If you’re even remotely a Pokemon fan, you’ve probably heard about “Gorochu” in the past month or so. In an interview with the original creation team behind Pokemon – Ken Sugimori, Atsuko Nishida and Koji Nishino , we not only learned that Pikachu was based on a squirrel instead of a mouse; but also that Raichu originally had a 3rd form named Gorochu, which “bared fangs and even had a pair of horns.” As for why Gorochu never made it into the final game, Sugimori claims it was due to balance. Now considering Raichu has gotten much love – or power – in the series, I don’t really understand how it getting an evolution would cause ‘balance’ problems. Though the biggest question is actually, WHAT would Gorochu have looked like?
A bunch of artists have put forth their own interpretations – my personal favorite was done by @emdyofficial over on Instagram. Though while I positively love their art style – as well as all the other variations artists have posted – I can’t help but feel these designs look more like “Mega Raichu” as opposed to an “evolution”. Mega Evolution has often been criticized as just giving the existing Pokemon more spikes or hair; and that is what I feel these designs do (only better). They’re epic Mega Raichus but are they really ‘Gorochu’? Think of Charmander, that goes from lizard to raptor to dragon.
So I wanted to try my hand at it and share my thought process on the matter. Is my design perfect? Absolutely not! Hell, I’ll probably keep playing with it as time goes on; but I did want to share my research so that maybe more artists can be inspired to give a crack at this mystery-mon. This will certainly be a departure from my usual articles, but hopefully my existing readers will enjoy it all the same – and inspire them a bit too.
Consideration #1: Kangaroo Rat Raichu
We might have just learned that Pikachu was inspired by a Squirrel, but Raichu has always been inspired by a kangaroo rat. Two furry creatures known for their tails. So if Raichu were to evolve, who’s to say the focus wouldn’t have been in the tail?
Consideration #2: Evolving Body Shape
Whereas Pikachu might be skinny now, in Gen 1 – when Gorochu was supposed to be released – Pikachu was a chubby little mouse, I mean squirrel. Upon evolving into Raichu, he slimmed slightly and became more elongated. So continuing this trend, I reasoned that Gorochu wouldn’t have been a fatter Raichu as many have depicted it, but actually even more elongated. This paired with Consideration #1 led me to design Gorochu as a full on kangaroo type; but instead of it embodying the ‘pouch’ dynamic Kangaskhan is know for, it would embody the ‘standing on its tail’ dynamic.
Consideration #3: Cockiness (Anime)
This idea came more from the anime than the games, but I couldn’t help but noticed how much more brutal and cocky Raichu was over Pikachu. In fact, almost every time Raichu is shown in the anime, it’s kind of a jerk. So what if Gorochu also embodied this? This couldn’t really physically affect anything in the design, but did influence the posture I gave him. Additionally, a toothy grin could satisfy the “fangs” mentioned by Nishida.
Consideration #4: Those Cheeks
Pikachu’s cheeks have always been one of its most notable features. Though upon evolving to Raichu, they don’t stand out as much. Is this a simple color change or has the fur on those spots simply gotten thinner due to the constant electricity held there? I took a liberty and decided that maybe the fur would go away completely and these would become the horns Nishida spoke of, functioning as tiny lightning rods.
Consideration #5: Look at Raichu as Incomplete/ Awkward 2nd Stage
Ivysaur, Wartortle, Charmeleon, Nidorina/o, etc etc. Look at all these 2nd evolutions and you’ll notice that many pale in comparison to their 3rd or 1st forms in design style. Sure a lot of them are really cool and iconic, but knowing WHAT they evolve into, you know that there’s still a lot of room for growth. That is the mentality you should approach Gorochu with. Don’t see Gorochu as Raichu Part 2; but rather see Raichu as the awkward middle stage. It’s 3rd form would have to be bigger, stronger and something that fits but at the same time completely blows its former self away in terms of power. We need a Gorochu that could stand on par with Charizard, Venusaur and Blastoise. And this cocky, lightning rod cheeked, kangaroo COULD just do it!
Again, my design is not perfect; but I do think that examining Gorochu in the context of evolution and inspiration does take us down a fun path. Do you have your own findings on Gorochu? Please sound off in the comments below – or on Instagram – and let’s try to build the perfect Gorochu as a community! Adding another form to Pikachu and making it less cute does seem sacrilegious, but Gorochu sounds like an epically powerful monster – and we need to treat it as such.