Japanese artists bring the Pokémon icon’s anime-to-live-action evolution back to illustrated form.

Japan has always had an energetic and extensive fan artist community, so when the latest trailer for the live-action Detective Pikachu movie was released, Pokémon fans with artistic skills picked up their pencils and got drawing. But wait, with the Pokémon anime and video game franchises both having already existed for decades, is Detective Pikachu fan art the same as regular Pikachu fan art, just with a hat?

Nope. Say hello to “Shiwa Shiwa Pikachu,” alternately known as “Shiwakucha Pikachu,” or, to translate the Japanese terms into English, Wrinkly Pikachu.

As the first official piece of live-action Pokémon media, Detective Pikachu has the admittedly difficult task of making the various Pocket Monster species look like creatures that could exist in the real world. The visual effects team has attempted to do that by giving them more fibrous fur and detailed muscle tone, but a side effect is that Detective Pikachu looks far more wrinkly than his smoothly contoured anime counterpart.

The contrast is particularly jarring when you insert the Wrinkly Pikachu design back into the anime setting

…or apply the same changes to other characters from the animated version, like Ash/Satoshi.

Things get even more surreal when artists interpret all those extra folds not as expressive scruffiness, but just plain age, transforming Pikachu from an energetic adventurer into a weary old man who just wants to get quietly liquored up, usually at a Japanese-style izakaya pub.

https://twitter.com/ochin_mbk/status/1102410526343147521 https://twitter.com/ichicla1215/status/1102239082279661568

▼ Wrinkly Pikachu shares some sake with…the Ikea shark?!?


Some artists have even turned Detective Pikachu into Company Employee Pikachu, a downtrodden, burned-out salaryman.

▼ Clockwise from top left: “Pikapika…I don’t want to go to work.”
“Pikaaaa…I don’t want to get up…”
“Pi…pika…My boss is such a loudmouthed jerk…”
“Pikaa…Looks like overtime again today…”

Some Wrinkly Pikachu artwork even gets meta, like this one that acknowledges the English-language production of the Detective Pikachu movie…

…or this one which features a guest appearance by Wrinkly Chopper, since Japanese voice actresses Ikue Otani portrays the lovable mascots of both the Pokemon and One Piece franchises.

Creative chefs have even started making edible Wrinkly Pikachus out of omelets and noodles.

The whole thing serves as a reminder of an often overlooked aspect of Japanese graphic design, in which artists, particularly anime character designers, make expressive and distinct artwork with far fewer lines than artists in other countries often employ.


However, Japanese Twitter seems to be more accepting of Wrinkly Pikachu than they were of the “fat” Godzilla who appeared in the U.S.-produced Godzilla reboot in 2014. He’s even being called “kawaii” by certain fans, and believe it or not, some artists have found ways to make that cuteness shine through.

Others might argue, however, that he’s actually kimokawaii, or “cute in a gross way.”

In any case, we can probably expect Wrinkly Pikachu to continue multiplying through fan art in the runup to Detective Pikachu’s theatrical release in May.

Source: IT Media
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he really likes Ikue Otani’s performance as Merle in Escaflowne.