It's been almost 20 years since Pokémon: The First Movie came to cinemas. To celebrate this very special anniversary, a condensed theatrical re-imagining of the anime's first season will release this year, titled Pokémon the Movie 20: I Choose You!
Although the new film's premise will sound familiar to long-time fans, some key changes have been made — most notably the replacement of Ash's faithful compadres, Brock and Misty.
Pokémon the Movie 20: I Choose You! officially releases in Japan on July 15, 2017, but the movie has already been screened at a pre-premiere event during the recent Japan Expo and those who have seen it have confirmed a major on-screen death that is sure to tug at the heartstrings.
Warning: Story spoilers for Pokémon the Movie 20: I Choose You! follow.
The plot follows Ash's pursuit of the Legendary bird Pokémon Ho-Oh. Along the way, the mythical creature Marshadow shows up, eventually possessing an army of mind-controlled Pokémon (similar to Mewtwo's clone army in the first film).
Towards the movie's climax, Marshadow launches a giant attack at Pikachu, resulting in a scene reminiscent of a moment that caused widespread waterworks in theaters nearly 20 years ago. If you don't know what I'm referring to and you don't want the scene spoiled, stop reading now.
The death scene is question is described by an attendee of the world premiere, originally posted to the Poke Beach forums and reproduced below:
"In a move resembling the Spearow scene from episode 1, as well as the Mewtwo movie, Ash blocks the hit to protect Pikachu and appears to die. Ash’s body vanishes, leaving just his hat. Pikachu fires a huge Thunderbolt at Marshadow and mourns for Ash, who in the meantime has appeared in an alternate reality (like the afterlife). Ash sees Pikachu back in their world and tries to run toward him, but to no avail. In a touching scene that moved the audience, Pikachu speaks directly to Ash in Japanese and tells him “I want to be with you forever.” Eventually, they reunite thanks to Ho-Oh and the Rainbow Feather, recreating the legend in which Ho-Oh grants life to the dead. Ho-Oh calms all the wild Pokemon, Marshadow calms down, and things go back to normal."
It's clear this is a not-so-subtle callback to the moment Ash blocked a psychic blast from Mew and Mewtwo that temporarily turned him into stone in Pokémon: The First Movie.
Pokémon the Movie 20: I Choose You! will be released in Japan on July 15, 2017, and is likely to hit the west later in the year.