Out of all the Pokémon Movies, and there are a LOT of them, Lucario and the Mystery of Mew has the most diehard fans. It’s not hard to see why because the movie is good, there’s a wealth of lore, character death, and Lucario as a Pokémon has a good design and appeals to a wide demographic including furries. Despite this, there are far too many missed opportunities and the parts do not make a solid and cohesive whole. As a teenager I also loved this movie, but as an adult I can see more of the faults and there are many. Does that mean the movie is ruined or is this a tale worth revisiting? (Side Note: I’m covering the movies currently available for free on the Pokémon TV app since they’re easy to access for the reader. The app skips movies 4-7 which is why I am covering the Lucario movie and not the Celebi movie.)
The movie opens with a war between two non-distinct sides fighting, Lucario caught in the fire below. Queen watches as the armies are marching toward their clash with Cameron Castle threatened to be caught in the middle. She fears for the lives of the people, but knows her fate will be the same as the castle. Sir Aaron, Pokémon equivalent of a knight, must leave and Queen Rin acknowledges this will be the last she sees of him. Aaron runs into Lucario and tells him that he is abandoning the castle and the queen, throwing his staff and sealing Lucario inside. Sir Aaron heads to the tree of life, a weird formation in the distance, and does something there which we’re not privy to yet and saves the land. The war halts and peace is spread throughout the land. We then see this was actually a story told to a child by her mother. Fun fact, they appear in nearly every Pokémon movie after this point. The intro then plays and places emphases on the passage of time since the conflict in the prologue.
Current day, there’s a festival celebrating Sir Aaron at Cameron Palace and Ash and his friends are on their way to join in. The crew dons medieval costumes and a battle tourney ensures accompanied by the theme song. Ash wins, obviously, and he is honored at the ball that night. Brock actually gets to dance with a woman for once and is both excited and extremely nervous about it. Adorable. This movie is the second after they stopped having a small cute short of cute Pokemon before the feature. While it handles this more gracefully than the previous Deoxys movie, which stops dead in its tracks to have the Pokémon play on a playground, it’s still noticeable when the movie has no consequence Pokemon play time for a good minute or two. Throughout the feature, a Pokémon that keeps changing appearance has been wondering about and observing the festival. We find out this Pokemon is Mew as the woman Brock was dancing with, apparently a certified bad ass, leaves the dance floor and ghosts our man to loudly announce there’s a Mew on the loose. This woman is Kidd Summers and she’s on the hunt for some reason.
This movie serves as an introduction to a lot of generation 4 Pokemon which is more obvious in some parts than others. Later, a Bonsly tags along for no reason, a Mime Jr mimics everyone, and Kidd releases two Weavile who do a weird dance routine. They go to capture Mew and after their fight almost ends in victory, Mew teleports away with Pikachu and Meowth in tow. Meanwhile, Ash ends the dance and signals the start of the fireworks by holding the same staff Lucario was sealed in aloft and Lucario pops out, mistaking Ash for Aaron and accusing him of abandoning the queen. Everyone is shocked to see this Pokémon from the legend and he’s shocked to learn centuries have passed and all his friends are dead. Add on to that Ash learning of Pikachu being “kidnapped” and the conflict is set in motion.
This is where I normally end the summary since I want to leave things for you the reader to experience if you decide to give the movie a watch, game a play, and so on. I can’t here because at this point, the movie becomes an entirely different movie. The tree of life is where Pikachu and Meowth have been taken by Mew. It’s called the tree of life because it’s literally alive and Mew is symbiotic to the tree. It literally has veins with white blood cells and antibodies. The second half of the movie is about the crew plus team rocket getting attacked by the tree’s antibodies because Kidd sends out a bunch of robots to drill into the tree. As a result, the tree gets sick and almost dies and they have to fix that issue. It’s really bizarre and feels pretty disjointed from the medieval fantasy. The best part are the strange noises the Regi trio make. I feel like they’re about to drop a fat beat.
