Game Freak how Pikachu's popularity being related to his prominence in the anime

Coming from a Game Informer interview with Junichi Masuda...

On why Pikachu is so popular

"Probably thanks to Pikachu being in the anime and being Ash’s partner. That was a decision, or rather a suggestion, from the company that made the anime. They originally came to us with the idea that they wanted to feature Pikachu, because Pikachu at the time was really popular amongst kids in school. It is a hard-to-find Pokémon, so kids knew about it.

They actually had [Pikachu's] voice actress, Ms. Ikue Ōtani, do a take on the voice and they showed us a clip of it and we listened to the sound of it saying its name over and over in a really cute way. We weren’t really sure about it, but it worked out."





from GoNintendo

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