweet-talking Santa so he’ll give her stuff. Seduction is not done at 110 BPM.
Anyway, Noel sucks at Santaing because he’s not putting the presents under any trees (except one), he’s placing them on the sleeping bodies of everyone in town.
He’s throwing a lot of them too, so I hope most of these people are really heavy sleepers.
He sucks even worse when he gives a bunch of the shelter animals to a woman who was checking her hair in the shelter window earlier. Oh yeah, she certainly seemed concerned and interested in adopting a shelter pet then – and most certainly she was interested in the chameleon and the pig….
Ya know, one of the reasons why it’s such a bad idea to get people pets as Christmas gifts (especially young children) is because if they don’t actively want a pet or show a desire to put in the work to raise them or even if they’re the type to change their mind about these things, the animals just get put on the streets or returned to the shelter or store that they came from.
They give Mr. Sweet the kitten because, yeah, that’s something smart to do for someone who nearly drowned/froze to death a slue of animals earlier – including the kitten!
But it’s okay.
His wife died.
Anyway, Sweet is a better person now because a cat replaced his wife.
Then we cut back to present time again, which means, yeah, the entire town pulled a 180 out of nowhere, (Are you detecting a pattern?), and became all nice and good, cleaned up the neighborhood, made it a better place and got all jazzed for Christmas because they saved a cat and cleaned up a wrecked shelter in about an hour……
Also, this time jump is confusing because it’s like Noel and Dakota are just now going into the street after being Santa all night, but it’s supposedly a year later.
All of the shelter animals found good homes. I guess the reindeer was adopted by Santa, the lady they gave some of the animals to seems to have happily taken them in because okay, a little boy got the dog, the newsstand guy got the lobster (I still don’t get the lobster) the brats from earlier got the chicken, and another old lady got the bunny.
Bottom Line: So….that happened. This is far from a terrible movie, but it’s also far from a good one. The message is perfectly fine – have a heart, don’t be selfish and help out your friends, family and neighborhood – but it doesn’t really drive this message home in the best way. Everyone was changing their personalities at the drop of a hat, and the neighborhood just randomly got together to clean up the wrecked shelter in the middle of the night after saving a cat and forgetting that the guy they supposedly learned important lessons from was hanging from a flagpole outside.
Not to mention that the narrative is really weird. The partridge from the 12 Days of Christmas song grants a little girl’s wish of her dad getting a hit song by forcing him into charity work? And he had to agree to do it? And only after a ton of BS happens does he finally write the song, and it’s all because he became a better person through all of the charity work that he was doing just for the sake of getting his hit song? Yeah, he saved the cat of his own accord, but was that really the lynchpin?
What’s weird is we never get confirmation that he did write a hit song. We’re just meant to assume it’s that good.
And that wasn’t even the actual motivation behind Melody’s actions – she just wanted to find a replacement for Santa. What would have happened if Dakota really did want to wish for a toy or something? Would Melody actually get it for her immediately or would she have to put some other guy through a moral training camp to get the spirit to earn the toy?
That messes up the message even more because if Melody only did that stuff for Noel and Dakota to achieve her means, that means SHE was being selfish and thinking of her own needs above others.
I don’t even understand why Alicia existed. She did absolutely nothing all movie but literally wander around town and stop to sing ‘Santa, Baby.’ She cleaned up a little bit of the shelter for a handful of frames too, but that’s it. She was not a character in the slightest.
Speaking of the characters, they’re all very two-dimensional and boring. Noel’s a confusing jackass who only realizes the error of his ways when he learns his daughter gave up a wish for herself to give him something when he should have realized it by the fact that he acted like a prick and let her run out the door in tears. Dakota’s a very typical super sweet completely selfless little girl with no flaws besides her knife of a voice. Mr. Sweet is the grumpy old guy who’s grumpy because he’s lonely ever since he lost his wife. And everyone else exists.
As a whole, it’s just a very sloppy movie from start to finish. For a movie that keeps touting having spirit, soul and heart, it sure doesn’t have a lot of passion behind it. Even the cheapest of productions can be made into classics if you have the right passion behind it, something Rankin/Bass should certainly know, but this just reeks of lack of effort in nearly every area, which is a damn shame for the studio’s final production.
Being fair, neither Rankin nor Bass worked on this movie directly. Rankin is listed as an executive producer, but the project is not listed on his official works, and Bass’ name is nowhere to be found. So, technically, this is a Rankin/Bass movie in name only, which is another damn shame since Bass died back in 2014.
Of the three reviews on IMDB, two of them are really shining, though I’m not certain the first positive reviewer knows what they’re talking about because they call the animation nearly flawless and keep referring to Noel as Noah. It’s too well-written otherwise for me to make a solid call there, though. Plus, this movie was supposedly nominated for a WGA award for best animation in television!? What!? Was 2001 a bad year for animation on TV or what happened there?
Maybe I’m just not getting something, because even though, overall, the movie seems to average a middle-of-the-road rating, it seems to be consistently viewed as above average and very enjoyable by many families. Far be it from me to tell you otherwise, and I’m always a big proponent of letting people like what they like, especially when it comes to the holidays, but this movie just isn’t doing it for me.
I appreciate the spirited performance from Patti LaBelle, and Eartha Kitt’s always a joy, may she rest in peace, but I can’t see myself revisiting this movie any upcoming holiday season.
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Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and happy holidays to my incredibly awesometastic readers. 🙂 You make every day feel like Christmas to me. ♥♥♥
Sorry I’ve been kinda spotty with posts lately. Like with Halloween, I try to do posts every single day for Christmas, but this Christmas really bogged me down. I’ll definitely have something new tonight and hopefully plenty for the rest of the month. 🙂
Stay safe, create Christmas cheer, and enjoy yourselves and any loved ones you may be spending time with this holiday season.
Name: Ekans is merely ‘snake’ spelled backwards, which seems kinda lazy, but I actually really like it. Not only is it snappy and memorable, but the ‘s’ at the end makes it sound really snake-like when Ekans says its name. Ekanssssssss.
