Snorlax’s Inspiration Is Finally Confirmed
During a recent interview with Japanese newspaper Yomiuri, Pokémon art director Ken Sugimori revealed the man who inspired Snorlax: planner Koji Nishino.
Nishino has worked on the series since the first Red and Green games were released in Japan. Although it was never 100 percent clear that he was the beloved Pokémon’s inspiration, it looks like he officially served as Snorlax’s model.
“(Nishino), with this (huge) appearance, was the model for the Snorlax Pokémon,” Sugimori said. “Though, he’s abnormally fussy about cute things.”
With this fussiness about cute things, it’s no surprise then that Nishino created Pikachu with graphic artist Atsuko Nishida, as he outlined in the same interview.
“Nishida-san and I corresponded while creating Pikachu, and the name Pikachu really resonated for me personally and I thought ‘cute,’ and from there I started liking Pikachu more and more,” he said. “For this reason, when I was shown the daifuku-like design, I asked Nishida-san “to make (the design) even cuter.”
Nishino even said that he was one of the main reasons that Pikachu was a somewhat “rare character” that didn’t appear much in random encounters.
“This is embarrassing, but since I like Pikachu so much, I get this feeling of ‘not wanting to let other people have Pikachu,'” he said. “At first, I even considered simply ‘hiding’ Pikachu.”
And when asked about creating the “next” Pikachu, Nishino seemed confident to leave his legacy alone.
“As an artist, it is always my intent to create characters that can be cherished,” he said. “However, for now Pikachu is a one-and-only. It was a big surprise that my hard work that went into getting Nishino-san’s approval led to a worldwide popularity as a result.”
Prior to the confirmation of Nishino’s Snorlax inspiration, an image of him saying “Snorlax is like my kid” circulated online, which fuelled the rumors.
— 梅子＠超社会級のダイハル熱 (@Umekopyon) January 29, 2015
Snorlax is called “Kabigon” in Japanese, which is rumored to be Nishino’s nickname. Apparently “kabi” (カビ）means “mold,” and Nishino gained the nickname because he would eat food even if it turned moldy.