#417 – Pachirisu

If three times makes for a clean pattern, the fourth is where you have to start breaking the mold a bit to not come across as repetitive. (Looking at you, Starly.) Even a fourth-generation Pokédex entry hangs a lampshade on this, noting him as “one of the kinds of Pokémon with electric cheek pouches”.

Luckily, Pachirisu’s visual design arguably stands out the most of the “Pika-clones” so far, what with not being an obvious yellow mouse. Not a high bar to clear, but he’s jumped over it all the same – and by quite a large margin, what with how the giant tail gives him a visual silhouette and striking white-and-blue are uncommon even for Electric-types as a whole.

Plus, this little bugger is just cute. Perfectly round head, perky ears, lovely fur and a perpetual look of wonderful excitement. Maybe a bit broadly-appealing in a way that keeps him from being a standout, sure. But I find it hard to dislike what’s going on here, down to the staticky clumps of fur that give his tail some extra pizzazz.

Of the two strikes against him, one is that he doesn’t really represent a new feature in the same way that Pichu or Plusle and Minun did – the most stand-out new battle-oriented feature from Generation IV is the division of Physical Attack and Special Attack, and Pachirisu’s already-miserable stats don’t really take advantage of that. Even the aesthetic introduction of gender dimorphism for Pokémon not named Nidoran doesn’t help, since Pachirisu’s only difference is a fur marking that the supermajority of players will never notice.

And that feeds into his other issue – that since all of these Pika-likes are found around the third gym and none of them evolve, so far they’re all condemned to fall way behind as potential team members.

Well, except for that one time when a Pachirisu won the actual competitive World Championship match, but that’s as much a case of blindsiding an opponent with a trick play than something repeatable under Pachirisu’s own pitiful power.

The good news is that Pachirisu gets oodles of fun status moves that make it a good doubles partner or great for annoying other folks with, but that’s a little less satisfying when playing the main game.

It’s interesting how many direct correlations this line has with the other wannabe-Pikas so far; Legends Arceus admittedly has a looser and more interpretive view of the Pokédex, but still openly refers to Pachirisu as “a species related to the Pikachu line.” The official text tends to steer clear of the Darwinian concept of evolution – probably to avoid conflating it with the in-game term, among other reasons. But there’s also the idea that it builds up charge by rubbing cheeks with a partner, much in the same way as Plusle and Minun.

It’s like they threw the book at the whole electro-rodent concept and ended up with a bit of a mish-mash of ideas. It’s certainly lucky that Pachirisu stands on his own, then, if only for his visual direction. Leave it to the artists to inject charm and personality into otherwise-middling flavor text.

Gotta have new mascots to market, after all, even if only for a couple of years.

I personally really like Pachirisu, but I also personally really like squirrels despite them being a borderline pests where I live. Objectively, he doesn’t really add much to the games, and hasn’t been in-focus since around 2010. I could definitely see a future where Pachirisu drops off the roster except on returns to Sinnoh, except he was in just this year in Scarlet & Violet – while some might thing him a monster to Retire, it seems like the developers don’t have him cut from the Reserve rotation quite yet.

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