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The Evolution of Pikachu

Pokemon was first introduced to the world in 1996 in Japan, which became a massive phenomenon both in Japan and internationally. From various video games, to anime and even spin-offs, the franchise has grown from strength to strength – But the same mascot has keep the series recognisable worldwide… And today, we’re going to look at Pikachu’s evolution. We’re not talking about Raichu, nor the baby Pichu, but rather how Pikachu has evolved over the years.

Pikachu, the Original


When we go back to 1996, Pikachu was a relatively simple Pokemon. A little round fella with some adorable features. In all honesty, it was a match made in heaven. The original idea for a mascot was going to be Clefairy, but the designers were worried it was too feminine, potentially making the product less appealing to boys. So, when they designed Pikachu, they realised the neutral colour choice, yellow, along with the cute features, but feisty attitude made it a great choice.

Over the years, the little yellow electric mouse would make some drastic changes, but Pokemon was a premise that didn’t necessarily know how important it would become. Not for a few years; especially when the likes of the ‘Birthday Pikachu’ and ‘Surfing Pikachu’ rumours started to run rampant – So much so, that the fans ideas of these variations would eventually get implemented in the games themselves.

Adapting Pikachu

As time went on, it quickly became apparent that Pikachu would become the mascot. The shocking mouse would be picked to be the companion of Ash Ketchum for the anime, which came along a year later. Whether you liked Ash or not, there’s no doubt that Pikachu was a perfect companion for it’s blithering idiot of a trainer. What’s great is seeing the bond between the two over the years – But something was up for the gamers; Ash had Pikachu out all the time. In comes Pokemon Yellow.

In Pokemon Yellow, you start with Pikachu as your only potential starter, with Eevee being your Rival’s starter. The story basically follows the original Pokemon games as faithfully as it can, with some tiny changes, but the main one being the indicator which shows how happy Pikachu is. By talking to the Pikachu, the player saw how far along they had come as partners – Perhaps a niche way to get video games in on the whole Tamagotchi scene that was still hugely popular at the time, eh?

Regardless, over the years, Pikachu lost a lot of weight. The animation for Pikachu got better and better – and weirdly, Pikachu got full on voice actors in the games, whereas everything else ended up with some strange distorted noise. This is still mostly true today, where we still have weird electronic noises for all Pokemon, with the exception of the fuzzy yellow mouse. With it’s enthusiastic ‘Pi-ka!’ noises, the Pokemon has always been a perfect blend of enthusiasm and cuteness.

Alola and Beyond

The Pokemon anime has gone over to the islands of Alola, where Ash actually attended school (making Alola the most responsible place in all of Pokemon history). Kids actually have to learn, as well as learning a lot about the Pokemon they have travel with them. What’s odd with this series is the fact they mention old series and old adventures, but they for some reason more or less “reset” Ash and Pikachu, so they were a bit back to basics.

Of course, in May we’re going to get a film that I don’t think anyone genuinely asked for. Detective Pikachu was a somewhat niche game idea, which managed to sell rather well – To the point where they went ahead and worked on a live action for it. With all of the “totally realistic” Pokemon, there’s such a surreal uncanny valley aspect about it, that I can’t see it being a bad film. It looks like it’s self-aware so, let’s hope it’s as good as the trailer shows!

Pikachu will forever remain the mascot of Pokemon, but I wonder if there would have been a better choice of Pokemon as the mascot. Considering the first Pokemon designed was Rhydon, would there have been a better choice and if so, would it have changed the future of the brand? Where do you think Pokemon would be if it had a different mascot – and more importantly, why don’t you choose us a new mascot for Pokemon, share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

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