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The Electric Tale of Pikachu (Japanese: ポケットモンスター・電撃ピカチュウ Pocket Monsters: Dengeki Pikachu) is a four-volume manga series made by Toshihiro Ono and serialized in CoroCoro. It is loosely based on the Pokémon anime.
The manga follows the overall plot of the Pokémon: Indigo League and Pokémon: Adventures in the Orange Islands seasons of the anime. However, the story is not very sequential, as only a few select anime episodes were picked to be adapted into manga form. The manga concludes with Ash's victory in the Orange League.
The Pokémon illustrations in this manga are not based off of the official artwork by Ken Sugimori, and so many appear to be more/less stylized in comparison.
Differences between the anime and the manga
- The characters are the same as in the anime, although characters differ between versions in significant ways. Ash does a significant amount of traveling on his own, although Misty and Brock appear frequently as traveling companions.
- Many main and recurring characters own Pokémon that they do not own in the anime, such as Ash's Fearow.
- Occasionally, a story from the anime will be adapted to the manga, but will be altered slightly. For example, in Play Misty For Me, Ash battles Misty for the Cascade Badge just like in the anime; however, she challenges him to retrieve his hat from her rather than a traditional battle.
- Sabrina is shown as a kind, caring person, unlike in other depictions where she is shown as cold and indifferent to others.
- Unlike in the anime, Gary Oak is shown to have a sister named May Oak.
- Jessie and James are canonically confirmed as a couple in this manga: they are shown to be married at the end of volume four.
- Captured Pokémon are assigned "ranks" based on their rarity. Rank D Pokémon (such as Mankey) are the most common, while Rank A Pokémon (such as Clefairy) are the rarest.
- Ash's clothes differ in this manga from time to time.
The Electric Tale of Pikachu has been released in English by both VIZ Media and Chuang Yi.
The Electric Tale of Pikachu was the first Pokémon manga to be translated officially into English, making its debut in sampler editions included with home video releases of the Pokémon anime and subsequently released in full as sixteen monthly issues. These sixteen monthly issues were treated as four separate series, each consisting of four issues, and ran from November 1998 through February 2000. When the issues were collected for their graphic novels, each volume was named for their four-issue arc: The Electric Tale of Pikachu, Pikachu Shocks Back, Electric Pikachu Boogaloo and Surf's Up, Pikachu. The VIZ graphic novels do not mention any volume numbers or relation to each other, as each volume is titled as though it is a separate series.
The manga was heavily promoted by VIZ Media and was featured in several commercial advertisements. Aside from the promotional home video samplers, a collection was also released featuring the first two chapters entitled the Special Signature Edition Red Version. This special edition was included with a Pokémon Video Suitcase promotional set.
The Electric Tale of Pikachu was also released by Chuang Yi in their publishing region. Since the translations were licensed from VIZ Media's version, they contain all of the same edits. Chuang Yi's volumes do not have individual titles, though they also use the same English title The Electric Tale of Pikachu.
Chuang Yi's version of Volume 2, while based on VIZ Media's translation, restored the final two pages of To Evolve or Not to Evolve, That Is the Question! which were omitted from VIZ Media's version. As VIZ Media chose to omit the pages originally, these pages are the only two of the manga which Chuang Yi translated themselves.
In Brazil, the first volume of this series was released in four monthly issues. These are direct translations of VIZ Media's monthly issues and therefore contain all of VIZ Media's edits.
In Canada, a French edition titled L'aventure électrique de Pikachu was published by Imavision Distribution, the same company that released the Pokémon anime on VHS and DVD in French-speaking regions of Canada. The French version includes the first four monthly issues and are directly based on VIZ Media's English version, including edits. The order of the issues for ET02 and ET03 is reversed in the French publication as well, just like the English.
In the Greater China region, the manga has been translated to Mandarin by Da Ran as 電擊皮卡丘 in Taiwan and to Cantonese as 電擊比卡超.
There was also a translation in Indonesian, renamed as Kisah Pikachu yang Menggetarkan.
Controversy and censorship
Comparison of several scenes between the original magazine version and the Japanese volume version
This manga is perhaps the most controversial Pokémon manga ever published, due almost entirely to the fact that the original Japanese version of the manga series had a lot of sexual content, including women such as Misty, Jessie and the Sensational Sisters given oversized busts, often accompanied by skimpy clothing or swimwear. In order to make the series marketable to younger English-speaking readers, much of this was censored during VIZ Media's translations and all of the sexual content was taken out, leading to a "cleaner" version of the manga for international readers. The Japanese volumes of the manga were also slightly censored from the original versions published in CoroCoro. According to Toshihiro Ono, these edits were done by himself.
One scene in particular that was heavily edited was when Ash battles Misty for the Cascade Badge in Play Misty For Me. In the original, Misty wears a very revealing swimsuit, which is completely redrawn as a wetsuit in the English version.
There was one scene that was removed altogether from the English version. It is the original ending of To Evolve or Not to Evolve, That Is the Question!. This scene was set in a hot spring, and it pictured a naked Misty (with Pikachu) relaxing and washing herself, making a comment about how her chest should evolve, too. All of a sudden, Ash, Mikey and Brock are seen sitting in another hot spring, and they see Misty washing herself. Misty, noticing their presence, is extremely embarrassed and feels very violated; and she runs away in anger. This scene was likely deleted due to excessive nudity and the adult nature of the scene. This scene, however, is not removed from Chuang Yi's version.
Scene removed from the North American adaptation
Page 1 of the scene that was removed by American censors.
Page 2 of the scene that was removed by American censors.
English translation by Chuang Yi.
-  (provides a side-by-side comparison of the English and Japanese versions)