The world of Pokémon is filled with its own rich mythology and history. With the understanding that all of the regions coexist in one giant world and that Pokémon are constantly evolving, changing, and being used for good and evil, Game Freak has created a game that is 17 years in the making and still going strong. With the release of X and Y there will be six generations and over 700 Pokémon to capture and train.
Of all of the Pokémon in this strange world, not all of them came about from natural means. Pokémon like Grimer were created by accident—the Pokédex entry in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl states, “It was born when sludge in a dirty stream was exposed to the moon’s X-rays. It appears among filth.” Another Pokémon, Voltorb, also has mysterious origins. The Pokédex entry in Pokémon SoulSilver states, “It was discovered when Poké Balls were introduced. It is said that there is some connection.” Yet of all of the artificially created Pokémon, few have a back story as tragic or strange as what many consider to be the most powerful Pokémon in the world: Mewtwo.
There is conflicting information about where Mewtwo was actually created. The games show that Mewtwo was cloned at the Pokémon Mansion on Cinnabar Island, whereas the anime shows him being cloned on New Island, believed to be between Cinnabar Island and the Orange Islands archipelago. Which one you believe is canon is up to the individual, but for the purposes of this article I’ll be telling the story using both the information provided in game as well as in the anime.
Mewtwo’s origins were delved into as a publicity event to promote the film Mewtwo Strikes Back in the late 90’s. A radio play titled The Birth of Mewtwo was broadcasted in Japan over the five Sundays leading up to the premiere of the film between June 7 and July 12, 1998. This play was later adapted to an animated special titled The Uncut Story of Mewtwo’s Origin, which was added to the DVD release of the 2001 film Mewtwo Returns.
In the special, Dr. Fuji talks about going out on an expedition that Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket, sends him on. The journey’s purpose is simple: look for Mew, believed then to be the most powerful Pokémon in the world, in the hope of obtaining the ancient Pokémon’s DNA to make a clone. Dr. Fuji, however, wishes to use this research in an attempt to make Ambertwo—a copy of his daughter, who died in a tragic accident when she was very young. During the expedition, they find the genetic material they are looking for, and in time Mewtwo is born.
As an interesting aside, the games instead refer to a pregnant Mew giving birth to Mewtwo. This article from Bulbapedia goes into it, saying:
“According to the scientific logs found in the Pokémon Mansion of Cinnabar Island, Mewtwo was born of a pregnant Mew, found deep in the jungles of Guyana, whose embryo had been tampered with to alter its DNA. It was held and studied in the mansion where the scientists, including Blaine and Mr. Fuji, performed horrific gene-splicing experiments that made it vicious and extremely powerful.”
Back to the special: Mewtwo floats in a tank along with the other clones, including Ambertwo, whom he communicates with through telepathy. Ambertwo tells him she wasn’t aware Pokémon could communicate like humans, which leads Mewtwo to wonder if he is actually a Pokémon or a human.
During these conversations, Fuji thinks back to when he was trying to clone Amber in the basement of his home. His wife ended up leaving him back then, saying that he should respect the fact that she is gone.
Ambertwo shows Mewtwo the other clones—Charmandertwo, Squirtletwo, and Bulbasaurtwo. Over time, these fade away, unable to sustain their own life force. Mewtwo asks where they go, but Ambertwo herself also slowly slips away. Fuji desperately watches the energy pulse in her tank fade away.
Mewtwo cries at the loss of his friend and screams out for her in fear. The scientists pacify Mewtwo by administering a memory-wiping serum. Dr. Fuji is angry that his daughter did not survive. As Mewtwo matures and awakens, he gathers the energy to escape from his binds. In the opening scenes of Mewtwo Strikes Back, he destroys the laboratory and flees.
In Pokémon Red and Blue, you can explore the Pokémon Mansion on Cinnabar Island. This is the first instance where players in the game learn of Mewtwo’s existence from journal entries that were possibly written by Dr. Fuji himself. The most troubling entry is perhaps one dated September 1. The translation of the entry in the Japanese games is, “The Pokémon Mewtwo is far too powerful. It’s no use… I am unable to control it!” This reflects an opening scene in Mewtwo Strikes Back, where Dr. Fuji can be heard saying in horror, “We dreamed of creating the world’s strongest Pokémon… and we’ve succeeded.“
After Mewtwo escapes from the Pokémon Mansion (and arguably kills almost everyone inside of it, as well as destroying any hope Dr. Fuji had of ever creating Ambertwo), Giovanni convinces him to fight Pokémon so that Team Rocket may capture them. When Mewtwo questions this, Giovanni replies, “This is the reason you were born.” Mewtwo responds by destroying the Team Rocket base.
Throughout the film Mewtwo Strikes Back, his sole purpose is to destroy humans and Pokémon alike, which would allow him and his clones to rule. Yet after witnessing such selflessness and sacrifice, by the end of the film Mewtwo says, “I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.“
Mewtwo is self aware and is one of the few Pokémon who can communicate intelligently with humans. Throughout the games, many Pokémon are treated and bred like animals, but Mewtwo is as much human as he is Pokémon. This allows him to come to profound realizations like the one above, and to consciously show mercy or vengeance to those he comes across.
When you beat Pokémon Red and Blue, Mewtwo awaits for you in the Unknown Dungeon, later known as Cerulean Cave. He requires the HMs Strength and Surf to get to and, at level 70, is the strongest wild Pokémon you will come across in that generation. Mewtwo is a tortured soul, a Pokémon that only exists because humans willed it to be so. As part of your team he is powerful and almost unbeatable until the later generations provided more efficient counters to psychic type Pokémon.
Mewtwo has been a fan favorite since his inception, earning him his own set of movies, a place in the roster of Super Smash Bros. Melee, and a Psychic Pokémon of choice even years later. For a game that, at the time, was primarily aimed towards young children, the circumstances surrounding the birth of Mewtwo remain dark and controversial. Though Dr. Fuji will never be able to hold his daughter again, Mewtwo will always be out in the world and could one day return to be a central plot point in a future game.
Pokémon Week is a celebration of the Pokémon series as we eagerly await the release of X and Y. Make sure to stick with us all week long as we examine numerous aspects of the franchise, our thoughts on it, and the way it has impacted us and the world throughout its seventeen years.