With spooky season upon the world, anime aficionados will no doubt be looking for the next shocking and gory anime to sate their lust for scares. However, even these people are likely to want to occasionally watch anime with younger viewers. Naturally, such classic films as Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service would serve anime fans well, but one movie truly taps into the depths of horror despite being intended for children.
Premiering in 2001, Pokémon 3: The Movie begins with an ancient curse in a ruined city a la Universal’s classic The Mummy. A child’s super-powered wishes distort reality and force a woman out of her right mind. Though on its surface an action/adventure film like most of the Pokémon movies, the third big-screen entry of the anime features a horror-informed plot and twists on the Pokémon formula, making the movie far more of a Halloween-worthy entry than the rest of the Pokémon films. From start to finish, Pokémon 3: The Movie is a great horror anime for children.
Pokémon 3: The Movie Perverts a Child’s Wishes to Benefit an Otherworldly Force
Pokémon 3: The Movie begins by establishing the main antagonist, a young child named Molly, who loves her father very much. He is called away to an archeological expedition, which is where the horror begins. The man is simply an explorer attempting to learn about a bygone civilization, but he is stolen away and disappears into another world full of strange creatures and psychedelic effects. He is last seen floating aimlessly and is believed to be dead by the members of his estate, which is now a massive mansion empty save for his daughter. As she innocently plays with what she believes to be toys in a Ouija-like crossword, the same creatures that stole away her father now isolate the girl in a crystal fortress.
This crystal fortress, like the rest of the movie, is a perverse reimagining of what the girl actually wants. She wants her father back, so a roaring, fire-breathing monster, Entei, is given to her. She wants to have a Pokémon battle, so her being is reconfigured to appear older and she is given Pokémon that are ridiculously overpowered. The entire narrative hinges on the extra-dimensional creatures with psychic powers essentially undertaking a “Monkey’s Paw” scenario with the girl’s thoughts and dreams.
Elements of the Movie Are Especially Frightening for Children
Within the first few minutes of the film, Ash’s mother, Delia, is stolen away by the same Entei whom Molly is forced to believe is her father. She is hypnotized into believing she’s Molly’s mother, eventually realizing this isn’t the case just in time to watch her son and his companions be run through the gamut by this girl. This all takes place after it’s been established that both of Molly’s parents have very recently and suddenly died, meaning that the first 20 minutes of the film essentially serve to have children become abandoned by their parents three times.
This is to say nothing of the fact that so much of the film rides on the concept of wishes that are twisted. Any child would like to be able to have a brilliant castle all their own, but at what cost? Even the ending of the film, while upbeat, teases that Molly and her father are reunited with Molly’s mother, even though she is established to have passed away before the events of the movie. Even after the end of the movie, there is some implication that the curse of the Unown is present in the life of Molly, meaning that not all is well in her world, even as viewers are lulled into hoping otherwise.