Tamagotchi: The Movie impressions/review

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A few weeks ago, I had some free time to sit down and watch a movie, and having added a UK retail copy of Tamagotchi: The Movie (something that can easily be gotten for peanuts on eBay) to my virtual pets collection a short while before, I opted to watch that. I've been wanting to write up my thoughts on it since then, so here they are. :)

Going in, I didn't know what to expect from it - I wasn't sure if it'd turn out to be too saccharine and schmaltzy for my liking or not (thankfully it wasn't, but I suspect that, had it been a Western production of that era, then it might've been at risk of that), or if the quality of the dubbing would make viewing unpleasant, or even if the story would be any good. However, I was pleasantly surprised by it as a whole.

The plot is nicely executed, but at its core it's nothing that we haven't seen before in a Saturday-morning cartoon: On Tamagotchi Planet, Mametchi will soon be a big brother, and on Earth a girl called Tanpopo will soon be a big sister, and both feel uncertain about this responsibility. Then, a Kuchipatchi-driven accident causes a new invention of Mametchi's to transport the human girl to the alien world, and she and the new friends that she meets there have to undergo a few trials, figure out a few problems, and learn a few relevant life-lessons while they all patiently wait for older members of the Mametchi family to create a new invention that can set things right and restore everything to how it was the moment before things went wrong. If this sounds like a cop-out, that's because it is. :p Still, it has plenty of fun and weird flourishes that make it feel like a proper part of the Tamagotchi franchise, and though, as I said, the core plot is basic, it takes a lot of unexpected and sometimes bizarre twists and turns along the way, so it's not completely predictable.

The movie is quite fast-paced, but thankfully it never feels like things are moving too fast or that they're being glossed over. Tanpopo ends up staying on Tamagotchi Planet for a while, so quite a bit of time passes due to this pacing, with montages filling in the events of longer time-skips. Since there are so many nods to the virtual pets, I suspect that the intent is that this is the "one Tamagotchi year equals one Earth day" gameplay-mechanic, but implemented as part of the plot. Other neat nods include a brief sequence where Mametchi's little sister, Chamametchi, is fed from a bottle and the contents disappear in three gulps/"blocks", just like feeding the virtual pets, appearances from many familiar characters (particularly from the Connection era and onwards, since this film is from the 2000s and was therefore intended to promote these), and a staggering amount of cameos for characters who don't get speaking roles (if you have a favourite Tamagotchi character that isn't tied to an outside license, it's very likely that they appear here). The movie also subtly and smoothly transitions from the initial Tamagotchi lore, where the real-world toys were supposed to house a tiny alien who couldn't survive in Earth's atmosphere, into the Connection-and-onwards approach where the devices are apparently supposed to be communicating with a creature and locations on Tamagotchi Planet instead, as implied by Tanpopo's Tamagotchi Connection toy ceasing to operate while she's on Tamagotchi Planet.

The dubbing is perfectly fine, and is similar to what you'd expect from most popular dubbed Japanese television-animation from the late-1990s and early-2000s. It felt along the lines of the Digimon animated series' dub to me, with similar casting for and intonation from the character archetypes that both productions share, and a number of moments that suggest that the translation is pretty straight. It's perfectly acceptable and there's nothing intolerable here, although it's worth noting that Kuchipatchi is occasionally tricky to understand due to the speed at which he speaks and the preservation of a verbal tic that you wouldn't normally expect to make it into an English dub (things like this usually just stay in the Japanese versions, since they're based on sentence-ending suffixes that don't exist in English). I don't know what the Japanese audio sounds like, since I didn't check to see if it's available on the UK DVD - I'd guess that it's about what you'd expect from a production like this, too, though.

There are a few moments where it feels like the resolution to an issue is a bit of a cop-out, including the means of reaching the end-goal of the adventure by way of someone setting out to invent a magical set-it-right button, but because the movie is such good fun this doesn't really detract from it very much. Before too long there'll be an unexpected crazy moment, a fun visual-gag, or a new plot-twist and you'll quickly forget about it.

