Two years prior to the release of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue in the United States, Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green launched in Japan in 1996 for Nintendo Game Boy. It was a hit and drew many fans, especially children. The games’ popularity spread beyond Japan, and soon people around the world became familiar with the creatures known as Pokémon. Among the many Pokémon introduced, the most famous was—and still is—Pikachu.
In Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green, Pikachu appears not as one of the first partner Pokémon the main character chooses—which are Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle—but as one of the many wild Pokémon caught during the game.
What made Pikachu so popular? Certainly the fact that Pikachu is adorable is a contributing factor. But looking back on Pikachu’s original design reveals a plumper, somewhat different form than the Pikachu of today.
One of the main reasons Pikachu gained such popularity was the broadcast of the animated Pokémon TV series. Appearing as the partner Pokémon to the main character Ash, Pikachu captivated audiences with its bright yellow body and red cheeks, together with its “Pika!” cry. Pikachu’s popularity only grew, appearing not only in the Pokémon TV series but in movies as well. Pikachu now shows up in a lot more places, such as appearing at events and on many Pokémon products.
Until now, the origin of the creation of Pikachu hasn’t been told in detail. What were the ideas and stories behind the design of Pikachu when it first appeared in the games Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green?
How was the beloved Pikachu created? The secret story is finally ready to be revealed—22 years after the game’s release.
We spoke with three creators who developed Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green and were deeply involved with the creation of Pikachu.