Right here on Exp. Share, Kotaku’s weekly Pokémon column, I look again at numerous nonsense and funky shit from the collection’ lengthy historical past. However as gamers and followers, all of us expertise that historical past in our personal means. A lot of my expertise of the collection and so lots of my very own cherished recollections of it over time are carefully related to one explicit Pokémon: Raichu. I’ve been serious about him so much recently. Nicely, to be clear, I’m all the time serious about him as a result of, out of all 1000+ Pokémon, the evolution of the collection’ electrical mouse is my all-time favourite pocket monster. However recently, I’m serious about him so much as a result of my man can’t appear to get any respect within the Pokémon franchise, and who amongst us isn’t serious about what it feels prefer to not be revered by big companies as of late? I wrote about this phenomenon a couple of years again at my final job, however on condition that the web is consistently being torn down round us, who is aware of if that article will nonetheless exist in six months? So, let’s as soon as once more speak about Raichu and The Pokémon Firm’s unending quest to depart him within the filth for his more-popular little brother.
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For those who’re simply tuning in, Raichu is the absolutely developed type of Pikachu, the collection’ cute mascot. Raichu is simply as cute as his evolutionary predecessor, however his design undoubtedly leans into the cooler, older aesthetic you’d count on of a Pokémon evolution. He’s just a little bit greater, his tail adjustments from the enduring electrical bolt to an extended, mouse-like tail with a smaller bolt on the finish, and his voice shifts from Pikachu’s high-pitched sweetness to a raspier tone. He guidelines. He’s, for all intents and functions, my associate Pokémon in the identical means Pikachu is to Ash Ketchum within the anime. I catch him in each recreation and he takes the lead slot in my social gathering each time.
Picture: The Pokémon Firm / Bulbapedia
However The Pokémon Firm as a complete doesn’t have the identical love for him as I and lots of others do. Raichu has been a punching bag for the corporate over time, and in the event that they’re not making a mockery of him, they’re ignoring or altering him solely. This pattern solidified itself within the anime, which launched Raichu to viewers by means of Ash’s battle with Lt. Surge. The Vermillion Metropolis fitness center chief makes use of a Raichu, and the whole episode is about Ash and Pikachu deciding in the event that they need to evolve into Raichu utilizing a Thunder Stone.
The perks are apparent. Raichu has extra energy than Pikachu, as is made clear by Surge’s absolutely developed mouse hospitalizing Ash’s Pikachu after their battle. However the essential lesson discovered right here is that Surge developed his Pikachu right into a Raichu too early, and utilizing Stones to evolve means you’ll get an instantaneous energy enhance, however a Pokémon received’t be taught any new strikes on this kind. That’s the mechanical trade-off you get within the Pokémon video games, and the episode illustrates this by having Pikachu win the battle utilizing talents it discovered by coaching as a pre-evolution stage.
In a vacuum, the episode is nice. It’s such a intelligent technique to weave the supply materials’s online game nonsense into a decent story that has a stunning message: you shouldn’t change your self to satisfy the expectations of others. However man, has the underlying message of “Pikachu is best than Raichu” bled into all the things that adopted.
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Pokémon video games have causes for you to not evolve Pikachu baked into their techniques. The Gentle Ball held merchandise powers up Pikachu’s stats, however not Raichu’s, which means a well-spec’d Pikachu might simply outperform its developed kind if it’s bought one among these dangerous boys. Pikachu additionally will get a brand new Gigantamax kind in Sword and Protect, however Raichu must be content material with simply Dynamaxing as a substitute of getting a cool, kaiju redesign.
Picture: Nintendo / Bulbapedia
However the one time Raichu bought any respect was when Sport Freak determined to alter him into one thing else solely. Solar and Moon launched regional variants, and that included an Alolan type of Raichu. He’s an electrical/psychic-type Pokémon now, and he surfs on his tail. Sure, sure, it’s cute and also you simply need to give him a giant ol’ hug. Nicely, not me, reader. This pancake-eating motherfucker is a continuing reminder that if Raichu is to get any highlight, The Pokémon Firm would quite it not be within the kind individuals like me have beloved for therefore lengthy, however as a substitute simply as a type of canvas it may possibly use to pitch some new thought it has.
That is the saddest a part of The Pokémon Firm’s remedy of Raichu, to me. You spend years with this iconic Pokémon (perhaps not as iconic as Pikachu, however nonetheless iconic nonetheless) that individuals have adored for a few years, and as a substitute of lifting it up and giving it the find it irresistible must shine additional, you bury it beneath a brand new, bastardized model of what you need it to be, and lose sight of why individuals beloved it within the first place. The Raichu we all know and love nonetheless exists, but it surely’s in a relentless battle with The Pokémon Firm for an oz of respect. It will get no Mega Evolution, no Gigantamax, Pikachu doesn’t evolve into it in Pokémon Unite, and it by no means makes an look in any of the combating video games Pikachu reveals up in except it’s as Alolan Raichu in Tremendous Smash Bros.
Screenshot: The Pokémon Firm / Kotaku
However regardless of The Pokémon Firm’s greatest efforts, Raichu stays thriving and is doing his greatest. In Scarlet and Violet final 12 months, he and I grew to become Paldea’s champions and saved the area from a possible cataclysmic occasion. Come December, we’re most likely going to try this once more when The Indigo Disk DLC comes out. As a lot because the individuals up high need Raichu to simply sway within the background as Pikachu laps up all the cash and Alolan Raichu kind of replaces it within the public consciousness, individuals like myself and different long-time followers know who the actual king is, and can stand in solidarity as The Pokémon Firm tries to section him out.