tommy kang plays pikachu as mccoughnaghy in true detective pikachu.

True Detective Pikachu Nails the Tone of the Original HBO Series

You've never seen Pokémon like this.
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A film like Detective Pikachu is built to be parodied. As the first live-action entry into the Pokémon universe, the goofy genre mash-up is ripe for parody. That’s not to say it won’t be a good movie (we’ll know that soon enough). But there’s plenty of humor to mined from the title alone.

Which brings us to True Detective Pikachu, a noir take on Pokémon as filtered through the lens of the first season of HBO’s True Detective. While the show aired its third season earlier this year, none have come close its iconic first season starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. True Detective season one featured a nonlinear, twisty narrative that explored inner darkness, masculinity, and the nature of evil.

True Detective Pikachu does a great job of capturing the drifting hopelessness of the series, with an embittered Pikachu (Tommy Kang) subbing in for McConaughey and Ash Ketchum (Bill Bria) taking on the Harrelson role. As the duo investigate the murders of various Pokémon, they ponder their own morality. “I believe Poke consciousness is a tragic step in our evolution. We are creatures that should not exist,” grumbles Pikachu, as he chain smokes cigarettes.

We see a struggling Ash trying to convince his wife that he chooses her, while flirting with Pokémon strippers (which will haunt my nightmares). We also catch glimpses of Team Rocket members Jesse and James, as well as a wartortle, a vulpix, a venomoth, and a meowth aka “the yellow cat”.

The entire video is a darkly humorous look at a world where Pokémon have substance abuse problems and must contend with their inner demons. The video was made by Sam & Bill Comedy, and directed by Sam Haft. When asked how the project came about, Haft said, “I originally wrote a version of this sketch in a pitch packet for a writing job that my lit agent sent me. I didn’t get the job and then got dropped by my lit agent. So of course, I sprung into action wasting a ton of money making this comedy abomination. Now nobody else has a lit agent. Coincidence? Yes.”

It’s clear that the short creators have deep affection for both Pokémon and True Detective. Enjoy this trippy comedy short, and stick around for the twangy version of the theme song.

(via Birth.Movies.Death, image: Sam & Bill Comedy)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.