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Discussion Starter #1
In the "Who is here" thread, Mark Andre asked:

> My kids are big fans of Pikachu (the Pokemon, that is) and want to ask
> Robert (NJ-Pikachu) how his car was named such? VW did a couple of
> New Beetles in Pikachu treatment (they were later sold on eBay I
> believe) and wonder if Robert is contemplating similar paintwork for his
> Prius?

I started answering and realized I was taking up a lot of space, so I figured I better start a new thread so "Who is here" wouldn't get overloaded.

Why Pikachu, you ask? I guess the Pok�on craze was winding down about the time I got my Prius, but it was still fairly popular with the kids. I'd wasted quite a few hours of my life with the game too. Anyway, a lot of the character names were modifications of the English words for the types of animals they were. But a few were clearly not English and had a Japanese sound to them, including Pikachu. Pikachu was an electric mouse, so I thought maybe "pikachu" was a modification of the Japanese word for mouse or rodent or something like that. It was fun to think that Pikachu was Japanese for "electric mouse", though I never researched it further.

While my Prius was on order, I discovered the Prius and Insight groups on Yahoo. A lot of people were ordering vanity plates to try to draw attention to their hybrids. It sounded like a good idea to me, even though I'd never had a reason to get a vanity plate before. So on a lark, I ordered one and put Pikachu as my first choice, the rest of the list was more mundane. I didn't really think it was possible for Pikachu to still be available, but sure enough, about 6 weeks later two PIKACHU plates arrived, and my Prius has been Pikachu ever since. It occured to me that PIKACHU was really more appropriate for the citrus yellow/green Insight, so I briefly considered applying for Raichu since that's the larger Japanese electric rodent, but I decided that had very low recognition potential.

I've taken a bit of flak from my coworkers, and most people don't seem to get the reference but once I went to visit friends in Boston and on first seeing my car, one of them said: "So that's your small Japanese electric rodent, huh. Pretty cool." I was glad someone got the reference right away. I think most people don't realize they're looking at an electric car when they see the license. It's too bad the Hybrid logo doesn't show up well against the silver background, maybe I should get that custom yellow paint job that showed up on the Japanese site :) I occasionally entertain the thought of getting some Pikachu tail lightning bolts painted on it.

I painted a clothespin grey and glued a little Pikachu model to it, then clipped it to the center kid seat mount point on the rear deck. This particular model was holding up one hand in a peace sign, which also just happened to be the V for Voltage hand signal that people were suggesting as a Prius greeting back then. So there's a little Pikachu waving out the rear window at those who follow. He acquired a little US flag from one of my kids toys last October (I didn't want a drag inducing outside flag, but an inside flag seemed appropriate).

A couple times a year I seem to get tagged for field trip transportation duty and the kids love getting to ride in Pikachu. My 8-year old son likes me to turn on the energy display then, so he can explain to his friends how the electric motor is saving energy when I slow down. I think it's cool that he does such a good job telling them what's going on. And its fun to watch them suddenly realize that Pikachu got his name because he's an electric car.

Early on a few people on the net wondered why I used masculine pronouns when refering to my car. One even suggested that Pok�on never established a gender for Pikachu. I was pretty sure that the particular Pikachu that's the star of Pok�on was male, but I went back to check the old tapes anyway. It turns out they refer to Pikachu about 50/50 as "it" vs. "he/him", but never "she/her". So I'm sticking with male.

So now you know far more than you ever wanted to about Pikachu.

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Robert:

Many thanks for the full explanation; no it wasn't more than
we wanted to know!

A "pika" or "cony" is actually not a rodent, rather more related to
rabbits and hares. But it's much smaller than a rabbit and much more
rodent-like in appearance. The explanation that I heard is that
the folks at Nintendo-GameFreak-JR Kikaku thought a pika was a
mouse, and so the trading card lists Pikachu as such.

I've never heard anyone explain "chu" but it is used in Japanese
comic books to express the sound of "smack" as in a kiss or getting
hit by something (maybe a lightning bolt?) Pikachu charges up with
a long "Pikkkkaa" and then lets fly with 10,000 volts with a "CHU!"

Rather than get too far off topic, I'll wrap, but I'm of half a mind to get
Pikachu vanity plates for our Pricchu now.

Best,

Mark
 
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