POKEMON 3: THE MOVIE
Spell of the New Age
Release Date: April 06, 2001
Starring: Veronica Taylor, Eric Stuart,
Rachael Lillis, Maddie
Blaustein, Ikue Otani, Ken
Gates, Dan Green, & Stan Hart
Audience: All ages
Runtime: 92 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama & Michael
Producer: Norman J. Grossfield, Choji
Yoshikawa, Yukako Matsusako, &
Writer: Michael Haigney, Norman J.
Grossfield, Takeshi Shudo, &
Address Comments To:Barry A. Meyer, Chairman/CEO
Warner Bros., Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
As with the other two POKEMON movies released in the United States, POKEMON 3: THE MOVIE features a short cartoon showcasing the comical adventures of Pikachu. The short precedes the main cartoon adventure.
Pikachu is a funny little Pokemon creature that looks like a cross between a rabbit and a cat. He befriends a young Pokemon trainer, Ash Ketchum, who trains Pikachu to battle other Pokemon, or “Pocket Monsters,” in tournament games. Vanquished Pokemon are not killed, but are weakened and recalled by their trainers into little round balls, where they re-energize. The other Pokemon look like turtles, plants, dogs, cats, lions, dragons, monkeys, and other animals with their own special powers and abilities based not only on their physical attributes, but also based on their connection with four basic elements, earth, wind, fire, and water. Pikachu is capable of karate kicks and head butts as well as electric shocks.
In the 22-minute short titled “Pikachu and Pichu,” Ash and his human friends Brock and Misty leave their Pokemon buddies alone to play in the big city while they go away to plan a surprise. Pikachu gets separated from the other Pokemon when two members of a related Pokemon species, the mischievous Pichu brothers, aggravate him. The three new playmates are chased further away by a Pokemon looking like a big angry dog. What ensues are more comical adventures, and Pikachu makes it back just in time for the big surprise.
“Pikachu and Pichu” is a funny little crowd-pleaser that captures the lively humor which exists in many of the shorts which appear on the actual TV cartoon series POKEMON. It has little of the objectionable characteristics in the POKEMON phenomenon that bothers many parents, including Christian parents.
The same positive things cannot be said, however, for the main cartoon adventure in POKEMON 3, which is titled “Spell of the Unown [sic].” The title alone, which is a play on the word “Unknown,” indicates the occult nature of this story. Even so, the occult forces at work in the story are not the worst part of the movie, mostly because they represent the thing which the heroes in the story, Ash and his friends, are trying to eliminate. Thus, the worst parts of the movie, not including the boring, repetitive cartoon violence that occurs, are the movie’s pagan fantasy elements. The pagan content comes complete with magical thinking and mystical, “legendary” creatures with God-like powers. These powers include the ability to hypnotize people and the ability to make people’s dreams come true. The mysterious “villains” in the story are overcome by the heroes’ humanist appeals to a little girl who has made idols out of one of these mystical creatures.
Thus, the story opens with little Molly Hale’s father, Spencer, disappearing while investigating the secrets of a mysterious Pokemon called the Unown. The Unown appear as 26 individual entities in the shape of letters of the alphabet. They apparently have the ability to read human dreams, thoughts and emotions, and to transform them into a special kind of reality.
Distraught, Molly dreams of only being reunited with her father, who was also searching for her mother, who also has disappeared. The Unown sense her loneliness, so they create a colossal wall of crystal around her home and send Entei, a lion-like Pokemon, to be her guardian and take the place of her father. Entei and the Unown desire to bring Molly’s wishes into reality. Thus, when she cries out for a mother, Entei hypnotizes and kidnaps Ash Ketchum’s mother, Delia, to take the place of Molly’s own mother. Ash and Pikachu follow to save his mother from the Unown and keep both her and Molly in the real world where they belong. Entei and the Unown transform Molly into an older Pokemon trainer like Ash and his friends Brock and Misty so that she can battle them with fantasy Pokemon. The fantasy Pokemon are always stronger than the Pokemon friends that Ash, Brock and Misty summon.
Eventually, Ash and his mother break through to Molly, teaching her that the “real” world, with its real Pokemon friends, is better than the fantasy realms created by Entei and the Unown Pokemon. The special powers of the Unown dissipate and Molly’s father re-appears. As the final credits roll, the movie shows Molly’s parents rejoining their daughter at their restored mansion.
The main adventure in POKEMON 3 is an excruciating experience. The battles between Ash and Entei seem to go on forever, with little of the famous POKEMON humor to break the monotony. The story also seems to miss a wonderful opportunity to have Molly and her parents reunite in a tearful, exciting climax, rather than just during the final credits. The audience full of kids at the preview screening seemed to remain relatively motionless in their seats throughout the movie. Of course, that may also be a sign that they were totally enthralled. If that were true, however, they didn’t seem all that enthusiastic when the movie finally ended.
Like many of the episodes on the TV series, the main adventure in POKEMON 3 stresses the importance of growing up and a preference for reality and friendship over wish fulfillment and exploitation of those weaker than us. This particular POKEMON movie has a humanist theme that overshadows these positive elements. Thus, Ash and his mother couch their appeals to Molly in humanist terms, sometimes in terms that favor “teamwork” above individuality.
Furthermore, although the movie’s humanism also overshadows its many pagan and occult elements, it does not completely shun them. Thus, the desire of Molly’s father to tap into the mystical, God-like powers of the “legendary” Pokemon called Entei and the Unown is never refuted. Indeed, the desire of the Pokemon trainers in POKEMON, including Ash and his friend Professor Oaks, who studies the creatures, is to capture the powers of these creatures for personal gain, knowledge and enjoyment.
Ever since the occult theosophy movement of the late 1800s, and perhaps long before that, many Americans have been captivated by the nominalistic religions of the Far East. This fascination seems to have increased since the 1960s, when mystical hippies, deluded environmentalists and other doped out radicals banded together to create something we now call the New Age. Hollywood is surrounded by New Age “psychic” businesses and Eastern mystics, and America’s TV sets are filled with images of psychic readers, fortune tellers and gurus who allegedly speak to dead people. Ironically, this New Age of Eastern, environmentalist activism has helped create an energy crisis in California that not only may threaten the economic collapse of America, but also may shut down Hollywood and turn off power to all those TV sets, or at least the Boob Tubes in the “Golden State,” also known as the Land of Nuts, Fruits and Flakes.
The idolatrous desire in POKEMON 3 and the rest of the POKEMON phenomenon to capture the occult and pagan powers of mystical, mysterious creatures is one manifestation of this New Age movement. It may seem relatively harmless and virtually non-existent on the surface, especially in a cute, funny little short like “Pikachu and Pichu.” Especially since the POKEMON stories are works of imaginative fiction and fantasy rather than works of history, natural science and social science. However, the Bible, in the Hebrew Scriptures, warns everyone to stay away from the kind of occult, pagan things depicted in POKEMON. Furthermore, Jesus Christ declares, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” These statements preclude any New Age hocus pocus.
Our God created us in His image with imagination and creativity to use that imagination and creativity to engage in close fellowship with the One True God and to love our neighbors as ourselves, in obedience to the revelation which He set before us in His Word.
The main adventure in POKEMON 3 is an excruciating experience. The battles seem to go on forever, with little of the famous POKEMON humor to break the monotony. This story also contains a solid humanist message within a strong pagan worldview and has occult elements and a New Age spirit that overshadows the moral elements in the movie. A cute, funny little POKEMON short precedes all this, but the Bible warns us to stay away from pagan, occult things like that depicted in the main adventure. Jesus Christ also declares, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” These statements preclude any New Age hocus pocus