I’m sure some of you reading this will already be familiar with Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us thanks to its theatrical release at the end of last year. Now, distributor Manga Entertainment are bringing the film to home video, and I’m here to find out what’s in store for Ash and Pikachu!
This time around Ash and Pikachu have travelled to Fula City, which is in the middle of celebrating its annual Wind Festival – but he isn’t the only one in town for the festivities. Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us focuses on many characters, rather than just Ash and Pikachu. Notable amongst the cast is Risa, a high-school student who has been sent to Fula City by her brother on a quest to capture an Eevee.
Despite not being a Pokémon trainer herself, Risa reluctantly accepts the challenge and searches far and wide for the Pokémon, but little does she know that she’s about to become embroiled in a grand adventure…
Risa and Ash’s time in the city brings them together with many of the residents: those who appear to despise Pokémon, like the elderly Harriet; those who work in research alongside Pokémon, like Toren; and show-offs like Callahan, who just wishes to impress those around him. The enjoyable thing about this film is that all of the cast are from drastically different walks of life and yet they’re brought together by Pokémon.
The theme of this movie is working together, no matter your background, whether it be by the power of Pokémon or just as fellow humans. It’s the kind of sweet sentiment that Pokémon is good at conveying and it works very well for this movie.
Having a much wider selection of characters also makes a huge difference to the structure of the film. It would be no lie to say that Ash could be removed from this movie and it would still be perfectly fine. He’s not important to the plot and this isn’t his story; it’s the story of those who live and are visiting Fula city. The shift in focal characters is the best thing the Pokémon franchise has done in years.
This is the first Pokémon movie in years that doesn’t feel like it exists just to sell something. The previous movie, I Choose You, almost got this right but still throws it away at the end. I finally didn’t feel advertised to when watching The Power of Us. Instead I was watching a worthy entry in a beloved franchise that made me laugh and cry in equal measures. It’s moving, dramatic and funny all at the same time. It ties together everything I love about Pokémon and weaves it into a fascinating and lovable story. I really hope that future Pokémon movies take a hard look at this one and go down a similar road.
Animation for this movie has been handled by the usual Pokémon studio OLM, but alongside them the film is a co-production with Wit Studio (Attack on Titan, The Ancient Magus’ Bride). Beyond the softer, more expressive character designs it’s difficult to tell what Wit Studio contributed to the movie, but that’s okay because overall the whole thing looks fantastic. The Power of Us is bursting with colour and wonderful bright environments that set out to captivate your attention. The only small criticism I have in terms of animation is some clunky CGI usage, which OLM are known for with these movies – but this film’s CGI seems worse than usual. Even some of the background Pokémon are CGI and that just looks weird!
Where music’s concerned, it’s difficult to know what’s from the original composer and what’s been ripped out and replaced for this dub-only release, but the music that’s present works well in the context of the film. Likewise, all of the dub cast do a great job bringing their respective characters to life, my favourite of the bunch being Risa – played by Haven Paschall (Serena in the Pokémon XY anime series) who brings a great deal of enthusiasm and determination to the character.
This release comes to the UK thanks to Manga Entertainment and is available on both Blu-ray and DVD. The Blu-ray release is a collector’s edition that includes 4 art cards and a poster. Both editions include the movie with its English dub but no on-disc extras.
Overall, Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us is among the best Pokémon movies ever made. With a varied cast of characters and less focus on Ash and Pikachu, the film succeeds in offering a unique story that fans of all ages can enjoy.