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Headscratchers / Pokémon Detective Pikachu

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    Understanding Pikachu 
  • So what is the logical reasoning that explains why Tim Goodman and his father are the only ones who can understand Detective Pikachu's attempts at communicating in the human language? Is it a kind of spiritual or genetic connection between each other that is exclusively unique to them? Because that's the only plausible theory so far that would make the most sense of this mystery.
    • In the original video game, Detective Pikachu was an ordinary Pikachu who belonged to Harry Goodman. Both were involved in a car accident and Harry went missing. The game itself ends without solving the mystery of Harry's disappearance or why Detective Pikachu now talks, walks and behaves like a human being, but there are hints that Mewtwo was involved somehow.
    • While the video game offers no answers, this is all explained in the movie. The mystery of Pikachu and Harry's dad, why Tim can communicate with him, and Mewtwo's involvement in the whole thing, are spelled out very clearly at the end of the film.
    • On a related note, when the people at the parade are fused with their Pokémon, how come they can't talk like Pikachu can?
      • Look, when you're doing the whole mind transfer thing in a body you're just getting used to, you can't expect to do it perfectly your first time.
      • Mewtwo needed Harry's Pikachu to be able to communicate with Tim in order for Pikachu to be able to lead Tim to Mewtwo in the first place. Since Howard merely wanted to merge humans and Pokémon together, and Pokémon can understand each other already, he had no such use for giving them this ability.
      • Another triad of possibilities are volition, mastery, and scale. Harry's Pikachu willingly allowed Mewtwo to combine the two into one, so Harry may have had a stronger link that allowed his human traits to come through more clearly than the others who were forcibly melded, and so may have been struggling for control with each other. Second, Mewtwo himself fused Harry and his Pikachu, which could allow more perfect union, as Mewtwo knows his own abilities. Thirdly, Harry and Pikachu were merged individually, instead of en masse like the crowd, which could cause the resultant merger to "work" better
    • Tim can only understand Detective Pikachu because of his connection to his father. It's possible that family members would have been able to hear English from all the merged Pokemon as well.
    • There's also the fact that these transformations are really not comparable. Harry's Pikachu was willing—pleading, even—to take part in the transfer; Mewtwo had time, focus, and motivation to carefully craft a perfect fusion, and was neither coerced nor distracted. The R transformations involve force, fear, and pain—not only to the humans and Pokemon involved, but to Mewtwo themself. The fact that Pikachu was able to Volt Tackle MEWTWO through a plate-glass window kind of implies a Fighting from the Inside situation; even without that, the transformations are being made en masse in a split second, and Mewtwo isn't even the one in the driver's seat; Howard just got these powers a few seconds ago. Of course the transformations aren't as elegant or functional.

    Game continuation 
  • So it's confirmed that Mewtwo will appear for real in the movie. And since the story in the game ended on a cliffhanger, does this mean his involvement in the entire plot, along with the fate of Harry, will finally be revealed?
    • Though the plot is not exactly the same, the film does confirm many theories about the game's loose ends.

    Pikachu's mannerisms 
  • When Harry is back in his own body again, he doesn't behave like he did when he was "Detective Pikachu." True, we don't see him a lot, so it could be that this is just a quiet moment, but still. And shouldn't Tim have noticed, early on, that Pikachu talks and behaves just like his father?
    • Tim makes it very clear that he's been estranged from his father for years, being unaware that his dad even had a Pikachu, so it makes sense he wouldn't notice.
    • Plus, The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body. Technically Pikachu's mind was still there, as Tim's dad, once back to normal, notes having an odd desire for coffee that he didn't have prior.
    • Parents tend to act very differently around their children than when around friends. Harry spent most of the movie treating Tim like a partner with all the friendly jokes that come with it, but once back in his body (and implicitly without his memories of his time as a Pikachu), he was back in Dad Mode.

