Detective Pikachu secretly featured anime cameo

Published : 13 Nov 2022 07:32 PM

Detective Pikachu was the Pokémon franchise's first foray into live-action, yet one reference to an original Pokémon anime storyline stands out.

Detective Pikachu featured an interesting cameo, one which references the early days of the Pokémon anime. Detective Pikachu was Pokémon's first live-action project, a difficult task for a brand that has always been associated with animation and gaming. With Detective Pikachu, Pokémon undoubtedly wanted to attract newcomers to the franchise and please their existing fanbase. To do so, they adapted the lesser-known story of the Detective Pikachu video game. A few references to Pokémon’s anime roots did make it into the film, however, but one Pokémon cameo that stands out, in particular, involves the Kanto region starter Pokémon Squirtle.

Though plenty of Pokémon species were featured in Detective Pikachu, the reason Squirtle stands out is that its inclusion in the film references a specific storyline from the first few seasons of the Pokémon anime. Squirtle was one of Ash Ketchum’s very first Pokémon, but how they became friends involves a truly memorable backstory. The twelfth episode of the Pokémon anime’s first season, “Here Comes The Squirtle Squad,” tells the story of a gang of Squirtle that become professional firefighters in the Kanto region. It is their heroic status and jobs as Pokémon firefighters that Detective Pikachu references, during two separate moments in the movie.

As Detective Pikachu needed to present a relatively unknown Pokémon region, there’s a sequence in the movie that introduces both its protagonist Tim (Justice Smith), and the audience, to Ryme City. This sequence involves a promotional video, a few impressive visual shots of the town and the various Pokémon that live in Detective Pikachu's movie world, as well as a short clip of a news segment. This news segment features a group of Squirtle using their Water-type moves to help put out a fire, much like what the Squirtle Squad does in the Pokémon anime to save a town from destruction.

The second reference to the Pokémon anime’s Squirtle Squad and their firefighting duties in Detective Pikachu comes much later. Tim and his dad have finally been reunited, and they walk off together, eventually engulfed by the bustle of Ryme city. When taking a closer look at the shot, however, it becomes clear that there is a group of exactly five Squirtle huddled close together. What’s even more interesting is that, despite most of their backs being turned to the camera in Detective Pikachu's final scene, the audience doesn’t see Squirtle’s well-known brown shell. Instead, what can be seen is a smooth black surface, very reminiscent of the black jackets that the Squirtle Squad is given when they become official firefighters in the Pokémon anime.