Pokémon designer admits Pikachu was inspired by a squirrel not a mouse (and almost became demonic)

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May 5, 2018

Never judge a Pokémon by its cute fuzzy exterior. Fans of the popular Japanese franchise will be surprised to learn that Pikachu, arguably one of the most innocent of all the Pokémon, has quite the backstory, according to the woman who created it.

First off, illustrator Atsuko Nishida revealed to Japanese publication The Yomiuri Shimbun (via Kotachu) that the adorable mascot was originally based on a squirrel, not a mouse. Nishida explained in an interview that the character she created was “vertically long daifuku rice confection with ears,” adding that she needed to make it look cuter and so based it on a squirrel.

“At that time, I was really into squirrels,” Nishida explained. “So I wanted the character to have puffy cheeks. 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.”

There’s no denying that Pikachu has a fine pair of puffy cheeks more commonly seen on a big nut-guzzling rodent, as well as having a much fuller tail. But that’s not all. Nishida added (via Siliconera) that Pikachu was almost going to be something of an evil creature, too.

In the game, Pikachu evolves into Raichu, but there was a third evolution that never saw the light of the day. Nishida revealed: “It was Pika(chu), Rai(chu), and Goro(chu). The Pokémon known as Gorochu bared fangs and even had a pair of horns.”

So, there you have it. Pikachu could have been a nasty little devil squirrel with horns. Not sure we’d want to catch that one after all. It will be interesting to see if filmmakers behind the Detective Pikachu movie -- starring Ryan Reynolds -- will take note of these revelations. 

What do you think of Pikachu’s evolution? Let us know in the comments below.