For many, Pokémon is nothing but a nostalgia point, a love for which was briefly rekindled during the halcyon early days of Pokémon Go last summer.
But the franchise is still a cultural behemoth - the release of the latest set of games, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, is just days away, meanwhile the 20th anniversary celebrations continue with the English-language release of Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! - a reimagining of the original story in which Ash meets Pikachu for the first time.
Fans were already rattled when it emerged that this film would replace Ash’s beloved sidekicks Brock and Misty with two new characters - Souji and Makoto - but now that the movie is out, we have something even more disturbing to freak out about.
BuzzFeed journalist Ryan Broderick posted a video to Twitter taken in an American cinema, in which someone has filmed the screen during a short burst of the movie (probably because they’ve been before and wanted to catch the crowd’s reaction).
The scene shows Ash asking Pikachu why he never wants to go into his Poké Ball, and Pikachu RESPONDS IN ENGLISH.
“It’s because… it’s because… I always want to be with you,” Pikachu tells his trainer, as the cinema begins to shout in disbelief.
Hearing Pikachu speak in English for the first time ever - after 20 years of ‘Pika Pikas’ - feels all kinds of fucked up. Traditionally in the series, Team Rocket’s Meowth is the only Pokémon who has been able to speak in a human language.
However, this doesn’t represent a change in direction for Pikachu’s character - the scene is probably part of a dream-like sequence, in which Ash is imagining Pikachu’s words in his head.
Kate Bristol, who played Pikachu’s English voice in the film, said in a statement: “I think the literal circumstances under which Pikachu is ‘speaking’ are up to interpretation… I saw it as something in Ash’s mind. But it’s up to anyone.
“It’s OK to think it’s super weird; I sat in the theater with the rest of the cast while everyone shouted ‘what the FUCK’ and I sat there laughing at how bizarre it all is, especially hearing my squeaky little voice come out of it (personally, I did my best to mimic Ikue Otani as she is the master. This part in Japanese is adorable).”
Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! is getting a limited run in UK cinemas, while Ultra Sun and Moon are released on Friday 17 November.
The games are a follow up to last Year’s Sun and Moon, which were a huge commercial success, partially off the back of Pokémon Go’s popularity.
(Images: The Pokémon Company)