25 Detective Pikachu Thoughts From A Pokemon Non-Fan
By Chris E. Hayner | @ChrisHayner on
Detective Pikachu is in theaters and finally bringing Pokemon to the big screen as a live-action adventure. The movie is stuffed to the brim with Easter Eggs, a variety of Pokemon appearing throughout, and an electrified yellow mouse creature wearing a funny hat. There's only one major problem: I don't know what any of it means.
The hard truth is that I've never been a Pokemon fan. I'm not against them in any way, it's just a fad I never fell into. All that said, I really enjoyed Detective Pikachu. It's a big, colorful, and fun romp through the streets of a fictional city filled with some wildly-designed created that make funny sounds. It's the kind of movie I was born to love.
Still, as much as I loved Detective Pikachu, I have so many questions about the movie, the Pokemon franchise, the treatment of Pokemon, and so much else. Is this what fans of the franchise have been thinking about for the last 23 years? Follow along as I fall down the Pokemon rabbit hole.
When you're done here, read our full Detective Pikachu review. Then check out how Ryan Reynolds originally wanted to play Pikachu--it could have turned out very different--and all the Pokemon Easter eggs, references, and inside jokes we spotted. We also have a video breakdown, a report from Detective Pikachu's movie set, and a feature about how the movie aims to appeal to hardcore Pokemon fans.
1. Why are some Pokemon treated like cattle, while others in Ryme City are sentient beings?
When the movie opens outside of Ryme City, Pokemon seem to be animals. Some are herded on a farm, others roam free. In Ryme City, though, it's as if Pokemon are people. Wouldn't that hint that everyone mistreats them outside of Ryme City? Or are some Pokemon simply smarter than others? How do they define which are cattle and which are people?
2. Is Ryme City the only place on Earth where Pokemon and people live side-by-side?
How is it possible nobody else on Earth has tried to replicate Ryme City to give Pokemon another place to be treated as equals? Perhaps that place already exists and the movie just didn't address it. I'd like to know where else they're safe.
3. Do some Pokemon want nothing to do with humans?
Obviously, there are some Pokemon that love their human counterparts, like Detective Pikachu and Lucy's Psyduck. What about the ones that have no interest in humans, though? That Cubone clearly wants nothing to do with Tim. Where do the masses that don't like humans go?
4. Why on Earth would a Cubone wear it's mother's skull as a helmet?
Speaking of Cubone, this aspect of the character is horrifying. Who decided this piece of Pokelore? It's easy to understand why he was in such a foul mood, having to wear his mom's head as a hat.
[Ed. note: We haven't even told him about Pokemon like Drifloon, Banette, Yamask, or Shedinja yet.]
5. Did Tim murder Mr. Mime?
In one of the funniest scenes of the movie, Tim plays along with Mr. Mime's powers. However, he also seemingly sets the Pokemon on fire. So is Mr. Mime dead? Is the fire not real? What happened after Tim dropped that match?
6. Also, is Mr. Mime the best Pokemon?
In talking to GameSpot's resident Pokemon fans, I learned that they all seem to hate Mr. Mime. I don't understand that, though. He's a really great time, somehow makes sound effects, and happens to be very funny. What Pokemon is possibly better?
7. What country is Ryme City in?
I get that Pokemon is set in a fictionalized version of our world. Where, exactly, is Ryme City in that works, though? The main characters have seemingly American accents, while the steering wheel in Lucy's car is on the right side, which is uncommon in North America. Meanwhile, Pokemon was created in Japan. So where are we in this movie? For what it's worth, the movie was filmed in England and Colorado.
8. Is Pokemon set in the Home Alone cinematic universe?
When Tim gets to his dad's house, there's an old gangster movie playing on the TV. That's not just any old gangster movie, though. It's actually Angels With Filthy Souls, the fake movie-within-a-movie from Home Alone. So now the question becomes: Was Home Alone playing on Tim's dad's TV, or does Pokemon exist in the same world as Kevin McAllister? I hope it's the latter, honestly.
9. What's the deal with Poke Balls? There's only one in the entire movie.
I've never watched the Pokemon anime, played the video games, or collected the cards. Yet still, even I know the importance of Poke Balls. You trap Pokemon in them (or something) and then unleash them in battle. So where were all the Poke Balls in this movie? We saw one, and it exploded. Are they really that bad?
10. What's it like inside of a Poke Ball?
And if you're trapping Pokemon inside of them, what's it like in there? Obviously, there's some kind of space magic at work to fit something the size of a Pokemon into a tiny ball, but are they comfortable at least? Is this a Polly Pocket situation, where there's a little world in there for them to play around in, or is a Pokeball literally a small cage? If so, anyone who uses them is a monster. Including your beloved Ash.