Its Japanese name is Arbo, which is mean to be an anagram of ‘boa’….but I can’t figure out where the r is coming from. And, yes, it is also strange that Arbo is so very close to Arbok but seemingly has no connection. *shrug*
Design: Ekan’s design is very simple, it’s pretty much just an average snake design, but they do plenty with it to make it stand out and be pretty cool. First of all, major points for the purple. Considering purple is my favorite color, you’ll probably hear me say that for any Poison type Pokemon, but this shade is particularly nice. I also love how they break it up with bright stripes of yellow. That is very much in keeping with snakes having bright color patterns a lot of the time, and it makes it unique.
I also really like its eyes, and I think it’s kinda adorable that it doesn’t have teeth.
In the realm of sprites, Gen I is okay. R/B is awkward because they made Ekans really thin and made its head a bit too big.
Yellow’s is more on-point.
PBBBBBBBBBBBBTTTTTTTTTTHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!…HAHAHAHAH! Ow, my ribs hurt! What did they do to you, Ekans? You look like a derpy duck! AHAHAHAHAHA! Who looked at that and thought it was okay for the final product? *sigh* Oh man. I needed that.
Gen II is fine, but I can’t help but think Crystal’s animation is making him vomit.
Gen III is also fine, but the animation for Emerald is way too goofy. Why are they making him stretch so much?
Gen IV is, again, fine, but they still keep making goofy animations for it. These are the best ones so far, but it’s still weird. I get that they’re probably going for a biting/lunging motion, but it just looks off.
Gen V is really good. This one is constantly animated and, even though it’s just swaying back and forth, it’s the best animation for it yet.
The rest of the Gens are average looking.
Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Ekans shiny has always been and continues to be one of my absolute least favorite shinies. It’s some disgusting combo of urine yellow, puke green and just a hint of brown. I don’t know who approved this shiny design, but ew.
I think Ekans is one of those Pokemon that could’ve made off with a pallet swap shiny. Bright yellow with purple stripes would’ve worked. I don’t much care for most yellow shinies, but it would’ve been a better idea than whatever this is.
Cry/Voice: I love Ekans’ voice, even though, if you hear it for long enough IE, if it has a main role in an episode, like the Island of Giant Pokemon, it gets grating fast. Like I mentioned, though, the ‘s’ at the end makes for a good snake-ish sound when held.
Ekans’ game cry is great. It’s low-pitched and foreboding yet has a rumble to it like a rattle (Rattlesnake!)
Dex Entries and Backstory: We never get an anime Dex entry for Ekans, and that rustles my jimmies.
Other than that, its Dex entries are rather basic. It’s literally nothing that doesn’t describe most snakes. It eats bird eggs, it can unhinge its jaw, and it doesn’t have any poison (Venom…) when it is first born, so its bites are painful, but harmless.
One entry that did tickle my funny bone was X’s and Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee that explains…..Ekans grows longer as it ages…..
Are you telling me that living beings get bigger as they grow up!? You are the most useful Pokedex in Pokemon history.
In terms of design, Ekans is based off of a boa and a rattlesnake with some ring-necked snake and Indian cobra mixed in. It’s also noted that, due to the signature move of Ekans and Arbok being Glare, that it was also partially based on a basilisk, a mythological serpent that could kill people with its glare.
Name: Keeping in the same backwards word theme as Ekans, Arbok is Kobra spelled backwards….What?…..K is cooler than C, alright?
I really like Arbok as a name. It’s even snappier than Ekans, and I love how, in the anime, the inflection on the name when said by the Pokemon sounds just as snake-like as Ekans does on the ‘s.’ They even add a ‘cha’ sound to the start sometimes to make it more audibly snake-like (Akin to the sound of it striking, and in the case of some cobras, spitting!)
Interestingly enough, in the Japanese version, it’s still Arbok….Yup….from Arbo….to Arbok….Top tier name work, Japanese staff.
Also, I still have no interesting name facts here because almost every instance of Arbok outside of English just calls it Arbok…..except Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese….which, for some reason, add the character for ‘freak’ at the end of it….Rude.
Design: I absolutely adore the design of Arbok. It’s simple, yes, and just as basic as Ekans at it’s core, but the added cobra hood, the cool designs on the inside of the hood, the much larger size and really well-designed head make this a fantastic design. And, of course, major points for the purple with the colors on the hood breaking it up.
In terms of sprites, the only note I have about Gen I is the weird addition of stripes to the hood when seen from the back. I have no clue why those were deemed necessary, and I’m glad they got rid of them in subsequent games.
In Gen II, Crystal has a really awesome animation.
Nothing really of note in Gen III onward.
I feel really weird saying this after so many instances of me ragging on similarly colored shinies, but I actually really like Arbok’s shiny. I think this shade of yellow brings about more of a gold/bronze vibe than it does….puke or urine. Plus, I really love the tiny bits of blue in there. It breaks it up just as much as the yellow and red do on the original design, and I adore that shade of blue.
If I had a major criticism there, it’d be that Gen II’s shiny is way off the mark. It’s like a moldy green color mixed with purple.
Cry/Voice: I love Arbok’s voice, and unlike Ekans’ it doesn’t get grating after a while. Like I mentioned in the name section, when spoken, the voice actor makes a sound kinda like a spitting cobra going ‘CHAAABOK!’ It sounds close enough to the actual name to sound Pokemon-ish without just sounding like a dude doing a Pokemon voice.
Its game cry is good and threatening, but there’s no snake-like vibe to it, and it sounds a bit too much like a spaceship crashing on an Atari 2600.
Dex Entries and Backstory: Like Ekans, Arbok has never had an in-anime Dex entry, which is bunk (I’m still angry Ash never bothered Dexing Arbok and Weezing when they debuted…) but, at the very least, it got one in the manga, Pokemon Adventures.