Also, there are some script and editing issues that I think bear mentioning: The introductory theme-song is a little bit long and repetitive which makes the accompanying montage drag on a little bit (though it's played again over the credits/epilogue, where it fits much better), there are a couple of scenes where dialogue is deliberately repeated a few times, and there's one incredibly long scene towards the end of the film where the EXACT SAME VERY SHORT LINE gets repeated over and over and over and over and over and over without pause for what feels like a solid five or so minutes, and this gets aggravating to the point of almost dragging the entire movie down. I'm legitimately not sure why this wasn't trimmed down a bit or given more varied dialogue, because even though the scene in question is meant to be tense and a bit drawn-out for drama's sake, the monotony simply makes the repeatedly repeated repetitive words lose all meaning, instead. I'm the last person who would normally call for cuts, but sometimes, scenes like this are a good reason to do a little bit of snipping - after all, good editing would still preserve the impression of a particular amount of time passing. Thankfully, though, the rest of the movie being fun just about manages to save this moment and make it bearable. Also thankfully, the ending is nice and it makes this slog of a scene worth sitting through so that you can get there. The less-patient will be forgiven for turning the movie off here, or for fast-forwarding through this scene. :p

All in all, I think that Tamagotchi: The Movie is a fun film and if you're a hardcore Tamagotchi fan at all - which, if you're on this site, you probably are - then you really ought to have it in your collection, even if just for the sheer novelty of owning an animated feature film based on a keychain virtual pet toy, since it's something that you don't see every day. The animation and presentation are nice, and the ending and epilogue are woven around the credits, so that you're not just stuck watching a bunch of lifeless text after it's all over, which I thought was a nice touch. There's also a brief post-credits scene to cap it all off, and that's nice, too.

Still, even though it got a theatrical release in Japan, I would suggest not approaching it with that in mind - though it's fun and nicely-made, it's not a spectacular production that can compete with other animated movies released in this way. It's better viewed through the lens of Saturday-morning cartoons and straight-to-DVD productions (which may very well be exactly why the PAL-regions retail release went the straight-to-DVD route), and by this standard it's a solid movie and a good time - it's fun, and there's a lot to see.

Those of a certain age will probably remember a few movies and TV-specials that were based on 1980s toy-lines (for me, the ones that immediately spring to mind were based on the Care Bears, Pound Puppies, Teddy Ruxpin, My Little Pony, and Rainbow Brite). For the subset of TamaTalkers who get where I'm coming from with this, Tamagotchi: The Movie is that sort of solid-and-fun film - it exists partly to advertise a toy-line, but it has nice values/morals and creativity in spite of obviously not being a super-high-budget production, and it's making a genuine effort to tell a story from a popular fictional universe. It's a pleasant, non-violent, family-friendly animated movie that's well worth spending part of a slow afternoon with. :)

 
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Eggiweg

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"a Kuchipatchi-driven accident" :lol:

I like how they incorporated references to the toy e.g. eating food in 3 gulps. There is definitely a lovely charm to these kinds of animations targeted towards children. Lovely review.

I wonder if you've watched the tamagotchi adventures shorts before? The animation style really captures the style of the vintage tamagotchis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klj7AHBQ0ao

 

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"a Kuchipatchi-driven accident" :lol:
There was no other description that I could've used! :lol: The guy fouls everything up by attempting to eat a hamburger-shaped Yo-Yo!

I like how they incorporated references to the toy e.g. eating food in 3 gulps. There is definitely a lovely charm to these kinds of animations targeted towards children.
There really is - you can tell that those who worked on the production genuinely cared. It has a lot of charm and heart, even in its weaker moments.

Lovely review.
Thankyou. :) The movie is definitely worth fans' time.

I wonder if you've watched the tamagotchi adventures shorts before? The animation style really captures the style of the vintage tamagotchis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klj7AHBQ0ao
I have indeed seen it! It's a very charming piece of Tamagotchi history, and I wonder what would have happened had they expanded on it - the "Tamagotchi Toons" branding seems to imply that it was a pilot for something bigger that never got made. (They also used a similar "Tamagotchi Toyz" branding on some US-only McDonalds Happy Meal toys from the same era.)

It's also the piece that tells us that the incorrect claim that "Tamagotchi translates as 'Cute Little Egg'.", and the resulting mispronunciation of the product's name as "Tama-go-chee" instead of the correct "Tama-got-chee", did not originate from the press, but seemingly from materials provided to them by some well-meaning-but-incorrect person at Bandai themselves. :lol: This is almost certainly why the US TV ads for the Tamagotchi On mispronounce the name in the same way, as well.

 
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Timogotchi19

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"there's one incredibly long scene towards the end of the film where the EXACT SAME VERY SHORT LINE gets repeated over and over and over and over and over and over without pause for what feels like a solid five or so minutes"

Are you referring to "Please Wake Up, Blackholetchi!"?

Anyway, I feel like Jōji Shimura (the film's director) is highly underrated. He directed an Animal Crossing film before his Tamagotchi venture, and given that film, this one, and the sequel and anime that came after it, he's able to take very miniscule source material and make naturally-delivered wholesome-quality filmed content off of them, and that's a skill that very few directors and producers possess.

That's one reason why I continue clamoring for English adaptations of his works, so that people will see his genius and that he'll hopefully land some new directing roles for Tamagotchi or for other IPs entirely, maybe even western ones.

I've lately had a theory that Bandai America losing Power Rangers motivated them to listen to our pleas for an English Color V-pet with the On. If Bandai America loses Dragon Ball next, maybe they'll be motivated to listen to our pleas on faithful dubs of Shimura's contributions to Tamagotchi.

 

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"there's one incredibly long scene towards the end of the film where the EXACT SAME VERY SHORT LINE gets repeated over and over and over and over and over and over without pause for what feels like a solid five or so minutes"

Are you referring to "Please Wake Up, Blackholetchi!"?
I tried to avoid avoid writing down anything that might potentially be considered a spoiler, but yes, that's the line! :lol: ARGH! :eek:

Anyway, I feel like Jōji Shimura (the film's director) is highly underrated. He directed an Animal Crossing film before his Tamagotchi venture, and given that film, this one, and the sequel and anime that came after it, he's able to take very miniscule source material and make naturally-delivered wholesome-quality filmed content off of them, and that's a skill that very few directors and producers possess.
I had no idea that it was the same guy - I really liked Animal Crossing: The Movie, too, and it's a crying shame that it didn't get an official dub. (Oddly, the Professor Layton movie that was released at around the same time did get one, which was made for the UK DVD market, using the UK-version actors from the games.)

Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly - the guy's got a real talent for that. :D

That's one reason why I continue clamoring for English adaptations of his works, so that people will see his genius and that he'll hopefully land some new directing roles for Tamagotchi or for other IPs entirely, maybe even western ones.

I've lately had a theory that Bandai America losing Power Rangers motivated them to listen to our pleas for an English Color V-pet with the On. If Bandai America loses Dragon Ball next, maybe they'll be motivated to listen to our pleas on faithful dubs of Shimura's contributions to Tamagotchi.
I'm not holding out too much hope myself (after all, this movie unfortunately failed to do that job, and its dub was possibly a market-test for it), but I'd certainly like to see it. You're knowledgeable about the anime, so I assume that it's of a similar standard to the movie, and more of that would definitely be a good thing!

 

weevol

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I got the dvd in the symphony bundle for the v6 when i was a kid. i watched it so many times growing up, i agree that some parts are weird/awkward when watching but i think it made it more memorable for me. "please wake up blackholechi" is like burned into my brain permanently. I havent got around to watching the sequel or anime but i really want to considering all the detail that went into the movie. thanks for posting this detailed review
 
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