is one of the species of Pokémon creatures from the Pokémon media franchise—a collection of video game, anime, manga, books, trading card, 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 because a Pikachu is a central character in the Pokémon anime series. Pikachu is widely considered the most popular Pokémon, is regarded as the official mascot of the Pokémon franchise, and has become an icon of Japanese culture in recent years.
Within the world of 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 continent throughout the fictional world. As an Electric-type Pokémon, Pikachu can store electricity in its cheeks and release it in lightning-based attacks.
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 design and art direction for Pikachu were provided by Ken Sugimori, a friend of the creator of the Pocket Monsters game, Satoshi Tajiri. Though not the first Pokémon created, Pikachu was the first "Electric-type" Pokémon created, conceived after the type was suggested to Sugimori and designed around the concept of electricity and the common symbol for lightning. 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.
In an interview, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl director Junichi Masuda noted Pikachu's name as one of the most difficult to create, due to an effort to make it appealing to both Japanese and American audiences. The name is treated as a singular and plural noun in all incarnations of the franchise. In the series' anime, Pikachu has facial expression, body language, and speaks by repeating syllables of its name, using different pitches and tones. Initially both Pikachu and the Pokémon Clefairy were chosen to be lead characters for the franchise merchandising, with the latter as the primary mascot to make the early comic book series more "engaging". However with the production of the animated series, Pikachu was chosen as the sole flagship Pokémon, in an attempt to appeal to female viewers and their mothers, and under the belief that the creature presented the image of a recognizable intimate pet for children. Its color was also a deciding factor, as yellow is a primary color and thus considered easier for children to recognize from a distance, and with consideration to the fact the only other competing yellow mascot at the time was Winnie-the-Pooh.
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Links: Wikipedia Entry Pokemopolis Episode Guide Pokemon's official site