Here on Exp. Share, Kotakuis weekly Pokémon In my column I look back at various nonsense and cool stuff from the long history of the series. But as players and fans, we all experience this story in our own way. Many of my experiences with the series, and so many of my own treasured memories of it over the years, are closely tied to one particular Pokémon: Raichu. I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately. Well, to be clear: I always think about him, mainly because Over 1000 Pokémon, the evolution of the series’ electric mouse, is my absolute favorite pocket monster. But lately I’ve been thinking about him a lot because my husband doesn’t seem to get any respect Pokémon franchise, and who among us doesn’t think about what it feels like these days to be disrespected by giant corporations? I wrote about this phenomenon a few years ago at my last job, but who knows if this article will still exist in six months, considering the constant destruction of the Internet around us? So let’s talk again about Raichu and The Pokémon Company’s never-ending quest to leave him in the dirt for his more popular little brother.
If you’re just tuning in, Raichu is the fully evolved form of Pikachu, the series’ adorable mascot. Raichu is just as cute as its evolutionary predecessor, but its design definitely leans towards the cooler, older aesthetic you’d expect from a Pokémon evolution. He is slightly larger, his tail changes from the iconic electric bolt to a longer, mouse-like tail with a smaller bolt at the end, and his voice changes from Pikachu’s high, sweet voice to a rougher tone. He governs. He is my partner Pokémon in every way, just like Pikachu Ash Ketchum in the anime. I catch him in every game and every time he takes the top spot in my group.
But The Pokémon Company as a whole doesn’t have the same love for him as I and many others do. Raichu has been a punching bag for the company over the years, and when they weren’t making fun of him, they were ignoring him or changing him entirely. This trend solidified in the anime, which introduced viewers to Raichu through Ash’s battle with Lt. Surge introduced. Vermillion City’s gym leader uses a Raichu, and the entire episode is about Ash and Pikachu using a Thunderstone to decide whether to evolve into Raichu.
The advantages are apparent. Raichu has more power than Pikachu, as shown by Surge’s fully evolved mouse, who hospitalizes Ash’s Pikachu after their battle. But the key lesson learned here is that Surge evolved his Pikachu into a Raichu too early, and using stones to evolve means you get an instant power boost, but a Pokemon doesn’t learn new moves in this form . That’s the mechanical compromise you’re making Pokémon games, and the episode illustrates this by having Pikachu win the battle using skills learned through training as a pre-evolution stage.
In a vacuum, the episode is great. It’s such a clever way of weaving the video game nonsense of the source material into an exciting story that has a beautiful message: you shouldn’t change yourself to meet other people’s expectations. But man, the underlying message of “Pikachu is better than Raichu” flowed into everything that followed.
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Pokémon Games have reasons for not incorporating Pikachu into their systems. The held ball of light boosts Pikachu’s stats but not Raichu’s, meaning a well-equipped Pikachu could easily surpass his evolved form if he has one of these bad boys. Pikachu also gets a new Gigantamax form sword And Signbut Raichu just has to settle for dynamaxing instead of getting a cool kaiju redesign.
But the only time Raichu got any respect was when Game Freak decided to turn him into something completely different. Sun And moon introduced regional variants, and this included an Alolan form of Raichu. He is now an Electric/Psychic Pokémon and surfs on his tail. Yes, yes, it’s adorable and you just want to hug him tight. Well, not me, dear reader. This pancake-eating motherfucker constantly reminds us that if Raichu is going to be in the spotlight, The Pokémon Company would rather it not be in the form that people like me have loved for so long, but rather just as some kind of canvas that it can use to pitch a new idea that it has.
This, to me, is the saddest part of The Pokémon Company’s treatment of Raichu. You spend years with this iconic Pokémon (maybe not as iconic as Pikachu, but iconic nonetheless) that people have adored for many years, and instead of lifting it up and giving it the love it needs to continue to shine, you bury it it under a new, distorted version of what you want, while losing sight of why people loved it in the first place. The Raichu we know and love still exists, but it’s in a constant battle with The Pokémon Company for an ounce of respect. There is no Mega Evolution, no Gigantamax, Pikachu does not evolve into it Pokémon Uniteand it never appears in any of the fighting games that Pikachu appears in unless it is playing the role of Alolan Raichu Super Smash Bros.
But despite the Pokémon Company’s best efforts, Raichu continues to do well and do his best. In Scarlet fever And Violet Last year, he and I became the champions of Paldea and saved the region from potential disaster catastrophic event. We’ll probably do this again in December The Indigo Disc DLC appears. As much as the people at the top want Raichu to just languish in the background while Pikachu takes up all the money and Alolan Raichu more or less pushes him out of the public consciousness, people like me and other long-time fans know who the real king is, and will stand in solidarity as The Pokémon Company attempts to remove him from circulation.