An enormous stuffed Pikachu bobbed and weaved through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, making its first appearance in a parade as a tribute to him—just in time for Halloween.
The Pikachu 2017 Replica was created by the animator Joshua Rodes and displayed in public for the first time on Thursday.
The 18-inch costume was designed by Rodes, whom you might recognize as the subject of “Possibly You?” a billboard campaign promoting the documentary by Mark Ghanime. In an email interview with the New York Times, he said that he was inspired by his passion for typography, drawing and the city of New York. Pikachu is a favorite character of Ghanime’s.
“From the very first moment I met Josh, the first thing he told me is how much he loved Pokémon,” Ghanime said. “I told him that he could create a Pikachu that was 100 percent in Niantic’s hands—that it had to be Pikachu in all his glory, and that Pikachu had to be recognizable from his yellow and green anime days.”
Ghanime noted that Rodes was careful to incorporate elements from Pikachu in a way that won’t tarnish the style of his original design.
“One of the few things Josh didn’t want to do was a Pikachu that looks anything like Pikachu originally,” he said. “The best they could do was the version of Pikachu that was done for Niantic’s app: the 2017 Pikachu, which has no Pokeballs, no balls and Pikachu wears sunglasses. They definitely tried to make the Pikachu a bit less cartoonish. Josh kept pointing out to me that they needed to be careful not to ‘unsell Pikachu’ or get people mad that Pikachu was different from his days on television.”
The animator also made Pikachu unique to New York, tossing a white flag in a nod to the flag of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September.
Though Rodes clearly loves Pikachu, he’s not a fan of other Pokémon and is not even a true fan of the Pokémon movie series.
“The main thing I’ve enjoyed about the Pikachu for a long time is the story—which always goes along with Pikachu’s cool infectiousness—but in order to have Pikachu on stage at my first ever parade, Josh was going to have to tread a bit carefully, as it is such a beloved and recognized character,” he said. “So if you listen closely to the parade, he makes sure that Pikachu has more than one costume and props in the parade, but with each and every one, he tweaks it to make sure it’s 100 percent Pikachu and none of the other characters.”
And to show how passionate Rodes is about all things Pikachu, he took it upon himself to create a cutout of Pikachu for the parade.