1999’s Pokémon: The First Movie is one of my earliest cinematic memories, but I must have missed the bit with all the ballroom dancing. Thankfully, Strictly Come Dancing has taken steps to fill that space.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it's a dancing competition where various couples (formed of one celebrity and one professional dancer) perform a number and get scored by a bunch of over-acting judges. This weekend's episode had the theme of 'Movies Week' and one couple, Paralympian Will Bayley and partner Janette Manrara, opted for a distinctly anime interpretation of the theme, taking on the roles of Ash and Pikachu in the Pasa Doble.
Canonically, I have some issues opening. Dressed in Ash’s iconic jacket and baseball cap, Bayley begins the routine by throwing a Pokéball to herald the arrival of his partner. While it’s a decent nod to convention, Ash’s Pikachu famously refuses to be confined, so personally I’m docking points for a lack of authenticity straight away.
Now, I’m about as far from being an expert on ballroom dancing as it’s possible to be, so I’ll resist the temptation to judge the actual quality of the performance. Bayley and Manrara seemed happy, and the judges’ scores seem roughly on-par for this stage of the competition, so I suppose it was a decent effort [have you watched this thing? My eyes! - ed]. But it is a shame the BBC passed up on using the actual dance-themed Pokémon, like Kirlia or Oricorio.