    Pikachu's Voice 
  • How does Tim not notice that Pikachu sounds exactly like his father?
    • It may be a case of in-universe his voice not actually being identical, and them sounding the same is only for the benefit of the viewers.
    • They haven't been in contact since he was 11. Assuming that includes Tim ignoring his attempts to call him, he may have just forgotten what he sounds like over the past decade, not just his mannerisms.
    • Since I can’t imagine supercop and badass PI Harry Goodman talking like Pikachu did, such a shift in his attitude and manner probably also helped obscure the connection.

    The Lickitung 
  • What was the Lickitung on the train in that early scene doing on the train, anyway? We saw no sign of an owner.
    • Perhaps the equivalent of things like those dogs in one city that are famous for taking subway trains on their own to travel about?
    • Or the owner was one of those people who bury themselves in their cell phone while their kids run amok.
    • Or possibly the Lickitung was with someone returning to Time city who considered it a friend and companion rather than something that needed to be kept under control.
    • It is a free-roaming Pokémon, trying to choose Tim as its partner.

  • The gargantuan Torterras that constituted the terrain outside the lab look cool, but... were they just standing there all along, letting the landmasses on their backs grow into the surrounding land? I don't get the arrangement. Did the scientists just assume that these creatures would never want to move around?
    • They may have been under the command of the scientists like the Greninja were (hence why they become active right after the Greninja get beaten), and programmed to remain stationary unless ordered to do otherwise. And one would presume that the same experiments that enlarged their bodies also enlarged the landmass-like materials that are naturally a part of their body.
    • It's also possible that the Square-Cube Law has gone into effect: It's well known that the Pokémon series doesn't care that much about it, but it would make some sense that Torterra aren't meant to become that enormous and are effectively stuck in one place for the rest of their lives.
    • That answers why they didn't move around, but the land question is still unanswered. See, Tim and Pikachu ran onto the Torterra's back without even knowing it's there at first. So the landmass on the Torterra's back must have been physically stuck to the surrounding, normal land. How did that happen without any members of the public noticing that the terrain had changed?
      • In a world where ground types exist large tectonic shifts are probably pretty common.
    • The lab is far out in the wilderness (apparently uninhabited by people aside from the scientists), possibly hours away from Ryme City. The movie also makes note of how Howard's technology can manipulate what people see in recordings and such, and that extends to influencing what the media has access to. And of course since he owns the city and surrounding land he can make the rules regarding where people are allowed to go. All these together make it easier to hide even such large scale experiments.
    • On top of everything else, you also have to keep in mind that PCL, the Torterra Garden, and even all of Ryme City, is all because of Howard's plan. It's not impossible to say he had PCL and the Torterra working before he even founded Ryme City.
    • It's not like turtles are known for moving around that much.

    The villain's plan 
  • What was the villain trying to achieve? I mean, I know what the goal with the plan was, but why did the villain consider it a good goal to put human minds in Pokémon bodies? Sure, it works for him, because he's a paraplegic who gets a Pokémon body that's awesome even to those of us who have working legs. But what's the benefit of getting the body of, say, a Diglett or a Snubull? In short, why did he assume that any Pokémon body is preferable to any human body?
    • He probably only really cared about Mewtwo and only did that to show off. "Ha ha, my Pokémon body is way cooler than your sucky weak ones."
    • My impression was that he saw Pokémon as superior beings, at least physically. As he made note of, Pokemon evolution means the power to become "the best version" of themselves is inherent in Pokemon but not in humans, and he wanted humans to have that ability as well. Of course a good dose of insanity probably helped.
    • Another interpretation: He was so desperate to heal himself, he convinced himself it was the right thing to do. By enforcing it on other people, and potentially gaining approval from those who were happy with the situation, he could thus consider it justified.
    • If he was the only human in a Pokemon's body it would be super awkward to just go about his day to day life interacting with humans, so he had to do it to everyone else so it would be less awkward
    • "I don't want to cure cancer. I want to turn people into Pokemon".

