The “Pokemon” anime has been going on for 20 straight years. For every one of those years, each season of the show has had a movie released first on television, before making its way onto DVDs. Normally, that movie would be based on the season that the anime is currently on. However, for this season, to celebrate the anime’s 20th anniversary, they decided to do something special, and that was to create “Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You.”
The film was released on Nov. 5 and took its name from the first ever episode of the anime, “Pokemon – I Choose You.” This is because it was a retelling of the series’ pilot episode and the entire first saga period. This decision turned out to be a game changer for the movie as the entire narrative of the beginning of Ash Ketchum’s journey changed. The story of how he and Pikachu met and bonded was seen from a whole new angle.
Furthermore, the film could now choose from all 802 known Pokemon from all generations to give screen time to rather than be restricted to just the original 151. This also allowed the introduction of new characters, like traveling companions Verrity, Sorrel and their rival Cross, all of whom contributed to the story and were enjoyable to watch.
Arguably the biggest reason this film was made was the major enhancements they could make to the animation. It certainly paid off. The movie was simply beautiful to watch. It was a major step up from the original first episode. The visual effects of the battles between Pokemon showed how far the series has come in terms of animation. The character and Pokemon designs are both updated yet nostalgic at the same time, which is hardly an easy feat to accomplish.
Probably the film’s greatest strength was the way it tackles the moral and human themes that Pokemon has always been known for such as friendship, hard work, adventure and how to conduct yourself in order to achieve your dreams. In addition to the kid-friendliness, the movie was not afraid to get dark at times, especially at the climax.
As amazing as many aspects of the movie were, it was not all perfect. While most of the original content shined, some of the story felt rushed and lacked the emotion that the originals had. Also, while the side characters were great, their backstories could have been explored a little more. The film will give you a small taste of the characters’ backgrounds but not the rest.
However, probably the weakest aspect of the film was the use of Pokemon’s classic bad guys Jessie, James and Meowth from Team Rocket. Unfortunately, there was no reason for them to be in the film other than to provide comedy. Even then, the humor they provided will likely get a chuckle out of you. All of Team Rocket’s screen time could have gone to much better use.
Despite all of this, “Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You” was a nostalgic, emotional adventure that offered a breath of fresh air to the beginning of Ash’s journey. This movie is definitely worth viewing for Pokemon fans of all ages.