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It’s been over fifteen years since I’ve seen a Pokémon movie in theaters, meaning the last one I saw was Pokémon: The First Movie in 1999 when I was just a wee one. I saw some of the other ones on VHS, but it felt a bit surreal to sit in the theater for Pokémon the Movie XY&Z: Volcanion to Karakuri no Magearna (Pokémon the Movie: Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel, lit. Pokémon the Movie XY&Z: Volcanion and the Mechanical Magearna) amongst a crowd of kids and parents, as well as some other adults seeing the newest movie on their own. After seeing clips of the most recent films, I was expecting lots of corny scenes about friendship and happiness, but was pleasantly surprised when I laid eyes on the film’s guest Pokémon: Magearna.

This character was expertly executed, and I wasn’t expecting this to be the case at all. This was a character that made me invested in the film. Why? Because she can’t talk.

“But Sarah,” you cry, “all Pokémon except for some legendary ones can’t talk!” Yes, I understand your confusion. To make my point, however, I want you to take a look at the Pokémon that only make a minor appearance. They laugh, they cry, and they run around cutely–but would you say that you could define their personality through that? Not likely.

When you see a Pokémon in the TV series, your immediate reaction is probably “how cute” or “how cool,” or other simple sentiment like that. Magearna, on the other hand, works itself up to be even more lovable and sympathetic than even the human characters in the film.

The film revolves around Volcanion and Magearna, new mythical Pokémon that have been friends for a very long time. Because of Magearna’s mysterious powers, she is kidnapped by a prince and Volcanion does whatever it takes to try and get her back. Now, the one thing to remember here is that Volcanion can talk, and he does so… all the time. So how strange is it that Magearna, who only communicates through little “beep boop” sounds, would be the more intriguing character?

From the start of the movie, Magearna entranced me. Matching her the princess-like appearance, she moves her little feet in the most delicate way. Just by seeing how she moves, we think that this character is a gentle, careful, graceful one. The next moment, however, we learn that Magearna is actually so clumsy that she trips all the time–and it is an adorable sight. Only a scene later, when Volcanion refuses to work with Satoshi (Ash) and his friends, Magearna waves her little hand like a scolding wife and even the giant, ferocious Pokémon can’t stand up to her. She has a strong personality and she has an attitude.

Volcanion, on the other hand, talks the entire movie. Even the amount of words he is given to define is character is nothing compared to Magearna using her power to burst flowers out of her arms to make sad Pokémon and humans happy. Or her covering her face in embarrassment when Citron (Clemont) calls her “heavy.” (In his defense, Magearna is a man-made Pokémon made of metal, so I can’t blame him.)

I think the most shocking thing during the movie was the amount of emotion Magearna was able to convey through a blank expression in a very heart-breaking situation. What you might not know is that patrons in Japanese theaters tend not to express emotion during films, no matter how funny or sad a scene is. However, during a particular emotional scene featuring Magearna, I could hear audience members crying. I could feel myself crying.

Within the span of approximately forty minutes, this character had grown on an entire theater full of people with no words at all. Just by her mannerisms and little mechanical sounds, Magearna has become more of a defined character the majority of legendary or mythical Pokémon I’ve ever seen. While it’s certainly exciting and beautiful to see legendary Pokémon like Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos–or even Mewtwo being badass and showing off their powers–this adorable Pokémon that did not fight or speak once in the movie has made its place as one of my favorite Pokémon in the films.

Pokémon the Movie XY&Z: Volcanion to Karakuri no Magearna opened in Japanese movie theaters on June 16. It is scheduled for an English release under the title Pokémon the Movie: Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel sometime in 2016.

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