When Pokémon first arrived on the Game Boy in 1996, Pikachu was illustrated as a plump electric rodent that looked far from agile. It wasn't until later on in the series, the face of the pocket monster franchise got an artistic makeover, making him slightly less chubby.
What was the reason behind the change, though? If it wasn't already obvious, it was due to the influence of the anime series at the time. During an interview with the Yomiuri Newspaper in 2018 – as recently shared by YouTuber Dr. Lava – the character designer and art director of the Pokémon series Ken Sugimori explained these changes in detail:
We were also influenced by the introduction of the [anime]. Since the animation had them doing a variety of movements, including human-like gestures, we changed the shape of Pikachu's body to make acting easier. While Pikachu was originally very short and stout, we gradually gave it a more defined neck and elongated its spine
The Pikachu appearing in the Pokemon series after the broadcast of the animated series was influenced by how it appeared in the show. Also, I had no idea they were going to make it cry 'Pikachu.' It's like a cat crying out the word 'cat.'.
If you miss the older version of Pikachu, the recent release of Pokémon Sword and Shield on the Switch somewhat makes up for it, with the addition of Gigantamax Pikachu. This Pikachu has little resemblance to the famous one we know and love nowadays and is arguably closer to the original Pokémon design.
Do you like the current design of Pikachu? Have you encountered its Gigantamax version in Sword and Shield yet? Leave a comment down below.