An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 8 : Miramax Killed the Movie Theater Star (2003)

In 2003, 4Kids was still plugging along with Pokemon. As they were dubbing the fifth season, Master Quest, they also had to dub the fifth Pokemon movie, Pocket Monsters the Movie: The Guardians of Altomare, which would be retitled Pokemon Heroes.

Once again distributed by Miramax, the theatrical release of the movie was another disaster – somehow even worse than Pokemon 4Ever. The number of theaters given the movie for its premiere dropped again to a measly 196. To make matters worse, and weird, the number of theaters showing the movie fluctuated over its run. 196 theaters had the movie for May 16-26. Then it dropped to 45 for May 30 – June 1, rose to 200 somehow June 6-8, then dropped again to 78, 48, 22 and finally 14 between June 13 and July 6.

On its opening weekend, it only scraped together $260,372. And, in the end of its run, it only made $746,381. It stands as being the lowest grossing Pokemon movie in the United States to date. However, once again, the movie would be more heavily touted as a DVD release and would do slightly better when released on home video.

As a result, subsequent Pokemon movies would never see a theatrical release, instead shifting every future Pokemon movie to direct-to-DVD. This trend would continue for 15 years until 2017 when, at the behest of fans, the 20th anniversary movie, Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! was given a limited theatrical release by TPCI and Fantom Events. The release even included creating a new Pikachu plushie and special trading cards that were sold in stores. Unsurprisingly, they’re all cards of Pikachu. However, the trend immediately started back up again as the franchise isn’t considered profitable enough to continue releasing the movies in theaters. I Choose You was an outlier that banked on being a 20th anniversary special event that would also be able to lean heavily into nostalgia for older fans, considering it’s largely a revamp of Ash’s origin story.

With critics, Pokemon Heroes did about as badly as Pokemon 4Ever as well, earning nearly identical scores on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, and one reviewer, Lou Lumenick, from the New York Post even being so bold as to say it was “surely a form of child abuse,”….Okay dude, calm down. However, among fans, it seems to have been received just fine. Many of the reviews on IMDB are favorable, and many posts I found discussing it speak of it as an underrated gem among the Pokemon movies.

In regards to the dub, it’s another mess. While 4Kids didn’t make new scenes for the movie or anything, they did cut the prologue, changed several aspects of the story, changed the antagonists’ backstory and replaced the theme songs. However, 4Kids was particularly lazy when doing the theme song this time – opting to just take the TV version of Pokemon Master Quest and extending it with the instrumental track, creating the illusion that it’s a movie remix. Miramax also made a notable change to the movie themselves in that they made it, for some reason, very blue when it wasn’t originally. This blue tint is not only completely unnecessary, but it’s also insanely distracting and makes some scenes a pain to watch.

The short, Camp Pikachu, however, fared a lot better, despite, again, not being included in theaters. Dogasu’s Backpack even claims the short has the best Pokemon dub ever. Unlike the main feature, it’s presented in widescreen, and nearly everything is kept, even the music, except the Japanese vocals to the theme songs, which are either replaced by English singing or removed entirely. However, the footage is made darker, and, despite being kept in 16:9, the footage is still cropped a little for whatever reason.

Like before, the theatrical release barely got any promotion. 4Kids didn’t make any new toys for it, and, this time, no trading cards were offered with a movie ticket. Japan had an exclusive reverse holographic Latias and Latios card given away in theaters, but the card was never released in America. Miramax only made one trailer for it, which would be re-used as the DVD trailer, and, again, they only made one poster, which would also wind up being the DVD cover art.

However, again, Miramax did better with the DVD release – including the short, which was originally released with the movie in Japan, and including exclusive Nintendo Black Star (After obtaining the TCG rights from Wizards) promotional Latios and Latias cards with the DVD. The DVD had additional special features such as a Pokemon trivia game, a behind-the-scenes featurette of the animation, and a special on-location scouting in Venice, which was the inspiration for Alto Mare.

However, their re-releases have the same issues Pokemon 4Ever did. All of those special features, including the short, despite being listed on the box art of the re-releases, have been removed, but they were still included on the box information. In 2020, the re-releases removed the mentions of those features on the box art, supposedly because they finally either learned their lesson in re-using DVD box information on re-releases that don’t contain the same features, or because they were getting flak from fans for seemingly scamming them out of content that they advertised but didn’t deliver.

On the television side of things, 4Kids still needed more content for the Fox Box, especially since, by mid-2003, they had already lost two of their flagship shows – Fighting Foodons and Ultraman Tiga. To help pick up the slack and help the Fox Box grow, 4Kids launched four new shows – Sonic X, Funky Cops, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) and Shaman King.

4Kids managed to nab another household name with Sonic X. Sonic the Hedgehog had already been a popular video game and cartoon character for years in the States, so scooping up the opportunity to dub a show based on him was a no-brainer.

The series is considered one of 4Kids’ most butchered dubs, censoring out alcohol (Hilariously editing out a bottle of wine to look like a sausage, and replacing an entire wall rack of bottles with French fries and burgers), smoking, coarse language, any sexual content etc. all of which are understandable edits, and anything further, such as pretty much any instances of violence or death, and Rouge’s cleavage, was blamed on Fox’s standards and practices. It also had the typical 4Kids trademarks already mentioned ad nauseum in previous entries.

However, no one can seem to reach a consensus on how bad the dub actually is. Unlike with Ultimate Muscle, 4Kids went in the polar opposite direction with Sonic X. The original series, despite having numerous instances of breaking the fourth wall, which were removed by 4Kids, was already written to be, from what I gleamed from some fans, overly written, dry, filled with exposition and just not fun. 4Kids opted to leave it mostly alone script-wise instead of making it fun and cheesy like they usually did. For once, it seems like people were actually complaining that a 4Kids dub was too loyal and wasn’t changed enough.

Years ago, I actually started making an SDC on Sonic X – I just never posted it. While I was a Sonic fan when I was a kid, I was never a fan of the Sonic X series, though I think I did catch a couple episodes when I was a kid. However, I quit the SDC after doing episode three because I found the series to be boring, and I specifically noted that, among the shows I had already started comparing, Sonic X was kinda uninteresting to write about because there just weren’t that many notable changes. There was nothing really funny to talk about, nor was there really anything angering. In fact, I went so far as to note at the end of the episode three comparison that it was actually one of 4Kids’ most loyal dubs. Now, granted, I can’t really make such a bold claim without comparing the entire series, but I’m not going to do that. I did find a full series comparison on Youtube, by Hensama, if anyone’s interested in the nuts and bolts of what was changed.

