Pokémon trainer Ash and his trusty Pikachu are on the move again with friends Iris and Cilan. They’ve heard that a nearby town is holding a festival that includes a Pokémon battle tournament. En route, while attempting to rescue a wild Pokémon that is slipping on a steep mountainside, Ash takes a fall – and a strange burst of power allows him to leap across a chasm instead of falling in. On the other side, he discovers a tunnel entrance that leads up to an old castle. Iris and Cilan join him, and they soon reach the town where the festival is being held – and start hearing some strange local legends.
The castle they stumbled across was once home to the king of a thriving country known as the Vale. This kingdom prospered with the help of the Dragon Power, a flow of energy that made the land rich and healthy. Then, over one thousand years ago, the king’s two sons had a violent disagreement, going to war along with their powerful Pokémon, Reshiram and Zekrom. Reshiram and Zekrom were left so badly drained that they went into hiding. The war ended, but the land’s Dragon Power had become disrupted. To stop the Dragon Power from destroying his kingdom, the king used the power of his own Pokémon, Victini, to fly the whole castle through the air to a new location. The land once known as the Vale grew desolate and lifeless, and its people scattered to become nomads.
Now a boy named Damon, descended from the original people of the Vale, is gathering the other descendants. He claims he can restore the kingdom to its former glory – and brings with him the Pokémon Reshiram, last seen before the fall of the Vale.
Meanwhile, Ash and his Pokémon are competing in the tournament at the festival. His Pokémon seem strangely powerful, beating even opponents that should outmatch them. Finally, one of Ash’s opponents – Damon’s sister Carlita – realizes that the Pokémon Victini has been boosting Ash’s team’s power. Since seeing Ash’s rescue of the wild Pokémon on the mountainside, Victini has been following him without his knowledge, helping out (and stealing Cilan’s snacks). A legendary Pokémon that specializes in lending its power to others, Victini was responsible for the burst of power that saved Ash from falling off the mountain, as well as for his success in the tournament.
Victini is tempted out of hiding with more of Cilan’s snacks and becomes friendly with Ash and Pikachu. That’s when they discover another piece of the legend: Victini is trapped inside the perimeter of the Pillars of Protection, structures that don’t allow it to venture far from the castle. Sad for his new friend, Ash promises to find a way to take Victini to visit the ocean, which lies within sight but outside the Pillars.
They may have more urgent problems, though. With Reshiram on his side, Damon is both strong and utterly convinced of the righteousness of his mission – even if moving the castle back to its old location means trapping and hurting Victini. If Ash wants to save Victini and show Damon that he’s making a mistake, he’ll have to first find the one Pokémon that is Reshiram’s equal: the long-lost Zekrom.
The art, writing level, and humor are on par with that of most Pokémon manga. Characters are expressive, childlike, and emotional. Ash and his friends display bravery and kindness, but have enough silly moments to make them sympathetic characters rather than paragons of virtue. Backgrounds are drawn with lush detail, and the culture of the Vale is full of fun visual touches, like the distinctive clothing and the Victini dolls. Violence is certainly present in the form of Pokémon battles, but it is bloodless and fairly brief.
Readers new to the franchise might wonder about Team Rocket, who make a token appearance in this book, but do absolutely nothing of import. Otherwise, this volume, developed from a movie of the same title, stands alone fairly well. Cilan and Iris and not developed much as characters, but the plot is easily understood, and Ash and Pikachu are as lovable as ever.