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What deep, dark secrets does this Pikachu hold within its plushy gut?

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Photo from @tiffako

Pokémon’s yellow mascot is ageless. The franchise celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, but aside from some small tweaks, Pikachu remains as reliably cute as it was the day it was introduced. But now, we have photographic evidence that something has gone terribly awry. Behold: the melting Pikachu of your darkest dreams.

Kotaku first called these images Pikachu in real life, which I honestly relate to. This is me every time I tell my friends I’m busy and stay in on a Saturday to watch Netflix.

But I think this rabbit hole goes deeper. This is not the Pikachu who fans know and love. I humbly submit to you, readers, that this Pikachu is a space and time anomaly aging with the franchise, a Dorian Gray of Pokémon products enabling the mascot version to remain ever popular.

Crunchyroll’s Tiffa Suzuki has more photos on Twitter of the Japan-located toy, including a stab as to what this beanbag monstrosity is actually supposed to be. If it hadn’t wilted under the weight of its burden, this giant stuffed Pikachu might look like this:

It’s not so little in the middle because a longer waist allows for more hug room, I assume, but even with this modification, it’s still clearly on brand. According to HobbyLinkJapan’s website, this particular plush was released in December 2016 and has since been discontinued. Hmm.

There are many reasons to believe this is not, in fact, the same Pikachu. The sheer girth of the store version makes me narrow my eyes in doubt, as does the material that aches to escape its soft yellow confines. The poreless fabric of the catalog version doesn’t look like it would support a chin, and oh boy does that big ol’ store Pikachu definitely have a chin. There’s something very “other” about the original photo that makes me think we’re dealing with a creature beyond the sweet simpleton directly above.

Look, I’m aware the normal laws of aging do not apply to fictional characters. I’m not crazy! I watch The Simpsons; I know how it works. But there’s something sinister about this strange, smooshy ’chu, quietly smiling among the severed heads of its brethren. It is the face of a being who has seen the great span of more decades than we mere humans can count. Its expression is a quiet acknowledgment that this world is temporary, including its own silent existence.

How soon can I get one for my home?