Team Rocket Movie Review

The idea for the Team Rocket movie first came to me nearly a year ago. I was contemplating Team Rocket (of which, as you might know, I am a big fan), and it occurred to me that they really do deserve their own movie. There was just so much potential. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was something I needed to make happen. The earliest concept was simply that I wanted them to “blast off for real” in the climax, and I worked from there. I decided to work in a plot I had initially earmarked for a future multi-episode Team Rocket arc. The plot would Jessie, James, and Meowth attempting to impress Giovanni, and get serious like in Unova again. This would come with a joke that putting the black uniforms and taking them off works like a switch for Team Rocket, changing their personalities back and forth between silly and serious.

As an aside, I would like to explain that while there was many things I didn’t like about the show during Unova, it was the portrayal of Team Rocket that irked me the most. The entire purpose of Team Rocket was that they were these absurd, larger than life group who self-identify as evil, and yet fail miserably at it. Unova Team Rocket spat in the face of everything they were. The change made to Team Rocket would be equivalent to Ash suddenly deciding he no longer wanted to be a Pokémon Trainer and abandoning Pikachu. Obviously no one would be happy if that happened to Ash, so why should we be happy with Team Rocket’s change?

That being explained, I decided that if I wanted to write a piece that really dug into Team Rocket’s character and identity, I should focus on explaining why Unova’s change was wrong. I decided to focus the movie on demonstrating why a change for the more serious may seem good, but is actually disgraceful. With this concept solidified, the rest of the movie kind of just fell into place. I decided early on that I wanted a “celebrity” Team Rocket member as a main character, and settled on Pierce, as the sudden cancellation of Unova’s Rocket vs. Plasma arc left him as a complete enigma that people wanted to see more of. With that decided, I also realized that the story of the Meteonite was left unfinished and full of potential.

For another aside, for those who don’t know, Unova was originally set to have a pair of episodes called Team Rocket vs. Team Plasma (Part 1 and 2). They would have served as a finale of the Unova’s Team Rocket story arc up to the point. In an unfortunate twist of fate, these episodes were set to air right around the same time a major earthquake hit Japan. Due to the large-scale destruction of a city depicted in the episodes, it was decided it would be in poor taste to air the episodes so close to such a destructive disaster. The episodes were never aired, and later retconned as non-canon. this left several story plots unresolved, most notably, the Meteonite, a mysterious rock collected by Team Rocket in an earlier episode. Due to summaries and previews of these episodes, we know that the Meteonite’s purpose was to act as a replacement for the Sun after a volcanic eruption blocked it. And so The Team Rocket movie became a conclusion of sorts to Team Rocket’s uncompleted mission in Unova.

Another major aspect of the movie was it’s music. I decided that having musical numbers would perfectly drive in the ridiculous personalities of Team Rocket. In the beginning the only song I really had available to me was Double Trouble. But my brother, being musically inclined, had recently expressed an interest in creating some original music for Sol Version. I realized that it would be great if he could make an original song for the movie, and so, Blasting Off Again was added to the soundtrack. That was going to be it. If I could have a third song, I would, but there just weren’t any options. I could do Team Rocket Forever, but only a small portion of that song was ever translated to English. But late in the development of the movie, I realized that creating a full translation of the song wouldn’t be all that difficult, and so my unofficial fan-dub of Team Rocket Forever became the final addition to the soundtrack.

For those who don’t know, Team Rocket Forever was a song first released for a CD in Japan. Portions of it were later put into the show, leading to the dub to have a semi-translation of a small portion of it (You know us as Team Rocket, and we fight for what is wrong…). Since this portion of the song was translated out of context from the rest of the song, it isn’t so much as a translation as it is a completely separate song set to the same background music. When doing my translation, I incorporated this semi-translation with my own translations and reinterpretations to create what I am referring to as a semi-dub of the song. Perhaps I’ll make a post later explaining how I translated it in detail.

