Title and costume choices for the new anime point all the way back to the series’ beginning.
In 1997, the Pokémon anime made its TV debut in Japan, becoming an instant hit. While there wasn’t time to get a theatrical feature ready that year, in July of 1998 the first Pokémon animated film was shown in theaters, starting a tradition of giving fans a new Pokémon movie each and every summer.
Because of this clockwork-quality consistency, no one was too startled when producers announced that a new Pokémon movie is slated to hit Japanese cinemas next July 15. However, 2017 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon anime, and it looks like the upcoming film is going to have a totally unexpected setting.
The 20th Pokémon movie will bear the subtitle I Choose You. That phrase might ring a bell, as it was also the title of the very first Pokémon TV episode (in both its Japanese and English-language versions). The callback is entirely intentional, because the trailer for the I Choose You movie shows someone, ostensibly series protagonist Satoshi/Ash, donning the cap the Pokémon Trainer wore in the first arc of the Pokémon anime.
Satoshi hasn’t sported that hat since 2002, and it’s not the only blast from the past that shows up in the movie’s marketing. The official website for the I Choose You film shows Ash dressed in his original anime clothing, kneeling next to Pikachu in a field as Legendary Pokémon/Pokémon Center Kyoto mascot Ho-Oh flies across the sky, evoking a similar sight which Ash witnessed at the end of the first Pokémon TV episode nearly two decades ago.
All of this seems to suggest that the I Choose You movie is going to be a retelling of the beginning of Ash’s journey to become a Pokémon Master.
Granted, no firm plot details have been revealed for the film. The trailer’s onscreen text reads “Are you ready for an adventure that’s just for you?”, while the narration announces “The world, and the friends, you’ve yet to see. A new journey begins.” The vague phrasing doesn’t clarify if the journey is “new” because it’s different than the ones Ash has gone on before, or because we’re revisiting a time when he’d never left home.
Still, it sure seems like while the Pokémon TV series wants to push forward, the newest movie is content to take a long look back.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s hoping Pokémon is content to do just a reboot, and not a gritty one.