ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution’ Manga Adaptation

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Pokémon Mewtwo Strikes Back - Evolution
Pokémon Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution

The story of Mewtwo and his battle with finding his place in the universe has been told more than any other story in the Pokémon franchise. Since 1998, the genetically modified Pokémon has made fans across the world search for their own purpose in life and the right ways to find that meaning through his existentialism. From manga to video games, to Pokémon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back, to even Detective Pikachu, Mewtwo has been a staple story that has been told in multiple mediums through the decades. Mewtwo makes a return to manga inPokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolutionan adaptation of the CGI remake of the 1998 movie which released in 2019. Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution is written by mangaka Machito Gomi who is currently working on the latest run of the Pocket Monsters manga and is being brought to an English market by Viz Media.

For the uninitiated Mewtwo, as described by the Pokémon Red/Blue Pokédex, “was created by a scientist after years of horrific gene splicing and DNA engineering experiments.” His unnatural creation would lead the Pokémon to question his purpose for being made. After being forced into servitude by humans, Mewtwo would lash out against his creators to prove Pokémon superiority.  Pokémon‘s titular heroes Ash Ketchum and Pikachu with his friends Misty and Brock are caught in the middle of this vendetta and look to help Mewtwo change. This would ultimately be the plot of Pokémon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back in 1998 which would go on to not only be one of the best video game movies of all time but also put Mewtwo on the map as one of the most popular characters in the franchise.  While with 2019 CGI remake of this movie wasn’t rated incredibly well, the movie was released simultaneously with a well-received manga adaptation in Japan. The English release of the manga looks to have a better run than its movie counterpart later this month.

The 2019 CGI remake of Pokémon: The First Movie is fairly faithful to the original with a nice coat of CGI paint on it. The story is virtually similar. After breaking free from human control, Mewtwo invites the strongest Pokémon trainers to compete against himself and his cloned Pokémon to prove who is truly the very best, like no one ever was. While the visual changes brought a different feel to the movie, it is difficult to translate CGI to manga in the 2-D medium. For that reason, readers of Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution can expect the same story as its counterpart but art much more in line with the 1998 movie and the current run of the Pocket Monsters manga by Gomi. A more CGI adapted art style may have been jarring to the reader but Gomi’s choice to maintain his own art style provides a connection to the past and the present that works well.

I am not always a huge fan of remakes or reboots, but Pokémon Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution serves as a great bridge for the fandom for old and new fans of the franchise. Pokémon has decades of providing manga that pops off the panels with stories that are engaging. Pokémon Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution is no exception. As there is not much change to the story, the manga is able to capture the magic of the original well. All of the moments that land with viewers of the movie, land just as hard on the pages of the manga. Older fans will appreciate the nostalgia that comes from a treasured story with updated art and panels. For newer fans, they will be able to experience not only the heartfelt moments and action but overall life lessons that stem from Mewtwo’s journey in the same glory.

Overall, the story of Mewtwo and his interaction with our heroes is fairly straightforward and easy to follow. There aren’t any changes that readers who know the story can expect that will throw them for a loop. This manga feels much more geared to help younger fans to experience the same story that their parents or older family experienced when they were kids. In this goal, I think they knock it out of the park. I often found myself reading the dialogue as the voice actors from the 90s while I am sure a younger fan will read the panels in the newer version of Ash. Both are valid and provide a continuing link that speaks to the staying of Pokémon as a franchise.

Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution will be available on August 11, 2020, wherever comics are sold.

Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution 
5

TL;DR

Overall, the story of Mewtwo and his interaction with our heroes is fairly straightforward and easy to follow. There aren’t any changes that readers who know the story can expect that will throw them for a loop. This manga feels much more geared to help younger fans to experience the same story that their parents or older family experienced when they were kids. In this goal, I think they knock it out of the park.