Back when Gen 4 and 5 were the newest ones, the movies weren’t a real part of the anime timeline, and their objective was more of a showcasing of a Legendary Pokemon and trying to close the breach between Pokémon games and anime than trying to build a story that makes the anime timeline advance or grow.
But then, Sun and Moon arrived, and the Pokémon anime got revitalized. We saw a new Ash design, and it got some new movies to create a brand new storyline for Ash with Pokémon: I Choose You!, which tries to tell the story of Ash and Pikachu when they met for the first time but by giving it another vision.
The movies and the anime worked together to make a story advance. This is the case with Pokémon: Secrets of the Jungle, which continues with the storyline that started with I Choose You! and introduces a brand new Pokémon, Zarude.
Pokémon: Secrets of the Jungle Key Information
Pokémon: Secrets of the Jungle is the 23rd Pokémon movie, the first one after a year of forced hiatus outside Japan because of COVID-19. In fact, this movie was originally set to be released in July 2020 in Japan, but because of the pandemic, the movie’s release got stopped until December 2020. Then, for the rest of the world, the movie got released in October 2021.
The movie was directed by Tetsuo Yajima, who also was in charge of I Choose You! and The Power of Us, the first two movies of the new storyline. Other Yajima works are the XY Series, where he worked as the director and writer, and the Black and White Series, where he directed some episodes.
Meanwhile, the movie was written by Tetsuo Yajima and Atsuhiro Tomioka. Tomioka is a legendary screenwriter who has worked in various animes and has over 200 Pokémon episodes written. This was his first work in a movie, but he completely wrote Pokémon Generations.
Lastly, the movie’s music was in charge of Taiiku Okazaki and Shinji Miyazaki. Miyazaki is well known for composing the music for all the Pokémon anime series up to Pokémon Sun and Moon and making arrangements of games’ music to adapt it to the anime series.
Taiiku Okazaki was in charge of most of the movie’s music in its Japanese version, doing an excellent job. Meanwhile, the English dub versioned the music in the movie instead of doing their versions, a thing that the fans appreciated a lot back then.
Since 1999, Ash’s voice has been done by Sarah Natochenny, and this movie isn’t the exception. Sarah debuted in Season 9, Pokémon: Battle Frontier, and since then, she has voiced Ash in every single media product Pokémon has released. Ash is her best project as she has participated in small movie productions.
Also, Pikachu’s voice was made by Ikue Otani, who had made Pikachu’s voice since 1997 when she debuted in Pokémon Indigo League. Otani’s most famous works alongside Pikachu are voicing Konohamaru in Naruto, Morgana in Persona 5, Tony Tony Chopper in One Piece, and many works in videogames and anime series for more than 20 years.
Kimlinh Tran did Koko’s voice, this was her first major role in a movie, and she delivered an alright job. You can find Kimlinh’s voice in Attack on Titan, doing Mikasa Ackerman’s voice.
Edward Bosco did Dada’s voice, and Dr. Zed’s voice was made by Billy Kametz, and these two are the best ones besides Sarah’s Ash interpretation. Edward Bosco is very known as Ed Bosco in the Call of Duty saga, and he has a variety of works in very important games like Lost Ark, Guilty Gear: Strive, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
He also did Piers and Cabbie’s voices in Pokémon: Twilight Wings. Meanwhile, Billy Kametz’s most famous role was in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as Josuke Higashikata, and has worked in animes like Aggretsuko, Hunter x Hunter, Attack on Titan, and Beastars.
Where Can I See Pokémon: Secrets of the Jungle?
The movie got released on Netflix, which’s the only place you can see it.
Movie Characters and Pokémon
This movie’s characters introduce various one-appearance characters while only using Ash, Jessie, James (Team Rocket), Delia (Ash’s Mom), Nurse Joy, and Officer Jenny as usual characters of the series.
The one-appearance characters in this movie are Koko (the protagonist alongside Zarude), Dr. Zed, Sharon, and Koko’s parents, Chrom and Phossa Molybdenum. Meanwhile, this movie features two Pokemon, Zarude and Celebi (in a shiny form).
As for the Pokémons, several debuted in the anime series as this is the first movie created for Gen 8.
These are the Pokémon, in order of appearance, which debuted in Pokémon: Secrets of the Jungle:
- Galarian Stunfisk
As for other Pokémon appearing in this movie, we can see Ash’s Pikachu, as always, alongside Team Rocket’s Meowth and Wobbuffet, Dr. Zed’s four Ariados, and Nurse Joy’s Chansey. The rest of the Pokémon in this movie has brief appearances.
Movie’s Critical Reception
There are a variety of opinions about this movie. While some say that it’s the best movie of the newest ones and say that it’s way better than I Choose You!, others say that the movie is, by far, the worst Pokémon movie of the new era.
