Detective Pikachu is the very first live-action Pokémon movie, and because of that, it contains several real world and classic Pokémon locations. Detective Pikachu is set almost entirely in a single city - Ryme City - that uses unconventional rules with regards to how people and Pokémon interact with each other. It's for this reason why some fans were questioning whether Detective Pikachu was set in the world of the anime & video games, the real world, or maybe an entirely new setting altogether?
The release of Detective Pikachu is here and the movie confirms that some of the regions from the Pokémon video games exist in the world of the movies. Detective Pikachu also confirms that at least one other country (and language) from the real world exists in this new, live-action Pokémon universe, which could theoretically expand into various sequels or spinoffs of its own now.
The exact nature of how the setting of Detective Pikachu corresponds to the other settings that appear in Pokémon media - from the anime to the video games, and beyond - isn't answered in the movie, but the fact that a Detective Pikachu sequel is already in development means that the viewers might see more of the world outside of Ryme City in future installments. There are several generations of Pokémon in the franchise, and there's plenty more to see. But what was shown and/or mentioned in this movie?
Detective Pikachu is based on a Nintendo 3DS game of the same name. The setting of both the game and movie versions of Detective Pikachu is Ryme City, which is set within an unknown region in the world. The Ryme City of the Detective Pikachu movie follows different rules from most of the locations in the Pokémon anime and video games, as everyone is only allowed a single Pokémon partner. One of the most unusual aspects of Ryme City is the fact that Pokémon battles are banned, which has led to underground Pokémon fight clubs, one of which is seen in the movie.
The story of the movie version of Detective Pikachu uses a lot of elements from the original game, but it manages to flesh out a lot of the characters and concepts in a way that makes them far more interesting. The Detective Pikachu movie has a much grander scope than the video game and there is a real sense of Ryme City being an actual place where people and Pokémon live together.
The presence of Sinnoh from Pokémon Diamond & Pearl in the world of Detective Pikachu has been known about since the trailers, as the same reference to the region is made in the movie. There is a scene in which Tim visits his father's apartment and finds a room that his father had made up for him. There is a poster on the wall for the Sinnoh Championship XXIV, which is used in reference to the fact that Tim wanted to be a Pokémon trainer in his youth, but eventually decided against it in order to focus on a regular career.
The fact that Tim has a poster relating to the Sinnoh region in his room has led some fans to believe that it was chosen due to a Pokémon Diamond & Pearl remake being in the works. The fourth generation of Pokémon games are the next ones that are due for a remake (as the Hoenn games were remade on the Nintendo 3DS), so the reference to the Sinnoh region might be a clue to the fact that the players may be able to return there soon, possibly after the release of Pokémon Sword & Shield.
The release of Pokémon Go created a huge nostalgia wave for the original Pokémon games, which is why the first Pokémon RPGs on the Nintendo Switch were remakes of Pokémon Yellow with elements of Pokémon Go thrown in. So it was almost a given that the Kanto region of Pokémon Red & Blue would be referenced in Detective Pikachu, as that region is still dear to many people who grew up with Pokémon.
There is an overt reference to the Kanto region in Detective Pikachu in the form of Mewtwo. The Mewtwo that appears in Detective Pikachu is described as being from Kanto. The fact that Mewtwo is from Kanto raises questions about the future of the Pokémon movie franchise. There are rumors that a movie based on Pokémon Red & Blue is in the works, which means that the same version of Mewtwo would likely appear. Would a Pokémon Red & Blue movie deal with the origins of Mewtwo's creation, especially as that was already the focus of the original Pokémon animated movie?
One of the strangest references in Detective Pikachu is to the country of France, which is now confirmed to exist in the Pokémon world. There is a scene early on in Detective Pikachu where both Tim and Detective Pikachu refer to France and the French language, with Detective Pikachu even speaking a little French. The Pokémon video games already have a copy of France in the form of the Kalos region from Pokémon X & Y, which has its own version of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. The producers of Detective Pikachu could've included a cute reference to the Kalos region while also using the French language, but they decided to confirm France in the Pokémon world instead.
The early Pokémon games used to refer to real-world locations a lot, with Mew being discovered in South America, Lt. Surge being referred to as "The Lightning American," Arcanine's Pokédex entries referencing China, and one of Raichu's Pokédex entries claiming that it could knock out an Indian elephant. These references became less frequent over time, while also becoming clear that the Pokémon world had its own equivalents to real-world locations, such as Unova being the United States of America and the Galar region being based on Great Britain. It's strange that France was mentioned in Detective Pikachu after the games had long abandoned any pretense of the Pokémon world being the same as our own - but it was.
- Detective Pikachu (2019) release date: May 10, 2019