The Tropical Mega Battle 2000
By Edo (

What Is The Tropical Mega Battle?

The Tropical Mega Battle (or TMB for short) was a "world-wide" tournament extravaganza held on August 26th and 27th at the Hilton Hawai'ian Village in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Children from nine different countries, regions including Japan, the United states, Canada, Europe and Latin America were brought together through qualifiers in their respective countries to be part of this special event. Wizards of the Coast, Creatures and Media Factory generously hosted this event. The whole reasoning behind the gathering was to allow the children to make friends with children of other countries through one common item: the Pokemon Trading Card Game. Even though many of them could not understand each other verbally, they knew how to communicate through not only designated interpreters from their respective countries, but a large number of "special" interpreters: namely Charmander, Raichu, Scyther and Jigglypuff.

What Is This Report About?

This report is a recollection of one man's two-day venture into the a world of Pokemon, and his observations on and interaction with the events that happened during that period. Hold on to your hats, folks.

If you have not read the TMB report that was written for last year's event, you can do so here. Doing so will allow you some insights into what happened last year. Some items in this report reference to events that happened last year.

As a note, quotes and words that are incased in brackets [ ] were conversations in Japanese that I had, using my VERY bad Japanese skills.

Day 01:

The first's day's activities were due to start at 1:00pm. As I had arrived approximately two and a half hours early, I took the chance to go down the street and get something for breakfast, and read some Japanese comics ("manga").

I made my way back to the hotel, to the Mid-Pacific Conference Center to see if anyone I know was waiting there. In a few moments, several of the Wizards of the Coast staff came up the escalators, including Ron Foster (the translator of the Pokemon Card game). In addition to him, I met additional Wizards employees, including Mike Gills (known as "Master Trainer" Mike), and Mike Boozer (known to some of the internal Wizards staff as "Dark Master Trainer" Mike) and Mike Elliot as Lt. Surge.

We conversed for a bit before the activities were supposed to start, about the Super Trainer Showdown that had just passed, about "Proposition 15" (i.e., putting a maximum of 15 Trainer cards in your deck for DCI sanctioned events), and about items that they are still testing in that respect. Once such item could be called "Proposition 20 B", which would be placing a minimum of 20 Basic Pokemon in your deck. It should also be noted that Wizards of the Coast has NOT yet decided on which method, IF ANY, that they would be using. However, Mike Gills and I both agreed that with the constant appearance of Haymaker rather than original decks in the current environment, something needs to done about it; just what is up to the Research and Development department.

I was also fortunate to once again meet Reiko Foster, Ron's wife.

For my own, and Wizards, press protection, I had to speak to Steven Kam about a press badge, to cover the TMB for myself and other internet sites. He would return later with such a badge. He also handed me a packet of press-release material concerning Wizards of the Coast's involvement in the Pokemon Trading Card Game.

In a short time, the announcements began. A member of the Media Factory staff began to speak, and with Mr. Foster's interpreting, explained the "ground rules" of the tournament. Japanese tournament rules are slightly different than the ones used outside of Japan. The most striking aspect is that when a tournament judge makes a call on a rules question, the ruling is FINAL: no if's, and's or but's. Second, the matter was stressed that if a rules question arises, it should be brought to the attention of the judges as soon as possible.

The activities for the first day was called the "Gym Challenge". This "challenge" was represented by a series of eight gyms that were spread across the Hilton Hawai'ian Village compound. The children were divided into teams, led by a translator/leader, that would take turns moving throughout the compound, participating in the challenges. Each of the leaders was given a map to designate where the Gyms were. I snagged one to see where I was going as well.

The initial room that the children were in was Nivi/Pewter City. The children played each other within their own teams. I saw a bit of what people fear when they go to tournaments: 80-90 percent of the decks were Haymaker variants decks, with FEW that were a mixture of other decks. The Japanese Gym personality of Takeshi/Brock (mis-pronounced "Bronx" by the Japanese speaker) walked around, and gave out the Japanese Boulder Badge to the winners. Reiko was one of the team leaders.

