Design of Pokémon mascot Pikachu was inspired by a squirrel, not a mouse

Although Pikachu is known as the iconic Mouse Pokémon, the Pokémon mascot‘s design was actually inspired by a Squirrel. According to the original designers, including Ken Sugimori, 52, an executive at game developer Game Freak Inc., and illustrator Atsuko Nishida, who was working at the company when Pokémon was first released, Nishida was tasked with designing a “cute monster” character that met two specific conditions: It must be an “electric type” that used electric attacks and must have two stages of evolution. Nishida said she initially created a character that resembled a “vertically long daifuku rice confection with ears.”

Nishida eventually created the prototype design for what would become Pikachu using large pixels on a computer screen, while Sugimori drew the illustrated version. The initial daifuku-like character, which Nishida also drew using large pixels, was erased and no longer exists. The name combines the words “pika,” an onomatopoeic term for flashing light, and “chu,” which has a cute sound. Although the character was not modeled after a mouse, Game Freak President Satoshi Tajiri called it a mouse character.

This is the first time the designers have revealed the story behind Pikachu’s origin. The Pokemon Co., the Tokyo-based brand management company for the Pokemon franchise, will add this information to its website as early as late May. “I hope people will feel closer to Pikachu by understanding the story behind its creation,” Nishida said.

Source: The Japan News

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