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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The scene of Pikachu speaking isn't literal, it's from Ash's perspective and representative of their bond being so close that it defies language barriers. This explains the randomness of it and why no one comments on it. His blurring vision during the scene possibly indicates that he's suffering from an injury-based hallucination, though the movie leaves the event open to interpretation. It's perhaps one of the most polarizing moments of any Pokémon movie for a number of reasons.
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    • Also, Marshadow. Was it possessed by the power of the Rainbow Wing when it went dark and it tried to fix it? Or was it Evil All Along and was the power of the Rainbow Wing as it regularly is the only thing keeping it in servitude to Ho-oh?
    • While the English dub’s ending song, I Choose You, is ostensibly about Ash and Pikachu, many shippers have started to apply it to their ships, especially Amourshippers due to it being performed by Haven Paschall (Serena's English voice actress).
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • After twenty years, Ho-Oh's Early-Bird Cameo in the first episode of the anime is finally getting a payoff.
    • All of Ash's friends pre-Alola receive cameos in the ending credits sequence, showing not only how far the anime has come in its twenty years on air, but also that, despite their absences, the writers haven't forgotten them.
      • To add onto this, the anime series itself aired a Kanto two-part special almost in unison with the film's release, which gave appearances to multiple characters and continuity references from the original series, including original companions Brock and Misty. This vindicated the film's alternate continuity story for some fans, who were worried that it was a sign the series was trying to go for a reboot or otherwise completely forget about its roots. That said, pretty much anything after Kanto was barely referenced, if at all, so the acknowledgment of more than just Brock and Misty here could still count as an Author's Saving Throw by itself.
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  • Awesome Art: The shots of the Kanto landscape, purple sunsets, Pallet Town, and Ash's house are gorgeous.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Shares a page with the rest of the franchise.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Ash's dream where he ends up in a world where Pokémon don't exist.
    • Ash being able to interpret and understand Pikachu during the climax is never brought up again for the rest of the film.
  • Death of the Author: The word of God that Verity's mother is not Cynthia, just someone who looks like her with a different hair color earns this reaction from some, particularly as the reasoning was 'they have different hair colors' and nothing more when given.
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • Due to a script personally delivered to Mayumi Iizuka in mid-2016, it was widely speculated that long-absent fan-favorite Misty would make a return in this movie. It turned out they were partially right; Misty (along with all of Ash's other previous traveling companions) appear in the movie... but only in the credits. Then, a few months later, it became known that Misty would actually make a proper reappearance in the main anime for a short arc.
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    • Many fans speculated that this Ash was canon to Sun and Moon. Just like the games have explored Alternate Universes, the anime had subtly introduced a new incarnation of Ash. This was used to explain the general lack of Continuity Nods since X & Y and Ash's Denser and Wackier personality. However, the anime too Jossed this theory when Brock and Misty reappeared.
    • The scene with Ash and Pikachu at the movie's climax. Is Pikachu actually talking? Does this mean he could always talk and chose not to? Or is this all in Ash's head? And if that's the case, is it because they're about to die?
    • Both of Ash's companions for this adventure come from Sinnoh and have Pokemon that were first introduced in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Additionally, the Japanese version's ending theme was a lyrical version of the theme from the first Sinnoh movie. At the time of airing, Generation 4 is the oldest generation that hasn't been remade yet and remake games have yet to be announced. Considering this movie is supposed to be a celebration of the anime as a whole, the emphasis on Generation 4 has been seen as especially odd and has people believing it is a hint towards remakes being announced.
    • It has been believed for a while that Verity's mother was Cynthia, as it was stated that Verity's mother is a famous trainer, in addition to Verity having a photo showing her mother from the side and partly concealed, with her hair (in spite of the fact that Verity's mother is shown as a brunette while Cynthia is blonde, although it could have been the shading or a case of adaptational appearance change), choice of clothes, and mannerisms resembling that of Cynthia. This was jossed by Word of God.
  • Heartwarming Moments: Considering that Ash and Charmander's friendship became strained after he evolved in the main timeline, Charmeleon leaping into Ash's arms for a hug immediately after evolving can qualify.
    • The cameos of Ash's old friends during the credits. Even though some of them haven't appeared in years, the movie assures us that they haven't been forgotten.
      • Serena's cameo is especially heartwarming. Not only does her voice actress sing the ending song, but she's the only person in the sequence to directly interact with the viewer, implied to be Ash himself, who she famously kissed right before departing.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The voice actor for Cross, Billy Bob Thompson, has also voiced another Pokemon trainer who abandoned a Fire-type starter for not living up to his standards, which would end up being adopted by Ash. Thompson would also later voice Red, Ash's game counterpart, in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
    • Following the film's Japanese release, a rumor spread online that there was a post-credits scene involving the creation of this continuity's Mewtwo. The rumor was false, but the next movie had a post-credits scene featuring exactly this.
