The Illuminerdi has revealed an interesting advancement over at Netflix, with a new Pokémon live-action film going into development on top of the already announced TV show. Netflix has once again leaned toward its anime and video game adaptation rights and is reportedly developing a movie that will tie in with the show that was announced earlier by Variety. I already took a crack at what I wanted to see in a long form version of live-action Pokémon. As Pokémon has now gotten to 23 films with the recent Japanese Christmas release of Pokémon: Secrets of the Jungle (slated to release October 8 this year on Netflix), they have had decades to cover many animated stories. One key difference is that this upcoming film is going to directly tie into the show that was already announced.
Many of the animated Pokémon movies are like many Japanese animated movie productions where they typically are offshoot adventures for the heroes that rarely tie back into the main anime storyline. Although the first film that hit theaters Pokémon: The First Movie managed to weave the narrative of how Mewtwo came to antagonize the heroes on his own, he did appear periodically throughout the show beforehand. Most of these movies only translate Ash’s current lineups and companions (human and Pokémon) shown in the anime and then introduce new characters that are never revisited after the credits roll. So for the first post-Detective Pikachu live-action film to actually tie into something that is interesting, maybe Netflix feels confident with the IP already.
While we still have no information whatsoever on the production of the TV show, my interest is in how they’re seemingly planning a universe already for Pokémon in live-action. As it stands, this film is a reboot, leaving Detective Pikachu behind. While the Legendary Pictures film did make an impressive amount of money back in 2019, Netflix is still moving ahead with everything involving the Pocket Monsters on television screens.
So what of the film itself? Since we are yet to have any concrete realizations on the setting of these stories, the connectedness implies they have big stories to tell alongside the slower and smaller ones. Perhaps they may be adopting another method and using the films for bigger engagements, like taking on a big challenge such as the League Champion or facing a truly evil leader like the ones that appear in Pokémon releases like Diamond/Pearl. With a remake of Diamond/Pearl about 2 months away, could the resurgence of the trading cards and remakes help stake more subscribers to Netflix? I believe once they elaborate more on the characters and setting that the interest will skyrocket if they appeal to either the anime or game nostalgias. There are plenty of locales that could be used if given the opportunity by The Pokémon Company/Game Freak. Many trainers have longed to see the Elite Four (the most skilled Trainers in their respective regions) be as harrowing as they were in the games.
Regardless of their plans, the 25th anniversary of Pokémon has been interspersed with announcements throughout the year. Hopefully, we get one more with some casting info before the year is done. With Sonic the Hedgehog having exciting additions to its sequel, Netflix is surely capitalizing on its own adorable little monsters to keep viewers engaged. This is a fantastic turn of heel from Netflix which has also been busy with other anime and video game properties such as The Witcher (season 2 airing December 17th), One Piece (in pre-production), and Cowboy Bebop (releasing November 19th). With Lucifer’s Joe Henderson attached to the show, and preparing for a big sixth and final season tomorrow, one can see the confidence placed into the proposition already. I hope to “catch” more info on both of these projects soon and hope the connection between film and show is a good one.