Out of 152 original Pokémon from the first series, how exactly did Pikachu become the most popular Pokémon out of all?
GAMEFREAK had an interview recently where they answered a ton of questions, such as how Team Rocket were made. Some of these big questions lead to a simple one, why is Pikachu so popular?
One of the founding fathers of GAMEFREAK, Junichi Masuda answered the question, “Probably thanks to Pikachu being in the anime and being Ash’s partner,” Masuda says. It wasn’t Game Freak’s decision to make Pikachu the face of the brand, he just sort of fell into it. It was the production company, OLM Inc., that made the anime who recognized the adorable electric rat’s potential. “That was a decision, or rather a suggestion, from the company that made the anime,” Masuda says, “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.”
When the anime originally premiered in Japan 1997, the company were actually very eager to watch the series. We definitely watched it together,” Masuda says, “We were very excited to watch it.” They did not, however eat popcorn, “[Laughs] We didn’t have any popcorn. We’re Japanese.”