Hello everyone. I'm Rodrigo, bringing you news about Pokémon TCG in general. Celebrating today, on 10/25/2023, it has been 21 years since the Western release of the movie Pokémon 4Ever: Celebi - Voice of the Forest, officially released in cinemas in 2002 by Miramax in the West, known as Pokémon 4Ever - Celebi: The Voice of the Forest in the United States.
In Japan, Pokémon movies always premiered a year earlier, on July 7, 2001, under the name 劇場版ポケットモンスター セレビィ 時を超えた遭遇 Pocket Monsters the Movie - Celebi: Encounter Beyond Time, also known as Celebi: A Timeless Encounter. This movie even had a manga adaptation with the same title.
Among the first five movies of the Kanto/Johto era, it was the last one to be shown in theaters, as its sequel, Pokémon Heroes: Latios & Latias, went directly to pay-per-view TV and DVDs. In cinemas, it marked the end of the period when Wizards of the Coast gave out promotional cards, featuring the iconic Celebi and Suicune.
The story is set about 40 years in the past of the official anime timeline, focusing on the Johto region. It takes place after episode 207 of the Johto arc (titled "Where's Armaldo?"), depicting the pursuit of the mythical Pokémon Celebi by a bounty hunter's Houndoom and Scyther. During this time, a boy named Sammy visits the location to sketch and is approached by Towa, a young lady who warns him about the myth of the "Voice of the Forest."
After the warning and venturing into the depths of the area, Sammy witnesses the pursuit of the Pokémon and escapes with Celebi to an altar where the Pokémon uses its power to time-travel and flee the location.
Jumping forward 40 years, a member of Team Rocket, Iron-Masked Marauder, becomes aware of these rumors and interrogates the old bounty hunter by using his Pokémon from captivity as leverage. He demonstrates his new technology with a malevolent Poké Ball called the Dark Ball, which turns any captured Pokémon into an evil version.
The movie follows Ash, Misty, and Brock as they journey through the region and are recommended to visit this forest. Upon arriving, they meet an aged Towa, along with her granddaughter Diana. Coincidentally, they witness the exact moment when Sammy arrives in that time period, tying the plot together.
Influence of Johto Legendary Beasts
Within the classic Johto era movies, only Ash Ketchum saw the appearances of two members of the trio: Entei in the third feature and Suicune in the fourth movie.
However, many people are unaware that indeed, Raikou had a role in the animated media of that time, within a spin-off of the franchise called "Jimmy" in the anime universe, featured in a three-episode OVA series titled Pokémon Chronicles: The Legend of Thunder!.
In this story, Team Rocket members Atilla and Hun try to capture Raikou, but Jimmy ("Gold/Ethan"), Marina (equivalent to "Crystal/Kris" in the games), Vincent, and Eugene deal with the villains to rescue the legendary Pokémon.
(Left to right: Eugene, Kris, Ethan, and Vincent)
(Left to right: Hun and Atilla)
Movie's Influence on the TCG
Promotional Cards by Wizards of the Coast & Nintendo
The initial versions of these promotional cards had the layout of the e-Cards, which were a mechanic that could be used with a device attached to your Game Boy Advance, granting access to exclusive data.
In Japan, there was a different artwork for these cards, created by the same illustrator, Hajime Kusajima:
In the second batch of promo cards, without the involvement of Wizards of the Coast, but with Nintendo producing the cards, they adopted the layout that would be used for the Ruby/Sapphire block. In Brazil, at the time, Devir was responsible for this.
Celebi was distributed in cinemas, while Suicune was only available with the VHS/DVD version.
Influences of the Movie on Pokémon
In the movie, the villain Iron-Masked Marauder uses the Dark Ball to corrupt Pokémon captured by it. In the plot, Celebi is corrupted at a certain point, and this inspired the release of a related card.
From the Ruby & Sapphire: Hidden Legends expansion, a new mechanic was introduced that allowed the use of "Dark" Pokémon with a "Dark" typing as an alternative form, which was implemented for Celebi, making it a Grass/Dark type and enabling it to use Dark Energy (considered a Special Energy at that time).
To conclude, Celebi itself had other promotional cards based on the movie, titled Timeless Celebi. The first card followed the e-Card layout, and the second was included in a promotional kit for the 10th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise, honoring legendary Pokémon from movies spanning the Kanto to Sinnoh regions.
Consequences of the Hybrid Dark Type Mechanic on Pokémon Archetypes
As mentioned earlier, this change also affected the way the TCG dealt with certain cards. When the Ruby/Sapphire: Team Rocket’s Returns expansion was released, the presence of "Dark Pokémon" returned with strength.
The concept of "Dark Pokémon" had existed since the time of Wizards of the Coast, but it didn't include using Darkness Energy RS 93 as part of the mechanic, which made them more versatile with two typings.
Likely influenced by the success of Tyranitar of the Iron-Masked Marauder, a card for Tyranitar was introduced with a similar theme.
There was also a purely Dark version of Tyranitar, featuring the Dark typing.
Pokémon of the Movie Characters
And as expected, the villain Iron-Masked Marauder also had his Pokémon represented on cards.
1) Destructor Beam Attack (D): Flip a coin. If heads, discard an energy from the opponent's active Pokémon.
2) Slam Attack (C)(C)(C): Flip two coins, and for each heads, this attack deals 30 times the damage for each hit.
His signature Pokémon (Tyranitar, Sneasel, and Scizor) originally came in the Japanese expansion known as Pokémon VS, which was exclusive to Japan and never made it to the West. However, in rare cases, these cards were released in the West, such as the Sneasel and Scizor promos from the Best of Games mini-set.
Thanks to the Team Rocket’s Returns expansion, it is highly likely that some of the Pokémon shown in the movie had their "corrupted" versions, including the entire Scyther and Scizor evolutionary line (which could be considered a theory).
And of course, we can't forget the best music from Johto, which marked the era as one of the best: Born to be a Winner.
Did you enjoy these interesting facts? Did you know some of this information? Feel free to comment below about your experience.
Until next time!