Even your mom knows the name “Pikachu” and in fact, it’s probably the only Pokémon some parents know.
That’s because Pikachu has become a huge icon in Japan and is considered the mascot of the Pokémon franchise. While everyone recognizes the electric mouse-like Pokémon, there are still some things you probably didn’t know about the well-known character. Here are seven interesting facts about Pikachu.
You probably can’t even begin to think about Pokémon without seeing Pikachu in your mind but Pikachu wasn’t always the mascot.
Clefairy, the round fairy Pokémon, was originally set to be the star. Plans later shifted to have both Clefairy and Pikachu as a mascot duo, but eventually it became clear that Pikachu was outshining his counterpart. In recent years, Eevee has taken on the role of the series’ secondary mascot.
Pikachu was seen as more “engaging” and it seemed like he had more broad appeal since the team behind Pokémon felt boys may shy away from Clefairy’s design. Pikachu was also a lot bolder thanks to his yellow body and bright red cheeks.
Pikachu was deemed more popular and recognizable when the anime aired, making Pikachu the official mascot.
Most Pokémon fans call Pikachu a “mouse type” Pokémon. He is small and round like one, so it makes sense but Pikachu is actually a squirrel. Game designer Atsuko Nishida worked on the original games for the Gameboy, including coming up with Pikachu’s appearance.
“At that time, I was really into squirrels, so I wanted the character to have puffy cheeks. Squirrel tails are cute […]. However, I wanted the character to have a lightning element, so I made it shaped like lightning,” Nishida said.
So why are Pikachu’s cheeks so round? Because he is storing electricity in his cheeks, like a squirrel carrying around a nut. She felt that squirrels had “comical” and “cute” movements, which also explains Pikachu’s speed. This isn’t the only example of a Pokemon being mislabeled as a mouse, as Bidoof is the “plump mouse Pokemon” despite obviously being a beaver.
Speaking of tail designs, you can tell a male and female Pikachu apart by their tail design. In the earlier games, you could only tell a Pokémon’s gender by the symbols next to their name on screen. But in Diamond and Pearl, Pikachu were given two distinct tail designs. Male Pikachu have the lightning-like design while female Pikachu have a dent at the end of their tail, creating a heart shape.
The anime also added this difference, showing this gender dimorphism in action. It’s now very easy to tell which Pikachu are girls and which are boys.
While Ash appears to never age, he has technically gone through 24 seasons of catching Pokémon. Yet he has still never caught another electric Pokémon after scoring Pikachu from Professor Oak. There are 62 electric Pokémon as of this writing, including very popular ones like Jolteon and Zapdos. Still, Pikachu has a monopoly on the typing in Ash’s roster.
The only technicality is that Ash technically has another electric Pokemon with him at all times in modern seasons. In the Pokemon anime and Sun and Moon games, Rotom lives in both the Pokedex and many cell phones. Ash has never been shown using one in battle, however.
Ash probably only needs one electric Pokémon because his Pikachu is wildly overpowered. Early on in the anime, Ash’s Pikachu was able to beat a Raichu, its evolved form, owned by the fearsome Lt. Surge. That already is a bit shocking, pun intended.
But Ash’s Pikachu has also taken down Battle Frontier chief Brandon’s Regice and Tobias’ Latios, a legendary Pokémon. This is on top of the fact that one of the first official battles for Pikachu was knocking out Brock’s Onix, a ground-type, with an electric attack it should have been immune to.
While other people sometimes have Pokémon with names, Ash has never called his Pikachu anything else throughout the long-running series. However, Pikachu has a name in the manga.
In the second chapter of The Electric Tales of Pikachu, Misty asks Ash if he has named his Pokémon. Ash responds by saying his Pikachu is named “Jean-Luc Pikachu.” In response to hearing his name, Pikachu smiles in recognition.
It’s not currently known if this is in reference to the Star Trek character Jean-Luc Picard but in the manga, Pikachu can be seen with the iconic Star Trek symbol on his chest after hearing his name. This seems to be a pretty spot-on reference.
Pikachu isn’t only the mascot of Pokémon. He is also known as the Mickey Mouse of Japan. From appearing in advertisements to franchise promotions to mascots in the mall, Pikachu can be seen in all aspects of Japan’s pop culture.