If you or your kids are big fans, then Yo-kai Watch: The Movie is probably worth the Fathom Events ticket price. Though if you’ve been looking to experiment with the franchise, you might want to watch some episodes on Netflix first.
Yo-kai Watch is an anime from Japan that crosses the fighting and collection mechanic of Pokemon with the ghost action and battles of Ghostbusters. It’s a pretty wacky show that’s a lot of fun for kids, but is surprisingly entertaining for the right kinds of adults. So what’s a cartoon show on the rise to do when it has gained enough of a fan base that it warrants a motion picture? Well, it’s about time to make that movie a reality, which is why Yo-kai Watch: The Movie is not only in existence, but it’s actually pretty fun, as it comes at the right time in the show’s life span.
Nate (Johnny Young Bosch) has been fighting and capturing Yo-kai spirits for some time now, and his adventures have taught him tons about how the creatures work, and how to handle them. So naturally, it’s more than a bit of a shock when Nate wakes up one morning without any knowledge of the creatures, as well as the lack of his Yo-kai watch that helps him summon said creatures. What begins with a giant Yo-kai causing havoc on Nate’s home town turns into an adventure through time, as Nate fights the Yo-kai with someone else that’s very familiar with the creatures: his grandfather.
If you’re not already a fan of Yo-kai Watch, then Yo-kai Watch: The Movie might be a little too much, moving too fast for you to handle, as the story is somewhat pre-established by time the film starts. Thankfully, it’s not so far down the line that going in cold will hurt, as the film is somewhat of an origin story to the watch itself, as well as the earlier days of Yo-kai / Human activity. Other than that, you can clearly tell that this story is a string of episodes that’ll easily break up into several individual installments, which does lead to a bit of repetition and the sense that the film is running longer than it is. The colorful animation, and the chuckle worthy pop-culture parodies are extremely earnest and fast enough to help keep most of the film’s momentum going, so it’s not a film that drags terribly. Just be warned there are some slowdowns and a couple more battles than probably needed.
With all of those caveats present, Yo-kai Watch: The Movie is still a pretty fun time at the movies. As some films of this ilk feel like cheap cash-ins that are severely edited for television / American audiences, this is an example of an animated film based on a TV show that actually feels like a movie experience. Again, this will be really easy to split into sections and air on TV, yet at the same time the narrative is a cohesive through-line that actually has a story to tell, and does so quite entertainingly. Those of you fearing a repeat of Digimon: The Movie’s hack job should not worry, as this is clearly a whole film experience that has a clear beginning, middle, and end.