Pikachu

pikachu

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Pikachu
Sugimoris025.png
National Pokédex
Arbok - Pikachu (#025) - Raichu
Series Pokémon series
First game Pokémon Red and Blue (1996)
Designed by Ken Sugimori
Voiced by Ikue Ōtani
Live action actor(s) Jennifer Risser

Pikachu (ピカチュウ, Pikachū?) is one of the fictional species of Pokémon creatures from the Pokémon media franchise—a collection of video games, anime, manga, books, trading cards, and other media created by Satoshi Tajiri. As do all Pokémon, Pikachu fight other Pokémon in battles central to the anime, manga, and games of the series.[1] Pikachu is among the most recognizable Pokémon, largely because a Pikachu is a central character in the Pokémon anime series. Pikachu is widely considered the most popular Pokémon,[2] is regarded as the official mascot of the Pokémon franchise, and has become an icon of Japanese culture in recent years.

In the Pokémon franchise, Pikachu are often found in houses, forests,[3] plains, and occasionally near mountains, islands, and electrical sources (such as power plants), on most continents throughout the fictional world. As an Electric-type Pokémon, Pikachu can store electricity in its cheeks and release it in lightning-based attacks.[4]

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Concept and creation

The design and art direction for Pikachu were provided by Ken Sugimori,[5] a friend of the creator of the Pocket Monsters game, Satoshi Tajiri, and the species appeared as the starting character for players in Pokémon Yellow: Special Edition . In the early Pokémon video games, all Pokémon were portrayed by two-dimensional sprites, but in later releases appearance has been conveyed by 3D computer graphics. Throughout the games, Pikachu has been portrayed with no spoken dialogue. In the series' anime, Pikachu has facial expressions, body language, and speaks by repeating syllables of its name, using different pitches and tones.

Though not the first Pokémon created, Pikachu was the first "Electric-type" Pokémon created, conceived after the type was suggested to Sugimori and designed around the concept of electricity and the common symbol for lightning.[6] The name is a portmanteau of the Japanese words pikapika, an onomatopoeia for electric sparkling, and chū, which is the Japanese onomatopoeia for a mouse's squeak.[7] In an interview, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl director Junichi Masuda noted Pikachu's name as one of the most difficult to create, due to an effort to make it appealing to both Japanese and American audiences.[8] It refers to both the overall species and to the individual within the games, anime, and manga series.

Characteristics

Pikachu are small, mouse-like Pokémon that have short, yellow fur with brown markings covering their backs and parts of their tails.[9] They have black-tipped, pointy ears and red circles on their cheeks, which are said to contain "electrical sacs".[3] Their tails are shaped in the form of a lightning bolt.[10] In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, gender differences were introduced for some Pokémon; a female Pikachu now has an indent at the end of its tail, giving it a heart-shaped appearance.

The Pokédex, in the series, states that Pikachu forage for berries. In lieu of climbing trees,[11] they use small electrical bolts to release the berries and apples from the tree, roasting them at the same time.[12] For already fallen berries and apples they use their electricity to roast and tenderize them. They are said to store electricity in their cheeks,[3] and by simply squeezing them they can discharge sparks, lightning bolts, or other forms of electricity. Discharging sparks and thunderbolts may be a sign of wariness from the Pokémon. An inability to discharge electricity, as occurs in the presence of a strong magnetic field, causes an illness with flu-like symptoms. Pikachu tend to gather in areas with high amounts of thunderstorm activity. When threatened, a group of Pikachu can generate an intense electrical output, and the electro-magnetic forces exerted by the resulting field can even produce short-lived, localized thunder and lightning storms.[13] They occasionally use an electric shock to recharge a fellow Pikachu that is in a weakened state.[14]

Pikachu evolves into Raichu via the use of a Thunder Stone; however, it is somewhat common for trainers to choose not to evolve their Pikachu. In the Pokémon Yellow game, using a Thunder Stone on a Pikachu makes it cry and refuse to evolve. From the second generation of the Pokémon games onward, Pikachu has an evolutionary predecessor, Pichu, which evolves into Pikachu after establishing a close friendship with its trainer.

Appearances

In the video games

In the video games, Pikachu is a low-level Pokémon, which stores electricity in its cheeks and is capable of firing said electricity in various forms of attack. It has appeared in all of the games naturally without having to trade. The game Pokémon Yellow features a Pikachu as the representative Pokémon, featured on the box art and as the only available starter Pokémon. Based on the Pikachu from the Pokémon anime, it refuses to stay in its Poké Ball, and instead follows the main character around on screen. The trainer can speak to it and it displays different reactions depending on how it is treated. Another game centered around Pikachu is Hey You, Pikachu! for the Nintendo 64.[15] The player interacts with Pikachu through a microphone, issuing commands to play various mini-games and act out situations. The game Pokémon Channel follows a similar premise of interacting with the Pikachu, though without the microphone.[16] Pikachu also appear in almost all levels of Pokémon Snap. A Pikachu is also one of the sixteen starters and ten partners in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. Pikachu will also be starring in the upcoming wii game Pokepark Wii.

Pikachu has also appeared in Super Smash Bros.,[17] Super Smash Bros. Melee,[18] and Super Smash Bros. Brawl[19] as a player character.