Despite the changes and the controversy over the quality of the dub, Sonic X was very popular in the United States. However, the same could not be said of Japan, where the show was experiencing such poor ratings that, despite a third season being produced due to the success internationally, they opted not to air the third season in Japan (Though it would suddenly be aired in Japan years later in 2020 as part of a promotional campaign for the live-action movie.) However, 4Kids still dubbed and aired the third season in the US as scheduled.

Dubbing their first French animated series, and making quite the confusing decision here, 4Kids acquired the rights to the seldom-known Funky Cops, which was a show about two cops in the 1970s who become disco stars but also do cop things sometimes.

Golly, I wonder why this series didn’t appeal to the children of the early 00s.

I really can’t find much information at all about this dub. There was already an English version of the show available by Kabillion before 4Kids got the rights to it, but obviously 4Kids did their own dub. In terms of edits, they changed the theme songs, and 4Kids changed a character named Dick to Jack, supposedly….because….Dick=penis? But….Ultimate Muscle….Dik-Dik….eh whatever. I guess they also didn’t catch that Jack is a common dirty word too. Also, for some reason, they left in all of the guns, which were realistic-looking guns. So….I guess the gun thing isn’t a huge deal to Fox’s standards and practices? That’s about all I know.

As I subtly hinted at before, this series didn’t do too well. Not just with 4Kids’ dub, but as a whole. It was canceled in France after 39 episodes, and it was canceled after only being aired less than a year on the Fox Box. 4Kids never released the show on DVD, and their dub has officially become lost media, with only the, admittedly very catchy, theme song available on Youtube. I did find one episode on, but the episode won’t load. When I try alternate links, the sound has been disabled. The Youtube account linked to that lone episode upload has been terminated. Another episode was uploaded on Mega, but the file was deleted due to violations of terms of service. However, the Kabillion English dub and the original French version are readily available online.

I just don’t understand why 4Kids picked this show up. It’s a very dated setting, it can’t have that much appeal to kids, and what is even the merchandising aspect here? Afro wigs? A cop badge with a disco ball on it or something? I don’t get it. Were the executives just like “Hey, my son liked this stuff when he was a kid back in the 70s! Let’s license it!”?

For a more understandable decision, we have their 2003 production of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Helmed by Lloyd Goldfine, who was a huge fan of TMNT all the way back to the original comics, and co-produced by Mirage Studios, the company founded and owned by the creators of TMNT, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the 2003 series was notably significantly darker and more serious than the 1987 cartoon series that had preceded it, which was a surprising move by 4Kids of all companies. Goldfine even convinced the crew at 4Kids to go to Mirage Studios and get guidance and approval from Peter Laird and the CEO of Mirage, Gary Richardson, both of whom seemingly really liked the show pitch, approved scripts and character designs and even provided additional guidance as the series went on.

The 2003 TMNT series was one of 4Kids’ few crown jewels. It found massive success on the Fox Box, and has remained as one of the most beloved TMNT series. It was so big, in fact, that it was earning enough revenue to be counted among Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! as being one of 4Kids’ top earners for years. As a TMNT fan, I always really enjoyed the series. It was a nice middleground between the dark grittiness of the comic and the general goofiness of the 1987 series, both of which I also greatly enjoy.

TMNT 2003, despite being such a huge hit, has never fully been released on DVD. 4Kids and Funimation had weird and poor release schedules for the DVDs, as always, releasing just a few episodes at a time, usually, instead of entire seasons at once. For example, season three was released across seven different DVD releases, starting in March of 2005 and ending in May of 2006, and the episodes were out of order.

Season four, for some reason, was peppered throughout the season three DVDs, also out of order. When season four was finally released on its own set, with the remaining episodes in order, it was missing its season finale, Ninja Tribunal, which wouldn’t be released until the season five DVD set released two years later.

For some reason, they also completely skipped releasing season five at first and went on to season six after releasing season four. And then they were like “You know what would be fun? If we re-released season one, this time in two parts, just for funsies.” Then they started re-releasing season two in the same manner, again, before season five was released. The season five release was in full when it finally came out, but it was missing an episode – in number only.

Season five episode six was a never completed episode that was deemed too controversial and dark for Fox to allow it to air. It was called Nightmares Recycled, and it was about conjoined twins, Hun and Garbageman, who were separated in a back-alley surgery. As a result, Hun wrapped Garbageman in a blanket, knocked him out and threw him in the dumpster, leaving him for dead. The end of the episode would have involved Garbageman being thrown into acid and slowly reaching his hand out for his brother as he was horrifically dying while the Turtles and Hun watched….which…..kinda holy shit, there, 4Kids. The episode went through several drafts and rewrites, with Peter Laird offering quite a bit of advice and suggestions to tone it down, but 4Kids just opted to shelve it entirely, not even completing it for a future DVD release.

They had to stop producing the DVDs when Nickelodeon bought the rights to the entire franchise in 2009, including the rights to TMNT 2003. Nickelodeon has released some more episodes, but their release schedule is just as weird and poorly planned as 4Kids’ and Funimation’s.

First of all, it took them six years to even start releasing DVDs of the show. Second of all, their first DVD release of the series was just three episodes of season one, which had already been released on DVD twice at this point. And this DVD release was also out of order. Their episode releases went, season one episodes 21, 22, 23 on the first DVD, titled NYC Showdown, then 1, 25, and 26 on the second DVD titled The Search for Splinter. Some DVD releases had even been officially announced in press releases, those of which being Meet Casey Jones and The Shredder Strikes, both of which were set to be released on September 15, 2015, but the DVDs never surfaced. It’s unclear what episodes would have been on those DVDs.

The last TMNT 2003 DVD release was on October 13, 2015, labeled Cowabunga Christmas, and it was just a collection of three episodes that had already been released on DVD; season three episode 13, as a Christmas special, then two random episodes from season one, episodes seven and eight, to fill up some space I guess. To date, the series has yet to be fully released on DVD, missing season seven, but the entire series is available for steaming on Paramount + and Pluto TV. I wouldn’t hold my breath for Nickelodeon to release season seven, either. It was widely regarded as the worst season of the show and did poorly in ratings when it aired on TV. I can’t imagine they’d find it worth it to bother.

