Plot: Pikachu and the other Pokemon head to a fun island designated specifically as a Pokemon getaway. Before they arrive, they meet a group of Pokemon who have been bullied out of the island by Meowth and his gang of Pokemon thugs. Pikachu and the others train the island Pokemon to fight off Meowth and reclaim the island!
Breakdown: Dear god above…..this is ridiculously frustrating.
I’m not really talking about the short itself right now. We’ll talk about the short in a minute.
What I’m talking about is the narrator.
This is one of those shorts where the narrator is acting as a translator for the Pokemon, but this is the first time it’s been done so much in an English dubbed short…and I really hate it.
Maybe I’m more tolerant of the Japanese version doing this because I’m reading the subtitles anyway, but even then they really only tended to translate the important bits, and they usually changed up their voices quite a bit to act as the Pokemon. But oh no, not here.
Here, not only is the narrator translating each and every word the Pokemon are saying, even when it’s entirely unnecessary, but he also doesn’t change his voice at all, making it seem like I’m watching a crazy person talk to himself for 20 minutes. I swear to god, they’ll have whole conversations as a group and I’ll need to actively search for which Pokemon is talking when because the narrator doesn’t change his voice at all. You can tell he’s trying just ever so slightly to kinda change his voice a little bit, but it really doesn’t work in the slightest.
That’s not even the worst part. He’s also doing regular narration in between him voicing the Pokemon, and he does this both while the Pokemon are talking/making noises and when they’re not. There’s one scene where Hariyama is chasing a few of the other Pokemon and he says “Uh oh, this could be serious trouble!” and I’m like “Wait, they’re making noise. Who’s saying that? And if the narrator’s just saying that, why is he saying that? It’s a completely unnecessary statement.”
Then there’s another scene where the Pichu brothers (not THE Pichu brothers…somehow) get Wobbuffet tangled in the jungle gym and he says “Sorry Wobbuffet, looks like you’re stuck there.” He’s addressing Wobbuffet, and the Pichu were making noise (they stopped) but it seems more like it’s narration again.
Another scene right after Eevee, Wynaut and Squirtle defeat Exploud has them cheering while the narrator says “Nice move! That worked perfectly!” while kinda sounding like he’s doing his little high-pitched Eevee voice, and Eevee is in the center of the shot, but then he follows it up by saying “When everyone works together, anything is possible!” which doesn’t seem like something any of them could be saying right now, so I’m forced to believe it’s narration, but I honestly can’t be sure.
There’s one where Combusken is running from Hariyama and the narrator goes “Come on! This Way! This Way!” Which clearly sounds like it’s meant to be dialogue, but Combusken isn’t making ANY noise, and the narrator was addressing Wobbuffet earlier, so it’s possible he’s directly talking to Hariyama????????????????????
Sometimes his audio is so loud you can only barely notice the Pokemon talking, and there are some instances where the audio on the Pokemon is too loud so it sounds like the narrator and the Pokemon are talking over each other.
Other times he’s just summing up what a Pokemon is saying instead of doing their voice, so it’s really hard to discern when someone is talking in dialogue or when he’s narrating. It’s very confusing and frustrating trying to watch this. He does have a line or two here and there that is a little funny, but overall the experience is tainted because of it.
It’s like, you know how your parents would read a story to you when you were little and do goofy voices for each character? Hardly anyone’s parents are actually good at doing these voices, but they at least try to drastically change their voice. I wish he had done something like that instead of him just making his voice the teensiest tiniest bit higher when he voices cuter/smaller Pokemon and not change it at all when he’s doing the voice of literally every other Pokemon.
I have absolutely nothing against Rodger Parsons. He’s been the narrator since day one, barring a stretch in which he was replaced temporarily, and I love his sometimes cheesy style and notable voice. Plus, you can tell he always cares about the work he’s doing, even here, and I appreciate that, I really do. He is a cornerstone of Pokemon….But it was an awful idea to make him do this.
He’s an awesome narrator – Look at his filmography, he’s almost always ‘the narrator’ – but when it comes to his regular voice acting skills, he’s just not very good, especially when it comes to him voicing characters in Pokemon itself. It doesn’t have much to do with his acting skills, those are basically fine (Except when he voiced Flint that one time. He was really phoning it in there), he just doesn’t have much range at all, so it just sounds like the narrator voicing a character.
I checked up on the few episodes in which he has voiced an actual human character, and, yeah, he just sounds like the narrator with the slightest inflection in his voice. When he was doing the voice of the Mayor in Diamond and Pearl, he sounded exactly like the narrator. When he was voicing Pop-Pop in Battle Frontier, he sounded like the narrator only with a sore throat sometimes. And when he voiced Flint in Battle Frontier, he sounded like the narrator half-doing a Meowth impression for some reason.
