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Pioneer Entertainment presents
Pokemon #20: The Final Badge (1999)

"Mr. Mime! Mr. Mime! Mr. Mime!"
- Mr. Mime

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: August 18, 2000

Stars: Ash Ketchum, Brock, Misty, Pikachu
Other Stars: Team Rocket, Mr. Mime, Clefairy, Jigglypuff
Director: Michael Haigney and Jim Malone

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (basic cartoon action)
Run Time: 01h:00m:00s
Release Date: July 18, 2000
UPC: 013023048294
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-BC+ D+

DVD Review

Unless you've been living on the moon for the last few years, you've undoubtedly been exposed to the apparently LSD-inspired Japanese phenomena known as Pokemon. Perhaps one morning you woke up really early, flicked on the television, and thought that a bad burrito from the night before was having an effect on your sanity. Now, I'm not knocking Pokemon, I just have a love/hate relationship with the little creatures.

For those of you who honestly know nothing about Pokemon except that your children want them, here's the basic run down: Based on a video game, the series is set in a world populated with strange creatures known as Pokemon (the name covers both the singular and plural.) Each Pokemon (short for Pocket Monster) has its own distinct personality and abilities. In much the same way as football might be popular to us, catching Pokemon and making them fight each other is practically the goal of life in this world. A young boy named Ash wants to become a Pokemon fighting champion, and the only way to do this is to continually beat champions from around the world and earn badges. Once a Pokemon trainer has earned 8 badges, he can compete in the world Pokemon league. Thankfully, Pokemon are very sportsmanlike and understand that this is their lot in life, so they actually like being trained to fight each other. Of course, one of the most important things to remember is that Pokemon can speak, but everything they say will sound like their own name to humans. For example, Pikachu (Ash's star Pokemon) only says "Pikachu!" or some variation thereof. There are evil Pokemon trainers; the best example is Team Rocket (Jessie, James, and their English speaking Meowth) who are always trying to steal other people's Pokemon.

In this twentieth volume of Ash's adventures, The Final Badge, he nears his goal of collecting 8 Pokemon Gym badges. The disc contains 3 of the TV episodes, including Clefairy Tales, The Final Badge, and It's Mr. Mime Time!. In Clefairy Tales, Ash and his friends return to the city of Viridian in hopes of battling for an Earth Badge. When they arrive they discover a series of thefts. With a little digging, they discover that a strange group of Clefairy Pokemon are responsible for the thefts and have been flying around in a strange craft. When they steal Pikachu, Ash has to figure out a way to rescue him with the help of a crazy scientist. In The Final Badge, Ash finally decides to challenge Viridian Gym, but is beaten to it by his nemesis Gary. Unfortunately, Gary discovers that the gym houses a mysterious Pokemon capable of crushing any competition (which sharp viewers will note as the first TV appearance of MewTwo.) The Gym leader foolishly puts Team Rocket in charge, and Ash sees his obvious chance to get a badge. Lastly, in It's Mr. Mime Time!, Ash makes his way back to his home in Pallet Town. On the way there, he runs into a Pokemon Circus which is having trouble getting its Mr. Mime to perform. The circus leader assumes that if her Mr. Mime becomes jealous of a better Mr. Mime, he'll start performing again. So, Ash pretends to be a Mr. Mime, but in the process winds up getting kidnapped by Team Rocket. When a REAL Mr. Mime shows up, things get even more out of hand.

Despite the endless merchandising and video game series based on the concept (Pokemon Stadium, Pokemon Snap, Pokemon Pinball, Hey You, Pikachu!, Pokemon Bathroom Scrubbing Action, Pokemon Tax Audit Fun...ok, so I made the last two up), the Pokemon cartoon is not that bad. Each episode follows a formula aimed at younger viewers, but the show does possess a certain cute charm. The creativity evident in the strange creatures that populate the Pokemon world is what got me watching the series. I think the concept is being stretched a bit thin lately, but overall the cartoon is enjoyable in its simplicity. Despite a lot of the negative hype around the cartoon, there really isn't anything offensive here. If anything, the basic moral lessons in each episode are good for kids. Compared to many Japanese cartoons, the series is remarkably tame. I would start worrying, though, if your children try to stage Pokemon battles with ordinary household pets.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The animation in Pokemon is nice but not fantastic. Overall, the transfer is very good, but some compression artifacts show up with a few instances of background shimmer. None of this really affects the experience, since this is garden variety TV animation, washed out and very basic.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Unfortunately, the Dolby 2.0 soundtrack makes little use of the digital medium. Despite some cool stereo effects, the audio isn't much better than the television version. Clarity is very good, but there's no directionality and music seems to be the only element that bleeds into the surrounds. I was also disappointed at the lack of a Japanese audio track, as I had wanted to experience the cartoon with the original dialogue; I'm not sure why this was omitted.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 5 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Motion Card
Extras Review: There aren't really any extras; I found this disappointing since I had hoped for a gallery of Pokemon bios or something along those lines. In fact, there's a lot that could be done with the Pokemon license to spice up the menus and features of this generally poor presentation. However, a free postcard advertisement for Pokemon vitamins is included! Well, back in my day, we had Flinstones chewables and we liked it! Also included is a "motion card" picture of Ash.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

I'm still a little critical of the fact that each Pokemon DVD contains only 3 episodes. Considering the entire series thus far could almost fit on one DVD-18, this approach seems designed strictly to generate revenue. Each episode runs only 22-25 minutes to accommodate morbidly long commercial breaks for TV. Purchase might be justified if the disc was packed with extra features or games, but as it stands, collecting the entire series would cost $200-$300. While I encourage watching the cartoon for fun, rental is recommended.


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