Down-in-the-dumps Pokémon sleuth could use a confidence-boosting squeeze.

It was hard to predict how Japan was going to react to the Pikachu in the live-action Detective Pikachu movie. Pikachu is, after all, one of the most iconic character designs in the history of hand-drawn anime, and you really wouldn’t have been able to blame audiences if they’d found the photo-realistic CG version a little jarring.

But for the most part, Japanese fans seem pretty taken with the coffee-loving inspector, especially when his face gets all crinkly with heartstring-pulling emotion like it does in this scene.

Fans in Japan have taken to calling images with this expression “Shiwashiwa Pikachu,” meaning “Wrinkly Pikachu,” and we’ve seen lots of fan art for him in Japan, in both illustrated and cookie form. But while the picture below might look like a clip from the movie, it’s not…

…because it’s actually an official Wrinkly Pikachu plushie!

The tweet comes from the official Pokémon Twitter account, which is teasing the Pokémon Company’s very first official Wrinkly Pikachu stuffed animal (Pokémon count as animals, right?). “Wrinkly Pikachu, coming to Pokémon Center stores this fall!” the tweet promises. “If you see him, please give him a hug.”

There’s apparently a lot of pent-up demand for such a product, as fans have left comments including:

“Fi-, finally! An official Wrinkle-chu!”
“Definite purchase on my part.”
“I want a Wrinkly Pikachu, because I want to squeeze him.”
“Please make a ton of these, so that stores don’t sell out.”

So far, the company is keeping details such as pricing and size under wraps, but it’s already clear that the Wrinkly Pikachu plushie is adorable, and we think he’ll make a great partner to the life-size, posable, smooth-faced Detective Pikachu plush that’s coming in the winter.

Source, featured image: Twitter/@poke_times
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[ Read in Japanese ]

Scientists are still trying to determine whether following Casey on Twitter can cure wrinkles, and whether that would be a good thing for Wrinkly Pikachu.

[ Read in Japanese ]