It's no secret that Ash Ketchum and Pikachu will soon be leaving the Pokémon anime for good, capping off a storyline that has lasted for the best part of 25 years. Despite being in the company of these characters for so long, it turns out that there are still some notable aspects of each that we didn't know, like, for example, that Pikachu was originally going to speak... like a human (thanks, Go Nintendo).
Ok, maybe not exactly like a human, but definitely like Team Rocket's Meowth (which is still a whole lot wider vocabulary than we would want to hear from Pikachu).
The idea was enough to send a shiver down our spine, we won't lie, but this is a concept that was recently shared by long-time series director Kunihiko Yuyama in an interview with Animedia magazine. Instead of the usual cries of "Pika" and maybe "Pika-pika" (on a good day), it turns out that there were plans to have Ash's Pikachu use full words much like Meowth.
While the original interview was published in Japanese, it was later translated into English on a Serebii forum by Dephender, which revealed the director's full response:
At first we actually toyed with the idea of having Pikachu talk just like the Rocket Gang [Meowth] does (laughs). However, we talked about how it would be both more realistic and more interesting if they had to communicate non-verbally, so that's the way it ended up. I think it'd be really difficult to find a pair of humans that can understand each other as near perfectly as [Ash] and Pikachu can, but I hope we managed to depict a duo everyone can look up to.
It looks like the concept of Pikachu's speech never made it past the preliminary discussions, and that's something that we can all be grateful for. While it might have been interesting to hear what Pikachu actually sounds like under there (we're secretly hoping that he has a ridiculously deep voice), Kunihiko Yuyama is right that an expanded vocabulary wouldn't have been necessary.
After all, a "Pika" paints a thousand words...