11. Is R a thing in the anime or games?
Is that gas that drives Pokemon crazy a thing in the anime or games? What does R stand for? There's so much Pokemon history that I'm convinced everything stuffed into this movie is part of the lore.
12. What is a Pokemon's lifespan?
How long do Pokemon live, on average? Are there baby Pokemon? Do they grow old? Obviously, the movie tells us Mew was the most powerful Pokemon of all time and is no longer alive, but I'm very curious about their lifespans.
13. Why do some Pokemon say their own name, while others just make sounds?
From what I can tell, all Pokemon understand each other, regardless of species. So there's, in theory, a Pokemon language they all speak in. Why is it that for some of them it's just a variety of sounds, while others say their own names over and over? Beyond that, why doesn't Pikachu say, "Pikachu"? In the movie, he just says, "Pika Pika!"
14. If people can't normally understand Pokemon, why could Tim understand Mewtwo?
Speaking of Pokemon languages, humans can't understand Pokemon except in the rare case of Tim's dad's soul being attached to Detective Pikachu… (or something). If that's the case, though, why can he understand Mewtwo? Is Mewtwo just so powerful that it can do anything, including talking to dumb humans who refuse to learn the language of Pokemon?
15. Are there male and female Pokemon?
The gender of Pokemon is something I'm very curious about. Do some Pokemon species have different genders, while others don't? What's the difference between a male and female Pokemon? Who gives birth to them and how? From what little I understand, they are hatched from eggs. Who lays the eggs? Who are their parents? Cubone wears its mother's skull as a hat, so I would think there are at least female Pokemon. Are all Pokemon female? This is very confusing.
16. Does Tim's dad remember being Pikachu?
It's possible there is no real answer to this, as I'm not sure if a human and a Pokemon have ever been fused together before this movie. But does Tim's dad remember his time as Pikachu and the bond he forged with his son? When Lucy was split from Psyduck she seemed to remember the experience, but Tim's dad can't figure out why he wants coffee so bad--a trait he picked up from Pikachu.
17. Does Pikachu love coffee?
Speaking of coffee, is that something Pikachu is obsessed with, classically? Don't get me wrong, I love a cup of coffee, I was just surprised by the little guy's obsession with it. I would, however, like to grab a latte with him sometime.
18. How does Pokemon evolution work?
It's been explained to me that a Blastoise--a massive turtle monster that grows actual cannons to fire at enemies--is an evolved version of Squirtle, the cute little guy that's essentially a living squirt gun. How does that happen? How do any of the evolutions happen? One of the movie's plots is about evil scientists evolving Pokemon for nefarious means. But how do they evolve on their own? And I truly don't understand how a squirt gun turtle becomes a living cannon.
19. What does the winner of Pokemon battles get?
If the centerpiece of Pokemon is the battles where trainers are pitted against each other, what does the winner get? Is there like a professional Pokemon league where they win big money? A trophy? In theory, this could just be for bragging rights, but I need to know.
20. How did Pokemon first come to be?
When was Mew born? And how? And what about all of the other species. There has to be a deep dive resource for the history of Pokemon, right?
21. How many Pokemon are there?
The world of Detective Pikachu is stuffed full of a variety of Pokemon. Wherever you look, there's at least five in the background doing something. So how many are there total? Or is it unknown? If the number keeps growing, are the originals more coveted than the newbies?
22. Why don't they have names? Why not call Detective Pikachu Steven or something?
I spent most of my adult like assuming there was one of each kind of Pokemon because they're simply referred to by their species names. Now I find out Pikachu isn't a proper name, but rather what its entire species is called. So why don't trainers, friends, and partners give their Pokemon names? If I have a Pikachu as a Pokemon partner and we're at a coffee shop having that latte I want, and there are other Pikachus there, calling it Pikachu is going to be very confusing. Can I just give my Pikachu a nickname?
23. Why are they called pocket monsters if none of them can fit in your pocket?
I'm not sure how it plays out in the anime or games, but none of the Pokemon in this movie can fit in your pocket. Beyond that, the one Pokeball we see is too big to fit in your pocket. What's more, some of the evolved Pokemon--like Blastoise--are actually massive. So why are they referred to as pocket monsters?
24. Are Pokemon used for everyday tasks like heating up stoves and putting out fires?
One of my favorite parts of the movie was seeing a Squirtle put out a fire, while a Charizard [Ed. note: it was a Charmander] heated a stove to cook food. Is this how they are used in the anime and games as well, when not fighting? Or is this just something that happens because Ryme City doesn't simply use the little guys as warriors?
25. How do people not just laugh at Pokemon?
I get that these things are used by trainers in battle and some of them have incredible powers. But most of them look so adorable and silly that I don't understand why more people aren't giggling at them. If I saw a Squirtle or a Jigglypuff walking around I would be unable to contain my giddy laughter.