The bulk of action in Detective Pikachu takes place in Ryme City, a location new to the Pokémon world, where battles are banned and Pokémon live alongside their human counterparts. Most humans have a buddy Pokémon — the Pikachu to their Ash Ketchum, except without the whole fighting to the death bit.
Instead of fighting, the Pokémon contribute to society by working alongside humans! Some directly work as partners, such as our lovable Detective Pikachu and Tim’s father Harry, while other Pokémon seem to contribute to society on their own terms.
Coming up with ways that beloved Pokémon lived and worked alongside humans proved to be an interesting task, said screenwriter Dan Hernandez.
“I think at some point, someone said, does Squirtle strategize? Are Squirtles able to strategize at a higher level?” Hernandez said. “So there were conversations about things like, which Pokémon would work together? Which ones wouldn’t work together with this? Would this Pokémon be working in an office building? Well actually that Pokémon wouldn’t work in an office with all these because XYZ…”
The Pokémon Company, he added, never put any limitations on what they could do and were helpful throughout the whole process. So what jobs did these good Pokémon end up getting — and why?
Around the city
At the beginning of the movie, a strong, capable Machamp helps people and Pokémon alike navigate the busy Ryme City streets by serving as a crossing guard. The cause of this particular traffic jam is a sleeping Snorlax. It’s a cute little scene, but it also immediately establishes the nature Ryme City and the Pokemon world as a whole — especially to Pokémon newcomers.
“We really wanted to organically weave in all of these [Pokémon] and make it something that everyone just kind of understood and lived with, and it was almost a mundane part of life in Ryme City, which actually highlighted how special it was. But these people aren’t really put out that much by Snorlax causing a traffic jam,” Hernandez told us.
Tim goes to check out his father’s apartment building, where a sleepy Treecko clings to the window at the front desk. We don’t know the Treecko’s exact role in building management, but Treecko are able to scale vertical walls and cling to ceilings, which would probably come in handy for anything that needs to be fixed. According to Treecko’s Pokedex entry in Pokémon X, its tail can sense changes in the weather. Useful for planning building renovations.
Speaking of construction, at the beginning of the Ryme City sequence, we see a noble Braviary take to the skies, clutching a purse in its talons. It’s actually returning the purse to a construction worker manning a crane.
There’s also a group of Squirtle firefighters seen in a news video. In the anime, Ash’s Squirtle joins his ol’ squad of troublemaking Squirtle as they reform and become firefighters. The anime featured a whole episode about Squirtle and its evolutions working as firefighters.
The Police Station
A big source of Pokémon jobs appears to be the Ryme City police station. When Tim visits the city, we see a bunch of Growlithe and Arcanine outside the station. In the anime, the Officer Jenny characters are regularly accompanied by Growlithe, so seeing the canine fire-types on the case is a fitting homage to the Pokémon world. But in addition to the Growlithe and Arcanine, we also see Golurk lurking outside the station. According to the Pokedex, Golurk was created to protect people and Pokemon, so it makes sense that they would take on police jobs.
Ken Watanabe’s character Detective Hideo Yoshida has a Snubbull as a partner, and we also see officers walk in with Squirtle and Charmander.
In the newsroom
Lucy and her Psyduck work in a bustling newsroom, where we see Pokemon involved in all aspects of news life. An Octillery operates a camera, while a Rufflet helps with other newsroom activities.
Later on, a Squirtle assists a janitor by spitting some water so that the janitor can mop up a mess. Slaking is also present in the newsroom, sitting near the snack table. Does the Slaking help with catering? The Pokémon is notoriously lazy, except in pursuit of food, so perhaps it turned that passion into a job.
Food and entertainment
In a busy open air market, full of food stalls, we see a couple of Pokémon manning stalls, like Pancham and Octillery. While there is some Pokédex precedence for stall chef to be an Octillery (Octillery ink is apparently used in cooking, according to its entry in Ultra Moon), Hernandez says that process generally worked from Pokémon to job, not from job to Pokémon.
“It was more like trying to hone in on, okay, what is the most sensible place for Octillery? Octillery has really funny part of the movie. I think he’s slinging ramen,” Hernandez said. “And so those were the kinds of things that we were trying to figure out. Like Charmander as the hot plate in the night market in the movie. Those are the kinds of things that we really tried to hone in on with The Pokémon Company. They were fantastic throughout the entire process.”
Tim and Detective Pikachu end up at a late night cafe (with a Noctowl mascot) where a Ludicolo serves as a barista. Ludicolo breaks into rhythmic dance when it hears live music so it’s probably not around for any open mic nights that the cafe has. There’s also the matter of the Jigglypuff in the café. It doesn’t seem to have a job, per say, but it carries a microphone and thus could be an on the road entertainer.
The underground battle ring squares off Pokémon against Pokémon, but the Loudred have a more creative job to help the DJs pump some sick beats.
We’re not sure if the Mr. Mime that Tim and Detective Pikachu confront is the same Mr. Mime as advertised in the marquee of a theater in the movie’s poster, but it remains that there is a Mr. Mime show and it is for one night only — how many Pokémon are star performers in this world? Is this a one ‘mon show or does Mr. Mime have help from other Pokémon?
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is out in theaters now.