Finally, we have Shaman King, which was another confusing grab for 4Kids considering the subject matter. Shaman King has a lot of violence and mentions of death. The series basically revolves around death. So why 4Kids thought this would be something in their wheelhouse is beyond me.

All of the general already discussed common edits were alive and well in the dub of Shaman King. However, to their credit, 4Kids was trying to keep the general vibe of the show alive. In an effort that I’ll call ‘It could’ve been worse’ they kept in some religious imagery and mentions/discussions of death and violence. They did add some humor and cheesiness, and they changed some storylines and characters’ ethnicities, they obviously censored a bunch, but basically, from my understanding, they had the same problem with Shaman King as they eventually did with One Piece – they didn’t fully realize until it was too late that the show’s demographic might be too far off of their target.

According to the Dubbing Fandom page, 4Kids’ seeming leniency with the show was not met very well. They received complaints from parents and network executives about the content, which is supposedly one of the reasons why they went so hard with the changes and censorship with One Piece.

Because of this, Shaman King and later One Piece and the 2003 TMNT series would have their advertisements run during prime time hours to help hook in older viewers, but obviously there’s a huge flaw there. The Fox Box is meant to be geared towards kids. Trying to drum up more ratings for the show by bringing in older audiences isn’t really a solution to the problem. Later, all three series would air perfectly fine later in the day on Cartoon Network.

Again, I’m surprised to discover that fans found the show to either be meh or generally okay. People especially liked 4Kids’ theme song for the show. All things considered, Shaman King was a pretty decent hit for 4Kids. They dubbed the entire series, people seemed to like it, much to the annoyance of Fox who kept getting pissy about the content and the older audience it was attracting. However, they were hoping it would be a Yu-Gi-Oh! level hit, and it wasn’t.

The home video releases, either broadcast cut or the unedited/uncensored release, needed to be canceled after two volumes because of low sales, presumably, and because that was also around the time 4Kids’ partnership with Funimation was falling apart. Al Kahn stated the sales for the broadcast DVDs were “extraordinarily successful,” but claimed there was a limited market for the uncut DVDs.

Either way, neither version got a very long release window before being canceled. They announced uncut DVD sets all the way through episode 15, and even had cover art released for volume three, but canceled the DVDs after only six episodes were released of the 64 episode series. As far as I could tell, the broadcast DVDs got canceled after two volumes as well since I can only find covers for two of them, and I can’t even find a listing for the second one, which makes me think the second one might not have even been released. There were also full DVD sets released overseas, but as far as I can tell they were only in German and French.

Discotek Media would later acquire the rights and finally released the entire English 4Kids dub on Blu-ray in 2021.

There was one new lawsuit to mention for this year, although this was at its subsidiary, Summit Media. DSI Toys, Inc. sued Summit for payments they made to Summit prior to DSI’s bankruptcy, totaling $1,159,000 and, for some reason, it was legally owed a refund of the money. Summit would later settle the matter for $5,000 in 2004.

Overall, 2003 was a great year for 4Kids. Their net revenues were up 92% from $53,140,000 in 2002 to $102,079,000 in 2003. They were obviously experiencing higher production costs due to how many series they had picked up in the meantime, but they were getting substantial returns and then some from their Fox Box block. At the end of the year, they had a net profit of $14,799,000, more than twice as much as 2002, which had $6,990,000.

Next – Part 9: Be Careful What You Wish For

Previous – Part 7: A Fox in a Box and a 4Kids with a Block

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Pokemon Extravaganza: Movie 05 (Dub) Pokemon Heroes Review

Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock are in the beautiful town of Alto Mare partaking in the local traditions, competitions and culture. One of their most beloved legends is that of Latios (with special guest Latias, who wasn’t even in the legend) who became the guardian of the town after saving it centuries ago…..or less than 50 years ago depending on if Lorenzo’s a vampire or not. Ash is lucky enough to meet a pair of Latias and Latios, but soon discovers that they’re in danger from the thieving Team Rocket pair of Annie and Oakley.

Breakdown: I watched this movie quite a few times On Demand back when it was released, and I remember enjoying it perfectly fine. Annie and Oakley were fairly interesting, and I like Latias and Latios….

I guess this movie, like 04, just never felt that big to me. Latias and Latios, while I do really like them, don’t seem like actual Legendaries to me for some reason. I was expecting some movie about Kyogre and Groudon and maybe Rayquaza and yet we got these two. Instead, two of them are made into a special arc in the TV series and the other gets a role in the Destiny Deoxys movie.

I was pretty okay with doing the review until I remembered this excerpt from the Bulbagarden comparison.

“The problem with the Pokémon Heroes dub is that the script is really off. For whatever reason, 4Kids decided to completely throw out the movie’s backstory and create their own, which is strange considering how they haven’t had any script changes this major since Mewtwo Strikes Back.

….I’m in for first movie level changes? Ouch.

Enough jabber. Let’s get into Pokemon Movie 05: Enter Super Generic Title Here—I mean, Pokemon Heroes.


Brock murders the narrator again and gives us ‘The World of Pokemon’ intro that I still don’t understand why they do in these movies. I guess it makes for a good intro, but every single movie? Also, it should be noted that this entire sequence is the exact same scene as it was in Movie 04. They don’t even fix the pajama mistake I mentioned last time.

I find it funny that, in this intro, Brock calls Ash ‘the pride of Pallet Town.’ Gary’s a better Trainer, capturer and battler, and I will believe until my dying day that Ash ever winning against Gary is a complete fluke.

Technically Ash is an awful ‘pride of Pallet Town’ seeing as how Red, the character Ash is based off of, is so much better as well. He won the Indigo League while two other Pallet Alum, Blue (Gary’s inspiration) and Green (who never gets an anime counterpart) were second and third place respectively.

