If you’re a 90’s baby like me, chances are that you grew up on Pokemon. Between the video games, the anime, and the trading card game, Pokemon was all the rage during the turn of the millennia. For fans since the very first generation, one of their earliest and most impactful memories with the franchise is watching Pokemon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back.
By now every pocket monster fan knows the story of Mewtwo, a human-engineered Pokemon who seeks to find his true purpose by plotting vengeance against mankind. It is probably the Pokemon anime’s deepest and most emotional story and arguably still holds up as the best movie in its catalog. Its legacy is so strong that on Pokemon Day 2020 (February 27), a CGI remake was released worldwide on Netflix entitled Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution.
While critical reception for the remake received mixed reviews, it is now accompanied by a manga adaptation written and illustrated by Machito Gomi. The release of the manga is significant because it marks the first time that a literary adaptation of the movie will be made available for purchase to the public. The original release of the 1999 movie also featured an accompanying manga written by Toshihiro Ono, but it was only published in a single issue of CoroCoro Comic and never in a collected volume.
For fans who have been waiting over twenty years for the manga adaptation of Mewtwo’s plight, their prayers have at last been answered. Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution remains faithful to the classic story with gorgeous artwork that harks back to the original movie’s animation.
For those familiar with the story, there is not much to be surprised by the manga’s narrative. Nearly every scene from the movie is replicated in a monochromatic fashion. While this may seem repetitive, it actually channels a lot of nostalgia, especially if you haven’t watched the movie in some time. Gomi’s artwork provides a unique charm to the classic Pokemon featured and his depictions of battles spring off the page. The duel between Ash’s Charizard and its clone, along with Mew and Mewtwo’s great clash are two of the most exceptional scenes I’ve seen in any Pokemon media.
The detail in Gomi’s illustrations infuses personality within each Pokemon, being especially noticeable with Mewtwo himself. He writes and draws Mewtwo so that he displays much more emotion in regards to his mission, making him a much deeper and more engaging character. I felt that, in contrast to the original movie where Ash and Pikachu were still the real stars, the manga actually treats Mewtwo as the main character of the story.
Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution is a solid outing in Pokemon’s manga library, and is long overdue for fans of the 1999 movie. Machito Gomi chooses to limit changes to the story as much as possible and instead focuses on igniting readers’ nostalgia while providing Mewtwo with much-needed character development. As if the world’s strongest Pokemon wasn’t captivating enough, Gomi adds an almost-human element to his character that makes him relatable to readers.
While Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu hold down their traditional roles, Mewtwo finally receives his just due and appropriately outshines them. I recommend this manga to any Pokemon fans wishing to relive their childhood or any new fans who have yet to experience the greatest story in all of the franchise’s lore.