    The alleged sequel 
  • They already started production on a sequel before the film released. How exactly is that supposed to work now that Pikachu can't talk anymore?
    • Are you saying no one would watch a movie about a kid and his Pikachu that can't talk?
    • While it is referred to as a sequel, it may not necessarily involve the same main characters. Rather it could be another story but in the same world and perhaps with other talking Pokemon.
    • It's most likely going to be an indirect sequel with a new set of characters.
    • Given that this film was somewhat of a test run to see if a live action Pokemon movie could work, a sequel would likely be a more standard Pokemon story about catching, training, and battling toward a Pokemon League.
    • Another possibility would be that in a sequel, circumstances would contrive to put Harry back in Pikachu's body somehow (some people have suggested having Manaphy do it with Heart Swap).

    Mewtwo and Tim 
  • Why did Mewtwo need Tim in order to split Harry and Pikachu again? Is there some limit to his powers that says he needs compatible DNA for such an act? Also, wouldn't it have been safer and easier to, you know, INFORM Pikachu about what he needed rather than assume they are eventually gonna run into him anyway, all while risking himself being captured again by staying around in the area right next to his prison?
    • The extent of Harry's injuries likely played a role in the restrictions, and Mewtwo had to escape quickly before the scientists could try to get it back (as we see in the movie, they are quite capable of sneaking up on and capturing it). Mewtwo likely didn't have time to wait for Pikachu to come back to his senses, and perhaps having to devote so much attention and power to fixing Harry meant it couldn't just bring Pikachu with it to explain later.
    • It's stated that Mewtwo's mind transfer only works if the target Pokémon is "mad". That's why Howard needed to have them get under the effects of R before the transfer. Presumably, wiping the Pikachu's memories fulfilled the same prerequisite, and he didn't have enough time to explain anything to the newly merged Pikachu. The way he talks about it makes it seem like he implanted some subconscious instincts that would draw the Pikachu to both Tim, and then back to Mewtwo. As for why Tim was even needed... yeah, the injuries are the only possible explanation, given that wasn't necessary at the end of the movie. Also of note, when Mewtwo undid the other people's transformations, Pikachu was within range of the blast, but didn't turn back, so his case is indeed a little different.
    • It's also possible that Tim wasn't really 'needed' at all. Any living and healthy human might have done the job for all we know. But one of Mewtwo's defining traits is its distrust of humans. So instead of just picking some random human for whatever it needed a human for(probably a template to figure out how to correctly heal Harry), he picked a human that was related to the one human he knew was trustworthy.

  • Pikachu says "Get me the hell out of here!". Does that mean that the Pokémon world has religious mythology akin to Christianity or the Norse?
    • The closest the canon universe has would be Giratina's Distortion World (then again, it would be verbally awkward to replace all use of "hell" with "Distortion World" or "devil" with "Giratina".)
    • Evidently yes, judging from Pikachu's "Sweet mother of Arceus" line.
    • Also, "OH MY GOD, YOU CAN UNDERSTAND ME!" (though of course, "god", even if a capital-G God, doesn't have to be referring to the Abrahamic one). Additionally, certainly Legendary and Mythical Pokemon have been referred to as gods in the Japanese versions of the games.

     Pokemon minds 
  • When the humans were fused with their Pokemon, what happened to the Pokemon's mind and consciousness while their body was controlled by the human mind? Remember that Pokemon are also intelligent, sentient beings, so are they effectively trapped withing their own psyche aware but with no control?
    • Probably same as Harry/Pikachu: The Pokemon part was largely suppressed, but its instincts still influenced the human who was in control. Or maybe it was a straight-up Sharing a Body situation. Lucy immediately tells Psyduck "Let's never do that again," which could imply they were both aware.
    • Psyduck is psychic, that could have given it extra awareness, maybe.