In the anime

Ash Ketchum and Pikachu together in the pilot episode, "Pokémon, I Choose You!"

The Pokémon anime series and films feature the adventures of Ash Ketchum and his Pikachu, traveling through the various regions of the Pokémon universe. They are accompanied by a group of alternating friends, including Misty, Brock, May, Max, Tracey, and Dawn.

In the first episode, Ash Ketchum receives his Pikachu from Professor Oak as his starting Pokémon. New trainers are given a starting Pokémon; in Ash's homeland of Kanto this is often Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur, but Ash slept in and got Pikachu instead. At first, Pikachu largely ignores Ash's requests, shocking him frequently and refusing to be confined to the conventional method of Pokémon transportation, a Poké Ball. However, Ash puts himself in danger to defend Pikachu from a flock of wild Spearow,[20] then rushes the electric mouse to a Pokémon Center. Through these demonstrations of respect and unconditional commitment to Pokémon, Pikachu warms up to Ash, and their friendship is formed. However, it still refuses to go into its Poké Ball. Soon after, Pikachu shows great power that sets it apart from Pokémon, and other Pikachu, which causes Team Rocket to constantly attempt to capture it in order to win favor from their boss, Giovanni.

Other wild and trained Pikachu appear throughout the series, often interacting with Ash and his Pikachu. The most notable among these is Richie's Pikachu, Sparky. Like most other Pokémon, Pikachu communicates only by saying syllables of its own name. It is voiced by Ikue Ōtani in all versions of the anime.

In other Pokémon media

Pikachu is one of the main Pokémon used in most of the Pokémon manga series. In Pokémon Adventures, Red and Yellow both train a strong Pikachu. It is originally captured by Red, but after Red goes missing two years later, Yellow teams up with his Pikachu, accompanying it in their quest to find Red. It is also featured in series based on the anime, such as Electric Tale of Pikachu, Ash & Pikachu, and other series, such as Magical Pokémon Journey and Getto Da Ze.

Collectible cards featuring Pikachu have appeared since the initial Pokémon Trading Card Game released in October 1996, including limited edition promotional cards.[21] The character has also been used in promotional merchandising at fast-food chains such as McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King.[22][23][24][25]

Cultural impact

Background

A Toyota Ist customised to resemble Pikachu

Pikachu first appeared in 1996, among the 151 initial Pokémon mascots when Game Freak delivered the first-ever Pokémon game for the Japanese Game Boy.[26] The creators of the initial 151 Pokémon characters treated each one equally, and left it to the fans to decide which one would become the official mascot. The fans chose Pikachu, which alternatively led to its appearance in the anime alongside Ash.[27]

Today, Pikachu is regarded as the Japanese answer to Mickey Mouse[2] and as being part of a movement of "cute capitalism".[28] Pikachu are obtainable in all of the Pokémon video games to date, with a prominent role in Pokémon Yellow. The leading characters of the anime and manga series, including Pokémon Adventures, and Magical Pokémon Journey, have captured or befriended Pikachu. In an Oricon poll from 2008, Pikachu was voted as the fourth most popular video game character in Japan, tying with Solid Snake.[29]

In popular culture

Pikachu, being the most famous of the Pokémon characters, has made multiple appearances in popular culture. In 1998, the Mayor of Topeka, Kansas renamed the town "ToPikachu" for a day as part of a promotional event for the franchise.[30] A "got milk?" advertisement featured Pikachu on April 25, 2000.[31]

A Pikachu balloon has been featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade since 2001.[32] Its appearance on 22 May 2006 during the morning rush hour was as part of a test examining parade balloon handling procedures.[33] The original balloon was flown for the last time publicly at the Pokémon Tenth Anniversary "Party of the Decade" on August 8, 2006 in Bryant Park in New York City,[34][35][36][37] and a new Pikachu Balloon that chases a Poké Ball and has light-up cheeks debuted at the 2006 Parade.[38] The balloon was chosen on an online survey at iVillage as the second-best balloon in the 2007 Parade.[39]

The ANA Boeing 747-400 airplane painted with Pikachu and other Pokémon (visible: Clefairy, Togepi, Mewtwo, and Snorlax)

A picture of Pikachu has also been featured on the ANA Boeing 747-400 (JA8962), landing at London Heathrow Airport.[28] In 2000, Pikachu placed eighth in an Animax poll of favorite anime characters.[40] In 2002, Ash's Pikachu received fifteenth place in TV Guide's 50 greatest cartoon characters of all time.[41] GameSpot featured it in their article "All Time Greatest Game Hero".[42]

During the first episode of the eleventh series of Top Gear, presentor Richard Hammond compared an image of the Tata Nano to one of Pikachu stating "they've saved money on the styling 'cause they've just based it on this."[43] In the third season of Heroes, Hiro Nakamura is nicknamed "Pikachu" by Daphne Millbrook, much to his chagrin. He is called this again by Tracy Strauss, after which he excuses himself before punching her in the face.

Pikachurin

Main article: Pikachurin

A newly-discovered ligand believed to provide better visual acuity, discovered by Osaka Bioscience Institute Foundation (大阪バイオサイエンス研究所?), is named "Pikachurin", borrowed from the nimbleness of Pikachu.[44] The name was inspired due to Pikachu's "lightning-fast moves and shocking electric effects".[45]