With a huge thanks to Alex Aniel, we now have a summary for the 20th Pokemon movie! Alex was able to attend the world premiere screening at Japan Expo in France today. The movie will be released in Japanese theaters on July 15th.
The movie disregards all canon. It is loosely “inspired by” Ash’s adventures in Kanto but is a completely alternate storyline. The season one events in the film play out in different ways and some new characters replace the functionality of old ones. Brock and Misty are not in the film except for brief cameos in the end credits.
The Pokemon Company probably made an alternate storyline because their priority is to using Pokemon films to market whatever is currently going on in the franchise. This movie had to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the anime, promote the second generation (because of Pokemon GO and the upcoming G/S Virtual Console releases), appease old fans, and it also had to introduce Marshadow. With all these “marketing elements” in mind, it would not have been easy to make a film that is merely a retelling of Ash’s adventures in Kanto. So the film is its own thing!
Alex is a casual Pokemon fan who has seen all the original movies. As I was working with him on the summary, he stated that he thought the film was “lacking” and “underwhelming.” He thought the two movie characters were boring and that the story’s pacing was rushed. But he thought the bad guy, Cross, was an improvement on Damian (Charmander’s owner in the TV show who Cross takes the place of in this movie). He also really liked certain scenes, such as the ending when Ash gets separated from Pikachu.
However, that is just one person’s opinion, and everyone’s tastes differ. Who knows how you’ll like it when you see it! Also note that this summary is missing details, as it’s always hard to remember a whole movie after only one viewing. But this should give you an overall idea of the plot.
Update: Makoto is from Twinleaf Town, not Azalea Town. Future D/P remakes or sequels confirmed! :p
The 20th movie starts out just like the first episode. Ash is watching a battle on his TV in Pallet Town, but the battle is with Blastoise against Venusaur and Gengar. Ash wakes up the next morning and is late to picking his Starter Pokemon, so he’s unable to get the Squirtle he wanted from Professor Oak. Gary, who appears only for a split second, picks Squirtle, and the other two Pallet Town Trainers get the other two Starters. Ash ends up with Pikachu, who dislikes him at first, but eventually comes around when Ash protects him from the Spearow attack. After Pikachu repels the Spearow, Ho-Oh appears in the sky and drops the Rainbow Feather. This entire first part lasts about 15 minutes and is nearly the same as the first episode. Delia is also present, but not Misty or her bike. The movie’s logo and intro song then play.
Ash and Pikachu continue their journey. He catches Caterpie, and then challenges Erika at the Celadon Gym. He earns his third badge after beating her. (Yes, she is the third Gym Leader in this continuity.)
In a forest Pokemon Center, Ash encounters a trainer whose Vaporeon was defeated quickly and easily by Entei. Ash goes after Entei and meets a girl with a Piplup named Makoto (from
AzaleaTwinleaf Town) and a guy with a Lucario named Soji (from Veilstone City), who aspires to be a Pokemon Professor. The three encounter Entei together and try to capture it, but to no avail.
Ash and Makoto begin traveling together and avoid an Onix at one point. Marshadow appears, although the characters never see it. It can walk through walls and continues to make minor, stealthy appearances throughout the movie.
Ash encounters a Charmander in the rain. Charmander’s trainer, Cross, believes in power and has abandoned Charmander after deeming it too weak. Ash and Makoto take Charmander to a cave where they revive it. They re-encounter Soji in the cave, and here he explains his goal to meet the three Legendary Beasts Entei, Suicune, and Raikou, who were brought back to life by Ho-Oh. Ash talks of his goal to meet and capture Ho-Oh with the Rainbow Feather, and thanks to a book Soji has, the three learn that Ho-Oh lives at Mount Tensei. They decide to head there.
Ash’s Caterpie evolves into Metapod during a battle with a wild Pinsir. Charmander also evolves into Charmeleon. And then Ash encounters Cross again. They battle with Charmeleon vs. Cross’s Incineroar, but Cross wins. Ash is very hurt by the loss and gets into an argument with his friends, including Pikachu. Ash even tells Pikachu, “I should have chosen Squirtle or Bulbasaur instead!” Ash has a flashback dream that night where he is in a classroom and runs out to find that all his friends are gone. (Interestingly, Gary isn’t in the classroom flashback.) Ash realizes he was acting poorly and apologizes to Pikachu, giving him a big hug.
They continue their journey. Metapod evolves into Butterfree during a fight with a pack of Primeape. And then they encounter a pink Butterfree being harassed by a Fearow – Ash’s Butterfree saves the pink Buttefree and they begin a romance. Ash eventually lets Butterfree cross the sea with his lover and have babies, which makes Ash feel incredibly sad.
Makoto runs into Suicune, and eventually they all run into Raikou as well. They also encounter an old man, Bonji, a researcher who has been looking for Ho-oh for 20 years.
The three kids and Bonji arrive at Mount Tensei, where they encounter Cross again. Ash has Charmeleon battle Incineroar again, and wins easily after Charmeleon evolves into Charizard. Cross regrets the loss and steals the Rainbow Feather, which he uses to try to call Ho-Oh. Cross says he saw Ho-Oh as well, which is why he thinks it’s his right for him to summon it.
For reasons Alex can’t remember, Marshadow appears and possesses the feather and some wild Pokemon, and then begins attacking the humans. Marshadow even possesses Cross’s Lycanroc. It nearly kills Cross with an attack, but Charizard blocks the attack. Cross then has a change of heart and begins helping everyone. But they are all overwhelmed by the wild Pokemon, who attempt to attack Pikachu with a combined attack. 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.
Ash challenges Ho-Oh to a battle using Pikachu. Pikachu loses very easily, but it’s a good battle. Ash takes Pikachu back to a Pokemon Center, while old man Bonji remains in the wilderness. Ash, Soji, Makoto, and Cross go their separate ways. Makoto goes home to her mom (she looked like Cynthia in the flashback but it’s probably not her) and Soji vows to find Zapdos, Articuno, and Moltres. Ash continues his journey to be a Pokemon Master.
In the end credits we see brief shots of Ash’s old friends — Brock, Misty, Tracey, May, Max, Dawn, Iris, Cilan, Serena, Bonnie, and Clemont.
Team Rocket was also in the film, but had little interaction with the cast as usual.