Pokemon Heroes was released to theaters in Japan on July 13, 2002. The English dub received a small theatrical release in New York City and in Los Angeles on May 16, 2003; this was followed by a release on video and DVD in January 2004. Miramax Films had the distribution rights to the film in the United States, but ended up losing them. Echo Bridge Home Entertainment now has the rights for the film, and released a DVD in 2011.
Direced by: Kunihiko Yuyama
Written by: Hideki Sonoda
Starring: Rica Matsumoto, Mayumi Iizuka, Yuji Ueda, Megumi Hayashibara, Shin-ichiro Miki, Fumiko Orikasa, Kōichi Yamadera, Yuzo Gutch, Uno Kanda, Yumiko Shaku, Masashi Ebara, and Ikue Ōtani
Run Time: 71 minutes
Pokemon Heroes is set in the city of Altomare, which is a town based on Venice, Italy. Two legendary Pokemon, Latios and Latias, watch over the city. Years earlier, their father, also named Latios, protected the city from an evil Pokemon trainer who used a Kabutops and an Aerodactyl to terrorize the people. Latios sacrificed his life to save the city, which left his children as orphans. Latios’ soul is in a special jewel called the Soul Dew. Latios and Latias are cared for by Lorenzo, the caretaker of the city’s museum.
The film opens with Annie and Oakley, two members of Team Rocket, gathering information they need in order to try to get the Soul Dew for themselves to achieve world domination. It turns out the Soul Dew is part of a mechanism that defends the city. Meanwhile, Ash, Misty, and Brock are in Altomare, so Ash and Misty can compete in a water chariot competition. Misty wins the competition, and the runner-up in the race gives Misty and her friends a tour of the city.
It turns out that Latias can disguise herself as a human and be out among the citizens of the town. Annie and Oakley find Latias in her human form and try to capture her, but Ash and Pikachu save her. Later, Ash and his friends visit the city’s museum and meet Lorenzo and Bianca, who looks exactly like Latias in her human form.
As the film progresses, Ash learns the secrets of Latias, Latios, and the city of Altomare. When Annie and Oakley try to get the Soul Dew, Ash and his friends have to try and save the day.
Pokemon Heroes clocks in at 71 minutes, and it’s the right length for the story being told in the film. The pacing of the film is perfect; as a viewer, I didn’t feel it was taking too long or that it was going too quickly. Like the other Pokemon films, an attempt was made to combine computer graphics with the 2D animation; unfortunately, just like in the other films, the computer animation stood out too much from the 2D animation and called too much attention to itself.
Overall, Pokemon Heroes is a good film. I thought that the background animations were very well-done and provided quite an atmosphere for the story. The story itself is also rather riveting, and I like how the important information is relayed to the viewer without it feeling like an “info dump.”
This review covers the original DVD release of this film rather than Echo Bridge’s 2011 release. Echo Bridge’s release only contains the film; there are no bonus features included.
The “Camp Pikachu” short, which was shown before the film in Japanese theaters, is included as one of the special features on the Miramax release. In this short, the Pichu brothers fall off of the train they’re riding on top of, and they run into Pikachu, Cyndaquil, Totodile, Phanpy, Corsola, Togepi, Psyduck, and Wynaut. The Pokemon work together to get the Pichu brothers to the train station in order to catch another train. Meowth and Wobbuffet also make a cameo appearance.
Another special feature is “Location Scouting in Venice.” This runs for about two minutes, and it shows the director and some of the crew scouting out locations in Venice. This is intercut with footage from the actual film that match what the director and crew are seeing in the city. “Animation Stages” includes six sequences. By using the angle button, you can see the 2D elements, the 3D elements, and the final version of the sequence.
“The Characters of Pokemon Heroes” includes six Pokemon: Kabutops, Aerodactyl, Ariados, Espeon, Latias, and Latios. For each Pokemon, there are several still images of the Pokemon, along with writeups for them; the writeups describe their personality and other traits, as well as information on its species, type, height, weight, ability, and evolution.
The “Pokemon Heroes Trivia Game” has you use the remote to select the answers for seven questions, and the seven questions are chosen randomly. If you get the question right, you see a clip of the film that is connected to the question. If you get a question wrong, the word “WRONG” appears on the screen, and the male voice over tells you that you got the answer wrong. Personally, I think the male voice over actor who explains how to play the game, reads the questions out, tells you if you’re wrong, and tells you how you do at the end, sounds rather bored when he’s delivering his lines.
If you’re a fan of Pokemon, you really should have this film in your anime home video collection.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of Pokemon Heroes that my husband and I purchased.
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