Mewtwo Returns released in Japan as Pocket Monsters: Mewtwo! I Am Here (ポケットモンスター ミュウツー! 我ハココニ在リ Poketto Monsutā Mewtwo! Ware wa Koko ni Ari), is an animated film based on the Pokémon anime, and is the direct follow-up to Pokémon: The First Movie. It originated as a feature-length TV special in Japan on December 30, 2000 and was released on VHS and DVD in Japan on March 21, 2001. It went direct-to-video in Australia on August 17, 2001 then in the United States (This is the last film to be distributed by Warner Bros. Entertainment, in the US) and Canada on December 4, 2001.
In the American dubbed version, the DVD (but not the VHS) features a second mini-feature in addition to the movie feature named The Uncut Story of Mewtwo’s Origin. This 10-minute segment was originally part of Mewtwo Strikes Back’s running length in the Japanese version, but it was cut from the U.S. release of that movie because it was deemed too dark and morose for the film’s American “G” rating. Taken together with Mewtwo Strikes Back, comprise the life story revolving around Mewtwo, one of the more popular Pokémon characters particularly due to his rather human-like personality among most other Pokémon species. They are noted in chronological order below.
The Uncut Story of Mewtwo's Origin
The devious leader of Team Rocket Organization, Giovanni, has a fervent ambition to take control of the Pokémon world through both financial and military means. To achieve his military needs, he covets a Pokémon stronger and more adept than any other, a veritable living war weapon, so he enlists a scientist named Doctor Fuji to create this being from the DNA of the rarest and most powerful of Pokémon, Mew, which Fuji had found on a previous jungle expedition. Fuji accepts, for he is heavily into the prospect of cloning to create and restore life itself, because of his love for his deceased daughter, Amber. At the time of her tragic death, Fuji was devastated. Rather than trying to overcome his grief, Fuji figured he could instead clone Amber, and was in the process of creating Amber's consciousness in his offshore laboratory. However, his wife, as much as she loved their daughter, could not bear to see Fuji’s misguided drive to tinker with life, and thus she parted with him for good. Fuji then received the order from Giovanni to commence the Mew cloning project, which he continued while trying to clone Amber.
A while passes, and a now physical, but young, Mewtwo rests in an unconscious slumber of development inside a containment cell, next to a cell containing the glowing conscience of a cloned Amber. Mewtwo stirs in mind and begins to communicate with the artificial conscience of Ambertwo in a plane of limbo, and the two entities grow a personal bond. This exchange is tragically short-lived, however, as the inability of science to recreate souls catches up with the project, and Ambertwo’s consciousness fades into the darkness forever with the other prospective clones. She leaves the traumatized Mewtwo with the advice that life is wonderful, and to be alive is the greatest gift he has. Mewtwo, confused by her departure, succumbs to grief and desperately calls out for Amber telepathically, his brainwaves nearly overloading the lab’s systems. Fuji immediately administers a hundred doses of serum, forcing Mewtwo to be subdued into an artificial state of calmness and ignorance of what just transpired. Fuji, emotionally broken by the now-permanent loss of his daughter, is now intent on ensuring that Mewtwo, his brainchild, survives.
Alone in the darkness, and unaware of whatever he apparently lost, Mewtwo develops in size and power, but is tormented in sleep by a single, cryptic question: “Life is wonderful… but why?”
Confused to his surroundings, Mewtwo summons the strength to break free of his tank. But upon learning of the selfish intentions of the scientists and how little they care for him, he destroys the lab and everything in it, beginning "Mewtwo Strikes Back", the first movie.
Mewtwo, his heart having been softened by the selfless example of the human named Ash Ketchum back in his birthland in the eastern Kanto region, has now traveled to the western region of Johto in search of a location that is unreachable by the prying eyes and harsh judgments of humans for the sake of his band of cloned Pokémon, with whose welfare Mewtwo is solely concerned. He eventually finds the perfect hideaway: a huge mountain named Mt. Quena, surrounded by steep cliffs that are practically impossible to scale, but in its top is a forest and a freshwater lake that makes for a near-utopia for all the Bug Pokémon living there. This is a perfect fit for Mewtwo’s band, so thus they settle in the top of Mt. Quena and begin a new, safe life, with Mewtwo watching over as their guardian, as he feels they cannot belong in the world as they were not born in it (Interestingly enough, he seems particularly close to the Pikachu and Meowth clones, possibly reflecting how important their templates were in his change of heart).
