Anyone familiar with Pokémon will know most, if not all of the creatures in the franchise are broadly based on real animals or things.
You’ve got Mareep, which is some kind of electric sheep…
There’s Arcanine, clearly a dog-based Pokémon.
And then you’ve got this tree with a face, presumably because the creators wanted to see how far they could go with this.
However, the most famous of them all, Pikachu, has long remained a mystery.
Even if we’ve never played Pokémon, either on Gameboy or the more recent Pokémon Go mobile game, we know what Pikachu looks like.
He’s a yellow fella with pointy ears, and there’s some weird electricity thing going on somewhere. Honestly, we’ve never given it a ton of thought.
If we were to ask you what animal you thought this guy looked like, you’d probably just say “a Pikachu” – he’s transcended the animal kingdom – but now we finally know what he was meant to be based on.
Citing an interview with Japanese publication Yomiuri, Altpress has the answer to the question which has been on all of your lips since I mentioned it a paragraph or two ago.
Atsuko Nishida, who designed the character for Pokémon Red, based it not on a mouse, as many had assumed, but on a squirrel.
“At that time, I was really into squirrels, so I wanted the character to have puffy cheeks,” Nishida said.
“Squirrel tails are cute, so I wanted it to have a tail. However, I wanted the character to have a lightning element, so I made it shaped like lightning.”
That said, after Pikachu was named, the design gradually became more mouse-like until it became the version we recognise today.
So there we have it, Pikachu began life as a squirrel, and has gone all the way to becoming a detective played by Ryan Reynolds.
What a journey.