What Are Some Good Pokemon Mascots

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Ryan Reynolds as the cynical detective Pikachu, a mix of live action and computer animation and a film that never takes itself too seriously.

By Christoph Sepin

There are video games from the Pokémon series, TV shows, comics, merchandise and of course films - the series, which originated in the 90s, is one of the most gigantic media franchises in the world. What emerged with “Detective Pikachu” is still one of the most whimsical projects that was ever allowed to bear the name “Pokémon”. And what is perhaps even more astonishing about the whole thing: "Detective Pikachu" may not be outstanding, great or a masterpiece - but it works as an entertaining film and entertaining entertainment product.

As soon as the first trailers were published, they caused astonished faces: "Detective Pikachu" is not a cartoon, as there have been some in the past, but a mix of live-action film and computer animation. And the Pokémon prominently represented in it are not cute and in a simple cartoon look like in the games or TV series, but in a realistic CGI style and their game models do not look so similar. The “Uncanny Valley” effect can also be admired in this film.

Buddy cop movie with a star factor

And then there is the star factor, manifested here by Ryan Reynolds, who takes over the voice of the eponymous Pikachu. It's not a cute mascot like in the past, limited to a few lovable sounds, but a cynical detective with word jokes like from a classic buddy-cop movie à la “Lethal Weapon” filmmaker Shane Black - only this one adult version of such cinematic templates is.

Such a cop needs a buddy, of course, in "Detective Pikachu" that is the real protagonist Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), once a young Pokémon trainer, meanwhile uninterested in the pocket monsters. When one day Tim's father, a police officer in the metropolis of Ryme City, where Pokémon and humans live peacefully, disappears, he and Pikachu go to look for his parent - and discover all kinds of mysterious incidents.

It's all very formulaic, but still manages to stand out from the rest of the landscape of video game adaptations. The reason for this could be that "Detective Pikachu" takes place in the Pokémon universe, but is not dedicated to catching and training the pocket monsters. The whole thing is based on a detective story, supported by references and jokes for fans of the series and implemented in a more optically more beautiful way than it was supposed to be based on the film trailer.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Risk pays off

Everything could have turned out very differently: If the makers of the film had only relied on the size and recognition value of the Pokémon brand, for example. Or if the subject of nostalgia or the still very large mobile spin-off "Pokémon Go" had been more obviously addressed, as was the case in the last game for Nintendo's Switch, "Pokémon Let's Go". "Detective Pikachu" takes the risk of not following the example - and it pays off.

What remains is a relaxed, humorous approach to the original material: The film never takes itself too seriously, relies on the strengths of the series on the one hand - the different Pokémon with their different character traits - and on the other hand gives itself the freedom to tell its own story. And it can be entertaining even if you know little about the Pokémon universe. The strangest movie in the franchise is also the best Pokémon movie to date.