I AM²

I don't care if I'm not real...I mean, we're all here!

No quote could make for a better introduction to this page than this.
Welcome, visitor; you have found I AM², a shrine to Ai Amber in the dub version. from Pokémon. Ai only appeared in a special sequence of the first Pokémon movie, Myuutsuu no Gyakushuu Translatable as Mewtwo's Counterattack. Probably most known with its dub name, Mewtwo VS Mew. and in the Japan-exclusive audio drama based on that segment, Myuutsuu no Tanjou Translatable as The Birth of Mewtwo.; however, in spite of her very limited screentime, she is a vital character to the story. As vital as controversial: the part in which she appears met the axe of censorship outside of Japan because of its startlingly dark nature, which was deemed inappropriate for a franchise that had been marketed internationally as geared to children. Under the light of these happenings, it is interesting to note that Ai herself is a child, too; yet, her story and character pose unsettling philosophical questions.

Just, who is this teal-haired little girl?

Both innocent and frighteningly wise as only children can be, Ai is the little girl who, confined to the darkness of her test tube, explains the moon to the monster who was created with the only purpose to keep her alive. The Ai we see in both the movie and the drama is, in fact, a clone of her former self. Her first existence ended in a car accident when she was four, and now her father, a scientist working in the field of cloning, is desperately trying to give her one more. All it takes for her story to take place is ten minutes - ten masterful minutes at the beginning of the movie in which we see a young Mewtwo meeting his only Ai and his only friend.

This page's aim is to put together all the pieces of Ai's fragmented story and character.
SPOILER WARNING for everything in the movie and in the audio drama.

Mother, father, and Love

Very little is known about Ai's first life. We know that she was the only daughter of Dr. Fuji and his wife, whose name is unknown. From what we see of her, she was probably not unlike any other child, but perhaps more mature than her peers. She was certainly very loved; named after love itself Ai, 愛, means love in Japanese., she was the light and delight of her family in her living days.

However, this story only begins with her end. Ai is but a small child when she has a fatal car accident, losing her first life.

Sorry papa, I can't go back.
It can't be helped. I'm probably going to become a star.

Her father, Dr. Fuji, could never cope with her death. He started working in the field of cloning research so he could find a way to bring his child back. For who knows how long, Fuji tried to clone Ai, failing each time. Experimenting on Pokémon, he succeeded; he discovered that they seemed to have a much higher rate of survival, and through his endless quest, he came to learn of the phantom Pokémon - Mew, a legendary creature once revered as a god, said to be immortal, yet so elusive.

With the direction his studies had taken, it was only a matter of time before Fuji ended up being entangled in the mafia of the Pokémon world -- Team Rocket. How could have such a tentacular criminal organization let this ambitious, yet desperation-fueled project fall out of its reach? So, the head of Team Rocket, Giovanni, contacted Fuji and offered to help him with his research. They would have helped him in his search for this shadow of a divinity; in exchange, Giovanni wanted his own god. Not an identical clone of Mew, but an enhanced one, which would have taken its place as the most powerful being to have ever existed; with this new god on their side, Team Rocket would have become unstoppable.

Dr. Fuji accepted. If Team Rocket's support could have helped him bring Ai back to life, he would have agreed to anything.

Besides, by then, his personal life had already fallen apart. Never leaving the laboratory in his quest, he had kept his research secret from his own wife - and Ai's mother - until the day he had finally managed to reawaken Ai's consciousness, to reawaken his love.

Mrs. Fuji was less than pleased to discover what had been going on in that dark basement that had been draining away her husband's life each day a bit more. She yelled at him that he couldn't bring Ai back, that she was gone forever, and that he should just accept her death once and for all. But Dr. Fuji had already decided that he would do anything to bring her back, no matter what.
However, a love that has already died can't ever live again. Ai's mother couldn't even manage to talk with him, as his obsession had already taken over his mind long ago. She silently walked out of the picture, leaving behind her ring, her house key and a note.

I loved our daughter as much as you did, but she's gone.
No one can bring her back, and I can't go on watching you try.

This made Dr. Fuji even more determined to bring Ai back. After all, there was nothing left for him. His sanity wouldn't have returned, either.
Some time after these events, Dr. Fuji's research team uncovered a fossil fragment of the ancient Mew. The Mewtwo experiment started soon after that. In the meanwhile, he tried all he could to discover the secret of Mew's powerful lifeforce, and use it to make it so Ai could exist again out of the test tube.

