The Pokémon anime was a major piece in spreading the word on Pokémon around the world, and it also helped boost the popularity of Pikachu in a major way. Pikachu quickly became the de facto mascot for all things Pokémon, and that’s remained the case to this very day.

Animedia Magazine had the chance to speak to Pokémon anime director Kunihiko Yuyama to find out why Ash and Pikachu were paired from the start. It turns out there wasn’t just one answer, but a multitude of reasons that led to this absolutely iconic pairing.

“I think of Pikachu as a combination of cuteness, strength and the ability to bring a few laughs. By the way, I decided from the very get-go that the Pokemon that would become [Ash’s] partner would not be one of the three you choose between at the start of the video game, since I figured that might make some of the viewers sad. That’s why he ended up with a Pikachu, a decision I’m really glad I made.

Pokemon aren’t always what humans expect them to be like. They’re unique individuals that each have their own individual reasons for how they interact with humans. That’s the kind of themes, or relationships, the Pokémon anime shows; How someone can eventually get along despite being unable to communicate at all when they first meet. Communication is one of the main themes of the show, and Satoshi’s first Pokemon, Pikachu, puts it into practice. There are so many different kinds of Pokemon in this world, so when we depict them, we try to start by imagining what would happen if these Pokémon actually did exist in a given place, and what those Pokémon would be doing in that case, then let the story develop from there.”

[Director Kunihiko Yuyama]

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