Why do Misty and Brock get no explanation whatsoever? It’s just ‘and joining them is Misty and yours truly, Brock.’ Sadly, this is the last time they can use this opener. This is the final movie that Misty ever appears in. 😦

Getting to the actual movie, we see a few pages from an old book and two thieves, Annie and Oakley, talking about it. They discuss how the book explores Latias and Latios as well as a jewel, but that the book doesn’t get into the really good stuff until the end. I don’t know why they’re spending time talking about it while they’re still in the process of stealing it. Seems like a needless waste of time when you’re pressed for it.

A security guard at the library they’re in nearly spots them, but they get away on cables. The guard finds a single rose in the spot where the book was as well a picture with two lip icons on it, one red and one blue.

They zipline their way back to their car with spy-like music playing and Annie asks what the ending is about. Oakley says it explains how to control a machine called the Defense Mechanism of Alto Mare. It’s pronounced ‘Mar’ here, but it’s spelled ‘M-air’ so I dunno.

They drive off a cliff, perhaps a nod to Thelma and Louise, but then we see the car instantly transform into a jet and fly away. You guys are really taking the spy thing all the way, huh?

As they fly, Oakley explains that the Defense Mechanism of Alto Mare, really original name by the way, is supposedly the most powerful weapon in the world. Annie doesn’t care about the weapon – all she wants is the jewel from the story – the soul dew.

However, Oakley states that the jewel is needed to operate the machine and then goes on to explain the origins of the name ‘soul dew’ – it contains the soul of a Latios and looks like a dew drop.

Annie says that they have to remember to capture Pokemon for Giovanni and then they head to Alto Mare. Ooh, Team Rocket’s actually doing stuff for a change? I’m surprised 4Kids even believes viewers will remember Giovanni’s name at this point. He’s such a non-existent character. When he is brought up he’s usually just called ‘the boss.’

We get our title screen with the Pokemon logo over water, and they go to the trouble of putting the logo’s reflection in the water. Fancy~

Then we get the word ‘Heroes’ in 2 ½D. It looks like it’s unfinished. It’s flat, obviously, but it’s designed in such a way that makes it seem like it was meant to be entirely in 3D CGI.

That being said, the animation and colors for the title are pretty good, so I can’t fault them too much.

In Alto Mare, Ash and Misty are partaking in a water race where Trainers stand on small boat things while their Water Pokemon pull them. Ash is using Totodile while Misty is usin – Corsola? Really? Out of all of her Water Pokemon, she chose the one based on an organism that is basically immobile and the Pokemon itself is known for being so sedentary that people build houses on them? Politoed, Staryu, hell this would’ve been great for Goldeen, but no – she chose Corsola. Okaaaay.

The race starts and we get our theme song, ‘Master Quest.’ Unlike the other movie songs, this is just the TV version only extended with more instrumental parts and repeating the chorus a couple times. Booooooooo! You guys have been doing so well with the movie themes, yet you don’t even try on this one? Shame!

Pikachu ends up getting knocked off the bridge he’s on and lands conveniently on Ash’s shoulder. Oh yeah, sorry Pikachu. We didn’t realize you weren’t getting attention for more than five seconds.

The race is neck and neck….and neck with Ash, Misty and some dude named Ross with a Wailmer. Nothing much else is going on for a good chunk of this segment. Brock chats up a girl, there’s a joke about Team Rocket getting splashed by water from the racers and we see translucent Latias and Latios flying around. Several of them, it seems.

Ash ends up wiping out on a corner but is saved by one of the translucent Latias or Latios. If the rest of the movie is any indication, it’s probably the Latias we see later. He gets back on his float thing, gets back into the race and is propelled by Latias who suddenly grabs the rope and drags him.

Surprisingly, the race doesn’t end when the song does, and it’s a race to the finish with Misty and Ross.

Latias is allowing Ash to catch up to Misty and Ross, making me worry that he’s going to end up unwittingly cheating to get the win, but Latios grabs the tether as well and sends Ash down the wrong path, eventually throwing them back onto land and then they fall into the water.

Back with Misty and Ross, they’re still neck and neck and they cross the finish line at the same time. However, video evidence shows that Misty won by the horns on Corsola. Wow, Misty actually won? Holy crap. I would say this is a nice movie sendoff for her, but she is basically non-existent for the rest of the movie.

Ross congratulates her on her win and offers to show her around Alto Mare. Damn, you’re a really good sport…..or he’s hitting on her and didn’t expect that she’d take her guy friends with her. Either way.

And that medallion looks freakin’ awesome.

If there was ever one piece of Pokemon merchandise that I needed in my life, it’s this. Someone make my dreams come true and tell me this is a thing.

Ross explains that the symbols on the medallion tell the story of Alto Mare. Misty points out that the symbols look like Pokemon, but he doesn’t bother actually telling the story yet. They see statues of Latias and Latios, and Ross explains that they’re Pokemon that protect the town. No one sees them, but most people believe they’re real.

Cut to a flock of Pidgey followed by a little flying gadget that flies via a drill on its head recording everything on the island, including the painfully CGI people down below.

When we get a closer shot, it’s even more obvious how ech it is. It’s that weird cel-shaded CGI we’ve seen before. These same people were traditionally animated and drawn a minute ago, so I dunno what they’re doing.

We cut to Annie and Oakley watching the video feed with a thermal imager. Annie asks why they haven’t seen either Latias or Latios yet if they’re the guardians of the town. Oakley claims it’s difficult because they can take on different shapes, even disguising themselves as humans. The reason they’re using the thermal imaging software is because either Pokemon in general or Latias and Latios specifically have lower body temperatures than humans. They find one of them and leave on their boat.

Team Rocket are about to eat ice cream by the waterway. You’d think they’d eat indoors or further away from the water after last time, but then we wouldn’t have this running gag.

After Annie and Oakley splash them with water as they drive by in their boat, Jessie points out that it was Team Rocket. James worries that they saw them, and Meowth states that they’re spies for Giovanni. They decide to follow them to somehow make a big break for themselves.

Back with Ash and friends, they bid farewell to Ross, and he tells them where to get great food and ice cream. They head off for the ice cream place first, but despite the fact that they’re going to get cold desserts and drinks, Pikachu decides to make a pit stop at a rusty fountain to get a drink instead. Pikachu can’t turn the tap on, but a mysterious silent girl turns it on for him.

Ash arrives to come get Pikachu for ice cream, and the girl gets all up in his grill and stares at him while circling him. He just stares in response before she walks away.

She wanders by the river, and Annie and Oakley catch up. They confirm that she’s Latias and attack her with their Espeon and Ariados. They have custom designed Pokeballs, black with a red lipstick mark for Annie and blue lips for Oakley. Funny how custom Pokeballs mostly just pop up in movies.

Latias runs, and Pikachu, still bathing in the fountain, hears the commotion and runs off. Ash follows after him, and I love how he takes the time out to turn off the tap before running after Pikachu. Ash is such an advocate for water conservation.

Latias is cornered and captured in String Shot before Ash catches up and saves her, but Annie and Oakley aren’t going to stand for that.

Oakley: “Whatever would we do if he attacked us, Annie?”

Annie: “Espeon, show Oakley what we’d do.”

Ash: “That was a dirty trick!” What trick? That was the most obvious sarcastic set up to an attack I’ve ever seen. Even if there was no sarcasm, she clearly pointed out that Espeon was going to do something bad.

Ash decides to fight back and has Pikachu Thunderbolt them. I’m now realizing that Espeon has an awful English voice. Ick.

Ash and Latias run away, and Espeon and Ariados chase after them. During the chase we cut to their view, I suppose, but the shot is too smooth so it’s like they’re flying through the CGI town. This is made even worse by the fact that, though you can hear Ash panting as he’s running, you can’t hear his footsteps.

Latias takes the lead when Ash realizes he’s lost and she leads him right back to his friends before vanishing.

As Ash reunites with his friends, and Annie and Oakley watch over them with their little drill camera gadget thing from earlier. They note that Latias isn’t with Ash anymore and will be ensuring that it stays that way……Really? You’re that intimidated by a ten year old boy with a yellow rat? You really are from Team Rocket.

The gang heads to a museum and Ash gives us this line:

Ash: “Is this a fossil of a Pokemon?”

Ash, sweetie, remember that thing you were captured by a long time ago? That thing that spurred your old Charmeleon’s evolution? Looked like a pterodactyl? Similar to that fossil? Come on. You can do it. I believe in younotreally.

Some old guy named Lorenzo, who I think is a curator, explains that the fossils are more than just fossils – they’re the remnants of Pokemon who used to terrorize Alto Mare.

Lorenzo: “One was an Aerodactyl, the other was…”

Misty: “Kabutops?”

Lorenzo: “That’s right!”

Wait, Misty remembers Kabutops, but Ash doesn’t remember Aerodactyl?

Lorenzo introduces the kids to the DMA, the Defense Mechanism of Alto….Mare….It’s two words, so doesn’t that mean it should be DMAM?—oh whatever.

Brock sees light coming through the stained glass windows and proclaims it’s a sign that he’ll meet a girl in Alto Mare…….kinda random there.

Lorenzo tells a story about how the people of Alto Mare were terrorized by an Aerodactyl and a Kabutops and their evil master. When this happened, Latios arrived and flooded the town, drowning the evil Pokemon and turning the streets into canals…..

That’s real neat and all….but…uh, if Latios flooded the town….wouldn’t that kill all the innocent people and Pokemon there too? And how did flooding a town kill an Aerodactyl? They can fly….For that matter, how’d it kill a Kabutops? They’re part Water type. They just chose two Pokemon who have no real reason to ever drown to be the victims of a drowning. I’m surprised 4Kids even opted to say that they drowned. That’s a bit dark.

I thought there was some preachiness at some point in time that said no Pokemon is evil, they just have evil Trainers. I didn’t hear him say the evil Trainer was killed by Latios.

He explains that the story and the canals are the reason the town’s called Alto Mare as it means ‘high seas.’ It’s also how the DMA(M) got built.

As he’s telling us more about the weapon, Ash notices a girl who looks suspiciously like the girl he met earlier, only with a hat, drawing up in the balcony.

Ash pursues the girl all over town, but when he finally catches up with her and asks why she disappeared, she says she doesn’t know him. Also her voice sounds way too old for her body. She’s ten like Ash, right? She sounds like she’s 30.

The girl leaves, but Ash still decides to follow her through town. We see some Murkrow, who also have have awful voices, and Ash gives up on his chase right as he sees her again. It’s clear this time that it’s Latias since she’s now sans hat and art supplies and isn’t speaking. She runs off, prompting Ash to follow her. We get more ‘flying’ through the CGI town some more and it’s even more distracting because now I can’t hear Ash panting to imply that he’s running.

He’s brought to a cool little part of town with a garden lattice and a fountain for the bird Pokemon. Latias suddenly disappears through a portal in a wall, so Ash and Pikachu follow.

They’re lead into a beautiful park and continue to follow Latias. When they catch up, Latios springs from a nearby pool and starts attacking Ash while invisible, but Latias steps in to protect him.

The girl from before who looks just like Latias walks up and starts bitching out Ash for attacking Latios. They try to explain, but the girl, Bianca, will have none of it and orders Latios to attack. They’re stopped, however, by Lorenzo. He explains that the other girl is Latias and she just wants to play with her new friends. As we learned earlier, Latias and Latios have the power to change their form, but the reason Latias chooses to look like Bianca much of the time is because they’re best friends.

Ash starts swinging on the swing with Latias who spooks him by turning into her actual form. Latios also apologizes to Pikachu for attacking it by licking its cheek. Pikachu plays with Latias and Latios while they fly around.

Latias plays around with Ash by stealing his hat and playing keepaway. After he retrieves it, Latios uses the ability of Sight Sharing while he dives underwater. It allows Latias to not only see what Latios sees but also allows her to project the images to other people. We get a neat rail-shooter-esque ride through Latios’ sight. Even though it’d be more effective for the audience if they kept Ash and the others out of the shot, it’s still neat either way.

After that, we hear the story of how Lorenzo and Bianca came to know and care for Latias and Latios. Lorenzo has not only known them since they were babies, but also knew their father, Latios, who was the one from the legend who brought water to the town, stopped the ancient Pokemon and created Alto Mare.

Wait, wait, wait, back up the truck. He was there when Alto Mare was formed? The whole event with the….evil….ancient Pokemon? I guess it’s not impossible for ancient Pokemon to live back then because, well, Ash and the others have awakened ancient Pokemon before, but that theory gets squashed when you remember that the Aerodactyl and Kabutops fossils they saw at the museum earlier were the actual fossils. There’s no way in hell those Pokemon fossilized in 50 or so years. Maybe if they were killed by lava, but they were drowned.

