Yesterday, I had a pretty amusing conversation with a friend of mine. Why was it amusing? Because of this little gem.
Me: "Hey dude, did you know that there's a Skylanders cartoon on Netflix that's surprisingly good?
Friend: "Did YOU know that there's a Yo-Kai Watch movie on Netflix?"
Me: "...Welp, I know what I'm doing once I finish talking about The Last Guardian on my blog!"
In case you don't know what Yo-Kai Watch is, it's video game/anime franchise about a young boy named Nate who finds the titular watch which lets whoever wears it see Yo-Kai, ghost-like creatures based off of Japanese (and Chinese) mythology. I never played the game (and said game spawned two sequels) but I HAVE watched the anime and thoroughly enjoyed it. The show was filled to the brim with lovable characters, some of the best comedy I've seen in a long time, and a beautiful art style.
So when my friend told me that there's a Yo-Kai Watch movie I instantly went on Netflix and and started watching it. And I gotta say, I was impressed. Keep in mind that I watched the English version of the movie and, as is common when localising just about anything, there might be some minor differences.
But before I talk about everything Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie does right, let me say everything I don't like about the movie. Firstly, the movie assumes you have either played the games, or watched the anime. It doesn't bother recapping the events of either. So if you have never seen anything related to Yo-Kai Watch before watching this movie, you will be very confused.
Second thing I didn't like (and this is a pet peeve of mine I will always have) but they didn't use "Gera Gera Po" as the opening theme song. I love that song for the sheer wackiness of it. At least they play a remixed version during the end credits. What song do they use for the opening instead? "YO-KAI WATCH". Which isn't bad, but it's not as ridiculous as "Gera Gera Po", but that's the reason why I like "Gera Gera Po" more. But those are just my complaints, and I know some people prefer "YO-KAI WATCH" to "Gera Gera Po".
So what's the story of Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie? Well, after the most fourth wall shattering opening ever, Nate and his Yo-Kai friends Whisper and Jibanyan travel back in time to stop an evil time-traveling Yo-Kai from taking over the world 60 years in the past while trying to convince Nate's grandfather (or rather, Nate's grandfather from 60 years ago, since in the present Nate's grandpa died of old age) to invent the Yo-Kai Watch because apparently traveling backwards in time erased the the watch from existence. If this plot sounds wacky or a little bit similar to Back to the Future, rest assured that A) The TV show deals with even wackier premises, and B) the simplest way to imagine this movie is Back to the Future... WITH YO-KAI!!!
First thing I must praise this movie for is it's comedy. THIS MOVIE is SOO. DANG. FUNNY!!!! This movie is filled with silly puns, pop culture references, and fourth wall breaks galore. It also likes poking fun at typical anime tropes, such as at the beginning, when Jibanyan tries to unleash his special attack, every time he tries to shout the name of his special attack, the evil Yo-Kai zap him before he can finish calling out his attack name. Cue Nate saying "They didn't even give him a chance to say the name of his special attack!". If you watch anime (especially action anime like Naruto or Dragon Ball Z), you know it's very common for a character to shout out the name of a spell/jutsu/technique/whatever term the anime in question uses for special attacks before actually using them (oddly, Sword Art Online doesn't do this, despite being an action anime itself). Another example for it's meta-humor is towards the end of the movie, where the villain transforms into a giant, Godzilla-esque monster animated using CGI instead of the movie's regular art style, Whisper delivers this gem of a line...
Whisper: "They turned her into a giant CGI monster to make the movie more exciting!".
Yes. The CGI is so obvious even the characters INSIDE THE MOVIE can see it.
Oh, and before anyone asks....
Kyuubi is in this movie. Granted, he (yes, Kyuubi is male. Don't let his somewhat feminine appearance fool you, Kyuubi is actually a guy) doesn't show up until the final showdown with the villain, but hey! They put my favorite Yo-Kai in the movie, so bonus points.
Something I will mention is that this movie does something I wasn't expecting. The Yo-Kai actually fight each other. Now I know what you're thinking. "Wait, why are you surprised that Yo-Kai fight each other in the movie?" Well, in the anime, Nate never had to "battle" with the Yo-Kai that was causing trouble. Either he simply talked them out of whatever they were doing or they decided to just give up after something silly/random happens (i.e. Walkappa literally just joins Nate's ever expanding roster of Yo-kai friends simply because he was tired of being ignored by everybody). The only real fight, if you can even call it that, was in the episode "Here comes Roughraff", where Roughraff and Manjimutt got into a fist fight (said fist fight was portrayed in a very comedic matter). Here, we have some truly epic battles such as basically 80% of Hovernyan's screentime (80% of his screentime is spent kicking tail and taking names, the other 20% is spent with him being a walking exposition dump), the insanely epic final showdown where, Spoiler Alert!, Nate and his grandfather summon EVERY Yo-Kai they have simultaneously (Funnily enough, while Nate's Yo-Kai are from the first Yo-Kai Watch video game, Nate's grandfather's Yo-Kai are all from the second game, sans Reuknight, who appeared in the first game as well), and of course, the big finale with the aforementioned CGI monster.
So that about covers the story, comedy and action, but what about the visuals and music. Well, it's flipping Yo-Kai Watch, so the music is of course really good. Every song is either goofy, dramatic, or some combination of the two. As for visuals, this movie is beautiful with TONS of colors and nifty character designs.
So overall, I give this movie a 9/10. If it had done a better job explaining what the franchise as a whole is about in the beginning it would have been better. Oh, and it needs good old "Gera Gera Po" for the people that love that song (like me). Other than that, if you like Yo-Kai Watch, you will love this movie.