Pokémon: How Pikachu’s Design Has Changed From 1996 To 2022

The Pikachu that started it all was the Pikachu seen in the 1996 version of the video game and trading card game. This Pikachu was quite small, chubby, and had a smile on its face. In the Pokédex picture, they are jumping in the air and raising their arms up as if in a cheer. As the original versions of Pokémon Red and Green/Blue were black and white and it wasn’t until later Pikachu was able to show off its bright andc cheery yellow color. In the Pokémon Trading Card Game, the design for Pikachu was similar to the video game version, but instead of being black and white was obviously yellow. This Pikachu was also smiling, but only the top of it was showing and there was no pose.

From 1996 until 1999 the design of Pikachu stayed relatively stable on the whole. The Pokémon was usually depicted as being rounder and would always seem to be very friendly. The 1998 Pokémon Yellow version of Pikachu was also very similar to the design seen in the 1996 version with just a few minor changes to the overall look. This was a surprising choice considering the fact that Pokémon Yellow was a celebration of Pikachu as a character. Even Pikachu in the Silver and Gold/Crystal version had virtually no design change.

In 1997, the Pokémon series aired on television in Japan, and then in 1999, the show reached United States audiences. This version of Pikachu was very similar to the one from the games, but maybe just a little less round. In the anime, Pikachu’s red cheeks were much smaller and the tail was also thinner at the top. This version of Pikachu is the most widely known version, though even the anime design has changed over the years.

Early 2000’s Pikachu Saw Some Shape Differences

When Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire came out Pikachu had a bit of an upgrade in their design. Taking the same pose as the original version and the rest of the first-generation Pokémon games, this Pikachu has some clear differences to it. The mouse-like Pokémon is slightly taller than the original version and just a little bit slimmer. There are even differences in the way the cheeks look and the way the ears are. There is much more black on the tips of Pikachu’s ears and the red cheeks are just slightly bigger than in the past design. One of the most noticeable differences is the size of the tail. The original design has a much thinner tail, but this version’s tail is a bit thicker near the top. The tail is also more zig-zagged, giving it even more of a lightning bolt appearance. From here, the design for Pikachu stayed about the same until around 2006.

Mid-2000’s Pikachu Had Strangely Shaped Head

In 2006, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl had one of the most noticeable changes to Pikachu. Pikachu here had an indent near the area of the neck, almost making a differentiation between where its body ends and its neck begins, which is something that hadn’t been done in past designs and was only denoted by the chubby cheeks and chin Pikachu had. Pikachu in these games also looked even thinner and even taller than its predecessors. The black on the ears and the red cheeks stayed the same, but those were the only aspects that remained unchanged.

This was also the first year to differentiate between male and female Pikachu. The way to tell is by looking at the tail. If the tip of the tail is straight then it is male, but if there is a dent in the middle that looks a bit like a heart then it is female. The tails on these versions of Pikachu were also just slightly thicker than the previous version. Pokémon Black and White, which was released in 2010, saw a very slight design change because of the fact Pikachu was in 3D, but the actual look did not change until the next game.

A Wild 3D Pokémon-Era Pikachu Appears

Pokémon X and Y brought a 3D Pikachu back to the basics. Pikachu was a theme song-worthy chonky Pokémon again, though still much thinner than the original, and looked shorter than the last few designs. The black ears were very small as well, only covering their tips instead of going nearly halfway down. The tail was another change that harkened back to the original design with the smaller tip and fewer zig-zags. This design is how Pikachu appears from Pokémon X and Y through the newest game, Pokémon Arceus.

Pikachu Today Remains One Of The Most Distinctive Pokémon

One of the newest and most interesting versions of Pikachu is definitely Detective Pikachu. The film Detective Pikachu was released in 2019 and starred Ryan Reynolds as the voice of the titular character. Though Detective Pikachu spawned creepy fan-art of Gengar and other Pokémon, Pikachu was quite cute. In this version, Pikachu was very fluffy and had a very similar body type to the anime version. He has no curves and has a very small amount of black on his ears. His tail is also the original  He dons a detective cap throughout the movie and also talks, instead of just saying “Pikachu” in different tones.

In Pokémon Sword and Shield, Game Freak included a new type of Pokémon known as Gigantamax. Gigantamax Pikachu looks like the original TCG Pikachu. They are very large and round and have the same appearance and stance as the picture of the Pikachu in the Trading Card Game.

Another variation that Pikachu has today is seen in Pokémon Café ReMix with its many player milestonesThis Pikachu has a large round head attached to a small, slimmer body, and very large shiny eyes. There are countless of different outfits that Pikachu can wear as they help players make the best coffee for Pokémon that come into the cafe. Though always adorable, this version of Pikachu has an extra level of adorable to them.

Pikachu Is A Pokémon That Routinely Dons Costumes

Another fun thing that the world of Pokémon has brought to the world is costumed Pokémon. They are spread out around all different games and players can choose to dress them up in different outfits. Some costumes that Pikachu has worn range from chef’s hats to witch hats, and even at one point a full-blown Eevee outfit. Other Pokémon have also dressed up like Pikachu in the same fashion, with the most notable being Eevee. Players can buy festive hats and costumes in Pokémon GO and can change up what their Pikachu wears into battle.

From the smallest differences to major changes, Pikachu and many other Pokémon have taken on completely new looks over the years. As Pokémon continues to grow and evolve as a series, it is likely Pikachu will too. Though there are a lot of differences from the original version, Pikachu is still the same adorable mouse-like Pokémon fans know and love.

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