All of this, the museum, the ancient machine, the legend book, all of it points to stuff that happened an incredibly long time ago. This is made even more apparent by the fact that the story is laid out for us in what seem like ancient tomes carved into stone. Unless Lorenzo is immortal, I think this whole story is very oddly written in regards to time frames.

Their father died back then (and despite the fact that they say it ‘vanished’ Ash does actually say ‘die.’ Guess the movies have different rules now or something) because he expended all of his power to bring the water to Alto Mare……Really? It’s a Legendary Pokemon and it didn’t have the strength to take out two Pokemon without making a martyr of itself? Just because they’re ancient Pokemon doesn’t mean they’re anymore powerful.

In Latios’ place, a gem was left behind said to contain its spirit and was named the soul dew. The gem was then used to power the DMA(M). While the soul dew contains the soul of Alto Mare’s guardian, it also contains the power to destroy their town if it gets into the wrong hands, thus its location must be kept secret.

Ash agrees to keep the secret when Latias comes up from behind him and tries to give him a ride, but he’s too heavy for Latias and she drops him. However, he’s saved by Latios. Bianca points out that Latias is trying to play with him some more, but he says he can’t because he needs to find his friends.

He bids them farewell and Bianca decides to take him back. As we cut out of the park, we see Annie and Oakley’s drill camera thinger. Dun Dun Dunnnn.

Later that night, in front of a glowing sapphire moon (this movie is so friggin’ blue) Annie and Oakley head off over the rooftops to Latias and Latios’ location while Team Rocket tries to follow. We see Lorenzo working in his workshop making a gondola when Espeon enters and knocks him out with its psychic powers.

They enter the park through the secret entrance in Lorenzo’s workshop. As Latios and Latias sleep, Latios senses them and goes in to attack. Annie and Oakley start a counteroffensive, but Latios and Latias choose to go invisible. That won’t work, however, as ♫ they wear their sunglasses at night, so they can, so they can, see Latios and Latiiiiiaaaaaassssss .

They attack Latios and Latias, and, in an effort to save Latias, Latios takes the hit and they capture him in some sort of awful CGI electro-slime net.

Despite Latios’ efforts, Latias is shot down soon after. As they’re about to capture her, Latios steps in to save her and tells her to run. She manages to get away, but now Annie and Oakley have Latios as well as the soul dew.

So wait, the soul dew and the DMA(M) are the two things needed to easily destroy the town? Yet, one’s in an easily accessible museum and the other’s in a park with the access to this place being either an unguarded portal in an easily accessible wall or a door in an old man’s workshop. And the tablet which explains, step by freakin’ step, how to use the soul dew with the machine is embedded in the floor mere feet away from the dew. You guys suck at security. It’s almost like you want your town to be destroyed.

The tablet not only explains how to use the soul dew and the machine but also explains that operating the machine must be kept as merely a last resort as using it will destroy the soul dew and cause the waters in the city to recede. Annie doesn’t want to sacrifice her gem, but Oakley says it’s probably a bunch of bull.

Annie and Oakley head to the museum and follow the instructions from the tablet. They lay Latios on a platform—wait, I thought all you needed to make the machine work was a soul dew and the machine. Now you need a live Latios too?

Lorenzo and Bianca, having discovered that the soul dew was missing, arrive at the museum to stop Annie and Oakley but get knocked out by Espeon again. You guys could’ve called the cops ya know…..oh right….cops…in Pokemon. Yeah, you’re better off on your own.

Oakley uses the soul dew and they marvel in the machine powering up.

Back with Latias, she finds Ash and the others sleeping at the local Pokemon Center. She transforms to her Bianca form, wakes Ash and hugs him in fright.

Ash explains the situation to Misty and Brock and says that the girl before them is actually Latias. They strangely believe him without question, but get instant proof when Latias returns to her Pokemon form. You could’ve saved several precious minutes by just doing that in the first place…or never transforming to the begin with.

Latios awakens and uses sight sharing with Latias to show Ash and the others what’s going on. Oakley enters the machine, and I’m just now realizing that they never say exactly what the machine is supposed to do. It’s a weapon of course, but what powers does it have?

Power 1 – The power to bring fossils back to life as pseudo-zombie Pokemon.

I don’t see how that helps defend the town….

Oakley uses the machine to bring Aerodactyl and Kabutops back to life through their fossils to make them fight on their side. It still bothers me that we never learn who this evil Trainer was that owned these two. You’d think the legend of the evil person who trained these Pokemon to attack the town would be more prominent than the Pokemon themselves.

Oakley commands the two to capture Latias, and Latios ends the sight sharing.

Power 2 – Close off all of the streets, pathways and all exits in town with giant grates.

Uh….Okay, I guess that’s a defensive power. But if the danger is in the town, it’s just locking the enemy in with the townspeople and making it impossible for them to escape from the threat.

Oakley causes a city-wide lockdown, performing the same function I just mentioned, to trap the citizens within the city as she takes it over.

Ash manages to escape and heads to the museum while Misty and Brock are trapped in the Pokemon Center for the time being.

Ash rides in a gondola to the museum, but Aerodactyl attacks Latias. He manages to save Latias for a moment, but she flies off and turns invisible. Aerodactyl comes back with a Hyper Beam to destroy Ash’s gondola and nearly drowns him, but Latias saves him.

Latias pulls him through the water slowly since she’s shown not to have the strength to let him ride on her back, and Ash stops her as they pass some of those little boat things from the race so he can use that instead. Yay reincorporation!

Misty and Brock somehow managed to find a way out of the Pokemon Center, but are still trapped by the grates all over town. They’re trying to deliver Ash’s other Pokemon to him in case he gets in trouble. Since they can’t pass the gate, they open their Pokeballs outside of the gate to let Crobat, Politoed and Corsola deliver them instead.

Oh wait, scratch that, that would’ve been intelligent. Instead they keep Ash’s Pokeballs and just let their Pokemon go off as support for Ash while they try to find a way out. Brock starts climbing the grate which really does highlight a big problem with that power.

