The Japanese woman who voiced Pikachu, Ikue Ootani, has gone down in history for having the cutest voice ever, and in a recent interview with Manga University she revealed some interesting facts about our favorite Pokémon.
1. She almost ended up voicing Meowth
"The producers called me in for Pikachu, but there was a misunderstanding and I thought I was there to audition for Nyasu (Meowth), so that’s the script I had with me. There were many other people auditioning for other parts. So when they called for Pikachu, all the people with Pikachu scripts went over. I didn’t go because I didn’t have the script. Then, someone came over and told me to come, but I said I wasn’t there for Pikachu. He said, 'Yes you are.'"
2. Pikachu was supposed to learn how to speak
"Pikachu was supposed to learn a language, like a baby learns a language, and that’s the way I was doing it at first. Then, a few months later, the producers told me Pikachu wasn’t going to speak. At the time, I was disappointed. But because Pikachu doesn’t speak Japanese, children all over the world can hear my voice. So it turned out OK. I’ve since given up any dream of Pikachu ever learning or speaking Japanese."
3. Pikachu changed genders more than once
"When the first game came out, the Pokemon were neither male nor female. But by the second version, some Pokemon were male, others female. But in the second series, in the game, some were boys and some were girls. To me, they’re neither. But the production staff thought that Pikachu should be a boy, because if he were a girl, it could change the relationship between Pikachu and Satoshi (Ash Ketchum). I didn’t totally agree with that, so for the English version, I suggested that Pikachu be made an “it” rather than a “he” or “she.” Then, the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t like hearing Pikachu referred to as an it."
4. She also voiced other Pokémon
"Yes. The first one I did was Tosakinto (Goldeen), the very sexy goldfish. Then, I did Saniigo (Corsola) and Nazonokusa (Oddish)—there are a lot of those Pokemon, so many other voice actors have done them as well, but I was the first."
5. And those talking Pikachu toys we all wanted
"And those talking Pikachu toys, is that your voice as well?"
"Yes. No one else has ever done the voice of the Pikachu owned by Satoshi (Ash). There are other Pikachus owned by other trainers, and other actors do the voices of those."
6. She had no idea how popular Pikachu was
"I didn’t have a clue! There were Pokemon posters all over the room at the audition, and production officials were telling me that the characters were really popular among kids. All I could say was, “Oh, really?” The other voice actors auditioning for the roles had the same reaction. None of us knew how popular these characters really were!"
If you want to hear Ikue speak like Pikachu check out this clip from a Japanese TV-show where she shows off her amazing voice-acting skills. It's really quite incredible to watch!
Source: Manga University