Many of Arbok’s Dex entries talk about the markings on its belly, which vary from region to region, and supposedly there are only six confirmed patterns in Gen I, however, this has been updated in Gen VI to 20 patterns……BUT then it goes and contradicts itself. In Ultra Sun, they say they updated the amount to 20, but in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, it reverts back to six.
Believe it or not, they actually make good on this claim – Arbok does indeed have slightly different markings based on the region in which it’s found. That’s pretty cool.
Arbok uses the patterns on its chest/belly to intimidate foes before trying to poison or crush them. Arbok’s crushing ability is so powerful that it can easily crush steel drums, and it’s said you will never get away if it has you in its grasp.
While this isn’t mentioned in the Dex entries, the Wiki page notes that it’s possible for Arbok to regrow any part of its body if its cut off. Noted from the anime, it can detect vibrations and spend a lot of time underwater.
In terms of design, Arbok is based on an Indian Cobra, and the note about the possible connection to a basilisk that Ekans had is included in Arbok’s.
Next up, the prodigal Pokemon itself, Pikachu gets covered as I go over the entire ‘chu line (Pichu included, despite going in numerical order.)
Plot: As Miss Grotke, Miss Finster and Principal Prickly get stuck in their car during a snow storm after the school Christmas pageant, Finster and Prickly grumble about what irredeemable pests the kids are. Miss Grotke, however, brings them on a trip down memory lane to remind them of how great they are instead.
Breakdown: Dear Santa,
This year for Christmas I want Disney to stop lying to me when I pick up a direct-to-DVD “movie” of theirs.
What is it with Disney and repackaging episodes of their TV series as movies just because they add about 10 minutes of new animation to act as bookends? I get it with the Disquels that are made up of failed pilots for spin-off TV shows – gotta make money off the animation somehow. When they made Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade, I understood too because, again, that was a canceled spin-off and/or new season – gotta make money off the animation somehow. I don’t like it, but it’s understandable.
Then you have the Disquels that repackaged the final set of episodes of a TV series that did air, which is super lazy and just getting money for old rope. It’s deceitful, especially when you’re dealing with little kids buying these movies.
And then you have Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street, which is a special kind of deceitful money-grubbing. Not only are they repackaging old episodes of the TV show, but they’re completely randomly selected episodes that have 100% nothing to do with each other. They certainly have nothing to do with Christmas.
Take note of that DVD cover as it states absolutely nothing of containing any episodes of the series and blatantly calls it a full length holiday movie. (Even if you qualify this as a movie, it just manages to skim the hour mark without credits.)
Give Taking the Fifth Grade some credit – it didn’t market itself as a Halloween movie. It was just part of the motif for the runtime with the Halloween special being the ending. The framing device was moving on to the fifth grade, which actually was a running theme in all of the episodes of that movie.
In this “movie,” like before, the only episode that is Christmassy is the final entry, which was the main Christmas special of the series, but the bookends are also Christmas-oriented, and Christmas is right there in the title (Shouldn’t it be ‘A Recess Christmas’? Recess Christmas sounds weird.) meaning the movie itself is meant to be focused on Christmas.
Speaking of the bookends, the story there is extremely predictable. After the school’s Christmas pageant, and keep that in mind, I’ll get back to that later, Miss Finster, Miss Grotke and Principal Prickly try to drive to their homes for the holiday vacation when they get hit by some clod of snow, which causes them to get stuck in a snowbank. Prickly and Finster instantly assume the kids threw a snowball at them, which means they not only assume that the kids are pricks, but they also believe they have teleportation to instantly catch up to them after several minutes of driving when the kids were on foot, and that they’d give zero shits after watching them crash.
They were clearly shown to be in the suburbs just milliseconds before they crashed, and Miss Grotke even said they only went a few blocks from the school, yet despite being in a clear suburban area in a city, Prickly can’t walk far enough to get help, so they pretty much just resign themselves to dying, I guess.
I should note that this series seems to take place in some western/southwestern state or something because they never get snow, and it was in the 70s merely that afternoon (This is established in the bookends and in the final episode they show.) So, yeah, this is super believable. It just started snowing during the pageant, definitely wasn’t blizzard conditions, yet by the time they drive home there are already snowbanks to crash into? Snow deep enough to get stuck in? How was the ground even cool enough for the snow to stick in the slightest? Just because it snows doesn’t mean it accumulates, especially if it was 70 degrees that afternoon.
It’s at least believable that they crashed because people from areas that never get snow have little experience driving in it, nor do they have snow tires, but the rest is just ridiculous.
And you’ll never guess what the ending twist is.
TJ and the gang show up out of nowhere to suddenly save them from being stuck, proving that they’re good kids after all.
In the meantime, you have Finster and Prickly badmouthing TJ and the others and blaming them for basically everything wrong in life, even supposedly after the Christmas pageant, which, again, I’ll address in a second.
Miss Grotke (And Finster and Prickly for two segments) has to spend the entire “movie” relaying stories about the kids actually being good to convince them of their good nature – even expressing knowledge of events and dialogue exchanges that Grotke, Finster and Prickly could never have knowledge of in the slightest because this series almost always takes place from the kids’ perspectives.
First, Grotke claims TJ was good recently when Prickly selected him as temporary principal, conveyed through playing the episode Principal for a Day. However, he was never really good in that entire episode. He started out being way too lax, making all-day recess and basically letting everyone run free. Then he became way too strict as Prickly tried to mold him in his image. Then he ended the episode being way too lax again to the point of ridiculousness by getting a police escort for a couple of ice cream trucks to give free ice cream to every kid in school.
Prickly actually conveys this story because he’s admitting to Grotke that this was actually all a scheme to turn TJ into a teacher’s pet like Randall or Menlo, the latter of which they did this same conditioning to the year prior.
Next, Grotke argues that the kids don’t ruin everything and, in fact, make things better, by telling the story of the events of last Thanksgiving when they had The Great Can Drive. However, again, this is a really shitty example.