In the end, I was incredibly pleased with the result of the Team Rocket Movie. It might just be one of my favorite piece I’ve ever written. It demonstrated everything I love about Team Rocket, and put it in a great story. It is a piece that demonstrates everything I love about the group, while also further developing their characters.

Advertisements

Episode 106 Review (Featuring ChaosProjectAuthor)

Hello, Cosmic Quest readers! This is ChaosProjectAuthor, but you can call me Chaos. Most of you probably know me better as the guy who makes the sprites you’ve seen around this website, and by extension, for the recently-revealed Pokémon Sol Version project as well. While I’ve been deeply involved in the development and planning of Cosmic Quest since the very beginning, this is the first time I’ve ever participated in the actual writing. So now I’m here to review the episode I wrote.

Continuing from where I left off on my own website (where fans of Yuni’s other works can get some behind-the-scenes info on Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium as well), when Yuni first suggested the possibility of a writer’s exchange, I was hesitant, but definitely interested. Who could say no to free advertising? Well for me, the first challenge was apparent. Yuni knew exactly what he wanted to write for my story. But what would I write for his? In order to be an effective advertisement, I would need to make sure that the entire episode reflected who I am as a writer, so that potential readers drawn to my stories could know what they’re in for. That meant coming up with an episode idea that is largely character focused, that has room for emotional growth, and that connects to the reader on that same emotional level. In my own writing, that’s always my goal. The style of the Pokémon anime isn’t quite so conducive to that as the Sonic universe that I’m used to working with, and that’s what made this a challenge. But on top of all that, I also wanted to show that I know what I’m doing, to take advantage of this opportunity, by writing a story that could only exist in the Pokémon world. In my own story, which tends to be at least somewhat grounded in scientific reality, I would never just have a flat-out ghost as a character. But in Pokémon, where we’ve already seen clear proof of ghosts from the Pokémon Tower of Kanto all the way to Acerola’s “Mimikins” my idea for Shinx in this episode fit right in. And of course, writing a story that can only exist in the Pokémon world also means relying heavily on the inherent bond between Trainer and Partner Pokémon, which, conveniently enough, allowed me to add a lot of emotional depth to the episode without much extra work. You don’t need to do much to show a bond like that, because any Pokémon fan will understand that it’s there.

But I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself. I was faced with the problem of what to write, and there was no obvious answer. I’ve recommended episode ideas to Yuni before, and all of them have made it in, so in that sense, it felt like all of my best ideas were already used up. After a lot of brainstorming, I had a few preliminary ideas. I considered an episode involving Team Rocket shenanigans, but in the meantime, Yuni wrote an episode that felt a little too similar to what I had in mind. I considered an episode that would bring back an old character, but I was worried about that being in even more conflict with Yuni’s ideas than my previous consideration. Lastly, I considered an episode that would introduce a new Pokémon, as well as a character from Pokémon Sol Version that none of you know about yet! For quite a while, that was the idea I was leaning towards, but I felt like it would’ve fallen just a little short in terms of the emotional weight that I was looking for.

As it was getting down to the wire, just a couple of weeks before I needed to start writing, I had a dream. And that dream became Episode 106. How close was that dream to the final product? Shockingly close, actually. The story of Shinx and Pichu, the burned bakery, and Pichu’s attempt to get in the way, it was all there (though Pichu was a Pikachu in the dream, and it got a few ridiculous dream-induced plot points that naturally had to be removed). Rabbolt’s role in the story had to be added, but I was very happy to get the chance to work on Rabbolt’s character, since that’s been something I’ve been complaining about to Yuni for a while. And with the other Electric-Type Pokémon already there, it just made sense. What’s funny to me is that the inspiration for my own story, The Chaos Project, came to me in a dream in almost exactly the same way. That odd connection alone was enough to make me certain that this was the episode I had to write.

