Any Pokémon fan who grew up in the late 90’s/early 2000’s is all too familiar with the classic story of how Ash Ketchum meet Pikachu and began an unforgettable journey (aka the Indigo League arch). Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! takes the foundation of that classic tale to tell a new story.
However this is not a story restricted to the Kanto region nor is it an hours worth of nostalgia pandering. Instead this is more of an introduction to Ash and Pikachu for a new generation while also a nod to the original series for fans. It dose change a lot in regards to the origin and major characters are absent but it makes up for it by keeping the sprite of the series.
Gotta Catch Em All
Ash Ketchum has turned 10 and wants to begin his quest to be a Pokemon master, but he is late to Professor Oak lab and the only Pokemon available is a hostile Pikachu. Their relationship quickly changes after Ash was whiling to risk his life to protect Pikachu during a storm from a pack of angry Spearow’s. When the weather clears, a Ho-oh flies above them and drops a feather from its rainbow wing.
Sometime later, Ash meets befriends Verity and Sorrel who share with him the legend of the “rainbow hero”. Given that Ash has a feather from Ho-oh, they set out to fulfill the prophecy buy venturing to the end of the rainbow. During their journey, they will have to overcome a series of challenges that will put their friendship to the test.
I Choose You! is a blend of classic episodes from the Indigo League saga retold while held together by an original story. Retelling of episodes that add to the plot (like Ep 011 “Charmander – The Stray Pokémon”) or offer comic relief (like Ep 025 “Primeape Goes Bananas”) are done so well. The most cleaver of the retelling has to be the final confrontation as its an obvious retelling of Mewtwo Strikes Back, a meta moment since for fans since this was the first movie.
However; retelling that added nothing to the story had a very rush feeling while its absence could have help the story. The most notable is the retelling of “Bye Bye Butterfree” (one of the most emotional moments of the show) was also handled poorly as Caterpie was caught during the credits and has very little screen time to allow audiences to have an emotional connection with Butterfree. Compare that to the several episodes dedicated to watching Ash’s relationship with Caterpie grow only for them to separate half way through the season.
Another issue fans will have is the absence of several key characters. While it made sense to take out Brock and Misty, but Gary is only featured as a silhouette. While Cross is suppose to be the villain, the absence of Gary as rival really takes away one of the key sub-plots of the series. Meanwhile, Team Rocket’s only purpose in the movie is just for one familiar joke that is overused.
I Wanna be the Very Best
The movie finds the right balance between telling a new story while also retelling a classic one. It dose a good job of introducing the animated adaptation to a new audience while also having plenty of nods for old schools fans. However some moments felt rushed while several retelling added nothing to the plot or didn’t have the same impact as the show.
Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! is a treat for fans of all generations, be it those who were raised on Gen I to those starting with Gen VII. Despite the changes and shortcomings, this is still the classic story of Ash meeting Pikachu and going off into the world.
Final Score: 7/10