Some of the grates are inescapable because of what they’re covering such as doors and windows, but the ones blocking the streets and alleyways have no tops and are designed in such a way that is easily climbable. So…this power’s a little dumb. Don’t even get me started on the fact that, in this town where most people travel by the city’s waterways, the power doesn’t block off the waterways at all….

Back with Ash and Latias, they’re still being pursued by Aerodactyl but now are also being attacked by Kabutops. They crash the little boat thing and nearly get attacked by Kabutops, but Brock and Misty’s Pokemon save them. Behold, the only thing Misty and Brock do all movie! No, I’m not kidding. Also, the only thing they do all movie is something they’re not even present for. Hooray!

By the way, Latios the Legendary Pokemon, had to flood the city and sacrifice its life to beat these Pokemon before. Three fairly unimpressive (power-wise) Pokemon from Trainers who hardly ever get chances to battle beat them easily. Yay for making sense!

Power 3 – Can see all over town like it’s covered in hidden cameras.

That’s a better defensive power. Leaves few places for the enemy to hide.

Oakley sees Latias coming towards the museum as well as Ash. Bianca and Lorenzo try to change her mind about using the machine, but Oakley’s gone a little mad with power.

She uses the machine’s next power–

Power 4 – ….Basically Water Bending.

I’m becoming increasingly baffled by this machine. Latios can’t do any of these things, yet the machine uses its power and the power of the soul dew, which is just a Latios as well, to achieve these things. What magic is going into this thing? Who actually built it? Just the citizens of Alto Mare? Are they graduates from Hogwarts? Every other weird machine or monster that has appeared in these movies has had a reason behind their powers yet this is completely unexplained.

Oakley attacks Ash and Latias with a bunch of tidal waves and traps them in a floating whirlpool in an effort to actually kill them. Holy crap, someone actually tried to murder another person on this show. Though I have noticed that whenever that happens, it’s usually through drowning. Actually….it’s that way in several other shows too, like Avatar the Last Airbender…..Drowning gets a murder pass in kids shows? Weird.

Latias saves the day by blasting the water away with its psychic powers. Because of the broken attack, the DMA(M) starts going haywire.

Ash arrives and saves Bianca and Lorenzo while Latias tries to free Latios from its prison that looks oddly like the prisons from Movie 02. Also, this machine was supposedly made with the intentions of trapping a Latios in it and torturing it to uses its powers. Nice, citizens of Alto Mare. Real nice.

Pikachu Thunderbolts the cage, but the lightning gets redirected back at them. Strangely, this does cause the cage to be lowered to ground level though….Wait….it’s in Ash’s range now…..Could it be?!


I think I’m actually enjoying this trope since I am increasingly amused by Ash getting hurt when he’s being dumb. It’s even better because he does it twice in this scene.

Latias manages to break the barrier with its own psychic powers, and Ash and the others pull Latios out of the cage, which causes the machine to breakdown. Misty and Brock arrive just in time to be useless and Annie reunites with Oakley. They’re about to leave, and Annie tries to recover the soul dew, but she finds that it’s black. As she touches the soul dew, she is thrown back by an expulsion of energy from the jewel.

The machine starts back up again and traps Annie and Oakley within it. Lorenzo explains that the soul dew’s been out of the pool of water for too long and now all the water in the town will dry up. Well, thanks for telling us that could happen. The only thing I heard of like that was the machine using too much of the soul dew’s power, which is what I thought was going on.

The water in the town does indeed start receding, but we learn that the real issue isn’t the water going away – it’s the fact that the water returns in a giant city-destroying tidal wave—okay, now you’re just making shit up! This is truly the dumbest defense machine and mystical gem I’ve ever seen. Protect the town by using a machine that is powered by a gem that can’t be out of water for more than ten minutes and its use results in the city being destroyed.

The tidal wave comes, does some awful CGI damage to the ruins, and Latias and Latios go to combat it. They combine their psychic powers to split the wave and allow the water to gently return to the city.

Because he expelled so much power while being so weak, Latios dies. Wow….he does….he dies! And he doesn’t get brought back to life…..Hm, I think that’s the first ever legit death Pokemon has ever had on screen.

The water returns to the city, Aerodactyl and Kabutops return to their fossils, the citizens are none the wiser, and Annie and Oakley remain trapped in the machine until cops one day decide to get off their asses and find them.

Back with Ash and the gang, they grab a boat and start looking for Latias and Latios. They manage to find Latias who is saved by some passing Water Pokemon. They mourn when she tells them that Latios died to protect the city. Latias’ sight sharing activates and they see what Latios is seeing, which is a view of the clouds and the earth from space. It’s actually a very sad and well-handled scene.

Latios turns into a new soul dew and lands in Bianca’s hands. They bring the new soul dew to the pool in the park and welcome a new guardian to Alto Mare.

Ash and the others bid goodbye to Lorenzo. He tries to call Bianca down to say goodbye as well, but suggests that she must’ve left for the market. In her room, we see her hat on the easel and someone grabbing a drawing she had made.

As Ash and the others drive away on a boat, they see ‘Bianca’ waving them down. They stop at a dock, and Ash gets out to see what’s up. She hands the picture to Ash and we get the big to-do about this movie, Ash’s kiss.

The big mystery is if the girl was Latias or Bianca. Given that Bianca left her hat at home, it’s completely possible that it’s Bianca, and most fans would probably want it that way, because ew. But Bianca’s a big mouth. She’s always talking when she’s on screen. Yet she’s not making a peep here and suddenly runs off like Latias would do, so I’m inclined to believe it’s Latias.

I’m not even sure why this was thrown in there anyway. If it was Latias, then, well, it’s kinda cute but definitely weird. If it’s Bianca, then why should we care?

She was bitchy for half of her scenes, and it’s not like we ever saw any sort of connection, romantic or otherwise, between her and Ash. The picture is of Ash and Pikachu, so I suppose Bianca could’ve had a thing for Ash, but we don’t see any chemistry or decent scenes with them on screen. She wasn’t memorable in the least, so this just seems forced. If you want to go the extra mile, the argument can be made that her character was entirely pointless besides to purposely make this confusion.

Ash has had two kisses in the course of the show to this point, both of which he got in movies and both of which were on the cheek, which is why I didn’t say this was Ash’s first kiss like a lot of people seem to call it.

