The popularity of Pokémon has led to worldwide recognition of the brand's electric mouse mascot, but I'm betting there are some interesting nuggets of info that you didn't know about our buddy Pikachu.
From secret languages to neurotransmitters, Pikachu is more than just a happy little Pocket Monster.
Fact #1: Pikachu Helped Name A Retinal Protein
That's right, scientists can be Pokémon fans too. The retinal protein 'pikachurin' is important in the transfer of electrical impulses across synapses in the brain.
Named due to Pikachu's speed and electric-typing, pikachurin plays an essential role in precise interactions between photoreceptor synapses and bipolar cells.
Without it we'd have issues with how the bipolar dendrites and photoreceptor ribbon synapses align, slowing the transfer of electrical impulses our brain receives from the photoreceptor cells.
Fact #2: Pikachu Gives Trainers Names
As seemingly unintelligible as Pikachu's squeaks are, he actually has a code which can be understood. It's hard to get a full range of meaning when you can only say your name, but here's how Pikachu names people:
- Pikapi = Satoshi/Ash
- Pikachu-Pi = Kasumi/Misty
- Pika-Chu = Takashi/Brock
- Pikaka = Hikari/Dawn
- Pipi-Kachu = Rocket-dan/Team Rocket
As you can hear when the names are said aloud, Pikachu tries to emulate the Japanese names as closely as he can by matching syllables and certain sounds. For example, Pikapi has the same rhythm as Satoshi.
He also has names for other Pokémon:
- Pipipi = Togepy/Togepi
- Pi-Kachu = Pochama/Piplup
- Pika-Chu = Kibago/Axew (same as Brock)
- PikakaPika = Fushigidane/Bulbasaur
- PikaPika = Zenigame/Squirtle, Mukuhawk/Staraptor, Goukazaru/Infernape, Gamagaru/Paliptoad, Marilli/Azumarill
As well as some common coversational phrases:
- Pi-Pikachu = Get da ze!/Gotta catch 'em all! (said as a celebration when Ash wins a badge/catches Pokémon/etc)
- Pika-Pikachu = I'm Pikachu (used as an introduction)
- Chaa = (Noise of happiness or yawning)
- Pika! = Matte!/Wait!
- Pi-kaPika = Sayōnara/Goodbye
Fact #3: Pikachu Is Ash's Only Electric Pokémon
Kinda hard to believe that Ash has only caught one electric Pokémon over his career so far, but it's true. Perhaps this is to solidify Pikachu's position as Ash's closest friend.
So much for 'gotta catch 'em all' I guess.
There are actually a few types of Pokémon Ash has never caught, namely steel, fairy and psychic, as well as ghost being heavily disputed as Ash was never shown catching the Haunter he befriended to try and defeat Sabrina.
If we see Rowlett eventually evolve into Decidueye in the new 'Sun & Moon' series of anime we'll see Ash's first legitimate ghost type.
Fact #4: Pikachu Wasn't Going To Be Ash's BFF
As a lot of you Pokéfans may already know, Clefairy was set to be the franchise's lead Pokémon but this was then changed when Pikachu was noted to be highly popular among focus groups.
The lack of yellow characters at the time combined with the impact of a primary color meant Pikachu won out over the pink Mt Moon resident.
I for one couldn't imagine anyone else at Ash's side.
Fact #5: Pikachu Loves Ketchup
In an episode of the original anime we see Pikachu fall in love with ketchup, only to have his condimental paramour taken away by the slash of a Scyther. Their relationship then seemingly disappears, as they aren't seen together until some years later.
At the end of one of the X Y Z episodes, we are treated to this amazing song where Pikachu sings of a paradise filled with his kind and ketchup. Hopefully we'll get to see more of this touching red and yellow love story in the future.
Fact #6: Pikachu Is Hated By Another Pokémon
In the recent anime series 'Sun & Moon', we see a Pokémon called Mimikyu wear a make-shift Pikachu cloth over itself seemingly as a disguise. In actuality Mimikyu cosplays as Pikachu as that's the thing it hates the most in life.
Every time Ash's Pikachu appears before Mimikyu it will attack without instruction from Team Rocket, who have managed to catch the ghost/fairy type thanks to their mutual opposition to Pikachu. How anything can truly hate Pikachu that much is surprising seeing as how he's known as a happy and friendly Pokémon (after his angsty teen years at the beginning of the anime).
Mimikyu even wrote a song about the fact it's not Pikachu so as to distance itself from the electric mouse. Way to be subtle, Mimikyu.