12th of October saw the UK release of Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 on the Nintendo DS. So as I’m sure many Poké fans will want to rest their blister covered hands for an hour or two a day, we’ve been covering each and every Pokémon film in celebration. Check out past articles here.
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Cast: Sarah Natochenny, Emily Bauer, Michele Knotz, Bill Rogers, Jimmy Zoppi, Ikue Ootani, Daniel Jenkins, Marc Thompson,
Plot: The legendary Pokémon of time Dalgia is pursued through our world and The Reverse World. A small Pokémon known as Shaymin is caught up in one of their battles. This leads to a mystery surrounding The Reverse World and how it may change life on Earth as we know it.
POKEMON: GIRATINA AND THE SKY WARRIOR is the first Pokémon cinematic feature to follow on from its predecessor. This makes a wonderful change as it does feel like a continuation of the story, universe, and characters, but also works as a complete film on its own. The film starts with an unnervingly quiet scene in which a small Pokémon that somewhat resembles a hedgehog scuttles through the forest. Possibly because of previous dubs changing music and having an overuse of pop songs, this is quite unsettling. It builds an ominous atmosphere, but also places it firmly as being more realistic than previous moments in the Pokémon world. It completely sucks us in and forces our attention on the moment.
Before we know it, our friend from the previous film, Dialga, is back and being pursued by an equally large Pokémon. It isn’t Palkia this time. Now it’s Giratina. Giratina takes Dialga to The Reverse World, a world that resembles Pandora in AVATAR, with floating hourglass shaped islands. Later we find out that certain rules are very skewed in The Reverse World, which is probably how it got its name. The main rule being that in some areas the gravity is low. This little twist adds something new to chase and action sequences, as one moment the heroes glide effortlessly through the air, and the next they are falling flat on their faces. In the middle of this original battle is our hedgehog like friend who has accidentally been brought through with the two battling legendaries. Turns out this Pokémon, known as Shaymin, is the gratitude Pokémon and is also exceptionally powerful. She manages to escape along with Dialga, leaving Giratina stuck in The Reverse World.
We soon come across Ash, Brock, and Dawn. As they get ready for a feast Dawn reminds Ash to wash his hands. Straight away she is asserting her important role in influencing the dynamic of the group. Taking on a motherly role towards Ash, not only strengthens her, but reminds us of Ash’s youth. Sure he’s seen more things than most 10 year olds, but he hasn’t aged a day, so some boyish characteristics are still needed. Soon Shaymin shows up, covered in dirt, and begins to eat the gang’s food. Piplup lays down the law, showing him to be the Pokémon with the most amount of character since Pikachu and the original starters. Piplup really has a go at Shaymin, who is portrayed as an outcast at this point, but soon Dawn comes in and shows it the kindness and understanding it needs. This leads to a bond between Dawn and Shaymin which is touching, but isn’t as desperate and clingy as was the case with Max and Jirachi, or May and Manaphy.
Shaymin is quite possibly my favourite Pokémon that is capable of speech/telepathic communication. She is well-spoken, and despite being known as the gratitude Pokémon, she isn’t exactly grateful. In fact, after each time she is helped, she expresses improvements that could be made to the help she received. Always critical, teasing, and self-centred, Shaymin manages to keep an adorable amount of charm which makes her a great addition to the film. Her comic lack of modesty helps in some regards to that, with lines like “I am something, aren’t I?” Rather than infuriating the audience, it’s funny how much she infuriates Ash. She’s not the only Pokémon to get some great moments. Brock’s Croagrunk may look like a goofy frog, but in Max and Misty’s absence, he is now the one that keeps Brock in line. I just find it hilarious how Croagrunk is aware that his master’s actions towards women are inappropriate.
Ash, Dawn and Team Rocket are soon sucked into the Reverse World with their Pokémon and Shaymin. Once in the Reverse World they meet a scientist who has been studying the place for a number of years, called Newton Graceland. He’s sciencey AND reminds us of Elvis. Remember kids, science is cool! He explains all about the Reverse World and Giratina and how the fight between Palkia and Dialga in the previous film affected Giratina’s Reverse World which caused him to be mightily annoyed. Meanwhile, and something I found very interesting, is that Brock doesn’t immediately jump in after his friends. It shows his rational thinking as he pokes at the wormhole that sucked in his friends, but isn’t all gungho and heroic in that bordering on stupidity level. As before, we discover that damage here will affect the real world.
Some guy called Zero appears on a sky rider and it turns out he is trying to manipulate capture Shaymin and Giratina for his own ruthless plan. In fact, Zero just wants to be alone in the Reverse World as its sole ruler, but his eyes get too big for his belly and he plans on punishing the real world for pollution and stuff. Zero was once the student of Newton but after Newton decided he wanted to stop his research for ethical reasons, Zero went ahead and built a machine to control and harness Giratina’s power. Now he also wants Shaymin, which leads to a pretty awesome battle on a train that travels at full speed. I didn’t particularly care for Zero as a villain, as there was really no way to connect with him.
After the train battle the trio of explorers find themselves on a ferry, where Shaymin, having turned into her Skyform flies around. This leads to a sweet moment in which Piplup tries to fly but ends up falling into the water. Rather than being knocked down by this event, Piplup is quick to show off his immense swimming skills. It’s a great way of encouraging us to all look for the positives within ourselves, and for once, it doesn’t state this part in the dialogue. Ash is quick to allow Pikachu to join in the fun by letting him fly on the back of his Staravia. What a great way to remind the kiddiewinks to always try and include everyone in activities.
Our friends are soon back in the Reverse World, as Zero tries to capture Shaymin and take Giratina’s power. The film puts too much action into the final half and not enough focus on Zero’s motives. Luckily we get a good range of different action sequences, thanks to Zero’s huge mothership which we see fly through /over large forests. Pikachu and Shaymin work together to fight Giratina, but once Giratina is the victim and becomes damaged by Zero, they quickly come to its aid. It shows how these creatures can empathise with others and understand why it is they do the things they do without holding grudges. Shaymin heals Giratina, and we see a gentle side to him. One that other Pokémon are at first wary of, but are lead by a good example from Pikachu. This 11th theatrical film does well to connect with the previous effort, but stretches its own story out for a tad too long. There are many wonderful small moments, and the message about empathising and understanding is quite a mature, but well appreciated lesson.
Best Performance By A Pokémon: Shaymin takes it for her wonderful arrogance and cockiness. It’s just so refreshing to see a character with so much confidence really put our heroes through their paces. As well as her previous character traits stated above, she also proves to be rather bossy and also patronising. The way she talks down to Ash makes for an odd couple which works in terms of comedy and heart, mostly because Shaymin being a tiny Pokémon, means Ash is powerless to control her and must put up with her and conceal his own frustration.
Best Battle: Despite some epic battles in the sky and other dimensions, I really liked the battle on the train between Ash, Dawn, and Brock’s Pokémon, taking on Zero’s Magnemites, Magnetons, and Magnezone. Just the setting itself added that little something extra, not to mention the fact they were travelling at a fast speed and had nowhere to escape to. It’s also fun to see Shaymin’s cockiness in a fight situation, but also to see give genuine compliments to her Pokémon team members. Piplup, Pikachu, and Shaymin all use their powers to great effect. And let’s face it, how did “It’s thank Shaymin time!” Not become a popular catchphrase?
Come back tomorrow for our next PokéMovie Marathon article. Gotta read them all here.