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There’s a balancing act involved in creating snack foods in the image of a beloved children’s character. Take too few cues from the original design, and your customers won’t be able to recognize the character, thereby missing out on all the fun. On the other hand, go too far in the opposite direction and you end up with something like these cutlets from Korea, which make it look like you’re literally eating the flesh of Pikachu.

Like Japan, Korea enjoys deep fried pork cutlets, although you’re likely to find them sliced thinner in Seoul than Tokyo. And while pork cutlets, called tonkatsu in Japanese, are usually a sit-down meal in Japan, in some parts of Korea you can find them being sold from street stalls.

But if you zoom in for a closer look, you might notice that this stall’s cutlets, served on a stick, aren’t the traditional ovals both countries usually favor. Instead, they’re decidedly more Pokémon-shaped.

These meaty snacks aren’t brand-new. The Tweet above is a little over two years old, and Korean Pikachu cutlets have been mentioned in blog posts as early as 2006. What is getting them a fresh batch of attention, though, is that now you can order them online.

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Korean Internet retailer Gmarket is selling jumbo packs of 30 Pikachu cutlets here for just 9,000 won (US$8.20), which seems like a fantastic price, given the rarity of Pikachus in the Pokémon video game world, let alone reality.

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But while fans are usually excited when Pikachu makes an appearance, not everyone in Japan is clicking Gmarket’s “buy” button, as some online are calling the resemblance to the most famous Pokémon too close for comfort or hunger.

“A chilling design.”
“Could you eat this, Ash?”
“I bet it’s gamey.”

Some are also troubled by the apparent lack of legal sanction from rights holder The Pokémon Company, perhaps worried that this means these Pikachu cutlets were sourced from poached or inhumanely slaughtered Pocket Monsters. Should you share their concerns, perhaps an officially licensed and/or less gruesome Pikachu meal would be more to your liking.

Source: Gogo Tsushin via Hachima Kikou, Livedoor
Top image: Gmarket (edited by RocketNews24)
Insert images:Gmarket (edited by RocketNews24)