Anime Film Review: Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea

Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea is the ninth film in the Pokemon franchise, and it was directed by Kunihiko Yuyama. The film was released to Japanese theaters on July 19, 2006. The English dub first premiered in the United States on Cartoon Network on March 23, 2007; the DVD release followed on April 3, 2007. Viz Media and the Pokemon Company have the U.S. distribution rights to the film. Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea is also the first film to be dubbed by The Pokemon Company instead of by 4Kids Entertainment.

Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea
Directed by: Kunihiko Yuyama
Written by: Hideki Sonoda
Starring: Rica Matsumoto, Kaori Suzuki, Kyoko Yamada, Yuji Ueda, Ikue Ōtani, Megumi Hayashibara, Shin-ichiro Miki, Inuko Inuyama, Kaori Manabe, and Becky
Run Time: 105 minutes

At the beginning of the film, a mysterious egg is floating in the sea, and is captured by Phantom the Pirate. The egg is snatched by Jack “Jackie” Walker, a Pokemon Ranger disguising himself as one of Phantom’s crew members; he escapes from Phantom’s ship with the egg.

Meanwhile, Ash, Brock, May, and Max become lost on their journey. They run into a family that performs as part of a traveling performance group; there is also a clown joining them in their performances. The family offers the group food and shelter and a place to stay until they reach a city. It turns out the egg is with this family, and May is exposed to it and has a dream about the Pokemon in the egg.

The next morning, Team Rocket tries to steal the egg, but are thwarted in their attempt. The clown reveals he is actually Jackie Walker, and explains his mission and the story behind the egg. Phantom the Pirate and his cronies arrive to try to steal the egg, and Ash and his friends try to get away. At one point, Phantom the Pirate and Jackie are fighting over the egg and it goes flying into the air. May catches it, and the egg hatches into Manaphy. The rest of the film shows Ash, his friends, the performing family and Jackie trying to get Manaphy to the Temple of the Sea.

The movie is one of the longer films in the Pokemon franchise, but it’s still good viewing if you enjoy Pokemon. Unlike Pokemon: Destiny Deoxys, I didn’t feel that any of the scenes in Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea were simply killing time to make the film longer. I especially liked the relationship that May and Manaphy developed over the course of the film.

The major downside is how much 3D animation the director tried to include, and just how much the 3D animation sticks out like a sore thumb in comparison to the elements that were animated with 2D animation.

When it comes to the DVD release, there are three special features are included on this disc. The first is “Location Scouting.” This documentary runs for about 10 minutes, and it shows the director and the crew scouting out locations in Italy to help inspire the locations in the film. It also includes interviews with the director, the writer, and the composer; however, whenever they speak, an English narrator speaks over them instead of seeing subtitles on the screen.

Next is “Art Slideshow.” This feature runs for one minute and 10 seconds, and only features production art of the characters that were designed specifically for this film. Also, the viewer has no control over when the images change on the screen. The final extra is labeled as “Interactive”; it’s a splash screen that promotes the official Pokemon website, the Pokemon Learning League, and Pokemon Mobile.

When Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea was released on DVD in the United States, it was released as a two-disc set. The second disc contains “Pikachu’s Island Adventure,” the short that accompanied the film when it aired in Japanese theaters.

In the short, Pikachu and the other Pokemon traveling with Ash and his friends are going to play on an island that’s full of fun and adventure. However, they encounter some Wynaut and a couple of Pichu who were chased off the island by Meowth and its gang. It’s up to Pikachu and friends to teach the Wynaut and Pichu how to stand up for themselves.

This was the first of the shorts to be dubbed by The Pokemon Company, and a decision was made to have the narrator give dialogue for the Pokemon in addition to hearing the Pokemon make their natural noises when they speak. I personally didn’t like this, as it felt like the narrator was talking down to the audience. I also thought it was a little insulting that The Pokemon Company felt the audience wasn’t smart enough to be able to figure out what was going on through the images on the screen.

This short was the only item included on the disc; personally, I thought this was a waste of a disc. It would have been better to include the short on the first DVD, and to have released Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea as a single disc.

Even with the issues I have with this release, I would still recommend it to Pokemon fans, especially ones who want to have a complete Pokemon DVD collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea that my husband and I purchased.

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