The riddle of Pikachu’s black tail is perhaps not one of life’s many burning questions, but it is one that needs to be answered. And that is what we’re doing today. The mystery surrounding the black-tailed Pikachu has been bugging people lately.
Is there a conspiracy covering up the existence of two different Pikachu or is it a curious case of the so-called ‘Mandela effect’ ? Here’s all the available evidence you would need to unearth the truth behind one of pop culture’s most enduring creatures and its ‘black tail’.
Who is Pikachu, really?
Pikachu is only the most popular Pokemon and the face of the now over USD100-billion-grossing franchise. After 25 years of anime, movies, video games and licensed merchandise, Pikachu has become a household name, whether you’re into Pokemon or not. Central protagonist Ash Ketchum’s cute little electric sidekick, Pikachu appeared in Generation I and also the pilot episode of the original anime, as Ash’s very first Pokemon.
The heartwarming adventures they went through cemented Pikachu’s place as the mascot of the entire Pokemon phenomenon and the furry rodent burrowed its way into the hearts of billions. It’s fame and brand value grew to enormous proportions owing not only to the multiple anime series but also due to the countless video games.
The Detective Pikachu live-action movie starring Ryan Reynolds in the titular role is a testament to the fact that it’s appeal cuts across media. The Pokemon franchise towers above all other billion-dollar franchises, eclipsing heavyweights like Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe and Spider-Man.
What does Pikachu look like?
By now, generations of fans can probably draw Pikachu from memory. It’s downright impossible that someone does not know what Pikachu looks like. Even people who’ve seen any Pokemon anime or played the video games probably know what he looks like.
He’s yellow, looks like a cute rodent and has a lightning-shaped tail. But do you remember Pikachu having a black tail?
This short, chubby rodent is said to fit the ‘mouse’ category and is 16 inches tall. It is covered in yellow fur with two horizontal brown stripes on its back. Pikachu has brown eyes and long, pointed ears with black tips. The red circle on each cheek is said to contain a pouch for electricity storage.
Regarding its body, the images show short forearms with five fingers on each paw. Both feet have three toes each. At the base of its lightning bolt-shaped tail is a patch of brown fur. A female will have a V-shaped notch at the end of its tail, which looks like the top of a heart – no mention of a black tip.
There is no mention anywhere about a black-tipped tail. Does it mean Pikachu’s appearance has changed over the years? Or did he always have a yellow tail? Why do some people remember it having a black or a black-tipped tail?
Did Pikachu ever have a Black Tail?
The short and simple answer is – NO! Pikachu never had a black tail in any of its various incarnations (except Cosplay Pikachu) over the years. Pikachu’s yellow tail does have a patch of brown fur at its base, but there is no hint of any black patch or black fur anywhere on its tail.
Even gender-based differences cannot account for people remembering a black tip on Pikachu’s tail, as the Female Pikachu differs only slightly, its tail ending in a heart-like shape.
The only exception to this is the Cosplay Pikachu, a Generation VI video game character that appeared in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire games. Cosplay Pikachu is a female and has a black heart-shaped patch at the base of its tail.
Pokemon XY episode 41 titled Lights! Camera! Pika! also has five Pikachu wearing said outfits, notes Bulbapedia. But this cannot be the source of the claims by some people regarding a black-tailed Pikachu, seeing that this conversation predates the games by years.
Then what really is the origin behind this confusion?
Pikachu’s Black Tail: The Mandela Effect Theory
In case you’re not aware of the Mandela Effect, it’s described as ‘the phenomenon where a large group of people remember the same false memory, something which never happened or happened differently’. It gets its name from the fact that on a large scale, people somehow falsely remembered Nelson Mandela having died in prison in the 1980s. He actually died much later in 2013.
Someone, somewhere, must have gotten the impression that Pikachu has a black-tipped tail. This could be either due to its black-tipped ears or due to Pichu, it’s prior baby-Pokemon form, having a completely black tail. Or it could be a result of fan art. That ‘false memory’ of Pikachu’s black tail then propagated through the masses and led to the widely-adopted belief in a black-tailed Pikachu.
Though there is no conclusive reason why the Mandela effect even occurs, it manages to explain a lot of seemingly inexplicable mysteries. There are other examples of this phenomenon, such as:
- The queen in Snow White never said “Mirror, mirror on the wall”. She instead said “Magic mirror on the wall”
- People remember the iconic line spoken by Darth Vader as “Luke, I am your father”. The line of dialogue was actually “No, I am your father”.
- Many folks seem to falsely recall ‘Looney Tunes’ being spelled as ‘Looney Toons’.
- Forrest Gump’s fondly-remembered dialogue “Life is like a box of chocolates” was, in reality, “Life was like a box of chocolates”.
There are still many other examples of the Mandela effect where people’s strongly-held beliefs are far removed from reality. So there you have it, we may simply have a false ‘memory’ of a black-tailed Pikachu. While this question may have been answered, there are quite a few more that you might have about the insanely-cute rodent.
What does Pikachu’s back look like?
Something that you might not often see during Pokemon anime and video games is Pikachu’s back. You might sometimes mistakenly assume that it has a clean, uniform yellow back. Well, you would be wrong. It has two horizontal brown stripes on its lower back.
This fact is not a disputed one and appears as is, in all the different incarnations and appearances of the character.
Did Pikachu evolve?
Pikachu, like many other Pokemon, has an evolution tree. Being a ‘basic’ Pokemon, Pikachu evolves into Raichu, a larger ‘Stage 1’ Pokemon, with differently-shaped ears, a longer tail, and darker fur. Pikachu itself evolves from Pichu, the ‘baby’ Pokemon we talked about earlier.
Ash’s Pikachu, the one we know and love, does not evolve throughout the series. In fact, after a defeat to a stronger Raichu in one of the episodes from the original anime, Ash offers Pikachu the choice to evolve with the help of the thunder stone.
Pikachu, however, declines to evolve and wants to defeat Raichu as himself, without the added strength that comes with the evolution.
Pikachu does go on to defeat Raichu, never thinking of evolving in the future either.
Why do Ash’s pokemon never evolve?
Ash Ketchum starts his journey to become a Pokemon master with three Pokemon that go on to become some of his best friends – Pikachu, Bulbasaur and Squirtle. None of the three ever evolve into their Stage 1 forms. There can be several reasons for this.
Firstly, Ash’s Pokemon, in addition to Pikachu, are the face of the entire franchise. Bulbasaur, Squirtle and even Charmander are some of the cutest and most-loved characters from the series. Their evolved forms are not as cute as their base forms and do not attract quite the same adulation from fans, who are mostly children.
A second reason for Ash’s Pokemon not evolving goes with the central theme of the show – gathering strength from within and defeating the next big challenge.
Pikachu refused evolution with the help of the thunder stone and defeated Raichu by himself and Bulbasaur didn’t evolve as he wanted to continue his journey with Ash and his fellow Pokemon, instead of becoming a mythical protector of the forest by evolving into Venusaur. Even Squirtle doesn’t evolve due to similar emotional reasons and his attachment to Ash.
We hope we were able to answer Pikachu’s black tail mystery sufficiently and also give you answers to several other fundamental questions fans have about the beloved series. Pokemon, as a global phenomenon, continues to grow and prosper, with the latest experiments like the Pokemon Go video game receiving an overwhelmingly positive reception.
As long as Pokemon keeps topping global charts in popularity and money showered by fans, Pikachu is sure to remain the mascot of the franchise and rule our hearts with his cute existence.