Sanae KobayashiDaisuke SakaguchiPokemonAi Satou
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Team Go-Getters Out Of The Gate!
Medium: TV
Year: 2006
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Original creator: Satoshi Tajiri
Writer: Aya Matsui
Actor: Daisuke Sakaguchi, Sanae Kobayashi, Yukana, Masato Amada, Mika Kikuchi, Nobutoshi Canna, Tarako, Tomoe Hanba, Ai Satou, Akio Suyama, Kenjiro Tsuda, Kenta Miyake, Kiyotaka Furushima, Kouzou Mito, Miki Narahashi
Keywords: Pokemon, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 21 minutes
Website category: Anime late 00s
Review date: 14 March 2013
It's another short Pokemon special, this time out of continuity and based on the spin-off Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games. It's also even goofier than you'd expect.
Firstly, the video game. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is, as the name suggests, the Pokemon variety of the Mystery Dungeon series. Others include Dragon Quest, Shiren the Wanderer and Chocobo. They're basically AD&D. (The gamer term is "roguelike", after an original game called Rogue which actually was based on Dungeons & Dragons.) You have levels, turns, permanent death and so on. Your party explores a dungeon, fights enemies and looks for money.
If this sounds violent, don't worry. Pokemon keeps the dungeon-style gameplay, but is a bit fluffier about it. Team Go-Getters Out Of The Gate! is based on the Red and Blue Rescue Team games. Your job is to make Rescue Teams. You can recruit other Pokemon (all 386, in fact) into your Rescue Team.
The plot of the anime is to help Pichu rescue her big brother, Pikachu, which is the game's third storyline after the Caterpie and Magnemite rescue missions. We'll be generous and overlook the fact that Pikachu has been through a gazillion adventures and so I'd have assumed he was a million times more badass than his supposed rescuers. It's in the game. Normal rules don't apply. That's simply what Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is. Other (extreme) peculiarities of the anime that are simply following the game's lead include:
(a) The main character is a human who wakes up as a Pokemon. This is never reversed and never explained. What was his past life? Are his parents worried about him? Does he care? Ssssh, you're not meant to be asking such questions.
(b) Thus, in this anime, Pokemon can talk. Well, except for Golbat and Shroomish.
(c) Our heroes talk about "going up a level" and getting more powerful. "I think you just went up a level!" That's freaky. Yes, I know level is all-important in AD&D and similar games, but I'd never imagined it to be something that even the characters within the fiction were aware of. Besides, I seem to remember that gaining skills was something you did between adventures, instead of having a "ping" magic fairy dust moment.
(d) The weirdness of having villains (the painfully named "Team Meanies") who are bad because... they're a rival Rescue Team! Darn it, the scoundrels! How will the world survive such wickedness! I guess they rescue people in order to spit in their tea or something.
(e) Our heroes' rescue equipment is neck scarves ("There's nothing we can't do!"), berries ("nutritious!") and some twigs.
Apart from all that, it's a standard Pokemon adventure. That's not a bad thing, obviously. Pokemon is good. I particularly loved the bit where our heroes help Team Meanies when they're down, because this is the Pokemon universe and you always help someone who's in trouble. Even if they're scum and they hate you, that doesn't matter. I think Western storytelling in general would be a lot healthier if we had more of that. I think it's inspiring.
However at the same time, it's goofy kiddy stuff that looks like any other Saturday morning cartoon and isn't demanding much subtlety from the voice actors. Michele Knotz is trying to emulate her Japanese counterpart's high-pitched voice as Pichu, although she's merely reaching "what the hell is that?" instead of "could be used as sonic weaponry to shoot planes out of the sky". There are also some eccentric choices from the actor playing the robot pterodactyl, i.e. the big baddie, although this is partially explained when we learn that the scariest villain here is actually a normal Pokemon who'd simply had a bump on the head. In this episode, no one is evil. I like that too.
My favourite Pokemon were the Shroomish, who are jellyfish-like octopi.
It's a fun throwaway. It passes twenty minutes. It's amusing. There would be a million episodes like it if it weren't for all the weird game-inspired plot points, which at times for me made the episode surreal. Unusually it's animated by Team Koitabashi, storyboarded by Kunihiko Yuyama and has music producers in the credits, all of which are hallmarks of the feature films rather than TV specials. It also ends with "To be continued", but apparently doesn't. Other Pokemon Mystery Dungeon anime include Explorers of Time & Darkness and Explorers of Sky - Beyond Time & Darkness, both of which are based on games of the same name. This one's memorable mostly for being nutty, but that's better than being unmemorable.