If you haven’t seen the new Pokemon short Bidoof’s Big Stand, drop everything and watch it immediately. It’s only eight minutes long and it's the best Pokemon movie in years, trust me. It has a classic Pixar short quality that transcends culture and language barriers to tell an emotionally charged story that perfectly captures the spirit of Pokemon. As the anime series continues to spin its wheels year after year, Bidoof’s Big Stand is a shining example of what Pokemon can be when it’s in the right hands.
Bidoof’s Big Stand is about a Bidoof that has trouble fitting in and finding its place in the world. It wants to impress its fellow forest-dwelling Bidoof by chopping down trees and carving elaborate stone sculptures with its lightning-fast chewing skills, but it keeps creating messes thanks to its inconvenient (though adorable) little sneezes. It finds itself all alone without any friends when suddenly it's attacked by a swarm of Starly. The bird Pokemon – led by a chad Staraptor – chases Bidoof through the forest until they’re intercepted by a handsome trainer and his even-more-chad Lucario. Lucario lets rip an aura sphere that scares off the Staraptor and saves the Bidoof.
Bidoof sees the bond between the trainer and his Lucario when they high-five each other and realizes that that’s exactly what is missing in its life. It tries to warm up to the trainer, but he, like everyone else, doesn’t see Bidoof’s value. Bidoof is persistent, and the trainer eventually agrees to capture it out of pity.
On their adventures, Lucario is always the fighter and Bidoof is only ever used to chew up debris and clear a path. Being the workhorse Pokemon wears down Bidoof, who just wants the same respect from its trainer that Lucario gets. It hopelessly resigns itself to being the HM mule, until one day, to its shock and horror, it's brought out to fight in a Pokemon battle.
The Bidoof is terrified, but by relying on its strengths it is able to quickly defeat a Golem. The next Pokemon it has to fight is a Staraptor – perhaps even the same chad Staraptor from the forest, and Bidoof tries to run away. Encouraged by its trainer, Bidoof takes on the bird Pokemon and wins, finally proving itself and earns the high-five it always wanted.
Bidoof’s Big Stand was produced by Taiko Studios, an animation studio operating jointly in Los Angeles in Wuhan. The short uses a modern western animation aesthetic and, like Pixar, forgoes dialogue in favor of non-verbal communication like gestures and expressions. It’s vivid and energetic, with a jazzy piano score that Mickey Mouses along to carry and reinforce the emotional beats. It’s funny, charming, and sweet, and it even features some decent action during the Pokemon battles. It’s so refreshing to see a new studio take on Pokemon and bring so much to the world, especially after so many years of the same exact thing.
There are over 1,100 episodes of the Pokemon anime and close to 30 movies, and they all look exactly the same and tell the same story about the power of friendship and believing in yourself. I’m a huge fan of the anime and I have the bylines to prove it, but I’ll be the first to admit that Pokemon is in desperate need of some fresh ideas. The 2020 animated short Scraggy & Mimikyu was another standout thanks to its old-timey Hanna Barbera style, but the rest of the Poketoon shorts that released throughout 2021 weren’t nearly as bold and they haven’t yet been translated to English.
If it was up to me, Pokemon would become an anthology series of short films like Bidoof’s Big Stand and Scraggy & Mimikyu. They could experiment with a variety of styles and tell short, self-contained stories about a wide variety of trainers, regions, and Pokemon. I love Ash and Pikachu with all my heart, but 25 years of the same story is enough. Bidoof’s Big Stand is exactly what Pokemon needs right now.
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