Welcome to Pokemon Movies in Review, a weekly recap of the entire Pokemon Cinematic Universe. This week we revisit Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel of 2016, the 20th movie in the series, the last Gen X & Y movie, and the final entry before the series reboot in an alternate continuity with Pokemon the Movie: I Choose. You!

Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel isn’t as awe-inspiring or thrilling as 2015’s Hoopa and the Clash of Ages – which would have been a great movie to end the series – but it does focus on the main themes of the Pokemon series of a certain way that gives it symmetry and a nice impression of finality.


Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel holds its cards much closer to the vest than any other Pokémon movie, to the point where we aren’t really introduced to the villain or his motives until almost halfway. The opening scene shows Volcanion chasing an airship across the sky. As he lands on the ship, the pilot sends an Alakazam and Glalie to fight him. Using a jewelry bracelet, the pilot activates a power called Mega Wave to Mega Evolve both Pokémon – which any fan will tell you, that’s not how Mega Evolutions are meant to work. As Volcanion battles Mega Alakazam and Mega Glailie, the pilot strapped an electronic handcuff to his leg. He tries to tie up a second handcuff, but Volcanion deflects it. Mega Glalie freezes Volcanion in a block of ice and sends it hurtling down the ship. He landed directly on Ash, causing the second handcuff to lock onto his waist. Volcanion recovers and takes off again after the airship, dragging Ash for the ride.

Related: Ash Reunites With Her Kids In Hoopa & Clash Of The Ages

Ash spends most of the film handcuffed to Volcanion in Roger Rabbit style. That’s a particularly apt description, considering Volcanion turns out to hate humans with a passion. When the pair catch up with the airship, it is revealed that it was bringing the man-made Pokemon Magearna to the Realm of Azoth, a watch town powered by neo-arcane science. As we will learn later, Neo-Arcane science was developed over 500 years ago by an inventor named Nikola, who brought great wealth to the city. One of his inventions was Magearna, the first man-made Pokémon. Magearna was designed with a special soul core that could be used to transform city walls into a flying defense system in the event of an attack. This technology ultimately led to an uprising as people argued for control of the weapon. Nikola hid Magearna outside of town in a place called the navel tray. There, he met Volcanion, who used the Plateau as a sanctuary for Pokémon that had been abused and abandoned by their trainers. Now an evil scientist named Alva has kidnapped Magearna from the plateau so that he can activate the defense system and do a bunch of nasty bad guys stuff.


Volcanion saves Magearna and returns to the plateau, reluctantly, with Ash in tow. The rest of the movie is basically an examination of the relationship between humans and Pokemon, which makes them different, and people and Pokemon are better together than apart. These are the questions Pokemon has been asking since Ash and Pikachu became friends in the first episode. In fact, Volcanion’s outlook and personality is almost identical to Mewtwo’s in the first Pokemon movie. While he doesn’t intend to release all Pokémon across the world like Mewtwo did, he does believe Pokémon should isolate itself from humans. He believes humans cannot be trusted and, as proof, he tells Ash about a Gulpin who lives on the Plateau and who has been abandoned by his trainer. “I don’t know if anything happened before that,” Volcanion says. “The only thing I know is right before his coach left, he gave Gulpin a big hug.” Volcanion goes on to explain that every Pokémon on the board has been hurt by human selfishness and lies. Pokémon can’t lie, he reasoned, but humans are.

Ash proves Volcanion wrong as he has done many times in the past: by showing him that not all humans are bad. He protects Magearna from a poacher who encounters them on their journey back to the plateau and ultimately helps fight Alva when he kidnaps Magearna again and uses her soul core to fuel the defense system. Ash’s selfishness and commitment to protecting Pokemon trumps Volcanion. Ultimately, Volcanion invites Ash and his friends to be Honorary Navel Tray Pokémon.

magearna and volcano

The Pokemon movies have a long history of asking complicated questions and not providing answers, so it’s fitting that Volcanion and Mechanical Marvel continue this trend to the end. There are countless examples of Pokémon that improve people’s lives. Whether it’s through camaraderie, applying their powers, or sometimes just using them for free work like construction workers and firefighters, Pokemon has always made life better for people. Mechanical Marvel then asks us to think about what Pokemon advantages? They are routinely abandoned, lied to, exploited and traumatized by us, but when left alone in a place like the Navel Plateau, they create their own communities and thrive. The fact that Ash is “one of the good guys” doesn’t change the fact that Pokémon seem to be better on their own. Just as Mewtwo Strikes Back’s anti-violence message falls flat in a world where every conflict is resolved through combat, Volcanion and Mechanical Marvel tell us people can’t be trusted, and then don’t disprove that fact. . I left this film feeling overwhelmed by the Volcanion. No one should be able to capture and train Pokémon – except Ash, of course.

As a rule, the Pokemon series does not develop from story to story. It’s forever stuck in a time loop as Ash, his friends, and sometimes the Pokémon he meets, learn the same lesson over and over again. So it’s fitting that the last movie of the original series repeats everything that happened in the first. It’s frustrating to see so little growth compared to a series that started over 20 years ago, but it’s also heartwarming to know exactly what to expect. There are only five Pokémon movies left, and I know for a fact that at least two of them are about Pokémon that don’t trust humans. But hey, at least no one had to learn to believe in yourself this time around.

magearna 2

Still some parasitic thoughts of Volcanion and the mechanical wonder

  • Volcanion thinks the difference between Pokémon and humans is that Pokémon can’t lie. I wonder if meeting Meowth would change his mind or strengthen that belief, since Meowth has fundamentally transformed into a human.
  • I’m disappointed that there weren’t any Sun & Moon movies thanks to the reboot. A lot of Pokémon owe their popularity to the movies, and it’s unfair that Gen 7 newbies and legendaries weren’t in the spotlight.
  • Volcanion and Magearna are the adoptive parents of the Pokémon on the board. I think this is the first example of a paternal / maternal Pokémon in the movies, as well as the first example of a Pokémon romantic relationship – not counting Ash and Latias in Pokemon Heroes, of course.
  • There’s a Zygarde track that’s so perfect. Bonnie’s Zygarde Core transforms into full form to stop a Flying Fortress beam attack, but no one sees it coming. Zygarde will never find justice for Pokemon Z apparently.

Next week’s new review is Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! I have fond memories of seeing this one in theaters after being away from Pokemon for a while, so I can’t wait to see how it holds up.

Next: What’s Wrong With Ash’s Father In The New Pokemon Movie?

Gay Kate Bishop Hawkeye

Make Kate Bishop Gay, You Cowards

With Hailee Steinfeld involved, it’s inevitable

Read more

About the Author