There is no shade of doubt that Dr. Fuji loved Ai deeply, but it goes without saying that his attachment to Ai is absolutely pathological, and that his will to bring her back is mostly fueled by egotistical reasons, although some guilt might factor in. Not being able to live for himself, all he can do is live through her.

Ai, I want you to live as an adult and for you to live with me until you're an old woman.

Ai herself, even through her love towards him stays unchanged, is fully aware by that point that her father has already lost it. As she lives in the test tube, she has already accepted her own death; when her father tells her that he can't find a way to make her survive, she answers, "then don't do what's impossible". Yet, not even Ai's own words can dissuade her father from continuing the experiment. It is interesting to note that, throughout the entirety of the sequence, Dr. Fuji's eyes are always in the shadow - a reference to how his vision has been clouded and to his blind love. His eyes will only be shown as Mewtwo decides to kill him as punishment for having created him.

If you're going to be Halley's Comet, you'll come back.

Halley's comet, or the next I

In spite of her objections, Ai is then made to live again...and again. Halley's comet has to disappear before coming back again. As much as Dr. Fuji tried, he could never make any copy of Ai survive more than four years in a test tube. An explanation for this might be that the number four in Japanese also means death, but there might be another layer to it: Ai looks like she might be four years old herself. In a way, even her clone can't survive past that age; every four years is as if her death would replay again, as if she just wasn't meant to survive.

The Ai we see in both the audio drama and movie are actually multiple versions of her, restored to life several times. Each Ai is aware that there might have been other versions of herself before her current one, but she still refers to herself as Aitwo, or just Ai. This is because, to her, there are only two phases: the first one, in which she was alive outside of the tube, and the second one, as a clone inside the tube. She considers each existence inside the tube a two, both because she remembers nothing of her previous versions and because, if she is always recreated as an identical copy of the Ai who lived outside the tube, the Ai inside the tube can't be anything but suspended in a timeless space and in a spaceless time, in a neverending present in which she is always identical to herself.

I'm a two too. My name is Ai. But my real name is Aitwo.

It is interesting to note that her name is charged of meaning in two different ways. It was already mentioned above that her name means love; however, another thing to note about it is that her name is pronounced in the same way as I. The self is fragmented, just in the same way as Ai is at the same time all her previous versions of herself and the same person. At any given time, she only knows one version of herself, the present one, even though she knows that other selves have to have existed before that one. She is always Ai, and more specifically Aitwo, the one who lives in the tube - the only self she is aware of.

Speaking of different versions, it has to be noted that there are a few differences between the Ai in the audio drama and the Ai in the anime. Most importantly, they are presented in a different way: the Ai in the audio drama is depicted in the illustrated booklet accompanying it in her human form inside the tube, while the Ai in the movie is depicted as human just when communicating with Mewtwo, while from the outside we see that she is just a light inside of a test tube. The reason for this might simply be that they didn't want to show a naked little girl in the animated version and that it was more interesting to have them do something instead of being restrained to showing the test tubes, but there might be more to it in this matter too: the Ai of the audio drama is talking with Mewtwo about the outside world, while the Ai of the movie is showing Mewtwo her memories from her previous life. In a way, the Ai of the movie is dreaming about being alive, while she is in fact some form of ethereal energy that has yet to find a bodily manifestation. The Ai of the audio drama is alive inside of a tube; the Ai of the movie is still a concept, an idea.

The Ai of the audio drama is the self in its bodily form; the Ai of the movie is the I - the consciousness.

I don't care if I'm not real or whether I'm Aitwo, Aithree, or Aifour...
I mean, we're all here! This is really great!

Ai is by no means the first character of her type See for example Rei Ayanami, from Neon Genesis Evangelion.; however, an important point that makes her very different from any other clone found in media is that she doesn't seem to be troubled at all by her status as a copy. She is just content to exist, even if it's in a glass tube. She is also very aware that her existence might be brief but doesn't seem to be afraid that she might die at any time. After all, she already went through that at least once. She does tell her father that, were it too hard to keep her alive, he should stop trying - however, she says so because she doesn't want him to suffer because of her, and because she has already accepted the ephemeral nature of her existence - the ephemeral nature of the self.

Oh, it's so cute! That's Mewtwo...Can I be its mama? Can I be its older sister? I wouldn't mind living if I have a child like that. Hello Mewtwo.

