Pokémon Hoopa and the Clash of Ages is the 18th Pokemon movie overall, the second of the XY series, and was released theatrically in Japan back in July 2015. The dub premiere, however, was in December, with the US home video release in March of this year, though it was DVD-only. Manga’s UK release of this film is available on both Blu-ray and DVD, a pleasant change from the predominantly DVD-only Pokemon movie releases in the UK from Universal. Prior to this movie, the only movies available on blu-ray were movies 4 and 5, in a double pack from Miramax. Manga’s release is also available at the bargain price of £7.99 for the blu-ray and £4.99 as of the time I’m writing this review.
For the first time since 2001’s Pokemon 4Ever, Hideki Sonoda is not the screenwriter of the original Japanese work, with Atsuhiro Tomioka instead taking over. In that respect, the generic-ness of this movie, feeling exactly like a typical Pokemon movie and nothing more is a credit to his ability to write a story similar to the previous writer. As is tradition for Pokemon movies, the latest legendary Pokemon takes centre stage, making it feel like a story worthy of being a movie, rather than just being an extended episode. This technique may be old, but it’s effective.
This movie focuses on Hoopa, a legendary Pokemon able to summon objects, people, and other Pokemon through its rings. In the past, Hoopa was incredibly powerful but was sealed after rampaging. In the present time, the confined, adorable, Hoopa is playing with its rings when it runs into Ash. Ash gets to know Hoopa and its family, learning that Baraz has been searching for the artefact in which Hoopa’s unbound form was sealed in order to return it when the time is right. Naturally, an evil from within the bottle, possesses him, causing him to release the power, Hoopa proceeds to lose control, needing to be sealed once again. When the artefact is broken, Hoopa Unbound, rather than taking over Hoopa Confined, becomes its own being, with the clash this leads to resulting in an impressive battle in which many legendary Pokemon are summoned to fight alongside the two forms of Hoopa. Some of these Pokemon don’t appear often, so it’s nice to see them again.
I reviewed the DVD version of this title, and while the visual quality was perfectly acceptable, in line with previous UK releases, including PAL speedup, there is a superior blu-ray version available. The DVD features a typically soft image, with the occasional judder in some panning shots, though nothing overly offensive. The only audio option available is a 2.0 English dub, as is to be expected when dealing with TPCi. There is 5.1 audio track in existence, but I wouldn’t consider the lack of this on the UK release a dealbreaker – the 5.1 mixes of the more recent Pokemon movies haven’t been impressive, as the dubs are primarily aimed at children watching on TV, rather than the nostalgic adults that they should be targeting. A stereo blu-ray release is infinitely more appealing than a surround sound DVD anyway. My retail blu-ray did arrive before writing this review, so I took a quick look at it, and it is also 2.0 only, but the video is 1080p24, unlike some other English-friendly Region B Pokemon blu-rays in the past have been. However, if 5.1 is a must for you, Universal Pictures Germany are due to release their Blu-ray this week, and the last couple of German releases have included a 5.1 English dub track alongside the 5.1 German track, though the video does usually include German titles.
There are three anime designed to accompany this movie, as follows:
Hoopa’s Appearance! Operations – six 40 second segments about Hoopa
Pikachu and the Pokemon Musicians – the standard Pikachu short created to accompany a movie
Pokemon: Hoopa, The Mischief of Pokemon – A prequel short revolving around Hoopa
Unfortunately, Manga’s release of the movie on both DVD and blu-ray lacks these extras, despite at least two of them having been dubbed, or extras of any kind whatsoever. This is typical fare for a post-Warner Brothers UK Pokemon release, but still a bit disappointing to see. At the price it can be picked up for though, £7.99 for the blu-ray on Amazon, this release is easy to recommend to Pokemon fans in the UK. I’m looking forward to getting a hold of Manga’s next Pokemon blu-rays next month with their original trilogy collection.
This release is a great start to releasing Pokemon in the UK by Manga; though the product does have some room for improvement, it is already better than other recent UK Pokemon releases from Universal. The movie itself while not one of the best feature-length Pokemon outings is a perfectly serviceable specimen, though perhaps underwhelming in that it is just another Pokemon movie, with no real identity of its own.