There’s a can drive going on at school for Thanksgiving, and whichever class collects the most cans gets a turkey dinner. I remember these can drives at school, but I never remembered there being competitions involved with them. TJ and the rest of Grotke’s class opt to not participate because they believe they have no chance of winning. The Ashleys always have their parents buy cans for them so they win every year. I don’t know why the Ashleys are so preoccupied with winning a cheap turkey dinner when their families seem kinda rich, but whatever.
This is also probably why I never remember can drive competitions being a thing. If you can just have mommy and daddy buy a bunch of cans, everyone would probably just cheat if the prize were worth a damn.
I also remember these drives basically being mandatory. You needed to bring at least a can or two in or else your teacher would endlessly hound you about it.
Mikey, being ever the gentle giant, realizes the true meaning behind this drive is for the betterment of the lives of those less fortunate, not to win some competition, so he takes over being the sole collector for the class.
Despite making his intentions VERY clear, several times in fact, his friends still pity him and act like he’s depressed over being so far behind in the competition. When the Ashleys come over to talk smack, his friends step up and join the competition, clearly taking it as purely a competition and not giving a crap about the less fortunate. It reaches really insane levels of competitiveness, especially over something as dumb as a turkey dinner. Provided by the school, I can bet it’s cheap as dirt and probably tastes as good.
I get that it’s really just to one-up the Ashleys, but the Ashleys motivations are just as confusing.
Each class collects 4,362 cans, which means they, collectively, have 8,724 cans stacked in the auditorium. It’s a really nice mountain of cans that would be incredible to give to the local charities.
However, since it’s a tie, all of the students are upset. An elderly woman helping to present the turkey dinner to the winner, being part of the first graduating class of the school back in 1928, happens to have one can that she was going to give to the winner (???What???Why???) This results in every single person in the auditorium losing their goddamn mind and charging this poor woman. TJ and one of the Ashleys start physically fighting over the can so they can win.
Let me remind you, at this point, that Grotke is explaining this story as an example of how the kids don’t ruin everything.
…..The can flies out of their hands and knocks the can mountain over, causing a massive would-probably-cause-several-fatalities avalanche of canned goods.
Every single can of food is obliterated.
Nearly 9000 cans of food for charity, gone. Splattered all over the walls, floor and ceiling of the auditorium. All because of one of the most petty competitions I’ve ever seen.
Mikey does give them all a good chewing out over it, thank God, but the damage is done.
Until, that is, the holiday miracle monkey pooped out a deus ex machina. In the time frame of one day, not even, probably, the other kids all banded together, networked, and gathered twice as many cans as they had before from other neighborhoods, groups and clubs. Not only that, but a local store owner heard what happened at the school and said “It’s about time (his) company put its money where its mouth is.” before donating a truck full of food to every homeless shelter in the city. That’s great and all, but why was hearing the story of a bunch of idiot kids wasting 9000 cans of donated food for stupid reasons the trigger that made him finally donate food to charity? Just because he felt bad about all of the wasted donations?
And the episode ends with Prickly announcing a toy drive competition for Christmas, so, womp womp, here we go again.
I explained that episode more in detail because 1) It’s a bonus Thanksgiving special review, hoorah, and 2) It was a really odd moment where I somehow felt heartwarmed while also feeling like someone beat every single character, barring Mikey, with an idiot stick. No, no—an idiot tree. Why Grotke felt the need to convey this whole story is beyond me. The conversation should have gone;
Grotke: “They do not ruin everything. They actually make things better! Remember when the kids collected all of those cans for the less fortunate this Thanksgiving?”
Finster: “What are you smoking, Grotke? They only did all of that after wasting probably $10,000 in canned goods, doing tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the auditorium – we’re still picking peas and kidney beans out of the rafters to this day – and nearly murdering everyone in the student body and an elderly woman with falling canned goods.”
Sure they made up for it later, but only because of insanely impossible circumstances that they pulled out of their asses. And it’s implied that they didn’t really learn anything from it if the toy drive thing was any indication.
The next example is Grotke arguing that Finster likes Spinelli specifically, which Finster responds to with the story of Spinelli staying over at her house at Weekend at Muriel’s. This is one of my favorite episodes of the series that first started shining a very sympathetic and human light on Miss Finster while also teaching Spinelli that teachers can be pretty cool people outside of school, even if they’re shrill and strict in school.
Even if Miss Finster takes it a bit too far sometimes, it’s still her job to keep the kids in line. She has her own style of teaching that works for her and her students. She’s grumpy, strict, and sometimes even mean and conniving, but she still loves her students and wants what’s best for them. This is one story that actually works to prove Grotke’s point, even if Finster tells her to keep it a secret.
The final story is the actual Christmas special, Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave. Grotke relays this story as proof that this is one of the best Christmases ever…..since it happened the same night as the movie. The pageant in the episode takes place immediately preceding the events of the bookends for this movie, which makes no sense because this movie was released merely a day after the finale of the series aired and has an entirely different animation style and quality to it than the flashback.
That also means Grotke feels the need to tell, from start to finish, a story that just concluded minutes before the movie started. What’s next? She’s going to tell them the story of how they left the school that night and crashed into an improbable snowbank, getting stuck, so she started telling long stories about their students to prove their good nature?
While we’re finally at the Christmas special for the “movie” I can’t say I have much to say about it. The episode as a whole is very much by-the-book.
TJ and the others wallow in their 70 degree weather as they watch the kindergartners get excited over Christmas, which they can’t seem to do much of anymore since they no longer believe in Santa….which is dumb because most kids their age would still be excited about Christmas because they still get presents and candy and whatnot. I adore Christmas and I never believed in Santa.
This is especially silly because these kids will still believe in the magic of Halloween when they get to fifth grade, but Santa’s too kiddy for them?
Mikey, being a pure Christmas cupcake, still does believe in Santa, however. His friends are respectful of this, but when it starts to get back to him that kids his age tend to grow out of the Santa myth, he goes to ridiculous lengths to prove his existence, which only backfires and proves to Mikey that he doesn’t exist.
