Why did Pikachu become skinny? Will fat Pikachu ever return?

Olivia Richman • August 15, 2022 11:47 am

The Pokemon community is often at odds about which generation of Pokemon is the best, which had the worst designs, which game was the best, if developer Game Freak is putting in enough effort, and more. But Pikachu becoming skinny in its latest iterations has unified many fans who miss the old fat Pikachu design.

When the Pokemon anime first appeared in the mid-90s, Pikachu had a rotund design like a chubby little mouse. But over the years, Pikachu has slimmed down quite a bit. While Pikachu is beautiful at every size, many fans all agree that fat Pikachu is the superior Pikachu, and some have even started petitions to bring it back.

Pikachu started off chunky because it was actually inspired by squirrels, and had the puffy cheeks to match. But the anime changed Pikachu’s design to allow for more movement and emotion, as head art director Ken Tsugimori has explained.

“Since the animation had them doing a variety of movements, including human-like gestures, we changed the shape of Pikachu’s body to make acting easier.” Tsugimori said.

This explanation makes sense, but it hasn’t stopped the longing for a chunkier Pikachu. That’s most likely why Pikachu has appeared in its chunky form on multiple occasions.

The return of fat Pikachu to Pokemon

Pokemon first showed that they were listening to demands for fat Pikachu in an episode of the anime from the beginning of 2020. The Gelar region turns Ash’s helpless Pikachu into a giant chonk, much to the shock of Ash, his friends, and Pikachu itself.

Pikachu becomes large once more in the Pokemon Sword & Shield video game. It was one of the few Pokemon chosen to have a Gigantamax form, which saw Pikachu towering over trainers like never before. This version of Pikachu is super-sized, inspiring an abundance of plush and other merch.

In the Pokemon Sword & Shield Vivid Voltage expansion, Pikachu VMAX was introduced to the TCG. The card featured Gigantamax Pikachu from a very flattering angle, making him appear heftier than he ever had before. The Rainbow version of this rotund rodent has reached $130 ungraded, making it the most expensive card in the expansion and providing further proof that Pokemon fans are still wanting for the return of fat Pikachu.

Regardless of fan wishes, the overall design for Pikachu is still slimmed down. But these changes show that Pokemon is embracing the idea of a bigger Pikachu once more. As fans continue to demand the return of chunky Pikachu, there may be more moments like those referenced above that embrace Pikachu’s original design.

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