The world is made up of two kinds of people: Pokémon Go players and non-Pokémon Go players.
If you are one of the former who hunted down hot spots to catch the game’s virtual monsters, then this Japanese anime is a must-watch. However, if you did not understand what the whole fuss was about like I did, then this movie might be of little interest to you. With that said, this review will be largely based on the observation of audience reactions during the preview screening.
The animated film is the 20th Pokémon movie and the first title in the Sun and Moon series. It is a retelling of the original Indigo League saga of the show released to commemorate the anime’s 20th anniversary. If you are a fan of the original TV series, then what we’ve said above wouldn’t be alien to you.
The story’s protagonist is a young boy named Ash who aspires to be the world’s best Pokémon trainer. While we aren’t sure whether that’s a proper job, this simply means he dreams to be someone who catches, occasionally names, and trains several different kinds and types of Pokémon to fight other Pokémon. As fate would have it, the adorable Pikachu is Ash’s first Pokémon. The duo embark on an adventure, getting to know other trainers and Pokémons, and also manage to hunt down the elusive Rainbow Pokémon during the movie’s 98-minute runtime.
A few minutes into the movie, the theme song played and I heard people singing along. As the film progressed and each time a Pokémon appeared, collective “awws”, “wows” or “ahhs” could be heard. The “awws”, “wows” or “ahhs” continued throughout the movie, right till the credits when characters from the series appear. Yup, fans will have no problems identifying Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Charmander, Entei, Lucario and Jigglypuff in the movie.
Since this movie acts as a summarised version of the franchise’s first TV season, more collective “awws”, “wows” and “ahhs” were heard when familiar scenes took place. Such moments include how Ash first earned Pikachu’s trust, cared for an abandoned Pokémon, and successfully evolved a Pokémon.
Then there was that moment in the movie which took the Internet by storm. While the viewers at the preview screening were not as flabbergasted as those we’ve seen in some online videos, some soft gasps were heard. We cannot imagine what was going through the audiences’ confused minds when that scene unfolded on the big screen.
The feature film directed by Kunihiko Yuyama gets the big screen treatment it deserves. The 2D animation is gorgeous to look at with its pleasing palette of colours. The mythical Rainbow Pokémon is beautifully drawn and will impress viewers who appreciate old-school animation. There are also some comic moments provided by the series’ resident villains Team Rocket, whom we wished received more screen time.
For someone who caught a few episodes of the TV series when he was young and did not join the hundreds of Pokémon Go players at Hougang in August last year, this movie is still a decent piece of nostalgia that brings back some fond memories.