A run-in with a James Earl Jones cameo, who turns out to be Santa, obviously, renews his faith in Santa – not because he found the real Santa, he didn’t know that until the end of the episode, but because he taught him that the magic of Santa and Christmas is about faith and giving. (If you’re wondering about the title of the episode, this version of Santa has a shaved face and seemingly dislikes that he’s portrayed with a beard all the time. I don’t know why he’s more upset about the beard instead of the fact that he’s almost always depicted as a white guy when, in Recess canon, Santa is black, but okay. I think we all need James Earl Jones to just be Santa in real life. It would make the world a better place.)
Meanwhile, some big-shot TV producer has chosen Third Street Elementary School to host his super diverse while also being offensive holiday pageant…which will have approximately…….5 BILLION viewers….That’s billion. With a B.
For comparison, last year’s Super Bowl had 100 million viewers, and the New Year’s Eve Time Square ball drop usually rakes in one billion viewers, in crowds in public or at home, worldwide….meaning this elementary school Christmas pageant is 50 times more popular than the Super Bowl and five times as popular as the ball drop. (Also, for some reason, Dick Clark is cameoing too in order to introduce the pageant.)
It’s already such an insane figure, but it’s even worse when you remember that people who work in TV and know these things wrote that into the script with a straight face.
Mikey has been cast as Santa because of his Robert Goulet singing voice (I’m not being facetious – that really is Robert Goulet providing Mikey’s singing voice. He’s provided his singing voice over the entire series.) but he no longer wants to do it when he discovers Santa’s fake. After talking with Santa Earl Jones, he realizes that he can keep the faith of Santa and the true spirit of Christmas inside of his heart. He can provide the magic of Santa to the littler kids by returning to the pageant and taking on the role of Santa Claus.
After the pageant, James Earl Claus praises Mikey on a job well done in the pageant. Mikey wonders how he knew he’d be there, and he says he invited him, which he didn’t, but then Mikey catches a piece of paper flying in the wind and discovers it was the letter he wrote to Santa. He had ripped it to shreds and thrown it to the wind, but it magically pieced itself back together again somehow. Then they see Santa flying off into the sky on his sleigh.
This is to be expected, of course, but it kinda ruins the message of having in faith in something you can’t see if you give Mikey proof of Santa’s existence (the paper) and then flatout show him and the other kids Santa flying in his sleigh.
I should really talk about this play because it’s kind of a mess. The producer wants it to be as diverse as humanly possible to get all of the politically correct people off his ass (not inferring that – he says it outright several times) but he also makes Vince “Good King Kwanzaa” instead of the spirit of Kwanzaa, which is really weird. I feel like giving Kwanzaa a king defeats the purposes of its messages.
When all is said and done, this play celebrating diversity in the holidays presents Christmas like it’s the best one. They LITERALLY all step aside to welcome Santa (Their “favorite guy”) and Christmas. And while all of the other holidays get a short blurb during their parts, Santa gets several lines and a musical number all to himself.
Overall, I did fairly enjoy this Christmas special. I won’t lie, my heart really hurt when Mikey finally came to the realization that Santa doesn’t exist. All of his sad at best and heartbreaking at worst attempts to prove to his friends, and sort of himself, that Santa was real coming to a crescendo of him admitting defeat in tears in the radio station cut really deep. His face coupled with the voice acting of Jason Davis really struck a chord.
Outside of that, it’s a predictable episode to be certain, but it’s mostly harmless, and it did eek out some Christmas magic. I really appreciated how Mikey’s friends were all trying very hard to not ruin Mikey’s faith in Santa. They didn’t lie to him, really, but they tried hard to keep their views to themselves so they wouldn’t ruin Mikey’s belief. When his faith broke, they all felt really bad about it, even if it was through no fault of their own. They were miserable because he was, and it showed how strong their bond of friendship is.
Back to the “movie” you’re left wondering how Prickly still felt the kids were all irredeemable monsters when Mikey literally made the 5 billion viewer show he was so obsessed about a hit merely an hour ago. The kids show up from the convenience void and free the teachers with barely a line of dialogue exchanged. The kids whip out a piano and other instruments from nowhere to sing a Recess-fied version of ‘Jingle Bells,’ which they somehow felt was noteworthy enough to mention on the DVD cover too.
Bottom Line: This movie left me feeling as hollow as a lie….because it is one. Never has one of these episodes-stapled-together “movies” left me feeling so insulted.
It was a lazy cash-grab attempt to throw some completely random episodes together, put a ‘Christmas’ label on it to help it sell, and call it a day. It’s made even worse than normal because this is a Christmas special. It’s supposed to fill me with Christmas spirit. All you do when you present a deceitful repurposed collection of episodes as a brand new Christmas special is suck all of the Christmas spirit out of me.
What’s even sadder is thinking about all of the kids who probably asked for this movie for Christmas.
They didn’t even use newer episodes. All of these episodes came from seasons one and two when the series had literally just ended with its sixth season a day prior to release. Not only is this a continuity nightmare in that regard, but the back and forth of animation quality is very stark. Recess never really had fantastic animation, but the early days were pretty bad and done in a completely different manner. The later days had crisper artwork and brighter colors, more fluid animation and a more Flash-y kinda feel to it (not really in a bad way.)
In regards to the episodes used, I somewhat liked Principal for a Day, I seriously disliked The Great Can Drive, I loved Weekend at Muriel’s and I was on pretty good terms with Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave. However, I don’t feel like I can wholeheartedly say the movie is better just because the episodes it uses are mostly good. That’s just cheating.
If you’re taking this as a Christmas movie instead of a collection of random episodes, you’re going to be massively disappointed. The narrative structure doesn’t lend itself to anything worth an elf’s spit in a bucket, and the bookends are only barely there. It’s mostly just setup to lead into the episodes instead of being a story on its own, and what story is there doesn’t make any sense and is predictable as hell.
