Designers and illustrators of the original 151 recently gathered together for an interview with the Japanese publication Yomiuri to discuss the creation of Pikachu. The interview featured Ken Sugimori, Atsuko Nishida, and Koji Nishino who discussed all things from the pocket monsters origin to who else they think deserves the spotlight.
After a request from the development team for cuter monsters, Atsuko Nishida stepped up where Nishino and Sugimori were unable to and created the fan-favorite Pikachu. Surprisingly Pikachu’s original design was based on daifuku, a Japanese pastry, from there Nishida began to shape her creation into the electric mouse we’ve grown to love.
Well- Pikachu isn’t necessarily based off a mouse either. Part of Nishida’s design was that she wanted Pikachu to have a place to store its energy, which is the reason for the red spots on its cheeks. Nishida pulled this trait from squirrels and their ability to store food, as well as Pikachu’s oversized tail. Actually, Pikachu being a mouse is completely inconsequential. When crafting the Pokémon’s name Nishida came up with “Pika” from the Japanese onomatopoeia meaning sparkle. While despite “-chu” being known as a mouse’s squeak she says Pikachu being a mouse never crossed her mind.
With Pika meaning sparkle and Rai (Raichu) signifying lightning, it almost seems like something is missing. That’s because the designers originally had plans for a Gorochu, “Goro” being the onomatopoeia for thunder, to complete the 3rd evolution of Pikachu. Gorochu was a far step from our adorable yellow rodent, Goro bared sharp fangs with devilish horns protruding from his head. Sugimori added that Gorochu wasn’t excluded because of any issues with his appearance, rather than the monster didn’t fit in with the balance of the game.
The full interview from Yomiuri has been translated and transcribed over at Siliconera. Be sure to head over to Siliconera and give the full interview a read!