She clearly kissed him on the cheek. With the bright background and closeup on the kiss, they’re making off like this is his legit first kiss, in spite of the fact that he got a kiss on the cheek by Melody in Movie 02. The only reason I can think of for this seeming like his first kiss is that it kinda looks like Ash is kissing her on the cheek a little, but he’s really just surprised at the kiss.

As of now, Ash has gotten his first legit kiss, even if it was off-screen, by Serena in Pokemon XY.

In summary, ooOOOoooohhhh kissy! Mwah mwa mwah!

They drive away from Alto Mare and we start getting our ending songs, which are just two snippets of songs found on Totally Pokemon, a CD I actually have. Yay me! And two from 2BA Master, a CD I don’t have and never will own on principle because of that insanely stupid title. Just write it out, guys. Stop trying to be ‘hip’.

The first is a slower remake of the song ‘You and Me and Pokemon’, which I enjoy better than the original. Next is ‘Pikachu (I Choose You!)’ which is more catchy than anything. It’s also not remixed for the movie. Next, we get ‘The Time Has Come (Pikachu’s Goodbye)’ a song they’re going to keep milking apparently. Finally, we get ‘My Best Friends’ even though it would’ve been better to end on ‘The Time Has Come (Pikachu’s Goodbye)’ considering the death and all, but ending on a lighter note’s fine.

In terms of the scenes behind the credits, we have Ash and the others leaving on the boat (They never mention why they were even there. It looks really far out of their way to be a stop on his Johto journey) and seeing a few Latias and Latios flying through the air, confirming what I thought earlier in seeing numerous Latias and Latios flying around during the race instead of just two, which just begs the question of where the hell were you lazy sumbitches when Latios was dying and the town was nearly destroyed? Some guardians you are.

Annie and Oakley get captured by the cops in a picture that looks like brown comic book inking and then we see Annie and Oakley in prison reading a book about ancient treasures. However, on the right page we see Lawrence the Third and his ship thing.

What a weird cameo. A villain who was only there to get a plot going and was ignored most of the time gets a random spot in a book they’re reading. What’s he even in there for? Why isn’t IMM in there? He was a better criminal.

Other than that, we see the usual shots of Ash and the others camping and traveling, Team Rocket following them, Bianca drawing and that’s pretty much it. The End.


This movie was a lot worse than I remember it being. Annie and Oakley aren’t as good villains as I remember them being. Annie’s a non-villain as she more preoccupied with pretty stuff than power, and Oakley’s your average ‘gets drunk on power and nearly gets destroyed by it’ bad guy. And I find it a bit weird that they basically murdered a Pokemon and are treated like comic relief villains.

The story is stupid and makes no sense most of the time. The big machine is given no adequate explanation beyond ‘it’s a big mysterious machine with magic powers that regular people made.’ Don’t even get me started on the tidal wave thing.

I really like Latias and Latios. They’re pretty weak for Legendaries, especially if they couldn’t beat two measly Pokemon without self-sacrifice, but I always liked their designs and their personalities were likable.

One of my biggest disappointments was the lack of Misty, Brock and even Team Rocket. The only thing Misty did the entire movie was win a race that didn’t even matter. I thought they’d do something with her awesome medallion, but nope. It was in one shot then forgotten. Brock did absolutely nothing during the whole movie except get a couple jokes. Sure, they let their Pokemon out to help Ash with Aerodactyl and Kabutops, but they do one attack and are gone from the rest of the movie.

Brock and Misty’s little mission to get Ash his Pokeballs wasn’t even needed. He never used any other Pokemon besides Pikachu and Totodile this entire movie, and I don’t even think they showed them returning the Pokeballs to Ash.

Team Rocket was even worse. They did 100% pure nothing. They didn’t even talk to Ash and co. or Annie and Oakley. They got splashed with water, failed at following Annie and Oakley on the rooftops and that was it. They basically vanished from the movie after that only appearing in reaction shots to what the machine was doing with little dialogue, and we don’t see them again until the end credits where we see them following Ash and the others like normal.

The visuals of Alto Mare were the best things to say about this movie because the city is incredibly designed and well-detailed. The whole city is heavily inspired by Venice, and they even throw in some Italian words to push this further, but it’s still really amazing.

The overall art and animation was back and forth. Some of the CGI was a huge step up from what they’ve been doing, especially in regards to the CGI shots of the city, but some shots almost seemed unfinished they were so bad.

Not to mention that the colors are just wrong during most of the movie. It feels way too dark a lot of the time, and like the comparison said, it’s almost like some scenes have a blue filter over them. It really tarnishes a good visual experience.

The animation and art of the characters is bumped up as it usually is, though.

Music-wise, they kept the original soundtrack besides the ending and beginning theme, and the original soundtrack is quite nice and builds a good atmosphere for the town. It was really disappointing that the beginning theme wasn’t remixed in any way since I’ve truly been enjoying most of the remixes. I find it especially weird that this wasn’t remixed when ‘You and Me and Pokemon’ was remixed for the ending.

Extending the TV version like they did just seems lazy. The ending songs, while I enjoy them, just seem like a big plug for their other CDs instead of trying to make legit ending songs for an actual movie soundtrack. Like why is ‘Pikachu (I Choose You)’ mixed in there? It’s a jarring contrast on ‘Polkamon’ levels. They were also a little bit too short for my taste. It’s like they wanted to compact as many songs as humanly possible in there, though, admittedly, the first movie had a fairly similar problem.

Bottom Line: I really don’t understand how Dogasu can say this is their favorite movie of the five so far. Everyone has their own views, which I respect, and they may have been talking about the supposedly drastically different subbed version. It’s an okay movie at its core for me.

The stakes, like I mentioned, aren’t that high, even though a Poke-death does take place. I’m not denying that the death scene wasn’t sad or impacting. It was. However, it just didn’t hook me in very well.

There are too many characters doing nothing, side characters getting more impact than they deserve, story issues etc. This also works on that whole trope of repeating a legend over and over and then have the legend either come true or be repeated.

Nothing can really be surprising or interesting when everything is laid out for you that much. I can’t even remember why I watched it so often when I was younger. Maybe I enjoyed Latias too much back then. This movie definitely has its merits, but it’s pretty squarely middle of the road.

Recommended Audience: Several mentions of death and one on-screen death, though not graphic. 5+

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