The monster and the little girl

For Ai, Mewtwo's arrival was the most pleasant surprise: before him, her only contact with the outside world was her father, who would be busy most of the time anyway. Now, with Mewtwo, she is finally granted a companion, and a friend. As soon as he wakes up, she starts to communicate with him through the glass tube and discover just who is this amazing creature in the tube beside hers.

We can talk, so maybe you're a human.
Or maybe I'm a Pokémon.

Ai immediately takes the role of a teacher or older sister to a confused and scared young Mewtwo.
The first thing she does is bring down any barrier between the two of them: she believes that, since they can communicate, they must be the same. This is very important not just from a general point of view, but also and specifically in the Pokémon universe, in which there is an entire species of intelligent creatures that are mostly considered as subordinate to humans, while they might in fact be one and the same A theme that is explored fifteen years later in Pokémon Black & White..

Puzzled by Ai's words, Mewtwo asks her if he's human or Pokémon, prompting her answer:

It doesn't matter. We were born in the same way.
All of us here was born in the same way.

Which at first seems to refer to their status as clones; however, Ai was originally born from a mother, while Mewtwo was not. Maybe not even Mew was, since it might have been existing since forever. What Ai is really saying here is that, regardless of their differences, they were indeed born in the same way: to be alive, reiterating the previous point that they are exactly the same.

Mewtwo and Ai keep talking; eventually, the nearby test subjects - a Bulbasaur, a Charmander and a Squirtle, maybe Ai's Pokémon? - join in, and they all become friends. At this point, the story takes a slightly different turn between the audio drama and the movie version, as previously said: in the former, they talk about what they can see out of their test tubes, while in the latter, Ai shows Mewtwo the world of her memories from when she was alive. Regardless, the two interpretations are similar in terms of the themes they tackle, except for a select few. They talk about the sun, the moon and the wind; in the movie, Ai shows Mewtwo the town where she used to live, and in the audio drama, they talk about cake and milk and how she can't have them in the test tube.

It's the stars and the moon.
They're there to tell us that the night's not dark and scary.

One interesting thing to note about the way they communicate in the audio drama is that Mewtwo is still asleep throughout the entirety of their exchange; his eyes are closed, and Ai is describing to Mewtwo the world she can see outside of the tube, as if she were talking to an unborn baby.

Very soon, they come to discuss the most important question of all: the reason of their own existence. At first, Ai answers that everyone is born because there is a mother and a father, but when Mewtwo asks if that's valid for them too, she answers:

In our case, um...um...God, I guess.

Later on, when Mewtwo will have grown into an adult, he will ask Dr. Fuji the same question; his answer will then be, "the only ones who can create life in this world are only God and humans. But humans are probably the only ones who can create life in glass tubes". However, that is just a half truth; Mewtwo was the only test subject who survived, and Fuji himself couldn't do anything for Ai.

The last day of the self

It had already happened, and it happened once again: Ai couldn't live. When she had started to fade away, there was already nothing to do for her. As she disappeared, Mewtwo instinctually started crying for her, and asked Ai what was happening to him.

That's probably..tears.
Papa said all living things don't shed tears unless their bodies hurt.
And the only ones who shed tears because they're sad are humans...
...Thank you for your tears. But Mewtwo, don't cry.
You're going to live. And I'm sure that living is wonderful.

Ai dies again, leaving Mewtwo alone in his despair. Here, the movie and the audio drama are different in Fuji's reaction to Ai's death. In the movie, Fuji is overcome by grief because for him Ai had been lost forever, maybe because his funds were limited and had to be directed to keeping Mewtwo alive; in the audio drama, he doesn't seem to care, as he says that he will just make as many copies as necessary until one of them survives, prompting Mewtwo's response:

As many as you want? That's not right. There's only one Ai.
There was one Ai who talked to me.

Confused and agitated, Mewtwo's powers start getting out of control; the researchers answer by sedating him into a slumber in which he forgets everything that happened. When he wakes up, he's already an adult; Dr. Fuji had not succeeded in making a viable clone of Ai, and Mewtwo remembers nothing about her. As Dr. Fuji failed to give him a satisfying answer to the purpose of his existence, Mewtwo destroyed the laboratory in a berserk rage, killing the man who had created him and wiping away any trace of Ai from the face of the Earth.

There are however some elements that would lead to think that Ai wasn't completely forgotten even as Mewtwo's tragic quest brought him to the path of destruction.

It is interesting to note that, when Mewtwo rebuilt the laboratory, his first clones were a Bulbasaur, a Charmander and a Squirtle. He said that he did so because it was natural for him to begin his training with the three starter Pokémon, but they look exactly like the ones that were with him and Ai, down to the same markings. He thought that there was something familiar with them. Unknowingly, Mewtwo had recreated his own friends. Buried deep in his subconscious, there was still some trace of the time spent with Ai.

