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The Pokemon anime is the reason why Pikachu's design went from chubby to more svelte

Weight and see
by rawmeatcowboy
25 December 2019
GN Version 5.0

Back when Pokemon premiered, Pikachu's design was quite a bit chubbier. That design didn't stay around long though, as Pikachu ended up getting a makeover that had him a bit thinner. Turns out it was the Pokemon anime that lead to this design change, as explained by Ken Sugimori below.

"We were also influenced by the introduction of the [anime]. Since the animation had them doing a variety of movements, including human-like gestures, we changed the shape of Pikachu's body to make acting easier. While Pikachu was originally very short and stout, we gradually gave it a more defined neck and elongated its spine. The Pikachu appearing in the Pokemon series after the broadcast of the animated series was influenced by how it appeared in the show."

[Link, Link]