”This is the very beginning of the entire story.”

In the very first Pokémon anime episode, aspiring Pokémon Master Ash is given a Pikachu by Professor Oak. But wait a second… Professor Oak is a scientist, not a breeder, right? It’s not like Pikachu was born right there in the lab, so where was he before that?

It looks like we’re about to find out.

With the Alola League tournament having crowned its champion and the Sun and Moon segment of the Pokémon anime wrapping up, it’s time for the animated series to transition into a new arc. Premiering this month, the upcoming Pokémon anime will simply be called Pocket Monsters, the unfettered name the anime originally had way back in 1997.

The producers are yet to release much in the way of story details, but have revealed that at least the first episode of the 2019 Pocket Monster anime will take place before the first episode of the 1997 Pocket Monster anime. The new episode is titled “The Birth of Pikachu,” and its teaser description reads:

“In a forest somewhere in the Kanto Region, there was a Pichu who was all alone. When this Pichu was still just a young child, it met someone, but then they parted ways. This happened a short while before Ash and his partner Pikachu set out on their journey.”

▼ Animated preview for the new Pocket Monster series, with a very important-looking Pichu at the seven-second mark.

For those who have been failed by their local school systems that don’t adequately cover Pokémon biology in their curriculum, Pichus are part of the Pikachu evolution chain. It’s weird to think about it now, but the creators of Pokémon actually underestimated how endearingly cute Pikachu was.

Like just about all species, Pikachu can evolve into a stronger form (called Raichu in Pikachu’s case), but more powerful Pokémon naturally have a more powerful appearance, which means they look less cute. Nobody wanted to see Pikachu evolve into Raichu, and so eventually Pokémon’s designers went in the other direction, making the rare move of adding a new species that’s a less-evolved version of an existing Pokémon with Pichu, one step below Pikachu on the evolution tree.

▼ The presence in the video of Ash’s grown-up Pikachu (seen here getting kicked in the face by Sword and Shield starter Pokémon Scorbunny) suggests there  might a time-skip occurring at some point in the new anime.

Pichu was added as part of the second-generation of Pokémon species, but since Ash’s Pikachu was already on the second tier of its evolution path, we never got to see the Pikachu as a baby Pichu. The description, though, and especially the title “The Birth of Pikachu” (plus that it’s almost certainly Pikachu voice actress Ikue Otani voicing the Pichu in the video) sure makes it seem like that’s what we’ll be seeing when it airs on November 17 on broadcaster TV Tokyo.

Source: Twitter/@anipoke_PR via Jin
Images: YouTube/ポケモン公式
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he honestly can’t think of a cuter combination of words than “baby Pikachu.”