While they get weird bonus points for bothering to include the Thanksgiving special too, only the final episode focuses on Christmas, so it’s not a movie to put on during the holidays.
If you’re going into this just wanting a grab bag of old Recess episodes without caring about the framing device, then it’s perfectly fine. The episodes they chose are pretty good for the most part. However, you can just as easily watch the entire series on Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video.
All in all, there’s absolutely no reason to watch this. Just watch the Christmas special as a standalone, and don’t give Disney any more satisfaction in this shady business practice.
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Plot: Ichigo’s on cloud nine now that she realizes Aoyama and her mysterious savior, the Blue Knight, are one and the same. While Aoyama is happy too, he continues to be plagued by nightmares of Mew Ichigo crying uncontrollably on the floor.
Ichigo decides to invite Aoyama to the café since he’s now a member of the Mew Mews. The Mews gladly welcome him, but Shirogane provides a less-than-warm welcome as he worries about their cohesion as a group with a new member. He tells Aoyama that their mission is dire and the fate of the world might be at risk if Aoyama isn’t serious about his duties. Aoyama strongly confirms his conviction, and just in time too, because Akasaka has news that requires the Mews’ attention.
A nearby river is shining brightly for some inexplicable reason. Right around when the river started shining, they detected a Mew Aqua signal, so they believe the two to be connected. The Mews, with their new recruit in tow, head out to investigate.
The water in what is supposed to be a fairly polluted river is, strangely, extremely pure. When the light shines again, Pai and Taruto show up and prepare themselves for battle against the Mews for the Mew Aqua that both sides assume is in the water somewhere. Taruto dives in the water to get it.
Everyone, including Aoyama, transform. Pudding takes a pill that allows her to breathe underwater and dives in the water to start the pursuit. Pai counters by causing a massive tidal wave and directing it towards the group. Everyone but Ichigo manages to get away in time, however, she’s quickly saved from the rushing waters by Aoyama.
A train nearly falls into the water due to broken tracks, but, even though it’s stopped, the water is rising to such extreme levels that it will be completely submerged if they don’t do something.
Meanwhile, the Mews are getting overrun by Chimera Animal stingrays, and Taruto and Pudding are duking it out underwater for the Mew Aqua. Things get heated as Ichigo gets trapped under a pile of Chimera Animal stingrays and Pai uses a new more powerful attack that summons a lightning storm. As the electricity collects in the sky, ready to unleash a powerful bolt of lightning, Lettuce attacks Pai and tries to ask him telepathically why two groups of beings born on the same planet have to fight. Pai responds that it’s simply fate.
Meanwhile, underwater, Taruto and Pudding find that the Mew Aqua wasn’t Mew Aqua at all – it was just a light. Pudding points out that their fighting was pointless and it would be better if they just became friends. Taruto refuses, however, and decides to leave since there is no Mew Aqua. Pudding grabs onto him as he surfaces to try to get him to stop.
Pai directs his lightning towards the Blue Knight and Ichigo, but the other girls are able to protect them by creating a shield with their collective attacks. When Pudding surfaces with Taruto, she sees what’s happening and uses her Pudding Ring Inferno to soak up the lightning and render it useless.
Ichigo and the Blue Knight team up to take care of the rest of the Chimera Animals. Using her Ribbon Strawberry Surprise, Ichigo powers up the Blue Knight’s sword into a massive trident-like sword made of light. With one swing, he’s able to soundly defeat all of the Chimera Animal stingrays.
With no Mew Aqua, the aliens decide to retreat. The team, with their new powerful recruit, have saved the day again, but even though the storm clouds are fading away, things are about to get darker for the Mew Mews.
– I really never fully understood Aoyama’s situation. He definitely doesn’t remember he’s Deep Blue, but he’s also never showed signs that he remembers he can turn into the Blue Knight nor what happens when he’s BK. Now, not only is he aware of his transformation, accepts it without any difficulty, and can transform at will, but he also seems to remember what happens when he’s BK now too. Is it just because he became aware of his transformation that he can do these things now? Or does his drive to protect Ichigo and the knowledge of this transformation allow his Aoyama and BK selves to work together and accept each other? Why did BK not realize who he was either?
– That opener was weird. Why cut from a scene at school to the dream without proper transition? Is the scene at school part of the dream? Was he having a dream within a dream?
– There are way too many instances of Ichigo talking about possibly having sex with Aoyama in this show. It’s only a few times, but it’s a few times too much.
– Okay so the initial scene at school was part of his dream. I guess dreams are odd either way, but that editing was just so strange.
– I can’t put off mentioning this anymore, the animation in this episode is terrible and for some reason it’s particularly bad on the eye designs. It’s like this entire episode was animated and they suddenly remembered they never drew eyes on any of the characters so they hastily put them in.
And look at this shot of Miwa. Her eyes are way too big and her entire face is collapsing into her head.
– I always thought it was really cool that Aoyama got his own transformation sequence…..it’s very short and a little on the boring side (and what the hell is that stock sky footage when they group up at the end? Did someone leave their Windows 98 screensaver as a placeholder but then forgot to make a real background?) but it’s cool that he was given one so late in the series.
– Let me get this straight: Lettuce’s animal powers are really only prevalent in bodies of water, which means she rarely gets times to shine. They’re on a river right now, so obviously…Pudding is the right choice to barge in here.
Also, Pudding claims she can breathe underwater with those pills that helped them with over-oxygenation a few episodes ago? What the what?!
– I’m a bit annoyed that Ichigo got caught up in that tidal wave because she’s supposed to have cat-like reflexes yet she’s the only one who couldn’t react quick enough to avoid it. Let me also note that not only was everyone else fast enough to jump away in time, but Zakuro had the time to think to grab Akasaka before she jumped, and Lettuce actually had time to run about 20 feet and grab Shirogane before she jumped. The reason this annoys me isn’t the logic of the jumps, though, that’d be really nitpicky – it’s because the only reason I can see for them doing this….is to have another scene where her boyfriend saves her…
– I’m not even gonna ask how and why the Mews’ attacks collectively suddenly create a shield because at least they’re given a whole lot to do. Plus, Pudding’s attack was the most useful today (Outside of a certain someone I’ll mention in a minute…..*deep sigh*), and that hasn’t happened in ages.