That’s probably the reason why they don’t give him character roles very often even though all of the other voice actors get reused so many times I’m surprised the entire cast for both dubs doesn’t have a ‘recycle’ logo tattooed on their foreheads. It’s just too confusing with him being the narrator in every single episode.
And it didn’t need to be done, either. Most of the shorts are almost completely void of any dialogue. We just follow along based on what we’re seeing, which usually isn’t that difficult considering it’s a Pokemon short, meaning it’s aimed towards an even younger audience than usual anyway. You can have the narrator chime in to fill us in on important points we may not have gotten through visuals, but otherwise it’s fine to just have the narrator do the bookends.
Hypothetically, let’s say this story absolutely needed to have dialogue – why not just have some of your in-house voice actors, even just a couple of them, do voices? That way you not only get more fitting voices for each Pokemon but you also more easily tell the dialogue apart from both the various characters and the narrator.
It’s not like they’re not already there – Rodger Parsons isn’t the only voice actor partaking in this short. Five others are – since they need to do the regular voices for some of the Pokemon, and then there’s Meowth and Chatot. Why is there a Chatot here? I don’t know. The audio wasn’t already annoying enough?
Granted, yeah, they might have just been following what the original version did, I’m not sure, I don’t have the Japanese copy, but even then it’s not like 4Kids is, in any way, averse to just doing their own thing and flipping off the original version. Remember, in the first Pokemon short the Japanese version had a nice lady narrating, but then 4Kids was like ‘Lol let’s have Dexter narrate instead because reasons.’
Speaking of audio assaults on my ears, I was trying to get information on the voice cast as quickly as possible while watching the short, so I jumped to the credits, which meant I had to listen to the end credits song…..so…Who let 4Kids write ANOTHER rap song? The Hoenn Pokerap is their third Pokerap, and, somehow, this one is probably their worst. It absolutely reeks of late 90s cheesy rap, but it was made in 2007. How is it possible that this Pokerap actually sounds cheesier and more dated than the first one?
There are so many instances where it’s clear they’re sloppily jamming Pokemon names into places where they don’t fit in the line because there are too many syllables. They’ll still be rapping a line while the music for that section has clearly stopped/changed because they simply didn’t accommodate for the syllables. The chorus, honestly, is pretty catchy, but otherwise it’s very clear they didn’t give much of a crap about this song. According to the Wiki, the full version even leaves out two Pokemon, Zigzagoon and Relicanth, but they included Mew, who is Gen I and Celebi, who is Gen II, seemingly because they were left out of their Gens Pokeraps.
In summary….They fixed a mistake that they had made on their previous two Pokeraps…by repeating the same mistake twice on their last Pokerap.
So uhm…..how awkward is it to segue from all that ranting I just did to explaining that I actually really liked this short?
I’m not kidding. If you manage to work your way through the confusing as hell dialogue situation, this is a really good short. Sure, the plot is pretty much taken from Pikachu’s Summer Vacation, to an extent (Pretty much the Pokemon-exclusive park and the bullies, but nothing else), but there are quite a few funny moments, the pacing is good, the characters are fun, the conflict is realistic and it was resolved in a satisfying manner that didn’t really pull any BS. It even got me to enjoy Corphish, which is impressive because that thing usually annoys the hell out of me.
The art and animation were spot-on, though the backgrounds still have that weird chalk/white lineart thing that the shorts have going on, but that’s just a stylistic aspect.
It’s not a ‘cute Pokemon being cute’ short, barring the very ending where we just get to enjoy watching the Pokemon have fun in the playground, and that was a fitting part of the story and very adorable.
I do have some logistic questions. They understand that Wynaut is a purely defensive Pokemon, yet they’re teaching them how to attack? Why is it that Pichu can suddenly use Electric moves without shocking themselves anymore? Why is the only transportation option to this island a completely unsafe set of boats on a pulley system suspended in mid-air that needs to be manually propelled? Where did these other Pokemon on Meowth’s side come from? Why are Pokemon as powerful as a Hariyama and an Exploud following Meowth’s orders?
Those questions aren’t really that important, though, and I still had a lot of fun watching the short….when the aforementioned dialogue issue wasn’t driving me up a wall. The first half is much worse than the second half in that regard, but I can’t ignore how frustrating it is. If you can track down the Japanese version and it’s easier to watch, bump this up another .5 points.