    • In Peggy Sue fics such as Ashes of the Past, Charizard will often take revenge on his original, abusive trainer, because he became stronger with Ash. In this movie, Cross is worse than Damien ever was, yet Charizard still forgives him and saves his life, which contributes to Cross’s Heel–Face Turn.
    • This wasn't the first time we see a talking Pikachu, though this time it's spelt out that only the protagonist can understand him.
  • It Was His Sled: Pikachu speaks.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "PIKACHU CAN TALK?!" The sole line of dialogue Pikachu gets in the film was subject to this almost immediately.
  • Narm: Pikachu talking to Ash during the climax is clearly supposed to be a heartfelt and serious moment, but it comes so completely out of left field that it can be incredibly difficult to take the scene as it's presented. Especially so for the English dub, which (for obvious reasons) blatantly transitions into a different actress from Pikachu's standard voice.
  • Narm Charm: At the same time, some fans thought that the build up to Pikachu talking to Ash made the scene work as the Tear Jerker it was meant to be, regardless of the aforementioned reasons.
  • Never Live It Down: Any news regarding all future Pokémon movies will, without exception, have someone asking if Pikachu can still talk or joking about it. It doesn't help that a few years later a live-action Pokémon film would be released with that as its exact premise.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Ash's old friends during the credits.
  • Older Than They Think: Everyone wonders about the lack of a Pokédex when ALL the previous movies never explicitly show Ash (or any other character who has one, for that matter) using his Pokédex. This is most likely because of the constant presence of Legendary/Mythical (and otherwise really very rare) Pokémon in the films. The absence being discussed here and now is probably because of how it's supposed to be a retelling of Ash's journey.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Numerous adult and teenage fans weren't keen to Misty, Brock, and Gary being replaced by new characters.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Erika in the anime series was strongly disliked by fans for not accepting Ash's challenge for the Rainbow Badge with a petty reason involving Ash himself. In the movie, however, Erika is depicted much better than her anime incarnation with her being the Graceful Loser and giving Ash her Rainbow Badge.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Ash's Dream Sequence of a world with no Pokémon.
    • Pikachu speaking to Ash at the climax.
    • The cameos of all of Ash's friends from the show during the credits.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: While several decisions made with this movie have proven divisive, its box office returns, general critical reception, and mainstream presence far surpass any movie made during the BW and XY era of films. The Pokémon Company actually decided to do extra screenings out of popular demand. The movie received a rating of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes, which (while not saying much) is the highest score there for a Pokémon movie.
  • Tainted by the Preview: A number of older fans were not pleased to see that the original travelling companions and rival, Misty, Brock, and Gary, are seemingly being replaced with three newcomers.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Fans were not happy when the original soundtrack, which consisted of multiple rearrangements of tracks from the original anime series and games, was replaced in all but one music track for the English dub. Only its own nostalgic rearrangement of the original English intro theme was well received.
  • Uncanny Valley: During the battle between Charmeleon and Cross's Incineroar, when Incineroar preforms Fire Fang by running towards Charmeleon on all fours. For a Pokémon with a top-heavy bipedal body design, it comes off as a bit creepy. It also doesn't help that its running on its knuckles like some sort of ape-cat thing.
  • Unexpected Character: Very few people expected Corey and Neesha to make an appearance after not having a single appearance or mention since the very first Pokemon film.
    • Nor did they expect a breif cameo by Marina, a minor character who hasn't appeared since the Johto era.
    • While many expected Misty and Brock to show up in some capacity given the movie's Kanto setting, Tracey, May, Max, Dawn, Iris, Cilan, Clemont, Bonnie, and Serena also appearing during the credits was a welcome surprise.
  • Win Back the Crowd:
    • After the formulaic Franchise Zombie reputation and dwindling returns that the annual movies had gotten over time, a nostalgic Milestone Celebration was just what fans needed to be excited for a Pokémon movie again, though this sentiment is far from universal. Even with the Broken Base over the film's quality and its emphasis on Gen I in general, most fans agree that rebooting the movies' continuity is one of the best decisions the franchise could have made due to the very high levels of franchise fatigue in previous installments.
    • While some older fans were not pleased by the changes made to the original story, as mentioned under Tainted by the Preview, the second trailer got a lot of people who previously thought it would only be a retelling of Season 1 excited instead.

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