One other point of note is this episode’s integration with the rest of the story. At the time I started planning, I had no idea that Brenda was going to be experiencing any kind of overarching character development, but I knew how I could fit it right in before I was even done reading the previous episode. In fact, Yuni shared with me that he still wasn’t quite sure what do with his plans for the development of Brenda’s style, which means that I was not only able to acknowledge that plot point, but quite probably influence its direction for the rest of the story. But even I don’t know what the result will be! I guess we’ll all just have to stay tuned!

And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to read Yuni’s episode of The Chaos ProjectOr better yet, if you’re interested in Sonic and enjoyed my episode of Cosmic Quest, read The Chaos Project from the beginning!

Episode 105 Review

This episode marks the first step in the next phase of Brenda’s journey. She’s dealt with her training issues and her friendship problems with Michelle, so now it’s time for her to truly figure out what she wants to do with her Pokémon Coordinator career. With her next contest right around the corner, it was only apt to place this here. I brought in Blaise pretty much purely because I thought it was time to introduce the next member of the Elite Four. Her having an Infearno helped me to forge a connection between her and Brenda. Her interest in contests is something that would be somewhat of a fabrication for the show, as my original character concept for her had nothing to do with them, but the changes I made still worked alongside her original concept.

I chose to focus on the move Rain of Terror because it felt like something that could be changed into many different variants, thus allowing it to be a blank slate upon which Brenda can inscribe her new style. Also, it’s a pretty powerful Ghost-Type move, allowing for Wispirit to become a better battler.

Episode 104 Review

Before we get started on this review, I want to call something to your attention. Remember my Detective Pikachu Evidence Board Background? It has an extremely important piece of evidence on it that this entire episode was based around. Let’s take a look. (Click the image for a better view)

Detective Pikachu Background 2

In the center of the board, there’s an image of two Pikachu. One is Detective Pikachu, and the other is an unknown Pikachu. But, as the red circles and lines imply, this Pikachu may in fact be Ash’s Pikachu. You see, this image was taken from a scene in the Detective Pikachu game. In this scene, Tim exits a building to find this Pikachu and mistakes it for Detective Pikachu. Detective Pikachu soon emerges to find Tim talking to the other Pikachu and corrects him on his mistake. Detective Pikachu then does some small talk with the Pikachu, and then says to it, “Tell your buddy to be the very best, like no one ever was.” The reference is just to obvious to overlook. Clearly it is being implied that this Pikachu is in fact none other than Ash’s Pikachu. In addition to this, while conversing with Detective Pikachu, the Pikachu says pikapi at one point, which tends to be the term Pikachu uses to say Ash’s name (as it sounds somewhat like his Japanese name, Satoshi), lending further evidence to the idea that they were talking about Ash. Ever since seeing this scene in the game, I knew I had to write a cross-over episode with Detective Pikachu. Once the Detective Pikachu movie was announced, I knew it would provide the perfect opportunity to just that. And if you still think it’s odd to have Ash and friends cross-over with a spin-off game, then allow me to remind you of the time that the show crossed-over with Pokémon Snap, or the multiple times it crossed-over with Pokémon Ranger.

***WARNING: Detective Pikachu Game and Movie Spoilers Below!***

In case it wasn’t already obvious from what I said above, this episode was meant to take place within the continuity of the Detective Pikachu game, not movie. While the movie had similar plot involving R and Mewtwo, it was different enough that it would not have worked alongside what I wrote. Because of this, it should be noted that I wrote Tim and Detective Pikachu to fit the game version of their characters, as there are some major differences, especially for Tim, who is much more quiet and reserved in the game. For those who don’t know the game, this episode essentially served as a sequel to its story. Unlike the movie, the game ends with Detective Pikachu still being a Pikachu, allowing for this story to exist. In addition, a major focus of the game’s story was how R was sold on black market, so even once the production of R is stopped, there would inevitably be some left on the streets. That was the central idea of this episode.