In the audio drama, at the beginning of his nihilistic phase, Mewtwo states that he's not a human nor a real Pokémon, and that he has never cried. It has to be noted that, at the end of the movie, part of the reason why Mewtwo was so startled by seeing the Pokémon cry when Ash tried to stop the fighting might have been his sudden remembrance of what Ai told him about tears and realized that they were all equals, regardless of being humans, Pokémon, clones or originals.

Ultimately, Ai was just a little child, yet she had the answers to all important questions. When Mewtwo woke up as an adult, he was a tabula rasa, and needed to go on his search for identity and purpose before realizing that what he was looking for had always been with him. He needed to reconnect with his childhood, to find Ai again - the love that lived through him in his memories. He needed to remember her words and to see that she was right to realize that the purpose of life is to live. At the end of the movie, we know that Mewtwo has found an answer and started a new path when we hear Ai's voice in the ending song for the movie, Kaze to Issho ni Together with the wind; its name might also be a reference to Ai talking about the wind in the beginning.: she is heard saying, "You have traveled so long; where are you going? The wind asks, and you pause to think".

Footnotes

Myuutsuu no Gyakushuu and Myuutsuu no Tanjou are clearly sons of their time as for what concerns their main themes. The theme of cloning was the hot issue of the mid-nineties and it was tackled by a plethora of media See Jurassic Park (1993), Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995), Metal Gear Solid (1998)..., and Pokémon was no exception. Mewtwo's character is undoubtedly an interesting approach to the Frankenstein archetype in modern media. The first version of Myuutsuu no Gyakushuu was actually lacking of the first ten minutes, the ones in which Ai appears; they were added for the Japanese DVD release, probably to avoid problems with the general public. This additional sequence had been probably written together with the rest of the movie, but was withheld until it was "safe" to let it out. However, this piece never saw the light of the day in the rest of the world until the international DVD release of the movie sequel, Myuutsuu: Ware Wa Kokoni Ari Mewtwo: I am here, also known with the dub name of Mewtwo Returns., which featured a dubbed version of that sequence as bonus content.

More information about the movie sequence and the audio drama are available at Copy Cat ➹.

As for what concerns this site and the reason why I wrote it, I don't think I have to explain why I am so attached to Ai. She is an extraordinary character, as I hope this page has made clear. I had originally opened this site as a small tribute and fanlisting back in 2008 on the now defunct blind-dreaming.net, but it didn't satisfy me, so I ended up closing it some time later. You can view how it used to look like at the network layout archive ➹. In 2012, with the input of the One Page, One Month marathon over at Amassment, I brought it back from the dead with completely new content, the only thing staying unchanged being its name...ironically, this site lived twice, too. Let's hope it doesn't die every four years.

As of October 2012, the content of this site is static.

The pictures of the Myuutsuu no Tanjou booklet are my own scans. The screenshots were either taken directly from the movie or had been sitting on my hard disk for the last decade. Sorry, can't really credit anyone for them. The pictures on the side of this page are my own work. They were originally placeholder sketches, but everyone I've showed this page as I was working on it told me to keep them like this, and who am I to doubt the good judgement of my friends?

If you wish to link to this page, feel free to use these banners (many of which were kindly donated by the members of Amassment):

88 x 31 88 x 31 88 x 31 88 x 31 88 x 31

100 x 35 100 x 35

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I have just linked to it, but let me plug it again - my best friend's amazing Mewtwo and Mew fansite.
She also happened to be vital in the rebirth of this site, so I'd like to thank her once more.

Copy Cat

And these are our gorgeous affiliates. I will be glad to affiliate with shrines dedicated to other Pokémon characters - especially human ones! - , so if you happen to run one, don't hesitate to contact me.
The bottom three sites are actually my other Pokémon fansites, but...here they go.

Modest Mouser The Godfather Featherdance Cerulean
Dark Claws Lithovore

Tangentially, you might be interested in this AMV about Ai and Mewtwo that I made years ago.

If you'd like to ask me anything about this page, you can send me a mail at dubiousdisc at gmail dot com.

This site is a part of rigelatin.net ➹, my collective where you can see my other sites.
It is also listed at Amassment ➹ and Emotion ➹, both of which are excellent resources for fansites.
Thank you for reading this far, and goodbye.