Directed By: Kunihiko Yuyama
Produced By: Satoshi Shimohira, Susumu Matsuyama, Atsushi Chiku, Hidenaga Katakami
Ten-year-old Pallet Town native, Ash Ketchum, is about to set out on the biggest solo journey of his life! Unfortunately, his ideas of starting on the road to being a Pokémon Master don’t go entirely to plan when he manages to sleep through his alarm. Finally, with a Pokémon of his own, he sets out to learn all he can and make some invaluable friends. Ash faces many challenges and troubles along the way, all with a rainbow wing in his jacket pocket.
We all know the story of Pokémon, of how Ash and Pikachu first met and suffered at the claws of some nasty Spearows. This film is a special one, marking the twentieth Pokémon movie, and the creators have decided to focus on the retelling of what was the very first episodes of the show, albeit set in a slightly alternative universe. There are some new characters and many Pokémon that are not usually found in Kanto. There is also plenty of action, adventure, great animation and some tearful moments as we see some of Ash’s very first Pokémon join up with him.
Now, I know many people will go into a rage when they hear this, but Brock and Misty do not make a single appearance in this movie. Twenty years ago, in the very first season, it was Misty that saved both Ash and Pikachu from the river after escaping from a terrifying flock of Spearow. In this timeline, however, it is Ash who pulls himself and his electric pal to safety. There are plenty of other familiar faces in the movie, with both Ash’s mom and Prof. Oak returning. Of course, Team Rocket have a few appearances, with even Giovanni showing his face. Ash is joined by two new companions on his journey across Kanto in search of Ho-oh; Sorrel and his Pokémon partner Lucario, who are travelling around the world in search of both Pokémon lore and legendaries. Sorrel plays a valuable part in Ash realising the importance of the feather that Ho-oh left him. Then we have Variety and Piplup from Twinleaf Town in Sinnoh. This is the same starter Pokémon and hometown as Dawn, who appeared in the show.
The Pokémon battles in this twentieth film are outstanding! With continuously changing camera angles, the viewer really gets thrown into the midst of the battle. Now, seeing as this film is based in Kanto, you’d think it would only have Pokémon native to that region. In fact, we have Pokémon featuring throughout the movie, from perhaps all over the Pokemon world. This includes the latest Alola region, including Incineroar, Midnight Form Lycanroc and the mysterious ghost/fighting Pokémon, Marshadow. Now there isn’t much more I can say about the film without revealing some major spoilers. I have been a fan ever since the very first Pokémon episode aired in Ireland back in the 1990’s, so when walking into the special screening for this film, I had to go in with an open mind. Sure, Brock and Misty weren’t going to be in the film, but Ash’s original Pokémon are. Just know that Charizard’s attitude towards Ash is completely different, as well as the ‘smart-talking’ Pokedex is a no show.
Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! is the twentieth movie in the Pokemon franchise and the first of the Sun and Moon generation, taking the film’s title from the very first Pokémon episode. To pile on the nostalgia, an added bonus to this screening is that after the film, all the Pokémon Generations episodes were shown in order. I was not expecting this at all and it was a nice addition. The return of a Pikachu Project Movie would have been the icing on the cake, but simply finally watching a Pokémon movie on the big screen was the most memorable moment. Such a shame it has taken me twenty years to experience this!
Once again, this film was animated by OLM, who have produced the show from the very beginning, as well as all the films. The animation was flawless, giving us a more energetic and healthier looking Pikachu, compared to his 1997 version. With a new version of the classic theme song, the film’s opening song is titled ‘Aim to Be a Pokémon Master -20th Anniversary’. Yes, it is catchy, and the screening I was at had children younger than ten years old singing along and shouting out the names of Pokémon that I first encountered two decades ago.
Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! will be released by Manga Entertainment UK on DVD and Blu-Ray next year on 12th February 2018.