10 Best Pokemon Anime Movies – GameRant

Over the years, fans have been treated to several Pokémon movies, and here’s the best of them.
The Pokemon anime began in 1997 as a companion series to the mainline Pokemon game franchise. Following the adventures of Ash Ketchum and his companions, the series finds these lovable kid trainers encountering various types of Pokemon across the world. However, some special Pokemon are saved for special occasions.
Related: Pokemon: Ash's Strongest Companions, Ranked
Often, feature films of the Pokemon anime feature Ash and his friends encountering significant legendary Pokemon. These feature-length installments of the anime, existing outside the context of the series, are some of the most thrilling Pokemon media ever made. Of the 20+ Pokemon films that have been released, these 10 are the very best.
The very first Pokemon movie is perhaps the most memorable entry on this list. The film includes a mini-short preceding it titled Pikachu's Vacation, followed by the 85-minute-long Mewtwo Strikes Back, featuring Ash, Misty, and Brock invited to a Pokemon laboratory to challenge the greatest Pokemon trainer alive.
When they arrive, however, they're confronted by the all-powerful Mewtwo, capable of mind control and unleashing his rage on the humans who created him. With the help of the mythical Mew, Ash and his friends stand up to the Psychic-type Legendary Pokemon. However, this battle doesn't end without a tearjerker moment between Ash and Pikachu.
The third Pokemon movie, subtitled Spell of the Unown, is one of the best feature films made in the Pokemon universe. Ash is drawn into conflict when a young girl, Molly, is granted a wish by the mysterious Unown to have her family back. However, an illusionary Entei created by the Unown kidnaps Ash's mother to serve the role as Molly's mother.
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Though the plot of this film is eerily similar to the MCU Disney+ series WandaVision, Ash seeks to rescue his mother, aided by his friends. Even Ash's Charizard, who had been residing in the Charicific Valley in the anime, returns to help Ash break into Molly's crystallized kingdom. It's certainly one of the most disturbing films in the Pokemon anime.
In 2001, the fourth official Pokemon film, titled Celebi: Voice of the Forest, premiered, taking place during Ash, Misty, and Brock's adventures in the Johto region. After a chance encounter with the legendary Pokemon Suicune, Ash and his friends are visited by a boy named Sammy and the Pokemon Celebi, who time-traveled from the past.
When Celebi ends up injured, Ash and his friends take it upon themselves to take Celebi to the Lake of Life, which has regenerative powers. Predictably, the involvement of Team Rocket thwarts their attempts to help Celebi, leading to one of the most suspenseful and emotional Pokemon films that they've ever made.
The first film of the Generation 3 Pokemon anime finds Ash, May, Max, and Brock attending a festival celebrating the appearance of the Millennium Comet. Along with the comet's appearance once every thousand years, the Mythical Pokemon Jirachi wakes from its slumber to absorb the comet's energy and grant a lucky human wishes.
That lucky person ends up being Max, May's little brother, who encounters Jirachi inside a stone possessed by the magician Butler and his assistant Diane. However, Butler's intentions with Jirachi are aligned with the evil Team Magma's desire to awaken the Legendary Groudon. This leads to one of the most climactic battles in the Pokemon anime.
This third generation Pokemon film had the pleasure of introducing Pokemon fans to Lucario, a Steel/Fighting-type Pokemon who would debut in the fourth generation games. In the film, Ash competes in a tournament at a festival celebrating the ancient hero Sir Aaron. As his reward for winning, Ash gains Aaron's staff, which seals Sir Aaron's Lucario.
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After unleashing Lucario from the staff, Ash must earn the Pokemon's trust in order to save other Pokemon from disappearing thanks to a mischievous Mew. It's one of the few Pokemon movies that show what a true heroic character Ash has become over the years, particularly when it comes to helping others and bonding with Pokemon.
Released in 2008, Giratina & the Sky Warrior focuses on a research attempting to absorb the abilities of Giratina, an inter-dimensional Legendary Pokemon. However, this disturbs the peace between Dialga and Palkia, who wage a war between space and time, respectively. Ash, Dawn, and Brock are roped into this conflict when they meet Shaymin.
Shaymin, a mythical Pokemon which grows flowers, faces the ire of Legendary Pokemon when it traps Giratina in a time loop between dimensions. Protective of the cute Shaymin, the film finds Ash and his friends traveling to the Reverse World to confront the destructive Giratina. It's one of the most visually stunning entries in the Pokemon anime's filmography.
Similarly to Lucario, Zoroark made its anime debut before its game debut with Zoroark: Master of Illusions. This film finds Ash, Dawn, and Brock encountering a Zorua in the wild, and agree to help it reunite with its mother, a Zoroark. This mission takes them to Crown City, where Zoroark has been made the prisoner of a man named Grings Kodai.
Attacking the city under Kodai's orders, Zoroark's illusory powers disguise it as an Entei, Suicine, and Raikou. Kodai then manipulates the media to antagonize Zoroark, drawing the attention of Ash and his friends to rescue the abused Dark-type Pokemon. For a Pokemon movie, this story is deeply meaningful and relevant to modern times.
Pokemon Black & White were the first entries in the Pokemon franchise's fifth generation games. Similar to their dual nature, the first anime movies for the respective series was also a double feature: two identical but slightly different films featuring Ash and his friends encountering either Zekrom or Reshiram at odds with the mythical Victini.
What makes these films so unique is in how they vary, just like the mainline Pokemon games. It also features a charismatic companion for Ash, Cilan, and Iris in the mischievous, macaroon-loving Victini. With Victini's help, Ash and his friends must temper a war between the Dragon-type deities Reshiram and Zekrom.
By the time Gen 7 rolled around, a different format took place for feature Pokemon films. I Choose You, rather than following the adventures of Ash in the Alola region, loosely adapt the events of the series' very first episode, with some new characters, encounters, and most significantly, without the inclusion of Misty and Brock as Ash's companions.
Related: Pokemon TV: Best Episodes From The Anime You Should Rewatch
Instead, Ash and his new partner Pokemon, Pikachu, chase the Legendary Ho-Oh that Ash witnesses in the first episode. This journey leads them to encounter even more Legendary Pokemon, while also befriending some of Ash's earliest Pokemon friends, like the abandoned Charmander, as well as the all-new Mythical Pokemon, Marshadow.
The Power of Us picks up from where I Choose You left off, finding this alternate timeline Ash attending a festival celebrating the Legendary Pokemon Lugia. However, Ash is not center-stage in this story, which features an ensemble cast of different trainers and their experiences at this festival, which lures the Mythical Pokemon Zeraora.
While Ash isn't as prominently featured in this film, many critics loved it for that exact reason. It's a fresh take on the world of the Pokemon anime, one where these Legendary and Mythical Pokemon encounters ropes in more than just the same old characters. However, you can expect Team Rocket to make more than a few appearances here.
More: Pokemon: The Arceus Chronicles – Easter Eggs Only Fans Of The Game Will Notice
Blaise Santi is a recent graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts majoring in Dramatic Writing. He’s had experience writing not only for screen and stage, but also for sketch and late-night. His hobbies have included video games, movies, TV, and comic books ever since childhood. Blaise currently lives in New York City.


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