Pokemon: I Choose You! is a 2017 Japanese anime adventure film that was directed by Kunihiko Yuyuama, written by Shoji Yonemura, and produced by OLM. Released as the twentieth Pokemon movie, and the first reboot film in the anime film series. It sets up an alternate continuity to the main series and acts as a loose retelling of the Kanto League saga of the show, released to commemorate the anime’s twentieth anniversary. It premiered at Japan Expo in France on July 6, 2017 and was released in Japan on July 15, 2017. The Pokemon Company International and Fathom Events released the film on a limited theatrical run in the rest of the world on November 5, 2017 and this was followed by airings on Disney XD in the United States on November 25, 2017, on CITV in the UK on December 8, 2017, 9Go! in Australia on December 10, 2017 and on Gulli in France on December 25, 2017.
Some older fans of the anime expressed negative criticism over the film on social media due to the exclusion of Misty and Brock in favor of two new companions, with one saying “It’s almost like Brock and Misty never existed”. Also, criticism was also made at the point where Pikachu actually speaks human language. As shown at the film’s first screening at the 2017 Japan Expo, most of the main characters from the first six series were relegated to cameos, which also caused some harsh criticism from older fans.
A second film in the alternate continuity will be animated by OLM and Wit Studio and is scheduled to be released in theaters in Japan on July 13, 2018.
The Film Itself (3/5):
Going into Pokemon: I Choose You!, I was a bit concerned; especially after reading that Pikachu was noted to speaking the human language. Initially in the film, it felt as if they had taken the entirety of the first season of the Indigo League and condensed it into roughly 45 minutes of footage that featured all new voice actors for the characters. That said, they took those pieces from the very beginning of the television show and did a really nice job of mixing in elements from the latter seasons of the show to create a story that managed to do very well after about halfway through the film. Sure, it was a bit disturbing that they ultimately chose to not only skip over the first two gyms where Ash meets Brock and Misty, but they ultimately decided to leave them out of the storyline completely. And with regard to the little tidbit about Pikachu speaking the human language, it was only a single line toward the near of the end of the film and was used to represent the fact that Ash and Pikachu had a stronger bond between them and that Ash finally understood his companion.
Picture Quality (4.75/5):
As I expected going into this movie, Pokemon: I Choose You! looked absolutely beautiful as it played out across my living room television. The animation was considerably sharp and crisp, and offered a bright and vivid color palette that you could really see and appreciate the work that the animators put into this film. I ultimately decided to deduct a quarter of a point as a result of the small portions that included the use of 3D renderings both at the very beginning of the film as well as a brief moment near the end. The transitions between these two styles of animations were very unsettling and could have been handled a lot better.
Audio Quality (2.5/5):
Packaged with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, Pokemon: I Choose You! sounded absolutely clean and clear as it played out across my home theater system in my living room. Granted, it’s not nearly as good as it could have been as it not only lacks a lot of the immersion factors that we experience with recent releases, but the lossy audio that’s been used offers much less of an impactful experience for viewers. To the average viewer that is watching this release through their television speakers, they wouldn’t be able to notice this, but as the sound came through my speakers, it was extremely noticeable.
The Packaging (3/5):
Pokemon: I Choose You! comes packaged in your standard single disc Blu-ray amaray case. Within that case is the standard Blu-ray copy of the film, with the disc featuring a piece of artwork that’s not only relative to the film, but different from that of the case art. There are no DVD copies of the film included with this release, nor are there any digital copy redemption pamphlets. A slipcover has been made available during the initial pressing of this release that features the same piece of artwork that’s available on the case art.
Special Features (1/5):
Sadly, the Blu-ray release of Pokemon: I Choose You! is very barebones in terms of additional content. There are no features that explore the film, characters, story further nor is there anything that offers any kind of look into the work that went into making this movie available. The only feature that’s been provided on this release is the Trailer for the film.
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Original Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Original Film: 112 minutes
Overall, I was beyond glad to have added Pokemon: I Choose You! to my library. As someone who had grown up with watching the Pokemon television series as a child, it’s been something that I had loosely followed off and on throughout the years. The story that’s presented in this movie does kick off with a rocky start, but as soon as the foundation is built and Ash is well into his ventures to become a Pokemon master, things start to get good. The visual presentation of the Blu-ray was absolutely beautiful; however, the audio presentation left a lot to be asked for with its Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. Special features are practically nonexistent aside from the included trailer for the movie. If you’re considering adding this release to your collection, while I would recommend it, I would highly recommend waiting for it to go on sale. Pokemon: I Choose You! was released to Blu-ray on Tuesday February 13, 2018.