This movie was the first to introduce the concept of aura to the Pokemon universe which comes up a few times in the diamond and pearl anime. It’s basically the force from star wars. It’s why Lucario mistakes Ash for Aaron at first because Ash is able to use aura and has a similar one to Aaron. The movie also did really well in Japan, remaining first in anime releases and domestic releases for most of its six week run. It placed second overall in 2005 losing the first spot to Howl’s Moving Castle. It made about 4.3 billion yen ($36.4 million) in total which is not bad for domestic only.
In America, this movie was straight to DVD and packaged with the awful 10th anniversary short “The Mastermind of Mirage Pokemon.” The short is awful for many reasons, but mostly for spelling doomed for the voice actors we’d known since childhood. The short was Pokémon Company USA’s way of beta testing some new voice actors. The show was going to be distributed and dubbed by them after the current season of the anime finished airing. 4kids held the rights to the dubbing and contracts with the current voice actors and due to the wording in their contracts; they were not able to reprise their roles. Fs in chat for Veronica Taylor, Rachel Lillis, Eric Stuart, Madeleine Blaustein (rest in peace), and the rest of our beloved crew. Rachel Lillis was still able to voice Jigglypuff in the Smash Bros games because her contract there was not the same as the one with 4kids. The original narrator, swapped for another voice reasons unknown in the ruby and sapphire anime, was able to reprise his role as narrator when PUSA took over due to no longer having a contract with 4kids. This all culminated in a phrase that may bring back memories to many deep lore Pokémon nerd; Save Our Voice Actors (or SOVA). As you can imagine, fans were EXTREMELY displeased with the switch in voice actors and there were petitions, angry rants, crying, and leading the charge was Meowth voice actor herself; Madeleine Blaustein. Of course nothing came of it, but in 2007 SOVA and forum signatures of solidarity for our favorite characters were unavoidable. This is yet another reason I believe fans love this movie so much. It was a send off to the Ash of our childhoods. And I can absolutely understand that.
However, the movie has its fair share of flaws. The imdb score currently sits at a 6.9/10 and I’d say that’s fair. Fans skew more in favor, as always, and on Google it has a 96% like rate. The setting is great, the medieval background is great, the characters are all great, the animation is spectacular, but these parts do not make a cohesively good whole. About halfway through the movie, we are introduced to time flowers. These flowers are made from crystal and project a holographic image of whatever happened the last time they were touched. The only purpose they serve is for some flashbacks Lucario would not have known about and for a tearful speech at the end. There’s a better way to have done this without shoehorning in a weird flashback machine. Lucario could use aura to share his memories and we see things his aura captured without his knowing. At the end when we see Sir Aaron sacrificed himself to power up Mew and stop the armies, have his lingering aura show an after image of him and his tearful speech. You could even have Lucario’s aura power his up. Aura is established in universe, do more with it. Develop it more instead of going into these random flowers that barely play a role.
You could even involve Celebi instead of Mew and travel back through time to see things from Lucario’s time. Pokemon is no stranger to time travel. I also wish the movie had done more with the medieval setting instead of going to the much cheaper to animate cave scenes of the second half. Tell more about Lucario and Aaron instead of this weird symbiotic white blood cell tree. The first half is really good, but the second half looses me. In one part they come to a road that has random geysers shooting up and stop for an entire day to the play in the hot springs. There are many weird decisions like that once we leave the castle. Considering this movie went into production around the same time as the previous movie, which shows because it is overall much better, there were times to fine tune the script. Also Max feeds chocolate to jackal and like bro, chocolate is not good for dogs. What are you doing.
I’ll stop airing my grievances now. The movie is still good, but just not as good as you remember. There are a lot of missed opportunities, despite the longer production period some things feel weirdly rushed or added in because there was no time for revisions. When looking up information, it’s clear there’s still a lot of fan love for this movie even to this day. I can’t say it’s not undeserved, I just mourn the wasted potential. You’ll still enjoy this one if you decide to watch it, just don’t feel bad if you decide to tune out halfway through and skip to the end. You really aren’t missing much. Except for DJ Regi and his sick new mix tape.