For the past two decades, the Pokémon franchise has been entertaining video gamers around the globe. From its origins as a role-playing game to its numerous television series and theatrical movies, the characters from the imaginary world of Pokémon have captivated its loyal fan base with their endearing personalities. In addition to battling and evolving these pocket monsters, curious fans may often wonder why certain design choices were made for these creatures. The truth is that there is an inspirational story behind every one of these beloved Pokémon characters.
Video game developers often incorporate their personal experiences into their work. Many of the original 151 Pokémon species created by Satoshi Tajiri were inspired by creatures he encountered during his childhood growing up in suburban Tokyo. For instance, fans may recognize Rhyhorn’s two horns as resembling an animal common in Japan named Habu – a large viper native only to Okinawa island. Similarly, Kabuto – one of Tajiri’s very first designs – was based off of coleoptera (fossilized beetles) found at local riverbanks and ponds.
The concepts behind many later generations include not only Japanese mythology but also Western popular culture references. For example, Persian – one of Generation I’s Normal-type cats – draws inspiration from cats in historical literature such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves as well as traditional Japanese ghost tales about supernatural cats which bring fortune or misfortune depending on how it turns its face to you.
Anime Series & Movies
The anime series and movies further build upon Tajiri’s initial designs by giving the characters more detailed backstories and origins. One notable example is Ash Ketchum’s partner Pikachu with its vivid yellow fur and distinctive black stripes down its back resembling a mouse native to Japan called Yancha Maru