Pokemon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle – Netflix – when Tarzan and Avatar become one with Ash and Pikachu in the mix

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Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle or (more appropriately named Koko in Japan) follows the journey of Koko, a young boy raised by a Mystical Pokémon Zarude (or “Dada” as Koko calls him). This Pokémon film follows the cues from the last two animated films “I Choose You!” and “The Power of Us” by only introducing a non-canon Ash and Pikachu and the Team Rocket trio without any of the supporting characters and/or Ash’s other Pokémon. It almost feels like Ash doesn’t need to part of these films anymore, but they give him and Pikachu enough reason to be an integral part of this film. Ash and Pikachu, being good hearted people, enable many plots to converge by making them the intermediaries for several characters.

At the start of the film. As a baby, Koko is found in a capsule by water by Dada. Dada, feeling a sense a obligation and realizing that the child has no family to return to takes in this child and raises him as a Zarude. The opening scenes feel very Tarzan-like, in that we see a montage of events where Koko grows to being a very capable young boy, who can swing from tree to tree and be able to communicate with Pokémon.

Koko has a unique ability in being able to communicate and understand Pokemon. It’s not surprising that his best friend also happens to be a Pokemon, the cute squirrel Pokémon, Skwovet. (I love how berries keep dropping from him from time to time.)

Throughout the film, we can see that Koko and Dada are able to communicate just fine. However, when Koko meets Ash and Pikachu for the first time, it is clear that Koko can only communicate like a Zarude and can’t actually talk to humans. Nevertheless, Pikachu is able to help since he can understand both Ash and Koko.

We learn that the Zarude community are closed off from the rest of the world, including other Pokémon. Aside from Dada, they all treat the forest as their own, willing to steal from other Pokémon and keeping their special healing water, the key plot device, to themselves.

Like the James Cameron film Avatar, the Zarude live in a massive tree with a magical ability to infuse water around with healing properties. Like Avatar, there is a villain who wants to acquire the rare artefacts for himself and is willing to sacrifice anything to get what he wants. By the midpoint, the film feelings like I am watching a mix of Tarzan and Avatar in one. It’s almost uncanny how everything plays out.

I think the film could work without Ash and Pikachu. Though, both have their moments. They enable Koko to connect with various human characters, show the Zarude that humans can be trusted and take part in the final confrontation. Despite all that, this is ultimately a film about Koko and Dada. It’s a story of being true to yourself and standing up for yourself. And it’s a fine message for its intended young audience.

Pokemon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle is definitely better than many of the other Pokemon movies, but don’t expect it to reinvigorate you or all those warm fuzzy feelings like a good Pixar film. A good film will touch you, no matter how old you are, remember the the introduction in “Up” or even end of “Toy Story 3”? Yep.

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