Talkachu, I choose…you? As Dexerto reports, “Gotta catch ’em all,” almost became “Gotta sush ’em all,” thanks to an ill-conceived plan to have more Pokemon ditch their limited speech patterns and start rambling on like Meowth. According to the CEO of the Pokemon Company, at one point, there were plans to have the Pokemon in the popular Pokemon anime speak like humans until someone came to their senses and realized what a bad idea that would be.
“There was a time in the TV anime when we were exploring the possibility of a future where various Pokemon other than Meowth would be able to speak human language.”Tsunekazu Ishihara, Pokemon Company CEO
Pokemon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara recently revealed in an interview regarding Detective Pikachu Returns that there was a time during the production of the popular anime that he and the other execs were “exploring the possibility of a future where various Pokemon other than Meowth would be able to speak human language.”
Thankfully, Ishihara ultimately decided against the idea partly because, as the CEO admits, he thought it was “far-fetched to have an old man on the inside.”
Presumably, the CEO is referring to the potential talking Pokemon having the personality of an old man rather than actual geriatrics climbing inside the Pokemon and wearing them like a skinsuit—although, should the company ever decide to go that way, they should definitely get Junji Ito to do the concept designs.
“In the end, we decided not to do anything, but I continued to wonder if there was a way. I thought it was a far-fetched idea to have an “old man” on the inside, but at the same time I felt it had potential. After various experiments, I finally arrived at Detective Pikachu.”Tsunekazu Ishihara, Pokemon Company CEO
Interesting to note is that Ishihara found a Pokemon with an inner grandpa to be far-fetched but has no problem with one that is a living trash bag or a terrifying porcine hybrid creature that’s half pig and half spring.
The CEO couldn’t shake the idea of babbling beasts, however, and eventually worked the talking Pokemon concept into the first Detective Pikachu game for the Nintendo 3DS. The notion of a talking Pokemon—specifically the franchise’s flagship furball Pikachu—proved to be popular enough with fans that a Detective Pikachu movie was released in 2019 with Ryan Reynolds voicing the title character.
Anyone familiar with the Pokemon corner of the internet around the time the movie was announced will remember the strong push to have Danny Devito voice Detective Pikachu—a prospect some fans are still salty about being deprived of.
Given how annoying Meowth’s stereotypical, Bugs Bunny-style faux Brooklyn accent is, it’s probably a good thing that talking Pokemon never came to pass.
The Pokemon anime features hundreds of highly marketable creatures that—with few exceptions—only have the ability to communicate by saying their own name. Squirtles can only exclaim, “Squirtle, Squirtle!” Pikachu can only say variations of the word “Pikachu,” Psyduck can only moan, “Psyduck,” and so on and so forth. The one major exception to this rule is the Meowth, belonging to the series’ antagonists, Team Rocket.
Given how annoying Meowth’s stereotypical, Bugs Bunny-style faux Brooklyn accent is, it’s probably a good thing that talking Pokemon never came to pass. We can’t imagine how creepy it would be if a Diglett suddenly popped out of the ground speaking like a well-to-do British gentleman or if cute little Togepi started talking to Misty like a fifty-year-old heavy smoker.
This is conjecture on our part, of course, but knowing what we know about anime, we can only assume the creators wouldn’t be able to help themselves when it came to giving the various Pokemon species wacky accents.
Thankfully, talking Pokemon as a concept is mostly relegated to the Detective Pikachu series and not the main anime. Still, if Danny Devito ever wants to start voicing a Pokemon, it doesn’t matter which one; we would be all over that, like Brock trying to razz up Nurse Joy.