– These expressions bother me for some reason. They’re in the middle of a big battle, trying to convey to each other that they need to both attack together and they’re either looking insanely bored or like they’re about to pose for a romantic novel cover.
– Oh go to the deepest recesses of hell…So Aoyama’s been part of the Mews all of 15 minutes, and he already has a brand-new superpowered attack (his sword drawing power from Ichigo’s attack and becoming a massive beam trident-like sword that wipes out all of the enemies in one fell swoop) while the other girls still….have….nothing. And let’s not even talk about this maybe making him the most powerful one of the group (Ichigo might be more powerful, but I’d think that’s only with the help of Mew Aqua), thus making the most powerful protagonist in this shoujo show….a guy….with his girlfriend, the main protagonist….being his assistant. 😐
At least the next episode preview shows that Ichigo’s going to be his protector next time.
– Also, what exactly was that mysterious light if not Mew Aqua? It super purified the gross river water and shined so brightly it was lighting the whole area up. I’ve watched this series going on three times now, and I still struggle remembering if they explain the fake Mew Aqua signals. I assume Deep Blue has something to do with it, but I really don’t remember. Do they ever explain it?
And what was the point of the train nearly derailing? They show it once, act like they have to do something about it…..then they never bring I up again.
– Oooh they use the tense music for the next episode preview and have Pai part of it. Tension’s amping up!
Overall, I liked this episode, but it was a bit sloppy in its overall structure. I get why Shirogane and Zakuro are suspicious of Aoyama, but I’m really wondering why no one’s asking the obvious questions – When did he discover he was BK? How does he transform without a pendant (they’re assuming he’s a fellow Mew afterall, right?) What animal is he melded with (if they assume he’s a Mew)? Why does he strangely have ears that look exactly like those of the aliens? Why is there seemingly another Mew if Shirogane and Akasaka said they were the only ones? If he’s not a fellow Mew, what is he? Where did he come from?
They just kinda accept and welcome him with open arms. Ichigo thinks Shirogane is unreasonable being distrusting of him, even if he doesn’t ask any of the above questions, and I guess that’s okay because she’s being protective of someone she cares about, but it’s not unreasonable to be wary of a guy who is shrouded in so much mystery.
The only thing that really got on my nerves was BK. I get irritated enough by Ichigo stealing the spotlight all the time and getting all the best new stuff while the others collect dust. However, now not only does BK have a brand new attack (and weapon kinda) that is way more powerful than anything the Mews can do without Mew Aqua (Or with it, to be honest, barring Ichigo, and that’s still up in the air), fresh out of the ‘new Mew Mew member’ box, mind you, but it’s made by using Ichigo’s attack as a powerup (Turning her into essentially what the other Mews keep being whenever they use their attacks to power her bell, which is nothing because we can’t prove that even does anything) and basically makes a dude the most powerful member of a magical girl group. I’m sorry if that last bit sounds a wee bit sexist, but it’s a legit problem I have. (And can you imagine the shit storm that would arise if you took any shounen show and made a woman the most powerful character? Yikes.)
At the very least, to the best of my recollection, he doesn’t remain this way for long for reasons that will soon become obvious, but it’s still a thing, it’s still there, it’s still a problem. I have no issue with Aoyama as a character, in fact I quite like him, and outside of the annoying Tuxedo Mask effect, I had no problem with BK before this either. They just went a little too far.
The animation was certainly bad throughout about half of the episode (I still can’t stop laughing about that stock sky animation.) The other half, particularly the battle, was decent enough even if it usually seemed like the Chimera Animal stingrays were paper cutouts.
Next time, BK is targeted specifically by Deep Blue and the aliens. Can Ichigo turn the tables and be his guardian this time?
Plot: In a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, Daffy Duck, owner of the Lucky Duck Superstore, treats his employees and everyone else like garbage. He’s especially unsympathetic around Christmas. All he loves is money, money and sometimes he has a soft spot in his heart for money. On the night of Christmas Eve, after destroying the Christmas dreams of all of his employees and forcing them to come into work at 5AM Christmas morning, he finds himself stuck in his store for the night. Three ghostly guests will take this opportunity to try and salvage his soul and his Christmas spirit.
Breakdown: It wouldn’t be Christmas without yet another retelling of A Christmas Carol – This time with the Looney Tunes!
In this universe, Daffy Duck takes the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge, but none of the characters, besides the ghosts, are named after the characters in the original tale, so he’s just Daffy. He’s filthy rich and the owner of a massive superstore called Lucky Duck. Daffy is basically a slave driver here, somehow worse than Scrooge if you ask me. He’s greedy, yes, but at least Scrooge let his employees take Christmas off, even if it pissed him off.
Daffy refuses to let Marvin have time off to go home to Mars for Christmas, he won’t give Porky enough money to buy a doll for his daughter, he won’t let Wile E. Coyote eat during work, and he somehow wasn’t arrested for forcing Elmer to work 37 straight triple shifts, causing him to constantly collapse in exhaustion.
And as a topping on the Scrooge cake, he’s not only forcing all of his employees to work through Christmas, but he’s opening the store at 5AM and demands they all be there.
As you can guess, this prompts the appearance of the four ghosts – Sylvester, who takes the role of Jacob Marley, named Sylvester the Investor, who was a fellow CEO of another superstore who died because of a disgruntled employee, Granny and Tweety – the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Yosemite Sam – The Ghost of Christmas Present, and Taz – The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
I really thought they’d balk on the more tender moments of the story since it’s Looney Tunes and all, but they technically didn’t. I say ‘technically’ because they still load up the stories with typical Looney Tunes humor and cut out some stuff, but the tender moments were still quite sweet.
