Ikue Ōtani has spent 19 years voicing Pokémon’s iconic electric mouse, but she has often been teased about the part that she has played in bringing Pikachu to life.
As Ash’s Pikachu can only say “pika” or “pikachu,” she has often been mocked about what other actors see as a relatively effortless role to play.
“In the beginning, I was often ridiculed with people saying, ‘It’s great that you only have to say ‘pika pika.’ However, I’ve never only said ‘pika,’” Otani shared with Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, in discussing her experiences.
With limited guidance in the script, she must relate Pikachu’s interaction with other characters to the scenes that are unfolding around it.
“If you don’t have a clear understanding of what you want to say in the scene and come up with a plan for your performance, you won’t convey anything. Because, if there’s the same nuance, then it would just be okay to use [previously] recorded material. I give every single word my all.”
Ōtani also voices One Piece’s Tony Tony Chopper, Mitsuhiko Tsuburaya in Detective Conan and Uchi no Sanshimai’s Fu.