Pokémon mascot pays tribute to shogi’s first-ever octuple crown holder.

Pikachu is, without question, one of Japan’s most iconic symbols of cuteness. As a matter of fact, the face of the Pokémon franchise is so cute that it’s easy to forget that he also has a very strong competitive streak, forged through countless battles with other Pocket Monsters over the years.

So it makes sense that for his latest crossover project, Pikachu is dressing in the garb of a professional player of shogi, the highly strategic game sometimes referred to as “Japanese chess.”

OK, so he’s still totally adorable. All the same, Pikachu is dressed in the classically classy ensemble of kimono, haori half coat, and billowy hakama pants worn by shogi players, or kishi, as they’re called in Japanese, competing at the highest level of the game. As a matter of fact, shogi fans might recognize this exact outfit, as Pikachu’s items of traditional clothing are an exact match for the ones worn by shogi sensation Shota Fujii in October when he won the 71st Oza title match and, at the age of just 21 years old, became not only the youngest person to ever win the Oza title, but also the first octuple crown holder in the history of professional shogi.

▼ Shota Fujii

That resemblance isn’t a coincidence. This special shogi Pikachu plushie is being offered exclusively as a reward for backers of a crowdfunding campaign being held by the Japan Shogi Association, with the proceeds going towards the construction of a new headquarters building for the organization in Tokyo, which, like the old building, will also serve as an event venue and a center for those looking for instruction or to otherwise learn about the game.

Fujii himself contributed to the plushie’s design. Pikachu is holding the koma (shogi playing piece) with the kanji for osho, or “king general,” written on it, with the font a recreation of Fujii’s brushstroke calligraphy.

The Japan Shogi Association’s crowdfunding campaign is being held on Japanese website Readyfor here and has 41 days remaining as of this writing, with the Pikachu plushie a reward for backers pledging 12,000 yen (US$77). Shipping is scheduled for October, and if you need some kimono character cuteness before then, don’t forget about the Sanrio kimono line for both kids and adults.

Source: Readyfor via Oricon News
Images: Readyfor
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