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Pikachu

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Pikachu

Pikachu artwork for Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen.

Pikachu is one of the fictional species of Pokémon creatures from the multi-billion-dollar Pokémon media franchise- a collection of video games, anime, manga, books, trading cards, and other media created by Satoshi Tajiri. As do all Pokémon, Pikachu fight other Pokémon in battles central to the anime, manga, and games of the series.

Pikachu is among the most recognizable Pokémon, largely due to the fact that a Pikachu is a central character in the Pokémon anime series. Pikachu is widely considered the most popular Pokémonand is regarded as the official mascot of the Pokémon franchise.

In the Pokémon Franchise, Pikachu are often found in houses, forests, plains, and, occasionally, near mountains, islands, and electrical sources (such as [power plants), on most continents throughout the fictional world. As an Electric-type Pokémon, Pikachu can store electricity in its cheeks and release it in lightning-based attacks.

Concept and creationEdit

The design and art direction for Pikachu were provided by Ken Sugimori, a friend of the creator of the Pocket Monsters game, Satoshi Tajiri, and the species appeared as the starting character for players in Pokémon Yellow: Special Edition for the Game Boy. In the early Pokémon video games, all Pokémon were portrayed by two-dimensional sprites, but in later releases appearance has been conveyed by 3D computer graphics. Throughout, the character has been portrayed with no spoken dialogue. In the series' anime, it has facial expressions, body language, and can speak by repeating syllables of its name, using different pitches and tones.

The name is a portmanteau of the Japanese words pikapika, an onomatopoeia for electric sparkling, and chū, which is the Japanese onomatopoeia for a mouse's squeak. It refers to both the overall species, and to an individual within the games, anime, and manga series. This should not be confused with the actual Pika animal.

CharacteristicsEdit

Pikachu are small, mouse-like Pokémon that have short, yellow fur with brown markings covering their backs and parts of their tails. They have black-tipped, pointy ears and red circles on their cheeks, which are said to contain "electrical sacs". Their tails are shaped in the form of a lightning bolt. In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, gender differences were introduced for some Pokémon; a female Pikachu now has an indent at the end of its tail, giving it a heart-shaped appearance.

The Pokédex, in several games in the series, states that Pikachu forage for berries. In lieu of climbing trees, they use small electrical bolts to release the berries from the tree, roasting them at the same time. For already fallen berries they use their electricity to roast and tenderize them. They are said to store electricity in their cheeks, and by simply squeezing them they can discharge sparks, bolts, or other forms of electricity. Discharging sparks and thunderbolts may be a sign of wariness from the Pokémon. An inability to discharge electricity, as occurs in the presence of a strong magnetic field, causes an illness with flu-like symptoms. Pikachu tend to gather in areas with high amounts of thunderstorm activity. When threatened, a group of Pikachu can generate an intense electrical output, and the electromagnetic forces exerted by the resulting field can even produce short-lived, localized thunder and lightning storms.

Pikachu evolves into Raichu via the use of a Thunder Stone; however, it is somewhat common for trainers to choose not to evolve their Pikachu. In the Pokémon Yellow game, using a Thunder Stone on a Pikachu makes it cry and refuse to evolve. From the second generation of the Pokémon games onward, Pikachu has an evolutionary predecessor, Pichu, which evolves into Pikachu after establishing a close friendship with its trainer.

AppearancesEdit

In the video gamesEdit

In the video games, Pikachu is a low-level Pokémon usually found in Viridian Forest, and the Power Plant in the earlier games, or in the Safari Zone in the Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald versions. Pikachu also appears in Diamond and Pearl at the Trophy Garden.

The game Pokémon Yellow features a Pikachu as the representative Pokémon, featured on the box art and as the only available starter Pokémon. Based on the Pikachu featured in the Pokémon anime, it refuses to stay in its Poké Ball, and instead follows the main character around on screen. The trainer can speak to it; it displays many different reactions depending on how it is treated. Another game centered around Pikachu is Hey You, Pikachu! for the Nintendo 64. The player interacts with Pikachu through a microphone, and can issue commands to play various mini-games and act out situations. The game Pokémon Channel follows a similar premise of interacting with the Pikachu, though without the microphone. It also appears in almost all levels of Pokémon Snap. Pikachu is also one of the sixteen starters and ten partners in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games.

Pikachu has also appeared in Super Smash Bros., Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a very agile and mobile playable character. Its attacks include Quick Attack, Skull Bash, Thunder Jolt (an ability that had previously appeared in the trading card game), and Thunder. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Volt Tackle is its Final Smash. In the game's Adventure Mode, the Subspace Emissary, Samus Aran frees Pikachu from a machine sapping its electric energy. From that point on, the two team up. The two retrieve Samus' Power Suit, and Pikachu rescues Samus from the clutches of the Metroid series' antagonist, Ridley, by using one of its electrical attacks. The two then proceed to help fight the Subspace Army.

