Today is an important day in the Pokemon universe. February 6 marks the birth of Mewtwo, the perpetually moody psychic Pokemon who sits in a cave near Cerulean City and beats up nosy 10-year-olds. Mewtwo's a bit of a jerk, yeah, but he taught us a simple but important lesson 20 years ago. Judging by the state of the world, we forgot it.
Most Pokemon birthdays go unacknowledged—we all have PC boxes full of rejected baby Pokemon who have the gall to not be shiny—but Mewtwo's date of birth is celebrated every year because the lore for Pokemon Red and Blue explicitly points it out. When you visit the abandoned Pokemon Mansion on Cinnabar Island, you can read diary entries from scientists who captured the "first" Pokemon, Mew, and marked the day it gave birth to Mewtwo, February 6. Mewtwo was subsequently experimented on by the scientists, and though it gained tremendous psychic powers, it also became vicious and hostile to humans.
It is now February 6th.On this day, Mewtwo was born. Happy birthday Mewtwo. pic.twitter.com/HE5N5UgB6Q— Joe Merrick (@JoeMerrick) February 6, 2020
Mewtwo's sullen nature, strong powers, and dark origins made it an instant favorite with Pokemon fans, and that popularity has held strong across the years. Mewtwo also made an impression as the antagonist in 1999's Pokemon: The First Movie wherein he rebels against Team Rocket's plans to turn him into a living weapon. Mewtwo builds an army of cloned Pokemon and declares war on humanity, but anime magic eventually causes him to see the error of his ways.
The story of Mewtwo's rough birth and eventual redemption might seem a little hokey to adults, but for kids who weren't familiar with anime tropes in 1999, it was powerful stuff. And, if I'm to be completely honest, Mewtwo's revelation—"The circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are"—has a lot of power in this troubled age of rising racist violence.
Meowth telling his clone, "Maybe if we start looking at what's the same instead of what's different—well, who knows?" also makes me tear up a little. I am not ashamed. R.I.P. Maddie Blaustein.
A 3D remake of Pokemon: The First Movie titled Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is coming to Netflix on February 27. Even if you're not a fan of the art style, it might not be a bad idea to give it a watch and re-absorb the lessons Mewtwo and Meowth tried to teach us over 20 years ago. Will we ever learn to judge people according to their character and deeds first and foremost? Will we stop hurting each other and realize we all live under the same sky? Hopefully we'll have made a few changes for the better by the time Mewtwo's birthday rolls around again on February 6, 2021.