Anime Film Review: Pokemon: Zoroark Master of Illusions

Pokemon: Zoroark Master of Illusions is the 13th film in the Pokemon franchise, and it was directed by Kunihiko Yuyama. The film was released to Japanese theaters on July 10, 2010. The English dub of the film made its premiere in the United States on Cartoon Network on February 5, 2011; it was later released on DVD in the United States on September 20, 2011.

At the beginning of the film, Ash, Brock, and Dawn are watching a match of the Pokemon Baccer World Cup at a Pokemon Center. While watching the television, a man exhibits his team, which consists of the Legendary Pokemon Raikou, Entei, and Suicune. Ash and his friends are traveling to Crown City to watch the next match live.

Meanwhile, Zoroark and Zorua are traveling in a plane. During the trip, they find themselves face-to-face with the three Legendary Pokemon. Watching from above is Grings Kodai, the man who appeared on the television with the Legendary Pokemon, along with his assistant, Rowena. Zoroark is held captive by Kodai, and a Ninjask swoops down and takes Zorua.

Zorua manages to escape, but falls from the plane. This Pokemon uses its illusion ability to transform into Skiploom, which allows it to fall a little more gracefully toward the ground. Ash, Brock, and Dawn end up getting lost on the way to Crown City, and save Zorua from a group of Vigoroth. Using telepathy, Zorua explains about Zoroark going to Crown City. The three trainers agree to help Zorua.

Kodai uses an image of Zorua to blackmail Zoroark into destroying CrownCity by disguising as Raikou, Entei, and Suicune. At the same time, Kodai sends out a public message framing Zoroark as the culprit. The Ledendary Pokemon Celebi also becomes involved in this story. Can Ash and his friends figure out what Kodai is up to and stop him before it’s too late?

When it comes to the actual story of the film, I thought there was the potential for a decent story; however, the execution was a little on the weak side. I found that this film had a harder time keeping my interest than many of the earlier films in the franchise. At this point in the franchise, it feels as if the director is relying more on a formula when producing the films than on trying to tell a good and compelling story.

Once again, attempts were made to combine computer graphics with traditional animation. Unfortunately, the CG stands out just as badly, if not a little worse, than in previous films in the Pokemon franchise. As I watched this film with my children, at least one of kids kept cracking jokes about the bad computer animation. The musical score is rather similar to what has been heard in previous Pokemon films; since I enjoyed the music in the earlier films, I also enjoyed hearing the pieces in this film.

This film runs for an hour and a half, but I think the film may have been a little on the long side for the story it was trying to tell. My youngest child got really fidgety after we hit the one hour mark; perhaps a runtime of 70-80 minutes would have been a little better.

Pokemon: Zoroark Master of Illusions was released as a single disc DVD. Like the previous three DVD releases of the Pokemon films, Pokemon: Zoroark Master of Illusions does not include any special features.

Even without any bonus features, this DVD should still be in the home video collection of anyone who considers themselves to be a fan of the Pokemon anime.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Pokemon: Zoroark Master of Illusions that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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