In the animeEdit

Pokémon episode 1 screenshot

Ash Ketchum and Pikachu together in the pilot episode, "Pokémon, I Choose You!"

The Pokémon anime series and films feature the adventures of Ash Ketchum and his Pikachu, traveling through the various regions of the Pokémon universe. They are accompanied by a group of alternating friends, including Misty, Brock, May, Max, Tracey, and Dawn.

Many other wild and trained Pikachu appear throughout the series, often interacting with Ash and his Pikachu. The most notable among these is Richie's Pikachu, Sparky. Like most other Pokémon, Pikachu communicates only by saying syllables of its own name. It is voiced by Ikue Otani in all versions of the anime, except in a number of English-language episodes in which Rachael Lillis played the role and another person overlapped Pikachu's voice.

In the first episode, Ash Ketchum receives his Pikachu from Professor Oak as his starting Pokémon. All new trainers are given a starting Pokémon. At first, Pikachu largely ignores Ash's requests, shocking him frequently and refusing to be confined to the conventional method of Pokémon transportation, a Poké Ball. However, Ash puts himself in danger to defend Pikachu from a flock of wild Spearow, then rushes the electric mouse to a Pokémon Center. Through these demonstrations of respect and unconditional commitment to Pokémon, Pikachu warms up to Ash, and their friendship is formed. However, it still refuses to go into its Poké Ball. Soon after, Pikachu shows great power that sets it apart from Pokémon, and other Pikachu, which causes Team Rocket to constantly attempt to capture it in order to win favor from their boss, Giovanni.

In other Pokémon mediaEdit

Pikachu is one of the main Pokémon used in most of the Pokémon manga series. In Pokémon Adventures, Red and Yellow both train a strong Pikachu. It is originally captured by Red, but after Red goes missing two years later, Yellow teams up with his Pikachu, accompanying it in their quest to find Red. It is also featured in series based on the anime, such as Electric Tale of Pikachu, Ash & Pikachu, and other series, such as Magical Pokémon Journey and Getto Da Ze.

Collectible cards featuring Pikachu have appeared since the initial Pokémon Trading Card Game released in October 1996. The character has been seen in many incarnations in sets released in North America, and even more exist when limited edition promotional cards are included.

Pikachu has also been used in promotional merchandising at fast-food chains such as McDonald's and Burger King.

Cultural impactEdit

BackgroundEdit

Pikachu first appeared in 1996, among the 151 initial Pokémon mascots when Game Freak delivered the first-ever Pokémon game for the Japanese Game Boy. The creators of the initial 151 Pokémon characters treated each one equally, and left it to the fans to decide which one would become the official mascot. The fans chose Pikachu, which alternatively led to its appearance in the anime alongside Ash.

Today, Pikachu is regarded as the Japanese answer to Mickey Mouse, and as being part of a movement of "cute apitalism". Pikachu are obtainable in all of the Pokémon video games to date, with a prominent role in Pokémon Yellow. The leading characters of many of the anime and manga series, including Pokémon Adventures, and Magical Pokémon Journey, have captured or befriended Pikachu.

Popular cultureEdit

Ana.b747.pokemon.arp

The ANA Boeing 747-400 airplane painted with Pikachu and other Pokémon (visible: Clefairy, Togepi, Mewtwo, and Snorlax)

Pikachu, being the most famous of the Pokémon mascots, has made multiple appearances in popular culture. A "got milk?" advertisement featured Pikachu on April 25, 2000. In addition, a Pikachu balloon has been featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade since 2001. Its appearance on May 22, 2006 during the morning rush hour was as part of a test examining parade balloon handling procedures. The original balloon was retired following an appearance at the Pokémon Tenth Anniversary "Party of the Decade" on August 8th in Bryant Park in New York City, and a new Pikachu Balloon that chases a Poké Ball and has light-up cheeks debuted at the 2006 Parade. The balloon was chosen on an online survey at iVillage as the second-best balloon in the 2007 Parade.

A picture of Pikachu has also been featured on the ANA Boeing 747-400 (JA8962), landing at London Heathrow Airport. In 2000, Pikachu placed eighth in an Animax poll of favorite anime characters.

In the third season of Heroes, Hiro Nakamura is nicknamed "Pikachu" by Daphne Millbrook, much to his chagrin. He is called this again by Tracy Strauss, after which he excuses himself before punching her in the face.

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