|| "Everyone's Story"
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Dogasu's Backpack | Movies & Specials Guide | Pocket Monsters The Movie "Everyone's Story"
This review contains spoilers for Movie 21.
If you'd like to read a spoiler-free version click here.
Like it or not, we live in a post-Pokémon GO world. It's 2018 and the Pocket Monsters franchise is concerned now, more than ever, with making sure that all those newcomers, all those salarymen and office ladies who don't know anything past what Niantic's presented them with so far, will stick with the franchise for years to come. Keep playing your smartphone game, sure, but also make sure to attend our special events and buy our Switch games and go see our movies. The first two are fairly easy to do - just offer in-game rewards - but what about that last one? How do you get the Pokémon GO crowd to go see a Pokemon movie?
How about by making it so you only need to know the absolute bare minimum about pokemon to understand what's going on? How about by making a movie that features mostly pokemon you can already get in your Pokémon GO or the upcoming Let's Go games? How about by bringing in household names like Mana Ashida and Rina Kawaei into your cast, and mainstream artists like Porno Graffiti to provide your theme song? How about by preparing participation tickets for a Pokémon GO Special Weekend event that allows you to "search for pokemon who appear in the movie" and then handing them out to everyone who goes see the film?
That probably all sounds like a recipe for disaster, some lowest common denominator drek. But somehow, despite all odds, this year's movie is good. Really, really good. Pocket Monsters The Movie "Everyone's Story" is one of the best movies in the franchise. It's also a film that your average Pokémon fan is probably going to hate.
That's because there's only like three battles in the whole thing and they're all kind of short. Because we don't see any kind of crazy transformations or super attacks or new Eevee evolutions or any of the other things people have been putting on their wishlists ever since this thing was announced. Because Zeraora takes about an hour to show up and is almost defeated by a freaking Hellgar and a Nyula at one point. Because the Rocket trio gets more screentime than Lugia does. Because it's not what your typical Pokemon fan looks for in a Pokemon movie.
Instead, this is a motion picture that is first and foremost all about the human characters. Oh, there are pokemon in this thing, sure, and a lot of them play major roles in the story. Kagachi's Usokki, in particular, gets a lot of focus. But the story spends the majority of its energy focusing on the human characters and their human problems. Some of them are pokemon-related - Hisui's fear of pokemon stems from losing her Bulu in a fire, Largo's attempts to get the festival postponed are her way of trying to protect Zeraora - but most of the others are just regular human dramas with some pokemon elements sprinkled in. Lisa struggles with catching Eevee, sure, but the bigger issue she has is her fear of running after a leg injury forced her to retire from her school's track and field team. Torito studies pokemon but he spends most of the film struggling with his fear of public speaking and the realization that his suspicions about his colleagues talking crap about him behind his back are all true. Kagachi's lies are all pokemon-related but it's the very act of lying and the fallout of said lies that causes his downward spiral in the second half of the film.
One of the things people like about the Sun & Moon TV series is how the show reminds us, every now and then, that the main characters all had their own lives before Satoshi came to Alola. Their existence didn't revolve around this kid from Masara Town back then and they don't revolve around him now. Everyone's Story, similarly, makes sure we see these characters as individuals rather than plot devices designed to help make Satoshi look like a superhero. Satoshi finds a way to get involved in everyone's affairs, sure, but he's not the focal point of the film. This is Everyone's Story, and the movie does everything in its power to make sure it lives up to its name.
One thing that probably helps is the new director. Pocket Monsters The Movie "Everyone's Story" is the very first movie in this 20 year old film franchise to not be directed by Kunihiko Yuyama and bringing in someone else to sit in the director's chair has been exactly the shot in the arm this film franchise has needed. Director Tetsuo Yajima doesn't waste a second of the film's 100 minute running time and even though he bombards viewers with a ton of information the audience never feels overwhelmed. The movie's fast paced but never feels rushed. Now I was never as tough on Mr. Yuyama as a lot of other fans have been but I will admit that it's hard to see him making a film like this, and to give you an idea of what I'm talking about I want to bring up the way this film handles Zeraora's backstory. In this year's film details about Zeraora are drip fed to us naturally through the characters' dialogue: a police officer telling Lisa off for trespassing in the forest brings up the curse of Zeraora; at dinner, Oliver startles his daughter by insisting that Zeraora is dead and that she should stop talking about it right this instant; multiple characters bring up the fire from 50 years ago that caused Zeraora to hate humans, etc. Now I get the feeling that if Mr. Yuyama had been directing this he would just have a character read the entire backstory to us from some old book or something and call it a day. The former approach works so much better and Mr. Yajima's ability to understand this makes me hope he's invited back for next year's film.
It also doesn't hurt that the strong cast of guest voice actors actually get a lot to do. Nobody's wasted as much as Akihiro Miwa was in the Arceus film and nobody's phoning it in the way Tatsuya Fujiwara did in the Hoopa movie, either. Every single guest star gets a large, meaty role and you can tell they all gave it 110% when working on this film. Of particular note is Mana Ashida, who's an unbelievably good voice actor for someone who's only 14 years old, and Koji Ohkura, whose wide ranging performance really helps make you cheer for Kagachi even though he does some (well-meaning) jerky things. And of course there's Masako Nozawa, someone I could just listen to all day long. The regulars are great too, with Rika Matsumoto's Satoshi and Megumi Hayashibara, Shinichirou Miki, and Inuko Inuyama's Rocket trio all putting in the usual solid work.
Pocket Monsters The Movie "Everyone's Story" is exactly the shake up this film franchise has been begging for. It's Top Three material, easy, and I can't wait to add it to the rotation once the Blu-ray comes out in December.
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