Detective Pikachu is definitely all within the wider Pokémon universe, according to the movie’s writers.
Detective Pikachu arrived as a 3DS game way back in 2016 (in Japan--the world release happened in 2018 after some translations were performed) and it redefined what kind of games could exist in the world of Pokémon. Instead of the usual “child forced out of home by uncaring parents to fight other children with enslaved monsters” motif, Detective Pikachu was all about solving mysteries with the help of a talking Pikachu.
The slightly less violent game became a cult classic that eventually encouraged Nintendo to release the game overseas. And then it turned into a movie, which is kinda crazy to think about.
But as with many movie adaptations of video games, there are some questions as to the canonicity of the film. Is Detective Pikachu the film something that should go down in Pokémon lore as something that “really happened”?
According to the films co-writers, the answer is yes.
“It's not like we're saying that this is an alternate universe where Pokemon and humans live side by side. This is just a different area in their known world where they decided to do things differently,” said Detective Pikachu co-writer Dan Hernandez in an interview with ComicBook.com.
“We wanted to be clear that this is the same Universe as all the other Pokemon stuff, it's just a different side of it,” he added.
To be clear, Pokémon and people are seen cohabitating quite often in both the video games and the anime. Detective Pikachu’s Rhyme City is basically the same as any other town encountered in the Pokémon universe, where Pokémon and humans live and work together, side by side.
Maybe Hernandez was just explaining for the confused parents in the audience.
Detective Pikachu is out in theatres now. Watch Ryan Reynolds provide the voice of a fast-talking detective as he searches for his lost partner. Meanwhile, Justice Smith plays Tim, the son of a missing detective who finds out that he can talk to his father’s Pikachu partner. Along the way, they uncover a conspiracy that could upend the entire Pokémon world.