TOKYO >> Ever since the original release of the “Pokemon” games for the Nintendo Game Boy back in 1996, the series’ central character — the electric, yellow rodent Pikachu — has found a permanent place in the world’s pop-culture zeitgeist.
Pikachu has since shown up everywhere, including countless pieces of merchandise, an annual parade in Yokohama and even in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
If you think Pikachu’s best days are behind him, you might want to head to your nearest Pokemon Center. Last month saw a shocking amount of Pikachu love on the internet.
The long-awaited “Detective Pikachu” trailer (detectivepikachumovie.com) dropped Nov. 12 and took social media by storm.
The preview, which accumulated more than 20 million views in about 24 hours, will finally let Pikachu speak his mind, as he is voiced by none other than “Deadpool” actor Ryan Reynolds.
(Yes, technically Pikachu did speak briefly during a hallucination sequence in the “Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You!” of 2017, but let’s set that aside for the moment.)
The movie won’t be animated but will instead feature computer-generated pokemon with fur and scales living in a modern-day setting, a style that both delighted and horrified people online. IGN posted a video titled “Are Detective Pikachu’s live-action Pokemon cool or creepy?” while the BBC published an article titled “‘Gross’ furry Pokemon divides fans.”
One of the people behind the film’s controversial art direction is artist RJ Palmer, whose realistic “Pokemon” drawings have been popular on Twitter, Tumblr and DeviantArt for years.
Thanks to his drawings that turn Pokemon from kawaii (cute) to kowai (scary), Palmer was contracted to work on the movie and redesign some of the most iconic Pocket Monsters.
Before the movie trailer was shared online, however, Pikachu hype was already in full swing due to the Nov. 16 release of the newest “Pokemon” games for Nintendo Switch.
“Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!” and “Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee!” the latest entries will let players relive the original 1996 debut games with a 3D remake.
To help market the game, Nintendo is taking Pikachu and Eevee costumed characters on a tour across the United States, from California to New York, letting visitors try out the game and take a picture with their favorite Pocket Monster.
A pop-up Pikachu & Eevee cafe is traveling around Sapporo, Fukuoka, Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, offering such treats as Pikachu curry, lattes and more.