The audience loved the movie because of its easy-to-catch trama and well-done animation; they recommended it in Google Reviews and on websites like Commonsensemedia. But the movie critics said that the movie was mediocre. Nonetheless, the movie had a Box Office of $21M.
As for my critique, I feel like the movie is off sometimes, and I struggled to focus on it sometimes, mostly because the voice acting, besides Ash, Dr. Zed, and Dada’s voices, felt off. The combination between 3D and 2D elements also made it hard to watch, and I found some plotholes in the trama that I will cover in Conclusion.
However, as for positive points, the movie actually can captivate you, and if you are keen on a family movie, this one is for you! That’s enough about the movie’s key data; let’s talk about the plot. From here to the rest of the article, there will be spoilers of the movie, so keep reading at your own risk!
Pokémon: Secrets of the Jungle Movie Plot (SPOILERS)
The movie begins in the Heart Tree, which is part of the anime-exclusive Forest of Okoya in the also anime-exclusive Milyfa Town. Here, a pack of Zarude lives and reigns over the Forest, stealing food to survive. Then, one of the Zarudes hears the sound of a baby crying and realizes that there’s a child in a cradle near a river. The Zarude didn’t have the heart to leave the child on their own, so it picked the child and went with them to the Heart Tree.
The rest of the Zarudes didn’t like the idea of an invader on the Heart Tree as the law of the Zarudes prohibits it, so the Zarude that found the child got exiled. After that, the Zarude got in charge of raising the boy, naming him Koko, while the child named him Dada.
The movie jumps to ten years later when Ash and Pikachu are in Milyfa Town planning to travel into the Forest of Okoya. On their way, the movie introduces the Gen 8 Pokémon and the characters of this movie; Sharon and a research team working for Biotope Company. Meanwhile, we can see Team Rocket spying on Ash and researching about Biotope Company, and they find that the CEO of it is Dr. Zed. So, Team Rocket decided to infiltrate Biotope only to steal whatever they could find.
We get to see Koko and Dada again, who are living in the Forest, collecting berries and maintaining a private garden for their food. Koko gets news of a battle between a Flygon and a Pangoro, so he heads to stop it without realizing that he is trespassing the Zarude’s tribe territory. A Zarude from the tribe gets Koko and starts threatening him, but Dada appears on the rescue, taking Koko out of the situation.
After the happenings, Dada reprimands Koko’s actions, but then they start to argue as Koko starts to believe that he’s not a Zarude as Dada says because he’s different and he can’t use moves. Finally, Dada assures Koko that he’s a Zarude, but Koko runs out of the place, swinging and running through the trees, when he gets hit by a pipe placed by Biotope, so he falls into a river. Ash was near the river when Koko got knocked out, so he went to investigate.
Ash saw Koko in the river going directly to a waterfall, so he rescued Koko and took him to a Pokémon Center in Milyfa Town.
As soon as Koko awakens, he sees his surroundings and gets scared, immediately leaving the place. Ash runs to find him again, and he does, calming a Dreadnaw down and talking with him. At that moment, Ash realized that Koko was more of a Pokémon than a child, so he decided to introduce himself properly to Koko and started spending some time with him, trying to know him better, buying clothes, and letting him talk with Pikachu.
After seeing the city and the humans for the first time, Koko wants to take his new friend to the Forest and make them meet Dada. When they get to the Forest, and Dada and Koko start arguing about Koko’s whereabouts, Koko completely believes he’s a human and asks Dada for the truth.
Dada had no other option than admit what happened, so he took Koko and Ash to an abandoned laboratory and gave Koko his pendant and a picture of his parents. That night, Ash had a flashback of his father talking to him while Koko was investigating the old laboratory. Koko finds a wallet with Biotope’s logo and shows it to Ash, who recognizes the logo and takes Koko to Biotope’s facility the next day.
When Ash and Koko get to the place, Dr. Zed greets them and sees the pendant Koko has, realizing and telling Koko that his real name is Al Molybdenum, and the parents on his picture are Chrom and Phossa Molybdenum. They were researchers working on some healing products around the Heart Tree. Dr. Zed thought that Koko was missing as his parents died in a car crash ten years ago, and no one found Koko.
Also, Dr. Zed was interested in Koko’s pendant, so he asked his assistant, Sharon, to scan him only to “confirm that he was Al Molybdenum.”
When Dr. Zed and Sharon saw the pendant’s information, Dr. Zed started asking Koko about the Heart Tree and how to get to it, which scared Koko, so he ran away to the Forest with Ash. However, when Koko is near the Heart Tree, he realizes that Dr. Zed is following them with his bike and a troop of tanks, spider mechas, and trucks, thanks to a chip that Dr. Zed planted on Koko’s shoulder.
Meanwhile, Ash and Pikachu are looking for Koko, but they don’t find him. Luckily, a Skwovet appears and guides the two to the Heart Tree. When the protagonists got to the Heart Tree, Dr. Zed easily caught them with his Ariados and a String Shot and enclosed them in a truck to end the job in the Heart Tree.
