One of the most popular intellectual properties is reportedly getting a live-action series on Netflix. Pokemon, which follows Ash Ketchup on his quest to be the very best, has been a hot commodity since the first episode came out in 1997. Since then, the anime has dominated the television, movie, and video game landscape, with no signs of the popular series slowing down anytime soon. In 2019, the animated show dipped into the live-action landscape with Detective Pikachu, which stars Ryan Reynolds (as Pikachu) and Justice Smith; The Pokemon adaptation centers around Tim, a former Pokemon trainer, investigating the strange disappearance of his father Harry with a talking Pikachu. Surprisingly, the film received solid reviews and made a killing at the box office by garnering $430 million worldwide. As of this writing, there’s no word on what exactly the live-action series will be about; however, it’s been reported that Lucifer co-showrunner and EP Joe Henderson is attached to write the series in the world that was presented in Detective Pikachu. This article won’t play a guessing game on what the show will be about; however, it will touch on what the live-action series should avoid.
Here’s the thing, Tim Goodman from Detective Pikachu was an uninspired character. This isn’t a knock on Justice Smith, who does what he can with the protagonist; however, there’s nothing particularly interesting about him. Goodman checks off some of the necessary boxes to craft a decent character but he’s only interesting when he’s interacting with Ryan Reynold’s Pikachu. The adorable electric mouse steals every scene that he’s in. Yes, this is called Detective Pikachu but Goodman is the protagonist, not Pikachu.
The same can be said about his cartoon counterpart, Ash Ketchup, whose ability to remain 10 for over a decade is the only interesting thing about him. Ash is a nice kid, who makes friends easily, and has no struggles that he has to deal with. Even though the anime protagonist continues to fail at his goal of winning whatever tournament for the selected season, he puts a smile on his face and remains the same goofy 10-year-old boy in the next season. Ash is essentially a perfect character, thus a very bland one. I know this is just a kid series, but so are Avatar and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, thus it’s not impossible to pen interesting characters. The Pokemon live-action show NEEDS to have a compelling character spearheading the show. The series will get extremely boring if another Ash Ketchup or Tim Goodman is crafted as the lead.
The Show Can’t Be Just About Catching And Training Pokemon
As previously stated, there’s no word on what this show will be just yet. However, it can’t just be a carbon copy of the anime. Yes, Pokemon battles are exciting and are a must for the series, but there needs to be more than about the lead wanting to be the very best trainer in the world. One of the core issues with the anime is that Pokemon has a lot of filler episodes that do nothing to advance the plot or develop any of its characters.
There’s nothing wrong with the premise of having the lead fight 10 gym leaders and win whatever league name is for that season. However, there’s needs to be multiple arcs that actually help the protagonist grow as a person. Avatar: The Last Airbender has several filler episodes, but they managed to develop their characters each time. I understand that this is likely a kid’s show, but Detective Pikachu is a solid example of weaving multiple plots that never losses sight of its A-story. Given that this is coming from the man that writes Lucifer, this likely won’t be a problem as he understands how to pen a solid television show.
The Live-Action Series Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Get Weird
Overall, Detective Pikachu is actually a solid adaptation; however, the movie doesn’t truly take advantage of its fun premise. It’s pretty much a detective story, with the only difference being a yellow talking mouse being at the forefront of the investigation. The world of Pokemon leaves open some interesting stories and the creators of the show shouldn’t be afraid to explore it, no matter how weird or off-color the narrative is. Obviously, the Pokemon series won’t likely be some deep and thought-provoking piece that tackles serious issues. However, that doesn’t mean its narrative can’t gripping. This is an opportunity to show a different side of the Pokemon world that’s rarely seen in anime; The writers would be wise to take advantage of that.