At the end of the first movie, Mewtwo erased all memory of the events from all those involved. However, due to his not being on New Island at the time, Giovanni has not forgotten about Mewtwo, and has been concocting a military plan of assault upon wherever Mewtwo has settled to take the Pokémon back for himself. He at last locates Mewtwo in his new mountain retreat and begins his operation to assault and capture Mewtwo and bend his will to Giovanni’s. The Team Rocket combat unit heads towards Mt. Quena.
Ash and his friends and Pikachu, on their Pokémon journey as always, are now passing through the area around Mt. Quena, but complications with the weather and the bus service force them to stay at a cabin at the foot of the mountain, where they would meet the Pokémon naturalists Luna Carson (voiced by Amy Birnbaum) and Cullen Calix (Scottie Ray) and the spunky girl Domino (Kerry Williams) who works for a Pokémon institute. But then a break-in and attempted thievery of Pikachu by the classic antics of the Team Rocket trio Jessie, James, and Meowth, and soon a series of turbulent events involving a scuffle on a hot air balloon, leads everyone into the airspace of Mt. Quena.
There everyone sees the approaching Combat Unit, and Domino, revealing herself in league with Team Rocket Organization as elite Agent 009 (or, as she calls herself, The Black Tulip), pops their balloon and sends everyone else plummeting onto the mountain while she returns to Giovanni to report on Mewtwo’s status. Giovanni’s operation to capture Mewtwo begins in earnest, with Ash and his friends and nemeses caught up in the core of it. Giovanni eventually succeeds in capturing Mewtwo with the threat that the other Pokémon clones would be his to capture and experiment if Mewtwo didn’t comply. With Ash and the Pokémon Clones in custody, Giovanni’s operation is successful, and he immediately capitalizes by ordering the construction of a new Team Rocket base on the mountain.
The characters and all other cloned Pokémon that attempted to protect Mewtwo are then locked away in a prison cell, along with two mother Pokémon attempting to protect their offspring. While in the cell Meowth translates what the other Pokémon are saying: They’re coming... and they’re very angry. They’re mad at whoever is polluting the lake and they’ve come to stop them. Domino eventually releases Jessie and James and puts them to work cleaning the new base.
Giovanni’s greed for new Team Rocket bases becomes his worst mistake; without warning, a swarm of furious Bug Pokémon (that Meowth was referring to) from the mountain sabotages the Team Rocket base that is polluting the freshwater lake, and the ensuing chaos allows Ash and everyone with him to escape and scatter. Ash rushes over to Mewtwo, believing that this is the first time he’s seen Mewtwo, and he and Brock try to free Mewtwo from the machines that are suppressing his mind and body, partly as thanks for Mewtwo protecting Pikachu earlier. However, Mewtwo is weak from using what was left of his power and strength to destroy the machines that held him, putting his life force in jeopardy, but Ash carries Mewtwo away from Giovanni’s battle while Brock, Misty and the other clones along with the bug Pokémon keep Team Rocket occupied.
Mewtwo asks Ash why he’s helping him, to which Ash replies that you don’t need a reason to help someone in trouble. Mewtwo reflects that Ash may be one-of-a-kind, but Ash says that everyone is. As they reach the heart of the mountain, Ash throws Mewtwo into a healing spring that restores his power, prompting Mewtwo to finally accept that he is a real Pokémon, as the water affects him just as it affected others. The Pokémon clone rises and uses all his psychic powers to move the lake and the spring underground, and then uses his mind-erasing powers to clear Giovanni’s mind of Mewtwo, the clones, and Mt. Quena. Team Rocket are transported away from the mountain, with the exception of Jessie, James and Meowth, who had hidden in a cave during the battle.