After a while, most of the teams had already left, except for one. I was waiting for Mr. Kam to return with my Press badge. He did, and the "badge" was simply a card that hung from my neck, with the Tropical Mega Battle logo, that had my name on it.

As the last team left (Reiko's team), I saw Tsunekazu Ishihara sitting in one of the back row chairs. Mr. Ishihara is one of the driving forces behind the creation of Pokemon.

["Are you relaxing?"] I asked.
["A little, but I'm okay."]
["Good,"] I replied, then made my way out.

The first stops on the trail were the closest gyms, Tokiwa/Viridian City and Saffron/Yamabuki City. These gyms were in adjacent rooms. Tokiwa/Viridian had the Japanese Sakaki/Giovanni Gym personality playing the teams, plus Team Rocket members on the side (individuals dressed in black shirts with a large 'R' on it).

Saffron/Yamabuki City had the Japanese Natsume/Sabrina personality playing the teams. Along with her, the other Gym members were playing the teams (all female, of course).

Next stop was on the fourth floor of the same complex, the Kuchiba/Vermillion City Gym. This Gym was unique in that it did not have the Japanese personality playing Machisu/Lt. Surge. Instead, Mike Elliott took on that role. Wizards employees (including Ron Foster and Mike Gills) took on the roles of the Gym members.

Outside on one of the grassy areas was the Guren Town/Cinnabar Island Gym. Here, the Japanese personality of Katsura/Blaine tested the in-depth knowledge of Pokemon of the teams. In this test, between two players, the flavor text of a Pokemon was displayed in the contestants' native language, and the players had to guess which Pokemon is was.

A short walk away was Tamamushi/Celadon City. Here was another type of quiz conducted by Erika/Erica, though it involved charades. A player was shown a Pokemon card, and had to make a variety of poses (without making sounds) to the other team members to have them guess what Pokemon it was.

Another short walk to the beach area was the Hanada/Cerulean City Gym where the Japanese Kasumi/Misty (the one in yellow) conducted a treasure hunt for points hidden in Poke Balls buried in the sand.

The original starting point for the teams changed to Sekichiku/Fuchsia City, where Kyou/Koga battled the teams.

The Gym Challenge was to last from 1:00pm until 5:00pm, which would end with an awards ceremony. Since there was agenerous amount of time left, I walked through the various Gyms again and took pictures. I went back around to the other Gyms, and back to Yamabuki/Saffron City. I was watching some of the players duke it out when a Japanese woman said (in English), "Hey! Look who it is!" and she pointed out the door. There was Imakuni?, in his Neo attire (with the long antennae). I laughed and said, ["Hey, it's Imakuni?"], and did a brief wave. Then the strangest thing happened. He did a double take on me, and . . .

["Long time no see,"] he said.

I was taken aback that he actually remembered me from last year. I managed to reply ["Long time no see,"] though in a more respectful version, and ["Are you well?"].

["Yeah,"] he said.
["I'm glad."]

He vanished for a bit, then came back in. And I gave him a present, one of the gold Mewtwo cards from Burger King (in the box). He appeared to be quite happy.

The time for the challenge disappeared quickly, and the teams disappeared before the awards ceremony. I went down the street to get something to eat.

The awards ceremony was held after an outdoor buffet, complete with music by a live band, and a group of hula dancers. The teams were ranked by the abilities displayed during the Gym Challenge.

Team G was the overall winner. They received a TMB T-shirt.

Team H had the "Most Interesting Gestures", which meant that they were the best at charades. They received some Japanese promotional badges.

Team F had the "Best Teamwork", and received a promotional coin.

Team D was the "Most Dangerous" in their display of card battling skills. They received an American Team Rocket card box.

Team B had no awards title, but could be considered "The Luckiest". During the Treasure Hunt, there were a total of fifty Poke Balls that were buried in the sand of the beach. Out of those fifty, four had 50-point values in them. Team B found two of those four. They received Pokemon Bandanas, that had miscellaneous Pokemon on them, including the Neo Pokemon.

Team E put for the "Best Effort", and received a promotional Pichu bandana.

Team C were the "Best Treasure Hunters", and received a promotional Exeggutor bandana.

Team A had the "Most Skilled Players", and received American Pokemon card binder.

