An Epic Defense Force! (Japanese: 映画対決！出撃イッシュ防衛隊！！Movie Showdown! Sortie, Isshu Defense Group!!) is the 82nd episode of the Best Wishes series, and the 739th episode of the Pokémon anime. It first aired in Japan on June 7, 2012 and in the United States on October 6, 2012.
Ash and his friends finally arrive in Virbank City, where Ash is about to win his next Badge. Ash is extremely excited since he only needs one more Badge to qualify for the Unova League, when Pikachu exclaims - there are two Ashes! Everyone is confused until Iris realizes who it is, and sure enough the other Ash turns into Zorua, with Luke just nearby. The group catches up with each other when Luke briefly mentions that he's here for the opening of Pokéwood Studios, much to Cilan's excitement. Cilan ends up dragging Ash to the studios, much to the latter's displeasure since it means putting off his Gym match.
Pokéwood Studios is revealed to be an amusement park filled with various memorabilia of Virbank City's film industry, including posters, a Pokémon footprint walk of fame and even old sets that were used in famous movies. Luke and Cilan are extremely happy and excited about the whole experience, and Ash and Iris likewise express interest. The group is then greeted by Mr. Gold, owner of the studios, who compliments Luke for his previous work which was very well-received, and wishes Luke all the best in the upcoming film competition. Luke explains that a competition is being held for all aspiring film directors like himself to commemorate the opening of Pokéwood; the reason why he's asking Ash and his friends for help, which they gladly accept.
Shortly after, Luke and Cilan finish writing the script and compiling storyboards for the movie. Ash and Iris comment on their speed, but a lofty voice suggests that the script is likely to be merely 'lukewarm'. Luke identifies the voice as belonging to Jules; a fellow aspiring director and rival who competed against Luke in various film festivals. Alongside Jules is his Krookodile which Ash scans with his Pokédex. Jules proclaims that he specializes in hard-hitting action movies which make Luke's films boring by comparison, and he leaves after taunting Luke who is furious at Jules.
Luke brings everyone to where the props are kept, revealing multiple copies of the same costumes and props. Luke reveals that all competitors are only allowed to use the same props as were used in the famous films shot at Virbank City, which means that films will be rated based on the directors' skill. Luke assigns roles to everyone - Ash is the hero, Cilan is the villain, and Iris is the priestess while the other Pokémon work as crew members and extras. Shortly after, filming begins in earnest with Luke explaining various movie technologies such as green screens to the gang. At one point, Iris has a bit of trouble crying as she needs to do so in a scene, until Cilan suggests that to help her role, she could imagine never being able to see Axew again, which instantly makes her tear up. Meanwhile, a translucent figure moves through the city while Team Rocket attempts to look for it...
In another scene, Luke has Ash help him retrieve a prop from the warehouse, where Ash saves a Meloetta from falling props after she is startled. Ash is surprised to see a Pokémon he's never seen before, but after Pikachu confirms he's okay, they both find that Meloetta has disappeared.
After the filming is completed, Luke edits the footage they shot and the group records the necessary voices. At the end of the whole thing everyone cheers for a job well done.
On the day of the judging, everyone sits in the main theater watching the various films. Jules' film uses the same props as Luke's did, but instead places him and Krookodile as the protagonists. In his film, Jules and Krookodile end up firing a massive energy cannon at the rampaging Mecha-Tyranitar, defeating it and saving the ruined city from its further destruction. The film ends to massive applause, much to Jules disdainful sneers at Luke who simmers in anger. Luke's entry is then presented, kicking off with a logo featuring Zorua.
Luke's movie begins with Ash, Pikachu and Pignite as the Unova Defense Force, commandeering an airship that is homing in on a giant Tyranitar making its way to Pokémon Island. The group unleashes their attacks on Tyranitar, but when the smoke clears, it's revealed to be Mecha-Tyranitar! Ash's ship is shot down by a UFO controlled by the villainous alien invader Cilan, who reveals himself to be controlling Mecha-Tyranitar and declares his mission to steal all the Pokémon from the island.
Approaching the island, Ash tries to convince the twin priestesses Iris to evacuate everyone, but they refuse - only the legendary titan, Golurk can save them. Meanwhile, Cilan has already begun capturing the island Pokémon (played by the rest of everyone's Pokémon). Everyone tries praying to a Golurk statue in the middle of the island, but Mecha-Tyranitar blasts it and destroys it! Before Mecha-Tyranitar can attack Iris, Luke's Golett leaps into the blast and shields them, seemingly dying as a result. The two priestesses begin to cry at this, but as their tears hit Golett it instantly evolves into the titan, Golurk. Golurk trades blows with Mecha-Tyranitar and quickly gains the upper hand, and flies into the sky to send Cilan's UFO flying, forcing him to angrily retreat. Golurk uses its power to restore the Golurk statue before disappearing, and Golett is revealed to be alive and well. The film ends with everyone gazing at the Golurk statue against a brilliant sunset.
As the screen darkens, Luke is very disheartened to see that no one has clapped, much to Jules' delight. However, clapping is soon heard as the audience gives Luke a standing ovation, and with encouragement from Cilan Luke stands up to see his fans cheer for him. Judging soon commences, declaring Luke as the winner, upsetting Jules. Mr. Gold hands Luke the competition trophy, praising him for his work. Everyone congratulates Luke as Zorua cycles between her roles of Iris, Golurk and finally herself, happy for her trainer. The episode ends with the group giving Luke their best wishes, and Luke wishes Ash luck for his gym match. The group leaves while Meloetta, intrigued with Ash, watches on...
This episode marks the first time when an event-exclusive Pokémon makes its anime debut outside the movies.
This episode contains a parody of the MGM Logo, with Zorua in place of the lion.
The movie seen in this episode is a parody of kaiju movies, which is popular in Japan. There are a number of Godzilla references in this episode as well, which are listed below.
Iris plays the twin priestesses of Pokémon Island, a part very similar to the miniature priestesses of Infant Island in the Mothra movies, the Shobijin.
Cilan playing an evil alien controlling the Mecha Tyranitar is similar to a number of Godzilla movies where various daikaijuu were under control by aliens bent on destroying Earth, including Destroy All Monsters.
The Mecha Tyranitar itself is a very obvious reference to Godzilla's long-time mechanical foe, Mechagodzilla.