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Animatronic Pikachu From 2023 Pokémon Direct Elicits Strong, Divided Reactions From Fans

I love him so much and would learn to cook gourmet meals for him every day.

Animatronic Pikachu and Pokémon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara during the 2023 Pokémon Direct

Happy Pokémon Day, one and all! There weren’t any Earth-shattering surprise announcements from today’s Pokémon Direct. The highlights were the long-awaited release date for Pokémon Sleep (FINALLY), a DLC announcement for Pokémon Scarlet/Violet, and a truly delightful-looking stop-motion TV series called Pokémon Concierge. But one aspect of the presentation arguably attracted more attention than any of these announcements: the animatronic Pikachu that sat beside Pokémon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara.

The animatronic Pikachu is a real-life spitting image of the one who appeared in Detective PIkachu. He’s a fuzzy little man! The Pikachu could blink, look right and left, twitch his ears, move his tail, and even speak. He even made little “nom nom” motions with his mouth. I really loved the nom noms.

I really loved this gentleman overall, actually. I would jump in front of a car to safe his wee furry life. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. That was a common sentiment, actually—although, for many, the inability to look anywhere else other than Pikachu was for the opposite reason.

Animatronic Pikachu divides viewers

There are definitely people who tuned into the Pokémon Direct this Pokémon Day who felt an undying devotion for the animatronic Pikachu, like me. But there are many others who had the exact opposite reaction. The Pikachu struck the uncanny valley for them big-time, and they found him terrifying.

The divide in the reaction to this Pikachu doll struck in my very home. You see, if I could wish any wish in the world, I would eschew all the responsible, selfless, morally-good things and ask for Pokémon to be real. This Pikachu is the closest I’ve gotten to my dream so far. I’m definitely not alone in that dream of dreams.

“I can’t believe it! I love him! I want one so bad!” I said. My partner was watching cautiously from the corner. “He would need his own room,” he replied, with a noticeable amount of wariness creeping into his voice.

He’s just a little friend

There are plenty of others like me—people who, in their desperateness for Pokémon to exist in the real world, giddily leapt right over the uncanny valley to rest right at animatonic Pikachu’s wee wiggling feet. Maybe it’s because I went to Disney parks on more than one occasion as a kid, and so animatronics like this were somewhat normalized for me, but when I look at him, I see nothing to fear. I only see a little yellow man for me to love unconditionally.

The other reason I love this guy is because, as the tweet above points out, he’s a little plump! You see, I grew up in the era when Pikachu was still a chonk. I love chonky Pikachu, but The Pokémon Company gradually slimmed him down over time. But, recently, they’ve started splitting the difference a little more. This animatronic is maybe closer to the Pokémon Yellow version of Pikachu than the modern, slimmer design, which is great! It makes me love him even more.

So until the day someone figures out how to bioengineer living Pokémon—or, at the very least, when “Pokémon Hologram” is announced and allows me to cohabitate with a holographic Jigglypuff who can sing me to sleep—I will take this animatronic Pikachu. I will make him my best friend and protect him from those who deem him nightmare material with my life.

(featured image: The Pokémon Company)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a musician, audio person, writer, and nerd. When not talking about One Piece or Zelda (among other anime and games), she's finding surprising ways to play the guitar.