     Mewtwo talking 
  • When Mewtwo's body is taken over by Clifford's mind, how come he is shown speaking with his mouth? Isn't Mewtwo speaking telepathically being because that Pokemon can't speak human speech?
    • Probably just muscle memory while using telepathy.
    • It's also possible that since Mew and Mewtwo both can use transform (as Ditto are failed clones of Mew, they are the only Pokémon who can use transform), that Mewtwo can talk with his mouth. Mewtwo can probably use a milder form of Transform to allow his mouth and vocal chords to be human enough for him to speak, but refuses to do so because he hates humanity. From a story perspective, Mewtwo moving his mouth is an obvious indicator to the audience that Mewtwo is no longer the one in control of his body.

     The theme song 
  • When he's alone, Pikachu is singing the theme song to himself, does that mean the anime exists in this world? How does that work? Is it just a series about kids doing normal things in their eyes? And aren't Pokémon fights íllegal? How come Moral Guardians didn't step in yet?
    • To my knowledge Ryme City's culture is never depicted as teaching that Pokémon training and battling is wrong, more that Howard made the city as an experiment in a different way of living with Pokémon compared to the rest of the world (the intro video to the city even depicts a tournament arena battle in a perfectly neutral or even positive light). And to truly see the results of that experiment, the rules about no battling and such have to be enforced within the city limits (and there is also the theory that "no poke balls" was enforced to make his own secret plan easier to do).
    • As for TV shows about fantasy trainers, given that the majority of people in any large population are not going to be professional Pokémon trainers, it makes sense that there would be anime and other series about them, just as the real world has anime and other series about cooking and sports stars. Even in the Pokémon world, people who can train up a bunch of them to their utmost potential are still regarded by the rest of the population as far from "normal." Even among trainers there would be a big difference between those who catch and train a few as a hobby and those who manage to conquer eight or more gym leaders.
    • In-universe, the anime might even work as an Edutainment Show, introducing kids to the different Pokémon species, how to train and care for them, rules of Pokémon battles, etc.
    • Also, given how destructive Pokémon battles can be, it makes some sense that quite a few cities would ban them from being done within the city limits for practical rather than ethical reasons, making Ryme perhaps less special in that regard. Exceptions would be cities whose economy/tourism, etc. relies on battling, and thus they would have the funds to quickly repair damage.
    • As far as the song, it's entirely possible that it's just a song in the Pokemon universe. Considering how important Pokemon are to society in-universe, some band in the Pokemon world probably just wrote it for the sake of expressing their love for Pokemon being in their lives.
    • It's possible that Ash has his own television series, considering the stuff he got up to...especially if Ash is closer to Red in accomplishments...I mean, Ash saved the world. MULTIPLE TIMES.
    • "A series about kids doing normal things" is very much a thing in our world (typically referred to as Slice of Life), so why shouldn't it be in this world? That's like saying no one would watch a TV show about working in an office, because "that's just people doing normal things." The anime would be the equivalent of an average kid competing in the Olympics or something, and considering Tim seemed to have a childhood interest in becoming a trainer, it's exactly the type of show he would have watched, so Harry could be familiar with it through him, making it Heartwarming in Hindsight that he'd sing it in that context.

    Psyduck and the Greninja 
  • This is a nitpick. I acknowledge its a nitpick. And in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter, but its something that just came to me. How was Psyduck able to knock those three Greninjas away with his psychic attack? Aren't Greninja part Dark type and immune to Psychic attacks?
    • As mentioned on other pages, this is potentially a Fridge Brilliance in that Greninja's hidden ability is Protean, which changes its type based on the last move it used. Given that these were special Greninja that were experimented on, they likely have their hidden ability. What move they were spamming the whole time during the chase? The water-type Water Shuriken, making them pure water types and vulnerable to Psychic attacks.
    • Psyduck is THAT powerful.

     Greninja's fate 
  • What happened to the Greninja after Psyduck blasted them away? Assuming they didn't die from the giant Torterra awakening, that would still mean there are highly-aggressive, genetically-enhanced Pokemon out loose in the wild, which could potentially mean Fridge Horror to think they are still at large.
    • Most likely they returned to the lab, just as they did after Mewtwo beat them after they attacked Harry's car.

     Tim literally trying to kill Charizard? 
  • Tim is shown trying to stomp on Charizard's tail flame when he rushes into the ring to save Pikachu. Is he trying to put out its flame? That's pretty dark, even for the context involved, you'd think his first resort would be a non-lethal distraction.
    • The flame is not that easy to put out, considering even after getting washed away by Gyarados' attack its still fine. In practice, Charizard's flame being its life force means more that if Charizard dies its tail flame goes out, not the other way around (hence why in the anime Charizard can outright swim underwater/be totally submerged, and its flame will remain lit). In other words Tim was not trying to kill it, just going for attacking a part of its body that he knew Charizard would notice even in its crazed state.

  • Tim sprays a canister of R at Ditto, causing the Pokemon to have what definitely looks like an overdose as it goes through violent seizures, loses control of its shapeshifting ability, and eventually collapses into a puddle. Did... did it die?
    • While not a 100% answer, scientifically speaking, no matter what the cause of anger is, a living creature can only get so angry until it eventually reaches its limit and succumbs to exhaustion. As the typical dose of R is a very small vial and Tim sprayed Ditto with a much larger dose, Ditto was probably knocked out by its own uncontrollable rage until the effects were off.
    • In addition, one of the side effects of R is mentioned as being "confusion". Presumably, the Ditto simply wasn't able to focus on holding a transformation, lost track of what it was supposed to look like, and reverted to its natural form.

    Wild Pokémon are assholes 
  • Assuming the movie is canon to the anime, if Pokémon are empathic, why do wild Pokémon always attack people who mean them no harm?
    • Pokémon operate on a Blue-and-Orange Morality. The closest answer we get are Sinnoh Legends in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl where Pokémon attack people due to an ancient grudge where a human with a sword slew Pokémon left and right until he saw the errors of his ways. One Pokémon decreed that whenever humans wander into tall grass then they'll exact a toll on them.
      • To the above, its a bit more complicated. That Sinnoh myth was a Pokémon relating a warning about what would happen if humans continued to kill them. There is another myth, this one actually about why wild Pokémon appear in tall grass, it being that the Pokémon are seeking in their own way to "help" humans who prove worthy of their power. Hence why they so readily become a trainer's ally when captured.
    • Also, in the anime Pokémon do not "always attack people who mean them no harm". Indeed, they usually do not attack. When they do its usually due to perceived aggression from the human, invasion of their territory, or some outside contributing factor. Its also been noted a number of times in the anime that when Pokémon become angry enough, their ability to think rationally, empathize, etc. basically shuts down until they get calm again (something alluded to in the movie as well, with how the rage induced by R shuts down the higher functions of a Pokémon's mind).

    Howard's stupidity 
  • Why did Howard leave his body unprotected while possessing Mewtwo?
    • It wasn't entirely unprotected, with his Ditto enforcer on the way up. Howard probably assumed that Ditto would deal with Tim and get his body to a safe location. Not the best plan, but he may have been so drunk on power and focused on his plan after possessing Mewtwo that he made a stupid mistake.
    • Also as one of his first acts as Mewtwo, he did knock Tim unconscious. He may not have expected him to get up as soon as he did, if at all.

     Pikachu hit by a rock 
  • Pikachu being injured by a rock is often stated as a bit of Fridge Brilliance that Electric types are weak to Ground...but do mundane things related to Pokemon types really affect Pokémon with type weaknesses outside of attacks from other Pokémon? Like, say, would a Swampert be seriously hurt by walking across a lawn since it's 4x weak to Grass?
    • IIRC, nothing in the movie suggests that type weaknesses even exist in this continuity.
    • Walking on a lawn normally does no damage to a Pokémon, and four times nothing is still nothing.
      • It's possible that they would be more weak to pollen, in an allergy sense...but, this is where the MST3K Mantra comes into play.

     Why doesn't that spray affect humans? 
  • Pokémon logically are just animals. After all, we see no normal animals and humans are animals. If they're not why are they an exception and how did humans evolve but everything else didn't? Then what are Pokémon, so thusly humans are Pokémon. If this is true and every other Pokémon go berserk why not humans?
    • Because they're not "just animals." They're clearly, obviously a very different type of creature than humans.
    • In the real world, humans and fish are both animals, but just because a certain chemical has an effect on fish doesn't mean it also has an effect on humans. Likewise, if humans and pokemon are both "animals" in this continuity, that doesn't mean they're both affected by the R gas.
      • It's pointed out earlier that Pokemon have innate 'anger' issues, where they tend to, when they get angry, get REALLY angry and lose logical thought. R is likely just activating that reflex. Human-Pokemon mergers lose that issue, due to the human thought process being in the driver's seat.
    • Another possibility is that it DOES, but differently and to a lesser extent. Instead of uncontrollable frenzy, it merely clouds rational judgement and decision making (thus Tim not going with the more logical plan of "grab Pikachu and GTFO", and instead trying to provoke a Charizard and siccing a Gyrados on it)

     Government Interventions 
  • After the incident at the Pokémon Comprehensive Laboratory, why did the government that controls Ryme City not quickly have the laboratory placed under lock-down with heavy security patrols? In addition to preventing prying eyes from reaching the facility, it is in the best interests of Clifford Enterprises and the public to prevent dangerous Pokémon from escaping the facility.
    • Given Howard built the city and basically controls everything regarding the experiments, chances are he wanted to not draw extra attention to the laboratory. Ergo he tried to keep the whole thing under wraps. Plus it had only been a few days, so a full response may not have been ready. Locating Mewtwo was the priority for the people involved with the lab, not locking down the lab.
  • How could Howard Clifford not consider the possibility that his plan to forcibly merge humans and Pokémon would provoke widespread condemnations and violent responses from the national government that controls the country where Ryme City are located as well as from the international community? They are not head-quartered inside Ryme City and thus are not incapacitated by the 'R' gas, and they are likely alerted to the still ongoing chemical weapons attack via live television and radio. Their likely response is to send in the military to try and stop the 'R' gas attack as well as Howard-controlled Mewtwo.
    • As in the games, it is not clear at all just how the current national governments of the Pokémon world function (we know of kingdoms in the past, but not who is in charge now), but regardless, given how delusional Howard is about how his plan is the future for humanity it's likely he didn't consider much regarding people rejecting it (just as he doesn't seem to think about his target's reactions to being merged). Plus he would have control of Mewtwo if the plan succeeded, one of the most powerful creatures in the world, and next to no one would know just how he was doing what he was doing or how to stop it if Tim was killed. And if he had time to prepare it, he'd have the capacity to make enough gas to use against attackers.

    The Japanese title 
  • We do know the main title is indeed Pokemon Detective Pikachu in most places but one thing bothered me is why in Japan, it's just Meitantei Pikachu instead of Poketto Monsutaa Meitantei Pikachu (Pocket Monsters Detective Pikachu, with the "Poketto Monsutaa" logo on the top like the English title), to match the rest of the world? It doesn't make sense that the Japanese title removed the Pocket Monsters name when it's not a problem in the other works involving the franchise in its native Japan...

    The balloons 
  • If the parade balloons were kept aloft by the R gas, then why does the gas sink to the ground after getting released? To hold the balloons up, it would have to be lighter than air, which means it can't sink down. And if it was heavier than air, it couldn't hold the balloons up. Either way, it's impossible for the gas to do both. And no, the balloons don't carry any additional tanks from which the R could be released while the balloons are held up by a different gas.
    • Perhaps helium or another invisible lighter than air gas was mixed in with the R gas. Upon release from the balloon, the R-gas would descend while the helium would separate out and ascend.


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