Pikachu and the Pokémon army continue to capture the imagination of generations old and new. The shops continue to be full of Pokémon merchandise and McDonald’s has recently finished an extremely successful Happy Meal promotion. Perhaps then it’s not surprising that the first season of Pokemon: Indigo League has been ‘evolved’ into the 20th movie of the franchise, to commemorate anime's twentieth anniversary.
Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! sets about retelling the tale of how Ash and Pikachu first met, as well as the trials and tribulations they went through before they became the best of friends. Like the original anime series, the movie begins with Ash Ketchum over sleeping and arriving late at Professor Oak’s lab. Ash’s tardiness has meant that he has missed out on opportunity of selecting either Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle. However, all is not lost as the Professor still has a single Pokémon left, known as Pikachu. Unfortunately, for Ash, Pikachu takes an instant dislike to him.
Relations between the two thaw after Ash rescues Pikachu from a life-threatening attack by a flock of Spearow. This event leads to the pair forming an unbreakable bond. The following morning, Ash finds a rainbow-coloured feather, which has been dropped by a mysterious Pokémon, a Pokémon who Ash vows to meet one day. This feather turns out to be from the legendary Ho-Oh. The legend of the rainbow feather is explained by one of Ash’s new companions, Sorrel. As it turns out, only chosen trainers are given a Rainbow Feather by Ho-Oh. The role of the feather is to guide the chosen one to the location of Ho-Oh. By following the feather Ash will become the “Rainbow Hero” and will be able to challenge Ho-Oh to a battle. Inspired by the tale, Ash and his friends set off on an action-packed adventure to Mount Tensei, the location of Ash’s potential battle with Ho-Oh.
For those of you looking for a nostalgia trip, there are some significant differences between the series and the film. Ash doesn’t meet either Misty or Brock and is instead accompanied on his adventure by Verity, a trainer from Twinleaft Town, and Sorrel, a trainer from Veilstone City. The introduction of these new characters is one of the main drawbacks of the film. Both characters have interesting back stories, however, the film gives only small tantalising snippets of info, but never digs deeper. In addition, Ash’s main rival is no-longer Gary Oak (who does make a very brief cameo at the start, where you can see him choosing Squirtle from the three starter Pokemon) but instead an arrogant trainer by the name of Cross. Team Rocket do make an appearance in the film however, there role is rather limited and somewhat forgettable.
Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! provides the opportunity for Pokémon fans old and new to come together and enjoy the tale of how Ash and Pokémon built their friendship. It proves that you can remake a classic and present with a fresh take. The movie is well animated. The lines are crisp and the colour is bold and bright.
The best compliment I can give the movie comes from my 3-year viewing partner who simply said he loved it.