The Pokémon anime will be 20 years old next year, another milestone for the major media franchise. A big part of those celebrations will be the release of the series’ 20th feature film, whose debut teaser hints at a very familiar vibe.
Subtitled I Choose You, the movie looks like it’s set in the early days of Ash Ketchum’s Pokémon journey. That town the camera pans across? It’s most likely Pallet Town, the trainer’s hometown. Right after that, we see Ash adjust his trademark old-school hat. We haven’t seen him wear that particular piece since the earliest seasons of the Pokémon cartoons, and there’s another tipoff that the movie is a throwback on its official website.
The art below currently adorns the Pokémon film franchise’s homepage. There’s significance to that Ho-Oh flying across the skyline, too. At the end of the original Pokémon show’s first episode — also called “Pokémon, I Choose You” — Ash and his new Pikachu watch a mysterious, legendary creature travel above them. As we learned much, much later, that was Ho-Oh, one of the rarest Pokémon around.
This is all speculation, but it’s hard not to look at this imagery and not immediately see I Choose You as fan service for nostalgic Pokémon lovers. That the film is out during the anime’s anniversary year helps support that idea.
Japanese audiences will get to watch the film in theaters on July 15, 2017. There’s no word on a Western release quite yet.
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