The writer with ‘Pikachu’.

I WAS in a serious meeting with a new production house. These guys have been wanting to pitch an idea to us for the longest time. Due to busy schedules, we couldn’t arrange a meeting for months.

But finally, we got our schedules aligned and there they were, all impeccably dressed, in our big meeting room in the office.

We were deep in discussion. These guys were all out to impress us. They brought their top management, their top creative guy, they had a big booklet ready for us to peruse over their intricate proposal.

One guy started to present the idea to us. He was very thorough. Very professional. Very serious. Suddenly, in the middle of his presentation, he froze. He simply froze. He didn’t move. Eyes wide open. His posture frozen.

I was thinking, “Oh no. He’s choking on his presentation. Maybe he’s nervous.”

Then his eyes got very big, like saucers. His mouth fell wide open.

And he squealed.

“Pikachu.”

I looked confused. All of us did.

He said it again. “Pikachu!”

Was this guy on drugs?

“Pikachu!!! Pikachu!!!” he excitedly pointed behind me.

We all looked and, lo and behold, Pikachu was walking behind me. A life-size costumed Pikachu was literally walking behind me.

“Pikachu is in your office!”

He started sweating. He looked at us, “Please, please, I need to do this...”

And, without warning, he took out his handphone and ran out of this very important meeting that had taken months to schedule, right to the Pikachu costumed character, who was dancing with a bunch of people at the office.

They were all dancing to an infectious song.

“Pi, Pi, Pi, Pi, Pikachu! Pi, Pi, Pi, Pi, Pikachu!”

Everyone was singing and dancing along.

“Pika Pika Pika Pika, Pikachu! Pika Pika Pika Pika, Pikachu!”

At the end of the song, Pikachu wiggled its long ears and everyone cheered. The guy from our meeting then gave Pikachu a hug.

Now, we all know there is a guy inside the Pikachu costume. A stranger, an unknown person.

Yet, the guy from our meeting is now giving him a big bear hug. With eyes closed. And, with a look that was filled with pure joy. It wasn’t manly at all.

I was a little taken aback by the effect this beloved character had on the whole office. Everybody was standing in line to hug and take pictures with Pikachu.

Pikachu was there to promote the new Pokemon 20th anniversary movie called Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You, a retelling of the story of how Ash met Pikachu, and how they became fast friends. It’s an endearing little story and one that would surely bring tears to the many legions of Pokemon fans.

“Boss, do you want to take a picture with Pikachu?” someone asked.

I smiled and shook my head.

Taking pictures with costumed characters was not really my thing. Maybe when I was a kid, not when I’m a big grown adult who’s deep in his 40s.

“C’mon boss”, one of my staff insisted.

I still shook my head. I wanted to keep my manliness intact, I jokingly said.

The truth was that before the movie, I never was a Pokemon fan. I only knew of the characters playing Pokemon Go.

But, after seeing the movie, I was converted.

The message was so simple and sincere, the storyline so compelling, the characters so endearing that one can’t help but to fall in love with the world of Pokemon, and to cherish and admire the beautiful relationship between Ash and Pikachu.

There was even a bit at the end, where for the first-time ever in Pikachu’s history, he spoke a full sentence in English (It even created some controversy in social media amongst purists, who were shocked, but I thought it was clever film-making).

In this crazy world, where we are continually besieged by bad news from natural disasters to terrorism, to evil powers that be, to horrific acts that leave us thinking everyone has gone mad, sometimes the simple message — that all you need is a good friend to stand by you through thick and thin — is all it takes to keep you sane and happy.

Everyone needs someone in their lives. A friend, a companion, a loved one, someone with whom they can share their adventures with and go through life with. Someone they can always depend upon.

Everyone needs a Pikachu.

I couldn’t stand it any more. I rushed to Pikachu and gave him a big bear hug. With eyes closed. And, with a look that was filled with pure joy.

And yes, it wasn’t manly at all.

Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You is playing in cinemas across Malaysia starting today. Bring a tissue.

izham@mediaprima.com.my

The writer works in the production of TV, film and music content and gets panicky trying to figure out his next tweet

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