In addition, all of the participants received a variety of gifts from ANA Airlines.

It was also the birthday of one of the players, and the band played "Happy Birthday" for him. Plus, he was given a T-Shirt.

Afterwards, the dancers "coerced" individuals to come up on stage and dance. Following them were a number of male individuals that danced with the infamous "fire batons" that Hawai'i is known for.

The Free Battle room opened up for the remaining two hours, where I tried to test out a deck I made. However, I found out that I needed to work on a way to quicken my energy output for the deck, as I lost twice.

I played a French gentleman, who was using a Haymaker variant. One of the surprising things that he informed me about was that even with the event of Jungle, they have not yet discovered the strength of Wigglytuff. He informed me that during the TMB, the French players had underestimated Jigglypuff. They thought they could handle it, but in the end, the evolution into Wigglytuff proved more than they could handle. The Free Battle room closed at 10:00pm, and I went home.

Day 02:

The second day activities started in the Mid-Pacific Conference Room once again, but this time at 8:30am. This day was to be the "World Communication Battle".

The first order of business was a commemorative picture on one of the greens of the compound. All of the players were to be in the photo.

Reiko found me, as I was acting kind of dazed (little sleep on the last night, and the night before. ["Hello?"] she said.

["Oh, hello."] I waved back.
["Are you alive?"]
["No, I'm dead."]
["Oh, stop it."]

We talked a little about the car trip from my house to the Hilton, and the current lack of sleep. At that time, the players were finished getting ready, and the pictures began. Then it was back to the Mid-Pacific Conference Room and some speeches.

The first individual to offer his congratulations was a representative from the Governor of Hawai'i, reading a letter of respect and awe for the players that would forge bonds of friendship between those of other countries. The female translator of him was more than a little embarrassed wen she found out that he could speak Japanese.

The second individual was a representative from City and County of Honolulu, with a message that was similar in effect.

Then the Media Factory staff gave the instructions for this day's events. It was slightly different.

Players were placed at the six tables in front of the stage. Depending on their progress in this set of play, they would one on to one of three different leagues after the lunch break.

The players did not get to use their own decks for this play. Instead, they would make a deck of forty cards from the ninety cards provided by the staff; a sort of "sealed deck" tournament. They would be able to keep the cards as a gift. The list of those cards is (provided for people who think it would make good sealed-deck material):

03 Charmander                           01 Computer Search
01 Charmeleon                           01 Professor Oak
01 Charizard                            01 Bill
01 Caterpie                             01 Pokemon Trader
01 Onix                                 02 Gust of Wind
03 Weedle                               02 Switch
02 Kakuna                               01 Energy Removal
01 Beedrill                             01 Pokedex
03 Pikachu (Base Set)                   02 Potion
01 Raichu (Base Set)                    01 Super Potion
02 Eevee                                01 Double Colorless Energy
01 Jolteon                              01 Poke Ball
02 Voltorb                              01 Full Heal
01 Electrode                            01 PlusPower
01 Rattata                              01 Defender
02 Seel                                 01 Energy Retrieval
02 Dewgong
03 Abra
02 Kadabra
03 Mankey
02 Primeape
03 Diglett
02 Dugtrio
03 Nidoran (M)
01 Nidorino
02 Magnemite
02 Poliwag
03 Squirtle
01 Wartortle
02 Drowzee
01 Rhyhorn
01 Koffing (Base Set)
01 Paras
01 Oddish
01 Growlithe
03 Ponyta
02 Rapidash
01 Doduo
01 Meowth
01 Mr. Mime
01 Jynx

All players got the same cards. The only difference was that the Japanese players got a hologram Jolteon and Mr. Mime, since those cards only exist in hologram form in Japan. The other players got rare versions of those same cards. Yes, you read correctly in the above list: all of the players got a free Charizard.

Energy was provided by the staff. Unfortunate, they ran out of Fighting and Psychic Energy, and the result was that some Energy need to be used as proxies.

I walked around as they constructed decks, and Imakuni (out of costume) spotted me. We talked a bit, remarking on how everyone got a Charizard.

