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 have 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 this 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 that 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 its 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 of 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 pieces 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.