Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Pokemon: Jirachi Wish Maker was released to Japanese theaters on July 19, 2003. The English dub was released straight-to-video on June 1, 2004. Miramax Films has the distribution rights to the film in the United States.
Pokemon: Jirachi Wish Maker centers around the Millennium Comet. This comet appears in the night sky for seven nights once every 1,000 years (hence, its name). The legendary Pokemon named Jirachi also awakens from its slumber when the comet comes in order to absorb the comet's energy. A magician named Butler, along with his partner Diane, find the stone that encases Jirachi.
Ash and his friends arrive at a festival that is celebrating the arrival of the comet. May buys a novelty item with seven panels; it is said that if a panel is closed each night the comet appears, one wish will be granted. While at the festival, they catch one of Butler's performances. Max hears a voice coming from the stage when Diane displays Jirachi's stone to the audience, and rushes up to the stage to investigate. Ash follows in hot pursuit.
When they get to the stage, they end up being "volunteered" for a magic trick by Butler. After the performance, Ash and his friends meet Butler and Diane, and learn about Jirachi being inside the stone. Butler allows Max to take the stone, and it hatches into Jirachi. Ash and his friends learn that Jirachi's wish granting power is really a form of teleportation. And it also turns out that the group learns that Butler's intentions for Jirachi aren't as innocent as they seem. Can Ash and his friends save Jirachi from Butler's plans?
Pokemon: Jirachi Wish Maker clocks in at 81 minutes, which is just the right length for the story being told in the film. Like the other Pokemon films, some attempts were made to combine computer graphics with the 2D animation. Unfortunately, the computer animated portions are still standing out too much from the 2D animation and calling attention to itself.
On this disc, the short "Gotta Dance," which was shown before the film in Japanese theaters, is included as one of the special features. In this short, Team Rocket has built a new base. They have captured three Whismur to help provide entertainment when Giovanni (the leader of Team Rocket) arrives to see the base. Meowth creates a special baton to make the Whismur cooperate. Pikachu, as well as some of the Pokemon owned by Ash and his friends, find themselves at the base. Much of the humor in the short is derived from the running gag of the baton being inadvertently turned on or off.
The next special feature is a trivia game. This is exactly like the trivia games that appeared on Pokemon 4Ever and Pokemon Heroes. The disc randomly chooses a set of seven questions, and the viewer uses the remote to answer them.
Next is "Message from the Director, Mr. Yuyama." This 45-second feature is in Japanese with English subtitles. The director thanks the audience for watching the movie, and he says he is location scouting for the next movie.
The "Make a Wish" music video is for the song that is used in the ending credits of the film. The video, which runs for about six minutes, combines footage of the singer with footage from the film; most of the film footage used features Jirachi. At the beginning, the video is labeled as "Pokemon Edit"; I assume that means that this version of the video included footage from Pokemon: Jirachi Wish Maker.
The "Pokemon Character Scrapbook" is a series of still images that not only include pictures of most of the Pokemon shown in the film or the short, but also include the name, the height, weight, species, and abilities for each one. The Pokemon included in this feature are: Absol, Flygon, Dusclops, Kirlia, Pikachu, Whismur, Torchic, Mudkip, Lotad, Ludicolo, Loudred, Seviper, Wobbuffet, Treecko, and Cacnea. However, it should be noted that Meowth was not included in this feature.
The final extra on the disc is "Jirachi Wish Maker Original Artwork," which is a series of still images. The images included in this feature are stills from the movie, production art, and even a storyboard.
Pokemon: Jirachi Wish Maker is a good film. The DVD extras are also a little better than what appeared on some of the earlier DVD releases of the Pokemon films. If you're a fan of Pokemon, you should have this film in your DVD collection.
In order to write this review, I checked out a copy of the DVD through the King County Library System.