["It's very expensive in the United State,"] I stated.
["How much?"]
["A First Edition Charizard goes is around three-hundred dollars."]
["Three-hundred dollars?!"]
["Yeah. But that's the First Edition one."]
["It's the most expensive?"]
["No. The Japanese Tournament Kangashkan is one-thousand, five hundred dollars."]

He staggered back slightly.

We talked some more, slightly about my life's personal problems. I gave him my business card, and told him to call me up the next time that he was in Hawai'i. We then split off as we went separate ways.

One thing that I found out was that the Japanese national champion for this year was a girl (unlike last year). She was quite a fierce player to behold, and waded through players like they were butter, and she a hot knife.

Eventually the battles for this time came to a close at noon, and the players started to filter into an adjacent room for a the lunch break.

I was taking a small breather while sitting in one of the chairs. Reiko found me again.

["What's wrong?"]
["Oh, just thinking."]
["About what?"]

And we had a slightly down-beat talk about the current affairs in my life. I needed something to drink, so I went into the adjacent room and got a one. I wasn't feeling hungry, so I didn't eat anything.

An hour later at 1:00pm, the players came back in, and were placed according to their standings in the pre-lunch competition, and the battles began. Before the third round, the Japanese announcer was about to start the round when Imakuni? (in costume) ran up and pushed him out of the way, then yelled "Alright everyone! Let's DANCE!"

Of course the players took this to mean the start of the round, not to dance (Imakuni? did, however). He concluded with, ["Boy am I tired"], ran off the stage, and deliberately fell over.

After a bit, I took this opportunity to walk over to a young lady I had met last year.

["Ms. Himeno?"]
"Yes?" she said

Kagemaru Himeno is a Pokemon artist, and extremely popular in Japan. Examples of her work at the Jungle Jigglypuff, the Jungle Eevee series, the Team Rocket Oddish series, and the infamous "Birthday" Pikachu. If any of you have the Japanese Pokemon Card Trainers magazine, she draws the cute-looking comic in there about her trials related to Pokemon.

["Last year, you gave me some art. Therefore, I want to give you a present: my very bad art."]

I gave her three pictures I had drawn earlier in the week: one of Mewtwo sniffing a flower, one of Togepi eating a rice- ball, and one of her riding Lugia, and her friend Hiroki holding onto Lugia's tail. She appeared to like them. Later on, I spotted her showing the pictures to Hiroki.

The players continued to play. The main cards that the appeared to be used reflected upon the lack of Fighting and Psychic Energy that the staff had remaining. The two huge powerhouses that I saw were Primeape and Dewgong, cards that some people may dismiss in casual play, but big-hitters in this "sealed deck" environment.

In the end, Jason Klaczynski (a 14 year-old from Chicago) won the final World Communication match against his Japanese opponent. The players slowly filtered out of the room, and were to be at the tour desk of one of the buildings at 5:00pm to take the busses to the dinner cruise.

But during that time, Ms. Himeno was autographing cards at the staff table. I had my Neo Pii and ____'s Chansey signed by her, then had her write her name in the ____ block (as "Himemaru", a nickname that she goes by), and her birth date in the appropriate slot. Though she didn't give the year that she was born; instead, she wrote a "?" . . .

I also took this opportunity to ask her a question that I wanted to since the release of Team Rocket in the United States.

["Your Team Rocket Grimer was changed."] I opened up my binder and showed her the original Japanese Grimer and the American Grimer side-by-side.
["Was your art really looking up the girl's skirt?"]

She shook her head vehemently, and explained that the Grimer was simply looking up out of the manhole. I also got a picture with her, while she held up one of the pictures that I gave her. (Unfortunately, the flash of the camera reflected off of the glass of the picture, so it can't be seen.)

A Japanese gentleman was trading with a child, and I asked if he wanted to trade. I got a Lucky Stadium (Tokyo version) for an English Team Rocket Meowth, and a used Imakuni? for an English First Movie Pikachu. He wanted some Legendary Bird cards from the Pokemon 2000 movie, but I didn't have any for trade. I exchanged business cards with him, telling him that I would look for them.

