What was that other Pokemon that could use the Thunderstone besides Eevee?
You mean Eelektrik?
Yeah! That guy!
The world of video games is a harsh one. For every Mario there’s a Luigi. For every Sonic vs Shadow rivalry, there was once an echidna who used to mean something. Pokemon is no different a case, especially as we investigate the poor tale of Raichu.
First let’s look at Raichu’s younger, slimmer, trimmer, little bro Pikachu. In the past, he used to be a plump little mouse living in harmony with his big bro. They were a humble Pokemon family of humble beginnings, always looking up to the mascot of the games, Clefairy. One day, though, Clefairy got the boot from the mascot’s chair, the artists wanted someone easier to draw, and they looked no further than our friend Pikachu. Raichu was so happy. Surely Pikachu would bring honor and glory to their family, especially with a baby brother on his way too! But little did the eldest brother know that his troubles were just beginning.
Getting an anime helped spread the fame of Pikachu far and wide, commanded by the foolish Ash. When the time for Raichu’s debut came, it was of course to motivate Pikachu, to give him a looming towering rival, and to be the Goliath to Pikachu’s David. Sure he had to play Mister Bad Guy, but it was all for the family. Besides, Raichu got his chance to shine on the stage that counted the most to any Pokemon fan, in a place far superior to the lackluster anime in every way, the battlefield.
Raichu had everything going for him in battle. Sure he was no Zapdos or Jolteon, but everything Pika could do Rai could do better. No better was this seen than Raichu’s ability to make Pikachu’s Surf attacks tsunamis that destroyed ground types, something that the higher tier electric types certainly envied. Raichu was a solid Under-Used champion until Gold and Silver were released. Along with baby brother Pichu arriving, so came the mascot family’s crown jewel, the Light Ball. The wielder would receive a doubled Special Attack, turning Thunderbolts into weapons of mass fainting. However, this awesome item would only be given to Pikachu; hands off, Raichu.
Things were still somewhat fine for Raichu. Now Pikachu could go toe-to-toe with him, as a worthy rival who was only ten points slower than him, but also ten points stronger. Raichu was already fine sharing the spotlight, but things were about to get crowded. Everyone was enamored with the new Pichu, and everywhere you went you could see Pichu (and his brother Pichu) sharing on-screen antics with Pikachu, who fans still stood faithfully by. There was just no room for Raichu to participate; big bro Raichu was starting to feel middle-child syndrome, but maybe he’ll get a chance to shine when that new Ruby and Sapphire thing comes out?
While no new family came with generation three, long lost evolutionary cousins came instead, two of them to be exact. Plusle and Minun barged onto the scene ready to play with their experienced friend. Perhaps Raichu could join the fun in one of those new double battles? But three’s company and four’s a crowd; everyone would rather pay attention to Pikachu, Plusle, and Minun. Even Pichu got a little bit of attention now and then in Pokemon Channel.
The generations kept coming and going. We had Pachirisu, Emolga and Dedenne. New Pikachu cousins would arrive, only to be replaced by the newer model as Raichu, the original, languished in his obscurity. Maybe he would get an anime episode once every few hundred episodes, and he and his fans would be content. Someday his day would come in a celebration of the storied legacy of the series.
A celebration that would become a slap in the face with the dawn of Mega Evolution. Other Kanto brethren got Mega Forms so perhaps Mega Raichu could debut? …And yet that would mean upstaging Pikachu. There’s no way we would make Mega Raichu the star of the games, and the marketing tool that is the anime would never have Ash evolve his beloved Pikachu so he could become Mega. Raichu would forever stand in the way of giving a Mega to his family and the possible shred of even being viable in the higher tiers, just by existing. Isn’t it sad, Raichu?
Alas, that is the sad store of a sad Pokemon, forever doomed to hide in the shadow of the mascot or at least for now. You never know Game Freak, sometimes. If they could give Flareon Flare Blitz, there could be hope for Raichu to become relevant. Only time will tell. Join me next time when I foolishly attempt to make Regigiggas not terrible.
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