Pokémon the Movie: Kyurem VS. The Sword of Justice marks the fifteenth Pokémon movie to be released during the anime lifetime, but after fifteen movies are they still keeping the same charm as the very first?
Well, I‘m happy to report that the fifteenth movie certainly feels stronger than the fourteenth did. It wastes no time in throwing us right into the action and introducing Keldeo and the three “Swords of Justice”, Cobalion, Terrakion and Virizion. It’s here that we learn Keldeo is training alongside the current Swords of Justice so as to become the fourth member. In order to finally become one of the Swords of Justice, however, young Keldeo must first battle against Kyurem, something our young star sets out to do long before he is actually ready to. One night while Cobalion, Terrakion and Virizion are sleeping, Keldeo sneaks off to battle Kyurem and prove just how tough he is, however things don’t go as Keldeo hopes and he ends up watching the three Swords of Justice (who chased after Keldeo after realizing he was no longer with them) being frozen in ice and making a run for it to as escape with his life. You’d be forgiven for not feeling sorry for Keldeo at this point, because of course, he did bring this all on himself.
It isn’t long before the movie introduces us to the three lead humans in the movie; Ash, Iris and Cilan. The three trainers are once more travelling around and come across Keldeo by chance, but with the young Pokémon now being chased by an angry Kyurem, Ash and co can’t leave the guy behind and vow to help the Swords of Justice and protect Keldeo at all costs.
The one thing that can be said for this movie is that it wastes no time in explaining things, it throws you right in and then doesn’t let up on the action side of things. At the start you may struggle to feel for Keldeo, but by the end he starts to lose that cocky persona and shows a completely different side to himself. With the Swords of Justice frozen and getting very little screen time, before and after the event, the focus is placed purely on Keldeo as even Kyurem doesn’t need any more attention put towards him after you understand that he’s mad Keldeo ran from the fight and wishes to end things by finishing off Keldeo in battle. All attention is placed on Keldeo (even Ash and co are often pushed aside), but nothing ever slows down, we learn more about Keldeo all the time despite the fact he’s being chased by Kyurem. I can’t help but feel like the perfect balance was found this time around in a decent plot and interesting characters.
As far as the animation goes it’s certainly the best of the Pokémon movies so far, as you’d likely expect, and has some really nice scenes here and there. You could never class it as amazing, but as a movie which is generally going to be watched by the younger anime fans? It certainly ticks all the right boxes here and you shouldn’t come away disappointed.
The soundtrack on the other hand isn’t all that amazing. Maybe it’s because I watched the movie dubbed, and thus likely missed out on a few tracks the Japanese edition had, but nothing really stood out. It all fits, but it’ll never be something you remember for more than a few minutes. As far as the voice actors go, Keldeo is played by Vic Mignogna who is probably best known for his role as Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist, and while I loved Vic as Edward, he didn’t seem to fit Keldeo. The acting didn’t have enough emotion in it for what Keldeo was thinking and being put through.
For what it sets out to do, be one of the better Pokémon movies around, it certainly hits all the right notes and will please the younger and older fans alike, so it is worth a watch. Keldeo, the plot, and everything else, however, fail to be very memorable though and will be forgotten in a matter of weeks unless you’re a huge fan of Pokémon. It’s also a movie which is more enjoyable in Japanese than watching the dub, at least if you’re a seasoned anime fan and watch a lot of the stuff.