This card was originally released as a promotional card with artwork by Kagemaru Himeno. In Japan, it was available as an insert with the Pokémon 2nd Anniversary Calendar, released in October 1998. The English version was available through a Wizards of the Coast mail campaign in which people would draw a picture of what their favorite card would be and, in return, Wizards of the Coast would send them the Birthday Pikachu card through the mail. The mail-in campaign ran from September to November 2000. It was later reprinted with new artwork by the same artist in Japan as a promotional card for the sixth volume of the manga series, How I Became a Pokémon Card released in September 2001. The Japanese Natta Wake promotional version was printed on non-glossy card stock.
This card is popularly known as Happy Birthday Pikachu, in reference to the illustration.
At the height of the Pokémon phenomenon, the Japanese version was one of the most sought after cards in the world, after a rumor spread by Japanese and American dealers that it had a very limited print run and that within weeks of its initial release, it had sold out. The craze that followed saw the card sell for as much as $500 overseas. After it emerged the card was not that rare, the demand and price declined.
The card was immediately banned by Wizards upon its release, due to the fact that any player could claim it was their birthday in order to gain the potential 50 extra damage on the card's attack. This ban covered both the Unlimited format and the Modified format, one of only two cards to fall under this distinction (Ancient Mew is the other). Both Japanese prints have the clause "(This card cannot be used at official tournaments)" on the card bottom.
The Japanese promotional reprint is commonly known as Natta Wake Birthday Pikachu in reference to the manga book in which it was distributed. This version is considerably rarer than the regular Japanese promotional version, making it one of the most desirable Birthday Pikachu cards printed.