Dr. Zed commands his team to take the Heart Tree out completely, as Zed’s objective is the Tree’s healing power it has. However, when the team realizes that the Heart Tree works as Zarude’s tribe nest, they refuse to continue, which makes Dr. Zed angry, so he threatens his subordinates with a doomed fate if they don’t do what Zed wants.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket was around, and they saw all the disaster and the moment when Dr. Zed caught Ash, Koko, and Pikachu, so they decided to try to steal Pikachu again. They tried to hijack the truck where the kids were, but, with the help of a Cramorant that loves to swallow Pikachu (as it did before in the movie), the kids get out of the truck and head to stop Dr. Zed to demolish the Heart Tree.
As Dr. Zed sees Koko jeopardizing his plans, he takes one of the spider mechas and starts telling Koko what really happened to his parents.
Basically, Koko’s parents worked alongside Dr. Zed, investigating the Heart Tree because of its healing properties. Still, as soon as they realized that it worked as a nest for a Zarude tribe, they stopped the investigation and left the Pokémon alone. Dr. Zed wasn’t happy with the decision, so he tried to convince Chrom and Phossa, but he didn’t make it.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket was minding their own business and making it to Dr. Zed’s office. There, they found a tape of Dr. Zed getting completely crazy, smashing his office and saying that he’ll get rid of Koko’s parents and run the company by himself, and that’s what he did. Dr. Zed started pursuing Chrom and Phossa when they were in their car, causing an accident.
Finally, Dr. Zed lets them die after stealing the spring water recollected from the Heart Tree. Chrom and Phossa’s last action was to save Koko, putting him in his cradle and leaving him in the nearby river. That’s how Dada found Koko.
Dr. Zed tries to kill Koko with the spider mecha, but Ash, Pikachu, and the Zarude tribe join Koko to fight back. Meanwhile, Dada arrives with a lot of Pokémon to help. After a fierce battle, Dr. Zed directly attacks Koko, but Dada appears to help him, receiving some serious damage. The Zarude tribe’s alpha commands and leads Koko to the Heart Tree to heal Dada.
Koko and Dada make it to the Heart Tree, but the healing water isn’t working as the Tree was seriously damaged by Dr. Zed. So then, Koko tries to use a move Dada taught him, which is Jungle Healing, but the alpha says that it’ll be useless because he’s not a Pokémon. At that moment, Koko assures the alpha that he’s, in fact, a Zarude, and the Tree responds, so Koko uses Jungle Healing, being the first time a human uses a Pokémon move in the anime.
While Dada is getting healed, Ash, Pikachu, and the Pokémon are fighting Dr. Zed on his spider mecha. Then, the mecha pilot who got kicked by Dr. Zed says that the mecha can get severely damaged if attacked on its back, so Pikachu heads there, and with an Iron Tail, Pikachu destroys the spider mecha. Dr. Zed tries to run away, but Koko appears and catches the evil Zed with some vines.
The movie ends with Ash, Pikachu, Koko, the Zarude tribe, and the Biotope Company members repairing the Heart Tree while Dr. Zed gets arrested because of his crimes. Koko decides to leave and travel through the world to explore and work as a bridge between Pokémon and humans. Dada gets accepted into the tribe again, and he sees a shiny Celebi roaming through the Forest, which means that the peace got restored.
Question: How did Koko heal Dada?
Answer: Even if Koko is a human, he was able to use a Pokémon move, Jungle Healing, which makes me think that the humans are just another kind of Pokémon in the Pokémon World and, with proper training like the one Dada gave to Koko, they can actually execute Pokémon moves. Now, that’s just a theory because even the Pokémon are aware that the human can’t execute Pokémon moves, as the Zarude Tribe’s alpha said to Koko before he healed Dada.
Question: Where’s the Milyfa Town located?
Answer: Milyfa Town’s region is unknown, and it can’t be located in any game as it’s an anime-exclusive place, as well as the Forest of Okoya.
Question: How can I get Zarude in Sword and Shield?
Answer: Sadly, Zarude could only be obtained during an event that ran when the movie got released, when you could get a code to redeem a Zarude on the Pokémon Trainer Club Newsletter. Nonetheless, all the codes expired on March 31, 2021, so it’s impossible to get Zarude in the game unless the Pokémon Company runs some codes again.
Pokemon Secrets of the Jungle Movie Guide: Conclusion
The movie is good, but it has some plotholes that personally made me doesn’t enjoy the movie completely. The fact that Koko didn’t struggle to learn the human language or do the Jungle Healing made me feel uncomfortable with the movie. I feel like the director decided to give Koko this very important role as it is totally unexpected, yet if they don’t add Koko to give continuation to the humans using Pokémon moves, then it’ll be disappointing.
Nonetheless, the movie is completely enjoyable if you are a fan or you are starting with the Pokémon anime; the music composition is spectacular, and the visuals are very polished.