Pikachu is a pop-culture figure that we all knew and loved for many years, and with Pokemon getting it’s 20th movie, fans were shocked to see him do one thing—talk.
The iconic Pokémon, who has functioned as the series mascot since the late 1990s, has traditionally been unable to speak human languages. Like most other Pokémon, he could only repeat his own name.
But in a surreal sequence from Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!, released in Japan in July and now in English, Pikachu tells his trainer and companion Ash Ketchum that he “always wants to be with you”.
During one screening of the movie posted to Twitter, viewers reacted with audible gasps and alarm.
One muttered “What the fuck?” while a man can be heard to shout “No!”.
The distressing scene is said to be made more unsettling by Pikachu’s high-pitched voice.
Kate Bristol, the film’s English language voice actor for Pikachu, told Guardian Australia the line was “out of the ordinary” but still a moment she enjoyed. .
The surprising dialogue has been widely interpreted as occurring during a dream sequence or hallucination inside the protagonist Ash Ketchum’s head.
“I know a lot of people might think it’s out of the ordinary for Pikachu to speak English,” Bristol said. “It’s definitely out of the ordinary.
“It was hilarious being in the theater with the rest of the cast and hearing the audience’s reaction as a huge collective ‘What?’ rose up.
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Here’s the movie synopsis:
From Kanto to Alola and everything in between! For over 20 years, the adventures of Ash, a young Trainer from Pallet Town, and his best friend Pikachu have been captivating audiences around the world. Experience the adventure that started it all in Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!,
The 20th feature-length promo tool for the Pokémon phenomenon is a reboot, all about the very first meeting of Ash and likable company mascot Pikachu
“Personally, I did my best to mimic [Japanese voice actor] Ikue Otani as she is the master. This part in Japanese is adorable. At the end of the day Pokémon is a good time and I sure as hell enjoyed being a Pikachu for 0.5 seconds.”
The original Japanese release of the film contains a similar scene where Pikachu speaks Japanese, but has not prompted the same reaction.
The animated version of Pikachu first appeared in the Pokémon anime television series, which debuted in Japan on 1 April 1997, and has spawned numerous sequels and movies.
This all stemmed from the popularity of the original Pokémon video game, developed by Nintendo and Game Freak, released in 1996.
In North America, the game was released as Pokémon Red and Blue in 1998 and sparked a wave of Pokémon frenzy, becoming one of the world’s most popular gaming and television franchises.
In the animated series only one Pokémon – Meowth, a cat-like Pokémon who functions as an antagonist – has generally been acknowledged as being able to speak.
Other Pokémon, including a different Pikachu in the 3DS game Great Detective Pikachu, have been depicted as speaking English, but these are not considered consistent with the canon of the series.