Beyond that, this episode was just written as a way to have the two different casts interact. I do think that Ash and Tim would make good friends, if they ever met. On the topic of those two, Ash suggesting that Tim can understand Detective Pikachu due to a close bond that they didn’t even know they had is a reference to one of the major plot points of the game, which was also in the movie. Neither version actually explains why Tim can understand Pikachu, but I think that it’s something close to what Ash suggested. Well, that and some Mewtwo shenanigans.

***End Spoilers***

Episode 103 Review

The heroes and the villains switching places. It’s a fun little idea I had a while aback. I thought it would be interesting to see what things would be like if Ash and friends were the ones who had to steal from Team Rocket. My original idea went a little further in the concept and had the episode feature Team Rocket as the main characters attempting to help a random character of the week, while “Team Twerp” kept coming in and interrupting things. It would basically be your typical episode, but with the roles reversed. When it came time to write the episode, I decided that I should keep the focus on Ash and friends, or else it would be too difficult to justify them acting “evil.” By keeping the focus on Ash, Brock, and Brenda, I was able to better show their struggle to adapting to becoming thieves, and how bad they are simply because the only example they have to go off of is Team Rocket’s. Meanwhile, since it isn’t out of character for Jessie, James, and Meowth to do some good when it benefits them, they didn’t need quite as much focus as the twerps.

Episode 102 Review

This is one of my darker episodes, right up there with the last episode where Brock got a Certificate of High Medical Honors. What else am I supposed to do? There aren’t really any interesting stakes in a medical story unless the episode is dark.

Anyways, Assimlophage is a Pokémon that I’ve had an idea of for a long time. When I decided to give Brock his new goal of collecting certificates, I knew that one of them would have to be awarded for curing an Assimlophage victim. Pikachu seemed like a natural choice for the personal connection. It also allowed me to give Ash some focus in this episode that he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Then I brought in Alistair so I could further develop his rivalry with Brock, and this episode came to be.

Assimlophage is quite literally based off of the bacteriophage virus. Look at an image of the virus, and it’s not had to come to the conclusion that the thing would make an awesome Pokémon. It also draws inspiration from the Borg of Star Trek, a monstrosity that seeks to assimilate those that are not like it, and turn it into itself. Also, resistance is futile.

Episode 101 Review

This episode was meant to be the start of “season 3” of Cosmic Quest. I’ve never really acknowledged seasons to Cosmic Quest, but just as the actual show has a new season for each year, Cosmic Quest hypothetically does too. Of course, it takes a lot longer than a year for a season of Cosmic Quest  to run its course, but that’s because I’m unable to put out an episode every week. Still, Cosmic Quest has had two movies and a hundred episodes, and that just about perfectly lines up with two seasons of the actual Pokémon show.  So, it made sense to have the 100th episode be the season finale, and make the next episode a season premiere. Normally I wouldn’t make such a big deal about something like this, but in this case we’re entering what is the final season of Cosmic Quest. It’s the final stretch, and from here on out, things get serious. As such, this episode was meant to represent the change in pace.

Bringing in Brandon to the main series was an idea I’ve toyed with since the introduction of the Cosmic Chronicles. Since the two stories take place at the same time in the same region, why wouldn’t I cross them over? I took this episode very seriously. I wanted the first meeting of the two main heroes of my stories to be the best I could make it. I actually had gotten some ways into a completely different version of the chapter, but scrapped it altogether because I didn’t think it was good enough.

In this original concept, I didn’t have Ash and Brandon battle. That was my main issue. I decided that it would be a grand spectacle to see these two heroes meet for the first time in battle. Because of that, I changed the episode so as to pit the two against each other, and make the battle more serious than just  friendly battle. That being said, I also worked to make this as good and interesting of a battle as I could. I like to think I succeeded in that.

And if you have no clue who Brandon is, or what his story is, I have one question for you. Why haven’t you read the Cosmic Chronicles yet?