Despite its compelling premise, the inconsistent story, unapologetic fan service and formulaic ideas, make The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon a run-of-the-mill television special.
Created for the tenth anniversary of the franchise, The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon (known in Japan as The Terrifying Mirage Pokémon) is an hour-long television special which is the only episode to air in the US earlier than Japan. The special centers around a machine that creates a new class of genetically engineered Pokémon that have no weaknesses and Ash and his friends need to figure out a way to destroy this device. The premise sounds inviting at first, but the inconsistent story, unapologetic fan service and formulaic ideas, make this a run-of-the-mill Pokémon special.
Due to his phenomenal Pokémon training skills, Ash is invited to Doctor Yung’s laboratory to introduce the young trainer to a new battling system. In the lab, Ash and his friends, Brock, Max and May meet Misty and Professor Oak who were also summoned to see the artifact (as usual, the members of Team Rocket are hiding somewhere around there.) The battling system consists of an arena that creates Mirage Pokémon and the system is so cutting-edge that producing rare or extinct Pokémon is a possibility. The system even allows Yung to manipulate Pokémon DNA so that they can learn any attack. To test the Arena, Doctor Yung challenges Ash and his friends to a battle, but a mysterious figure known as Mirage Master appears and takes over the machine. The masked man wants to use this battling system to genetically engineer the most powerful Pokémon.
I like the fact that this Pokémon special wasted no time in long introductions. As soon as Ash and his friends arrive to Yung’s laboratory, they are using the system to fight. I also like the moral ideas introduced in the episode because Professor Oak thinks that all Pokémon deserve to have their own identity. The animation, on the other hand, is nothing special and regarding the voice acting, this is the first appearance of the English dub’s new voice actors which caused controversy among fans.
There’s nothing wrong with some fan service, but there’s a too much in this case. At one point, some of the rarest legendary Pokémon in existence make an appearance and this feels like an excuse to draw the attention of fans. Also, bringing back Pokémon that have all attacks and no weaknesses at all doesn’t make a lot of sense. In the end, this feels like a longer episode than usual that happens to have some legendary Pokémon in it.
Despite the promising and creative premise, there are too many inconsistencies and flaws in this episode to ignore. The return of classic characters feels forced, the revival of all the legendary Pokémon that appeared in previous movies feels illogical and there’s the voice cast change which fans will find dreadful. The story is more inclined towards science fiction which I enjoyed since this is rarely the case for Pokémon, but the problems are so many and they appear so often, than only a few will be able to enjoy this TV special.