Ash, Meowth and various Pokémon convince Mewtwo not to erase their minds as well, because though Mewtwo would mean well to do so to keep knowledge of this natural sanctuary hidden from the destructive tendencies of humanity, Ash assures that he would permanently keep the mountain’s secret unrevealed at any rate. Mewtwo agrees and personally thanks Ash for all his help and understanding, and he departs on his own as all the Clone Pokémon leave to lead life as natural Pokémon in the wild, sending Ash and co. in a Pikachu balloon and Jessie, James and Meowth in their normal balloon. As Ash, Misty and Brock were walking through a city, Ash hears Mewtwo’s voice "I Will remember you always". The narrator concludes the movie with the rumors of a Pokémon who traversed the city at night.
- Luna Carson
- Cullen Calix
- Luka Carson
- Team Rocket Grunts
- Various characters from Mewtwo Strikes Back (flashback)
- Pikachu (Ash's)
- Meowth (Team Rocket)
- Togepi (Misty's)
- Bulbasaur (Ash's)
- Chikorita (Ash's)
- Goldeen (Misty's)
- Staryu (Misty's)
- Poliwhirl (Misty's)
- Onix (Brock's)
- Geodude (Brock's)
- Golbat (Brock's)
- Pineco (Brock's)
- Wobbuffet (Jessie's)
- Persian (Giovanni's)
- Mewtwo (anime)
- Pikachu (clone)
- Charizard (clone)
- Bulbasaur (clone)
- Squirtle (clone)
- Psyduck (clone)
- Vulpix (clone)
- Nidoqueen (clone)
- Gyarados (clone)
- Golduck (clone)
- Tentacruel (clone)
- Seadra (clone)
- Vaporeon (clone)
- Venusaur (clone)
- Sandslash (clone)
- Pidgeot (clone)
- Hitmonlee (clone)
- Rhyhorn (clone)
- Scyther (clone)
- Blastoise (clone)
- Wigglytuff (clone)
- Ninetales (clone)
- Vileplume (clone)
- Ninetales (clone)
- Rapidash (clone)
- Butterfree (multiple)
- Ledian (multiple)
- Kakuna (multiple)
- Beedrill (multiple)
- Scyther (multiple)
- Mew (cameo and flashback)
- Various characters from Mewtwo Strikes Back (flashback)
- This special premiered in Japan between the episodes The Grass Route and The Apple Corp!.
- Before blasting off the first time by typhoon, Team Rocket said "How many times must our plans be destroyed, before they’re allowed to be tried? The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind!" which is a reference to the Bob Dylan's song "Blowin' in the Wind".
- This special has never been aired in Britain, even though a dub exists, and it's been released on VHS there.
- This was the first time that any part of the anime franchise, other than openings, used digital coloring.
- Meowth's clone was never dubbed, saying its Japanese name of Nyarth. It is unknown why this happened.
- The cloned Meowth also says its Japanese name in Mewtwo Strikes Back, so it is possible this was done for consistency.
- During the conversation between Ash's Pikachu, Pikachutwo, and Mewtwo (immediately following Pikachu's arrival on the island), James comments "This is like the sequel to a movie I missed." Breaking the fourth wall, this comment is essentially true, since James does not recall the events of Mewtwo Strikes Back.
- Music from Mewtwo Strikes Back is used.
- The cloned Nidoqueen and Rhyhorn are shown to have mated and produced offspring; however, while in the games, not only is Nidoqueen unable to produce Eggs, but if she could, the babies would all be the earliest member of the female evolutionary line. However, this may relate to their nature as clones, although the fact Ash and co. didn't question their existence (or know about the clones yet) would suggest it was simply an error or that the anime has different rules than the games.
- At the end, Mewtwo overlooks a city that bears similarities to New York City (buildings that look similar to the Empire State Building and MetLife Building can also be seen).
- It may be suggested that Mewtwo let Ash know they had a previous encounter as Ash said "This time we'll both be able to remember." However, this is dub-added only.
- While on the Blastoise, Meowth has a discoloration on his feet.
- When the clones are captured by Team Rocket's Poké Balls, they are shown being captured as white energy instead of red energy which is shown in all other cases - again, this could be attributed to their nature as clones. It could also just be the nature of the balls themselves.
- Team Rocket's Poké Balls vanish upon releasing the captured clones - although this may have been meant to signify their destruction by Mewtwo.
- When being swarmed by angry Bug Pokémon, Giovanni orders to have them all killed in the Japanese version. This may have been removed from the dub because Team Rocket is portrayed mostly as thieves in America, rather than actual cold-hearted villains.