Veteran actor Ken Watanabe is joining the cast of Detective Pikachu.
Watanabe, best known for his roles in Godzilla, The Last Samurai, and Batman Begins, will play a character called Detective Yoshida, which was specifically created for the new live-action Pokemon movie.
Watanabe joins Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith (The Get Down, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom), and Kathryn Newton (Pretty Little Lies) in Detective Pikachu, which stars a talking Pikachu who loves coffee and solves crimes. Reynolds will voice the title character (who speaks fluent English), while Smith plays Pikachu's reluctant partner. Newton will play a junior reporter who takes an interest in Detective Pikachu's current investigation, which somehow involves the disappearance of Smith's character's father.
Detective Pikachu is the first ever live-action Pokemon movie and is based on a 2016 spinoff video game of the same name. Legendary Pictures purchased the live action movie rights to the Pokemon franchise in 2016 during the height of the Pokemon Go craze. Later that year, they announced plans for the Detective Pikachu movie instead of a live action remake of the popular and long-running Pokemon anime, which surprised many fans.
Unlike normal Pokemon games, Detective Pikachu is more of a mystery game, in which players search for clues and talk to potential witnesses. As a condition of Detective Pikachu being able to talk to his partner, he can no longer use any of his attacks....which means he relies on his human partners to act as "muscle" during their investigation. Detective Pikachu earned high reviews when it was released in Japan and a second chapter will be released later this year. US and European players will also get their first chance to play the Detective Pikachu game when Nintendo releases translated versions of both games in March 2018. A jumbo-sized Amiibo of Detective Pikachu will also be released later this year.
Alex Hirsch and Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) penned the script of Detective Pikachu and Rob Letterman is directing. Filming is set to begin later this year.
Watanabe's next major movie role will be in 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters.