Anime Film Review: Pokemon 4Ever

Pokemon 4Ever was released to theaters in Japan on July 7, 2001. This was the first Pokemon film to be distributed by Miramax Films in the United States, but it also has the distinction of being the last Pokemon film to be released in theaters outside of Japan. Pokemon 4Ever was released to American movie theaters on October 4, 2002. Miramax lost the rights to the film, but the rights are now held by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.

Pokemon 4Ever
Directed by: Kunihiko Yuyama
Written by: Hideki Sonoda
Starring: Rika Matsumoto, Ikue Ōtani, Mayumi Iizuka, Yūji Ueda, Megumi Hayashibara, Shin-ichiro Miki, Anne Suzuki, Shiro Sano, and Kazuko Sugiyama
Run Time: 81 minutes
Rated: G

At the beginning of the film, a Pokemon named Celebi is being chased by a hunter and encounters a young boy named Sam. In order to get away from the hunter, Celebi travels 40 years into the future, and the Pokemon ends up taking Sam along with him.

In the present day, Ash, Misty, and Brock meet a man named Maki, who takes them to his hometown of Arborville. On their way there, however, they see a legendary Pokemon named Suicune. After the group arrives in Arborville, Ash and his friends decide they want to enter a nearby forest, which is rumored to have many unusual and rare Pokemon. An old woman warns them about the “Voice of the Forest,” which can carry a person to a different time period unless those hearing it stand still.

While in the forest, Ash finds an unconscious Sam; before Ash finds Sam, Celebi flees and hides. When Sam awakens, he discovers he’s 40 years in the future. Ash, Misty, Brock, and Sam search the forest for Celebi; they find the Pokemon hiding in a tree, and after some convincing, they gain Celebi’s trust. While in the forest, they encounter the Iron Masked Marauder, who is a high-ranking member of Team Rocket; he has been trying to capture Celebi. Jessie, James, and Meowth team up with the Iron Masked Marauder.

Ash and his friends escape with Celebi, and take the Pokemon to the Lake of Life. There, Celebi is healed by the water. The next day, the Iron Masked Marauder captures Celebi with a Dark Ball, and Celebi is turned evil. Can Ash and his friends save Celebi, and can they find a way to send Sam back to his time period?

Pokemon 4Ever clocks in at 79 minutes, and it’s just the right length for the story the filmmakers are trying to tell. The pacing of the film is fluid, and as a viewer, you don’t feel like it’s going too fast, or that the story is dragging out unnecessarily. Like with some of the other Pokemon films, they attempted to mix some computer graphics in with the 2D animation; unfortunately, the way they tried to combine the two elements made the CG stand out like a sore thumb.

Overall, Pokemon 4Ever is a good film. I really enjoyed the story of this film, and found it amusing when we realize that we knew an older version of Sam before young Sam is sent 40 years into the future with Celebi. Normally I’m not a huge fan of time travel stories, but I did enjoy this one.

This review focuses on the Miramax DVD release of Pokemon 4Ever rather than the DVD released by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment. The main difference between these two releases is that Echo Bridge release does not include the “Pikachu’s PikaBoo” short on it.

On the Miramax DVD release of Pokemon 4Ever, the short that ran before the film at the theater is only included on the disc as a special feature, unlike the first three movies, where you were forced to watch the short before starting into the movie. The short included on this release is “Pikachu’s PikaBoo,” which features Pikachu and some other Pokemon playing a game of hide and seek at a big mansion, and having to deal with a jealous Larvitar.  Meowth and Wobbufett make an appearance in this short. I have to say that I didn’t enjoy this short nearly as much as I did the previous three shorts. Children will probably enjoy this short, but adults may have the same problems getting into it as I did.

The next extra on the DVD is an audio commentary version of the film. This is followed by the “Pokemon 4Ever Trivia Game.” For this extra, you use the remote to select the best answer to each of seven questions. The game appears to cycle through sets of questions, and the cycle goes in the same order each time you put the DVD into the player. If you get a question right, you see a clip of the film that is connected to the question. If you get a question wrong, you see Pikachu appear on the screen, with the wrong “WRONG” written underneath it. For me, this bonus feature has a limited enjoyment factor; once you go through the trivia game once, you’ll know what the answers should be, so you really have no incentive to play it again.

Next is an extra labeled, “Animation Progression,” and there are four shots included: Forest Fly Through, Dust Storm, Battling a 3D Foe, and Climbing Ivy. You use the angle button on your remote to switch from stage to stage in each sequence. This particular feature was actually rather cumbersome.

This DVD also included both the domestic trailer and the Japanese trailer for Pokemon 4Ever; however, there are no subtitles provided for the Japanese version. “A Sneak Peek at the Next Pokemon Movie” is the Japanese trailer for the fifth Pokemon film; again, there were no subtitles, so you couldn’t understand anything that was being said. The lack of subtitles for the Japanese trailers makes it frustrating for the children watching this DVD, because they can’t understand anything. There are also DVD-ROM features included.

This DVD release is one of the better DVD releases for the Pokemon films, because there were actually some worthwhile special features included. If you’re a Pokemon fan, you should really have this Pokemon film in your anime home video collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Pokemon 4Ever that my husband and I purchased.

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