The backstory is changed quite a bit, and most of the segments are fairly short. In the Past segment, we see that Daffy was an orphan and, for some dumb reason, they always had mass adoptions on Christmas day, like people nabbing up kittens and puppies for Christmas gifts, and Daffy was never adopted. He never had a family, and he grew up to resent Christmas as a result. I’d think the mass Christmas adoption spree would be a better reason to hate Christmas, but I understand that it’s purely the fact that he was always alone that really soured his disposition over time.
In the Present segment, we see Elmer nearly freezing to death as he falls asleep in a snow storm, Marvin looking up to Mars with longing, and Porky talking with his young daughter, Priscilla, who is basically sugar incarnate. Literally all she wants for Christmas is a Pretty Pudgy Piggy doll, but Porky can’t afford it.
In Yet to Come, we see Porky and Priscilla visiting Daffy’s grave. This segment is, morbidly, the best of them all because Daffy is so greedy he tried to leave his store to himself in his will, which was obviously impossible, so the store shut down, causing everyone to be laid off. We also have one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen with Priscilla leaving a plate of Christmas cookies at Daffy’s grave, stating she’ll visit him every year on Christmas because she knows how painful it is to be alone during the holidays (since her dad works on them due to Daffy) and Christmas is the one time of year when everyone’s family.
This isn’t even tainted by the not subtle implication that she believes Daffy’s in HELL. I actually burst out laughing at that.
Daffy’s, of course, a changed duck after that, giving everyone exactly what they wanted for Christmas and much more. And everyone, including Daffy, had a very merry Christmas.
I fairly like this spin on A Christmas Carol. It’s predictable, sure, and I think they spend a little too long on the first half and not quite enough time with the ghosts, but that’s not too bad. What they rewrote was more appropriate for Looney Tunes while also being fairly sad and sweet.
Daffy’s backstory was probably the laziest, though. They have a messed up message as a result, too. One message keeps popping up in this movie and that’s that Daffy is such a terrible person because he never had a family. That’s obviously a very wrong and insulting message to any orphan in existence. They try to offset it by having the other message be that Christmas is the one time of year where everyone’s family, but that obviously wasn’t true when he was a little duck, and I’m not sure having a family one day a year would save you from becoming an ass.
Friends are also brought up, which is very important as friends can be a surrogate family, but they mostly focus on Daffy’s lack of family.
His backstory is entirely different from Scrooge’s. Scrooge was a nice enough child, but had a very harsh and strict father who sent him off to boarding school. Scrooge’s one shining light in his life back then was his sister, Fan, who tragically died giving birth to her child, Fred. Several years later, he enjoyed Christmas while working for his kind and fun boss, Mr. Fezziwig, where he met and fell in love with a woman named Belle. A Christmas a few years later showed her leaving him because he was more preoccupied with his money than he was with her.
I’m obviously not expecting some intricately woven backstory by Looney Tunes, and you definitely don’t have to follow the source material to a tee, but saying that Daffy is such a greedy grouch just because he was a lonely orphan is a little screwed up.
Bugs’ role here was also quite odd. You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned Bugs this whole time, and I’m sad to say that Bugs was entirely pointless here. He just kinda pops in and out of scenes during the non-ghost parts. He berates Daffy for being a grinch and performs his regular physical comedy shtick. That’s it. He didn’t even really have an actual role. He wasn’t affected at all by the events of the movie. He was locked in the store with Daffy, but that’s about it. I think there’s a major misstep somewhere in production if you can’t figure out what to do with Bugs Bunny.
They say he’s supposed to be a Fred-like character, but I don’t really see it to be honest.
Some might complain about Priscilla being a rather washed Tiny Tim replacement. She’s not sick or handicapped and she doesn’t die in the bleak future – the only thing that hinges on Daffy turning good is whether she gets a pig doll or not. However, I found this change to be perfectly fine. I liked Priscilla a lot, and she brought just as much sweetness to this movie as Tim did.
The art and animation are very good for a direct-to-DVD title, especially one over a decade old. There are some hiccups here and there, but the artwork is very well-detailed, the colors pop and the Looney Tunes move the way you expect them to move. There’s a lot of energy here, and I really like it.
One problem I do have is that everything feels so empty. You have this story taking place in a very successful and supposedly busy superstore and yet only Bugs and Penelope (The cat Pepe constantly harasses) are seen as actual customers. I kept wondering if the store was actually open until Bugs said he was shopping there. Where is everyone?
The music was also really good – again, better than you think you’d get for direct-to-DVD – but there were some times when the sound mixing was a bit off. Several times I thought a musical number was about to begin because the music seemed grand and was getting louder and louder over important parts, but there are no musical numbers to be had.
Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable Christmas movie. Not gut-busting hilarious but still fairly funny and heartwarming. Being another A Christmas Carol adaptation, it’s obviously very predictable, and what changes they make tend to hurt the story more than improve it, except maybe Priscilla, but it’s still pretty good.
If my work makes you feel jolly and you’d like to send some Christmas cheer my way, please consider leaving a gift under my Ko-Fi tree. Every donation goes to helping me pay my bills and keeping this blog running as well as Santa’s Workshop. Thank you! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a Wonderful New Year! ♥
What a nice early Christmas gift – The Anime Madhouse just hit 500 followers on WordPress! 😀
I wish I had something more special written up for this or something unique to review to celebrate, but with the holidays and other hectic stuff, I didn’t prepare anything. Still, thank all of you so much for following me, reading my rambles, rants and reviews of varying levels of sanity, commenting, and just overall being really awesome. ♥
I’ve been doing this for a really long time now, and all of you give me the drive to keep doing this in the tough spots and the excitement to post some of my favorite pieces. I’m a firm believer that you should always write for yourself first, but just knowing some other people are reading and enjoying my work makes it all the more fun to do it.
To all of my 500 followers, even the bots, have a very Merry Christmas, a bunch of Happy Holidays and an awesome new year!
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