I left the building and walked around a bit, and ran into Imakuni and Mr. Akabane, who were also walking around. We chatted a little, and they asked me to bring my deck to the cruise. I said I would, and we parted ways. I read some more of my comic, and made my way to the tour desk at the appropriate time.

Everyone boarded the buses. On the way, Mr. Foster showed me his "Foster" collection: a small binder of Magic: The Gathering cards, filled with one single card: "Foster".

We were taken to the pier and boarded the boat.

The dinner that was served was quite good: it started off with a salad, then the main meal was steak, fish, vegetables and rice. Ice cream rounded out the desert.

I saw Imakuni? in his costume again, this time wearing a backpack with one of the those programmable signs that you see at banks and such. Different phrases would pop up, such as "Aloha!" and "Dance!"

The awards ceremony began on the bottom floor of the ship. All players and teams were awarded gifts. The most notable one continued in the tradition of the previous TMB. During the previous year's TMB, the players were given the bilingual Exeggutor. This year was also a bilingual card, the NINTH Lucky Stadium card, for the area of Honolulu. What's more, they received framed plaques for their ANA gifts, which included the two new ANA promotional cards (released in Japan earlier this summer): Marril and Togepi. Twelve boosters packs from various expansions rounded out the gift.

Imakuni? got up and sang his newest song, "Can you really say them all?", essentially the Japanese PokeRap, but with all two-hundred and fifty one Pokemon, along with the dancing help of several children. This song is available on his Neo album, which contains his newest promotional card.

After he was done, he was asked the question, "How do you feel that you've now made your international debut?"

["I'll be more popular than Tom Cruise,"] he replied.

The cruise ended with a bingo game by the players, and then we were taken back to the hotel.

Once again the Free Battle room opened, and many players entered. When Imakuni? entered, I said ["Shall we battle?"]

He agreed, but I was to be the third person in line.

When my turn came around, I pulled out my Nyuura deck, but swapped out some cards for some far more fun cards. The game continued as normal. He handed one of his new promo cards to a child, then I asked for one and put it somewhere into my deck.

After a few turns, I had built up a number of damage counters on my Nyuura.

I said, ["Imakuni?, Mr. Ooyama wants to talk to you,"] and I pointed to his right.
["Huh?"] he said, while looking

And I took my chance. I played a card, and remove the damage counters from my Nyuura.

He turned back and said, ["No, you can't do that,"] and he tried to put the damage counters back on.

["Nope,"] I said, and showed him the card I played: "Imakuni?'s Prank" (When you play this card, make your opponent look away. While your opponent is looking away, remove some damage counters from your Pokemon. If your opponent says anything about it, say you don't know anything.)

He couldn't believe that he fell for his own card. An older onlooker couldn't believe that I got away with it.

However, the game ended when I played a Scoop Up on my only Pokemon; on purpose, of course. I bowed, and repeated the same phrase from last year: ["Thank you very much, Lord Imakuni?"]

And one of the child onlookers next to me said, ["Lord?!"]

Imakuni? shook my hand, handing me an Imakuni? badge and an Imakuni?'s Doduo coin in the process.

As the Free Battling came to a close, I got another "Imakuni?'s Doduo" signed, along with his name and birth date written on a "____'s Chansey". One thing that I did find out that most people may not have been sure of: yes, he is the same Tomoaki Imakuni that drew the Base Set 1 Porygon.

It was nearing the late hour, so I took it upon myself to leave.

I would like to thank all of the Wizards staff, including Ron Foster, Mike Elliott, Mike Gills, Andrew Finch, and Steven Kam for allowing me to attend and cover the Tropical Mega Battle again this year.

I would also like to extend my thanks to Reiko Foster, Tomoaki Imakuni, Takumi Akabane, Kagemaru Himeno, and all of the Japanese individuals that I communicated with who had to listen to my horrid accent while speaking Japanese.

Here are some additional pictures.

Tropical Mega Battle Playmat
Andrew Finch, Gettin' Down
Trainer Battling
Guest Pictures
Turtles In One Of The Village Ponds
Pink Flamingos
Edo's Cluttered Computer Desk
Edo's Cluttered Wall Unit

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