Bringing on the nostalgia for Pokemon fans

Ash (right) and Pikachu set out on new adventures in Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You.
Ash (right) and Pikachu set out on new adventures in Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

The story: Ash dreams of becoming the world's best Pokemon trainer. He picks the volatile Pikachu to be his first Pokemon. The two set out on their adventures, including the mission to find Ho-Oh, the mysterious Rainbow Pokemon.

This film was made with two sets of viewers in mind: young kids and die-hard Pokemon fans.

In this feature film special to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the massively popular Pokemon anime, the producers pay tribute not with an entirely new story, but with a condensed version of the show's first season.

That means that long-time fans will be able to recognise selected scenes from the anime here, such as when Ash earns Pikachu's trust by defending it from a flock of Spearows or how Ash reluctantly chooses to free Butterfree so that it can mate.

It all plays out like a collection of Pokemon's greatest hits, if you will.

For fans of the original series, this is enough because it works on nostalgia's sake alone.

But for everyone else, it is difficult to feel involved as things move along so quickly.

Unlike a full-fledged episodic series, there is no time here to get into the emotional drama of every mini adventure, nor for any proper character development.

That unique bond shared between Ash and Pikachu, in particular, which is so crucial to the success of the anime, is merely touched on.


    98 minutes/Opens tomorrow/2.5 Stars

Their connection here feels like a kid and his favourite new toy, when really it should be between two family members.

Goofy villain trio Team Rocket, the usual source of comic relief, also get so little screen time that they could have been edited out completely with little loss.

Still, there are some improvements here from the original anime. Visually, the animation is lovely to look at, with the glittering rainbow-coloured feathers of the mystical Ho-Oh character especially mesmerising.

If only the story is as compelling.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2017, with the headline 'Bringing on the nostalgia for Pokemon fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe