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Anime / Pokémon: I Choose You!

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Aim to be a Pokémon Master...and gotta catch 'em all.

Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You! is OLM Incorporated's 20th Pokémon: The Series film, the last to be directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, and the first to be written by Shoji Yonemura. It was released on July 15, 2017.

In a departure from the previous movies, this movie is a loose retelling of Ash's original journey through the Kanto region in an Alternate Continuity, in celebration of the Pokémon anime's 20th anniversary.

Followed by Pokémon: The Power of Us, a direct sequel set in this film's continuity.

I Choose You! provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Verity is very proactive during action scenes, possibly even upstaging Misty in that department but losing to Iris.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The I Choose You Remix manga's third chapter ends with Charmeleon evolving into Charizard, beating Cross's Incineroar and preparing to battle Cross's Lycanroc (the fourth chapter is about Pikachu trying to recover Ash's hat).
  • Adaptational Distillation: As the movie is a composition of various episodes from the original series, many plot points and characters were simplified or cut out to create a smoother narrative:
    • Scenes featuring Gary and Misty were cut out from the Pokémon - I Choose You! portion of the movie, as neither of those characters had a part for the rest of the movie.note  Likewise, Delia Ketchum arrives at Oak's Laboratory alone rather than bringing a crowd to celebrate Ash's first step as a Pokémon Trainer.
    • The Pokédex is never seen or mentioned as Yuyama Kunihiko states that it wouldn't feel right if the legendary Pokémon that everyone is looking for was already registered in the Pokédex. Although Sorrel has a tablet that serves the same function by bring up entries on Ho-Oh and the Legendary Beasts.
    • Butterfree's story arc is spread across the film to even the pace, and its fights with other Pokémon alludes to other episodes such as Pinsir and Fearow. Like in Bye-Bye Butterfree, Ash releases Butterfree to be with the Pink Butterfree.
    • Charizard's story arc has been streamlined quite a bit. Its previous trainer is Cross, the primary antagonist and rival for Ash in this movie, rather than Damian. And unlike Damian, Cross doesn't try to deceive Charmander of what he really thinks of it, bearing more resemblance to Ash's other rival Paul. Charmander's recovery is simplified from an intense emergency treatment at the Pokémon Center to Sorrel creating a simple medicine and Ash personally holding it in his arms. And the whole disobedience-after-evolution subplot was dropped entirely, ironically making Charmeleon a reflection of Ash's strength rather than Ash's handling as a trainer.
    • Ash has only 3 Pokémon instead of 5-6 as he did in the show, likely to give room for Butterfree and Charizard's story arcs. Pidegotto, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle were omitted altogether as they wouldn't have been anything more than background extras in Ash's team. However, the credits sequence also features Heracross, with the implication that Ash is about to catch it.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: Unlike his main series counterpart, this Ash isn't as dumb when he begins his journey. He recognizes all the Pokémon he encounters (he doesn't even pull out a Pokédex) and doesn't make any rookie battling mistakes.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Whereas Professor Oak became a Nice Guy in the series through Characterization Marches On, here, he's actually a considerate person from the beginning.
    • In this version of the story, Ash's Charmeleon actually stays loyal to him after evolving.
    • Both Ash and Pikachu fall into this. Rather than his more hot headed and bratty persona from Kanto, he instead acts more like how he is in Hoenn and Sinnoh, being very skilled and yet also thoughtful and considerate. Likewise, while Pikachu starts out bratty, but once Ash saves him, he's immediately more respectful of him, rather than how he was bratty throughout most of Kanto.
  • Adapted Out:
    • ALL of Ash’s Pokémon who are not Pikachu, Butterfree, Charizard, or Heracross, are not present at all in the film.
  • Most of Ash's Gym battles and the Indigo League Conference, outside of his fight with Erika and two unnamed gyms.
  • Alternate Continuity: Confirmed in an interview to be the case. The entire movie deviates rather heavily from the anime's story with many points, and is said to be inspired by all of Ash's adventures.
    • Ho-Oh - having been dropped off from the main story without a proper introduction - becoming the focus of the journey, being from Generation II.
    • Ash having entirely different companions that aren't Misty or Brock, nor any other known traveling companion.
    • Marshadow joining Ash and his companions, with another Trainer possessing Incineroar and Midnight Lycanroc.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • The scene where Pikachu speaks human language. Since it's from Ash's point of view, it's never made clear if he's actually talking; if Ash is imagining it; or if Ash simply understands him (as it's been heavily implied that he can in the main series).
    • Which two Gym badges Ash acquired prior to the Rainbow Badge. In the main continuity Ash had three before challenging Erika.
  • Anti-Villain: Cross is a Jerkass trainer and the closest thing the movie has to a villain that wishes to see Ho-oh. Once he accidentally causes Marshadow to attack everyone for him having an impure heart to summon Ho-oh with Ash's Rainbow Feather, Cross undergoes a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Artifact: The Team Rocket Trio is completely irrelevant to the plot and never interact with Ash, but they're still around and pop up on occasion.
  • Artistic License – Ornithology: The short scene showing a Spearow's point of view reveals it sees in black and white (as it did back in the first episode). Birds in Real Life are known to have good color vision, and they can distinguish colors better than people can. Though it can be excused on the account of Spearow not being a real-life bird and being a Pokemon so its vision might work differently.
  • Back from the Dead: After being turned into fireflies trying to shield Pikachu, Ash is revived by Ho-oh.
  • Big Budget Beef-Up: Compared to the episodes from the beginning of the original series that this movie retells.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • The group is harassed by a group of wild angry Primeape. Sorrel then notes that they're highly aggressive while angry, but all the Primeape do is...harmlessly toss the group up and down in the air.
    • Though Ash receives grave life-ending injuries that kill him, he doesn't suffer loss of blood.
    • There is a distinct lack of blood when Lycanroc bites into Cross's arm.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: After Marshadow is driven mad by the feather's corruption, he possesses wild Pokémon (and Cross's Lycanroc) to instruct them all to eliminate the children and their Pokémon.
  • Breaking Old Trends: Every prior movie ostensibly fitted into the chronology of the series (despite their events rarely, if ever, being brought up in episodes or other movies). This one, however, kickstarts an Ultimate Universe completely divorced from the series' canon.
  • Breath Weapon: 9 out of the 20 Pokémon that Marshadow controls during the movie's climax have at least one Breath Weapon.note 
  • Call-Back:
    • The Charmander Ash gets comes from a Jerkass trainer (this time being Cross) who thought it had no real battle potential.
    • Ash's Butterfree is let go to mate with a pink Butterfree.
    • Ash protects Pikachu from Marshadow's brainwashed Pokémon's attacks just like he did protecting Pikachu from Spearow. The massive difference is that Ash ends up vaporizing from existence until Ho-oh brings him Back from the Dead.
  • The Cameo:
    • The two trainers that are battling on TV in the beginning are Neesha and Corey from Pokémon: The First Movie.
    • When Ash is late to get his first Pokémon, Gary is shown briefly receiving his Squirtle from Professor Oak. The other trainers receiving their starters are Marina (from the episode "Bye Bye Psyduck") and recurring XY character Tierno (although Tierno's clothing was altered).
    • Agatha appears in Ash's Dream Sequence, as a teacher of the school he attends.
    • During the credits sequence, we see Heracross being fought by Ash and Wobbuffet appearing with Team Rocket on their Meowth Balloon.
    • During the closing narration, several characters from the previous movies appear. We see Lugia and Slowking from Pokémon 2000, Baron Alberto and Maury from Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai, and Juanita and Golurk from Pokémon: The Movie Black/White.
  • Canon Discontinuity: While most Pokémon movies are loose with canon at best, this movie is explicitly non-canon and is set in an alternate universe.
  • Composite Character:
    • Cross replaces Gary as Ash's rival, while also replacing Damian, in that Charmander was originally his before he abandoned it for being weak. Which is also similar to Paul and Chimchar.
    • Verity is essentially a combination of Misty (tomboyish Water Pokémon trainer who travels with Ash through Kanto) and Dawn (an energetic Twinleaf Town native who chose Piplup as her starter).
    • This version of Charizard, funnily enough, takes more after Ash's Infernape than his main series counterpart; he not only stays loyal to Ash after evolving, but his former trainer becomes Ash's main rival, and it's only in their final battle that Charizard wins, thereby getting payback for being called weak.
  • Continuity Cameo: Misty, Brock, Tracey, May, Max, Dawn, Iris, Cilan, Serena, Clemont, and Bonnie, as well as Jessie’s Wobbuffet all appear in the closing credits sequence.
  • The Corruption: Marshadow tags along with Ash to purify the Rainbow Feather by having Ash summon Ho-oh. Unfortunately, the corruption takes a hold of the feather once the impure of heart Cross uses it instead, which drives Marshadow mad.
  • Continuity Reboot: Unusually, compared to "mainstream" Pokémon, this is an actual reboot, not a Soft Reboot. But it's a reboot for The Movie adaptations, replacing the canon of the previous Non-Serial Movies that ran alongside the anime as an Alternate Continuity. As such, it starts an entirely new canon for the The Movie adaptations (which are Alternate Continuity to the anime, anyway) from a clean slate.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Played for Drama. When Charmeleon fights Incineroar, he does quite well at first, but only because Incineroar is deliberately taking the attacks so as to activate Blaze, at which point the gloves come off, and Charmeleon is subjected to one of the most brutal beatdowns in the anime’s history, which is also one of the only battles in which a Pokémon looks to be in genuine physical pain.
  • Darker and Edgier: Well... sort of. Unlike previous movies, there are some themes that make the film cater to adults as well as kids: young Sorrel's Luxray dying from cold temperatures, Ash taking the brunt of attacks twice, and shielding Pikachu and dying (in the form of fireflies). Bloodless Carnage still applies, though.
  • Demoted to Extra: With his role as Ash's rival being taken over by Cross, Gary is reduced to having a non-speaking cameo, briefly seen choosing Squirtle as his starter.
  • Deus ex Machina: How did Ash come back after being killed and "fading away" at the climax of the movie? The best guess is probably that Ho-oh did it.
  • Dream Sequence: After a bad argument with his companions, Ash dreams of a world that is technically real life with no Pokémon and he lives a normal life as an ordinary student... who keeps hallucinating Pikachu.
  • Dub Name Change: Makoto to Verity, Souji to Sorrel.
  • Flat Character:
    • Sorrel's Lucario spends the huge majority of the movie just sitting or standing around without so much changing expressions (and has less scenes being around than Verity's Piplup). Sorrel did say that when he met Lucario, he stopped distancing himself from making friends with Pokémon...but there isn't more elaboration on that.
    • Cross's Incineroar solely exists to fight battles.
    • Cross's Midnight Lycanroc. Cross comments while trying to snap him out of Marshadow's brainwashing that he met Lycanroc before when it bit his arm ferociously, which doesn't get any elaboration.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: Proving some things happen In Spite of a Nail, Ash and his friends (Verity, Sorrel, and Cross) go their separate ways at the film's end.
  • For Want of a Nail: The movie diverges from the original timeline in two major ways. First Ash never encounters Misty after he falls in the river during his run from the Spearow flock, so he never borrows & destroys her bike which initially caused Misty to follow Ash on his journey. The second is Ho-oh dropping a single feather. This heals Ash and Pikachu, so they don’t go to the Viridian Pokémon Center, and thus they never encounter Team Rocket. For whatever reason, Brock never joined Ash either when he passed through Pewter City. As a result, Ash travels alone until Celadon City where he meets Verity and Sorrel, the latter of whom explains the legend of Ho-Oh, causing Ash to show off the Rainbow Wing, which leads to the main plot.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: This movie breaks away from the formula from the previous movies. In particular:
    • It doesn't take place in Alola with the current cast, as previous movies "fit in" with the concurrent season airing at the time.
    • It doesn't feature either of the current generation's cover Legendaries. Since the third generation, the first movie to follow a launch of a new Pokémon generation had one or both cover Legendaries as a major focus.
    • While it does feature Marshadow, a Mythical Pokémon (Pokémon that can only be gotten from real-life events) from the current generation, it is not the main focus of the movie.
  • The Ghost: This one of the few times Ash's father has been mentioned in the anime. It's implied that he's on a Pokémon journey like Ash, as Delia complains that the two of them never call her.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Sorrel's Luxray is seen with a soft, content smile on its face when the boy awakens to see the Pokémon's frozen, lifeless body.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: After the battle between Pikachu and Marshadow, Pikachu ends up severely injured. Ash picks up Pikachu and tries to escape, but the brainwashed Pokémon fire ruthless attacks on Ash and Pikachu. Ash shields Pikachu to protect it from the blasts and is also severely hurt in the process. As the Pokémon prepare a final explosion, Ash recalls Pikachu and grabs the pokeball tightly, taking the full force of the attacks himself. Pikachu is saved, but at the cost of Ash's own life.
  • High School AU: Deconstructed. There's a Dream Sequence about Ash being a normal elementary schooler. It, however, is jarring and is used to show how unnatural that is for Ash, as well as the rest of the world—instead of a pristine wilderness, their surroundings are the real Japan’s modern-day Kanto region, which is urbanized far more heavily than even the biggest city in Pokémon, and looks distinctly grittier.
  • Insecure Protagonist, Arrogant Antagonist: Ash, while somewhat smarter than his TV series counterpart, tends to doubt himself and his abilities, especially after losing against Cross in their battle, but later manages to pick himself back up from it. Cross is an extremely arrogant trainer who values strength above everything else and is frustrated that he never obtained the Rainbow Wing from Ho-Oh like Ash did, causing said wing to become corrupted when he steals it from him, but eventually learns the error of his ways after everything that happens in the movie.
  • I Wished You Were Dead: A variation. After their first battle against Cross ends up in failure, Ash contemplates that he should have used Pikachu to win instead of Charmeleon, and after a while he berates Pikachu and angrily tells him he should have picked Bulbasaur or Squirtle instead and storms off for a while.
  • Jerkass Ball: After being defeated by Cross, Ash becomes so upset that he wishes he started with Squirtle instead of Pikachu (who didn't even participate in the battle) to intensify the drama.
  • Kick the Dog: Upon first meeting Cross, he kicks Charmander.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Cross's complaints about Charmander being weak come back to bite him real hard when it evolves into Charizard and ends up taking down his Incineroar.
  • Made of Iron: Ash falls at the top of steel stairs twice, but he doesn't get a single scratch on him.
  • Might Makes Right: Cross even says it outright.
  • Mirror Character: Ash and Cross. In this continuity, Ash has a serious winning streak until he and Cross fight, in which he loses horribly, causing him to become obsessed with making up for the loss, despite his traveling companions pointing out that it's unrealistic to win every battle. First, Ash speculates that he'd have won had he used Pikachu instead of Charmeleon, spoken in a way that suggests he might be thinking Cross has a point, and then lets slip that he wished he had chosen Bulbasaur or Squirtle from Professor Oak instead, while Pikachu is within earshot. This makes Pikachu run off, which Ash can’t believe because he's the chosen one and doesn't deserve this, which turns the Rainbow Wing black for the first time, resulting in the High School AU sequence, and Ash coming to his senses. Later, he doesn’t force Butterfree to stay with him and miss out on mating with the female Butterfree even though Butterfree was willing to do it and be unhappy, proving that he got over this. Then in the climax we learn that Cross too saw Ho-Oh and became obsessed with becoming the strongest in order to be worthy enough to battle it, and is furious that Ash was chosen instead, making him what Ash would have been had he neglected the importance of friendship.
  • Mythology Gag: Already present in the first preview, considering the nature of the movie:
    • Ho-Oh, who appeared in the first episode, is the main focus.
    • The title of the movie is the title of the first episode of the anime.
      • For that matter, the first ten minutes or so of the movie is a condensed version of the episode's events(sans Misty). In some cases, remade shot-for-shot.
    • Ash is wearing a slightly modified version of his Indigo League attire. The symbol on his cap is a mix of his Kanto and Alola caps, and the original symbol can be seen on his backpack.
    • Bonji wears a cap and jacket very similar to those worn by Red in Pokémon Red and Blue.
    • The opening theme song (also used in the trailer) is a remix of the TV series' very first opening — "Mezase Pokémon Master" in the Japanese version, and "Pokémon Theme" in the English dub.
    • Ho-Oh resurrecting Ash references the legend of Ho-Oh in the games, as it originally resurrected the three legendary beasts of Johto: Suicune, Entei, and Raikou.
    • The Japanese ending theme is Oración's Theme ~Let's Walk Together~, which is based on Oración, an instrumental piece from Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai, the tenth Pokémon film and the first for Generation IV.
    • In the film's climax, when Ash is killed by Marshadow's army of Brainwashed and Crazy wild Pokémon and finds himself in the afterlife, its appearance, similar to the real world but with a murky grey filter, resembles the depiction of it from Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew.
    • Corey and Neesha cameo as dueling trainers during an early competitive battling segment.
    • Marina (of the Orange Islands) and Tierno (from Kalos) cameo as the trainers who collect Charmander and Bulbasaur in the beginning.
    • The competitive battling segment has announcer chatter lifted straight from Pokémon Stadium.
    • Butterfree has pretty much the same story arc as the original Anime.
    • In the end, Ash, Verity, and Sorrel split up at the same (or at least a similar looking location) as Ash, Misty, and Brock did in the original series.
    • In the dub, many lines are lifted from the 4Kids dub, rerecorded by the current voice actors. This is what was done in the dub of The Fires of a Red-Hot Reunion! wherein most of the characters (except for Koga) had their lines rerecorded by the current voice actors during Ash's flashback sequence.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • Invoked with when Ash and Verity find Charmander, where the latter says something to the effect of "If the flame on its tail goes out, then...".
    • Played straight with Sorrel's Luxray, who dies protecting his trainer from the cold weather, and Ash's death from being blasted by the corrupted Pokémon - whilst any words in relation to death aren't used, they make no attempt at trying to soften it up.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Sorrel never wanted to make friends with Pokémon after his family's Luxray froze to death keeping him warm during a blizzard until he met Lucario. He doesn't explain how or when they met, ironically.
    • The same goes to Cross and his Midnight Lycanroc, the latter who bit his arm.
  • The Power of Friendship: In spades:
    • The bond between Ash and Pikachu, which at the climax proves to be a valuable ticket for Ho-oh to revive Ash from the dead.
    • Ash's entire reason to meet Ho-oh is so that he can become friends with it (with a battle, but that's besides the point).
    • After Cross trounces Ash in their first battle, Ash himself questions why The Power of Friendship with his team didn't let him win (which implied he hadn't lost a match since he started), giving him the Jerkass Ball. The others do point out that while Cross vehemently denies friends, his conviction was stronger. Of course The Power of Friendship wins against Cross on the second battle.
    • Ash's Butterfree being released to mate, though it is to a lesser extent.
    • Sorrel meeting Lucario, which unfortunately doesn't get enough explanation other than their meeting restored Sorrel's fear of making friends with Pokémon after his family's Luxray froze to death keeping him warm in a blizzard.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cross gives a rather nasty one to Ash once he beats Charmeleon with his Incineroar, even calling him "the worst trainer he's ever seen".
  • Revisiting the Roots: The first trailer is heavily based on the Indigo League season of the anime.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Sorrel's family Luxray saved him from dying in the cold during a skiing accident when he was little, at the cost of Luxray's life.
  • Sequel Hook: The credits sequence shows Ash about to catch his Heracross. With Wobbuffet also appearing with Team Rocket, it's implied that he may have traveled to Johto.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Strangely invoked. During their first fight, Cross purposely lets his Incineroar get damaged enough so that its ability Blaze activated for a power boost, which Sorrel points out for side commentary. However, not even Sorrel points out that Ash's Charmeleon also had that ability and could have triggered after getting smacked enough, so it's safe to assume someone needed to tell Charmeleon's Blaze triggered to show. Later on their second fight, the subject of abilities isn't brought up anymore, leaving it up to the audience to decide.
  • Shown Their Work: The movie mirrors the first episode with a great deal of care. The English version in particular is swimming in nostalgia, with exact dialog lifted from the 4 Kids dub.
  • Suddenly Speaking: As he dies from his wounds, Ash is called by Pikachu, except Pikachu speaks actual words, telling Ash that he will always be with him forever. It doubles up as a One-Scene Wonder that isn't brought up later.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Verity and Sorrel are basically stand-ins for Misty and Brock, respectively. The movie makes some efforts to give the two their own backstories to distinguish them from Ash's original companions, but their roles in the story and their personalities are clearly filling in for the older characters.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: When Cross steals the Rainbow Wing, his heart had so much evil that Marshadow can't purify it all, and ends up corrupted by it. Despite this, the character responsible still winds up redeemed in the end.
  • Tragic Monster: Marshadow ends up being the main villain of the movie as a result of an impure heart being like Cross summoning Ho-oh with the Rainbow Feather, which results in Marshadow going berserk and deeming humans unworthy. Marshadow would have avoided all this had Ash been the one summoning Ho-oh instead. In the end, Marshadow comes to his senses.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Marshadow is never met by Ash and the others before the climax nor is it aligned with good or evil.
  • Truer to the Text: : Erika's design in this movie is directly taken from FireRed and LeafGreen, complete with black hair and a kimono. This is an ironic contrast to her main anime counterpart, who has blue hair and a plain dress.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Ash's Charizard completely crushes Cross's Incineroar after evolving as payback for being called weak by his former trainer.
  • The Unreveal: After Ash loudly comments he wants to become a Pokémon Master, Verity wonders if that means being the best trainer of all, which Ash cheerfully replies it's better than that. He doesn't explain what, and Verity completely drops further questioning.
    • Ash and Pikachu finally battle Ho-oh at the end of the film, but the outcome is not shown. The next scene shows Pikachu beat up but in good spirits at the Pokémon Center, so it could have gone either way. Since a major theme of the movie is that The Power of Friendship is more important than winning or losing, this is likely deliberate.
  • Wham Line: "It's because... it's because I always want to be with you", said to Ash by Pikachu. It's left ambiguous if Pikachu is actually talking, if it's a metaphor for his and Ash's bond transcending words, or if it's just all in Ash's head.
  • What If?: Word of Saint Paul posits that this entire film is a What If? story, with the nail branching it from the original show being a single Ho-Oh feather.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Only three of Ash's Pokémon appear in the movie, and two of them are Pikachu and Charizard.
  • You Bastard!: A moral the film presents is that Pokémon are friends and companions and that you're a terrible trainer if you only care about how strong they are. This trope comes into play because ultimately, people who play the games in real life typically DO care only about strength.


Video Example(s):


Pikachu Speaks Actual Words

Pikachu speaks actual words, telling Ash that he will always be with him forever - Pokémon the Movie I Choose You!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / SuddenlySpeaking

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