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Special thanks to Helix Chamber for providing the canon backsprite!
tell me your secrets, electric rat
Gorochu is, in my opinion, the most intriguing beta Pokemon. Having a third evolution for Pikachu would’ve changed people’s entire perception of the line, as Pikachu would’ve been the baby and Raichu the transitional stage between the two. It’s crazy to think that there’s effectively been a missing link to the most iconic Pokemon this entire time, and one that was merely scrapped to just save data to boot.
But the other thing that makes it intriguing to me is that we simultaneously know exactly what it looked like and have no idea what it looked like. We have the back 1/4 of it and a quote from the designer, Atsuko Nishida, that describes the general vibe and some front features... but we have no clear idea as to what the rest of it was like. With most betas, we either have their entire sprites or they’re a complete mystery. This is basically Schrödinger’s Gorochu.
Anyway, the point is that I wanted to try to recreate what I feel it may have looked like, as there aren’t really any designs out there that I agree with (Helix Chamber’s gets the closest). Keep in mind that this is merely my interpretation, and it’s no more or less valid than any else’s designs.
I was also trying to recreate what I think the official art may have looked like, not the sprite, which is why there are some inconsistencies (Gen 1 sprites were woefully inaccurate, especially the backsprites).
I’ve included a massive section on my design rationale for this thing under the cut, just in case anyone was curious why I gave it two horns or stuff like that.
Body: For some reason people tend to make Gorochu really muscular, I guess to make it look stronger? Personally, given how fat the original ‘chu line is I find it hard to believe Gorochu wasn’t as chubby as its predecessors.
Side note, Helix Chamber gave their design claws. It fits with the raijin theme (though they don’t always have them), but it’s hard to make them work with the round paws, so I left them out here. Very plausible that they were there, though; if it did I’d think they’d just be on the front paws, like an inverse Growlithe.
Horns: The single horn is the biggest contention I have with the Helix Chamber design. Unless Ms. Nishida was just misremembering things, she says it had horns plural (and in one translation, a “pair of horns”). And Gorochu is based off a raijin (Japanese god of thunder), which usually have two horns.
Thing is that if you look closely at the sprite, there’s something between the horn and the whisker. It could be an eye, as some of the Gen 1 sprites had bug eyes, but it looks to have a sharp tip. So based on that I believe it had two horns stacked on top of one another.
Whiskers: The reason I changed the shape of them is that Horsea’s backsprite shows it with very similar whiskers... which turn out to be flat fins against its face in the official art. The other reason I think they might’ve been flatter in the front sprite is that it gives them more of a resemblance to Raichu’s ears.
As a side note: seeing as they seem to be a continuation of the ‘chus electrical pouches I don’t think it makes sense for the original circles to still be there. They could’ve been pointed at the bottom as well; I went with rounded because it connects them with the pouches visually.
Spikes: Good lord I hate these spikes. Popular interpretations:
Clouds: Clouds would be raijin-esc, but I think if they were mean to to be clouds they’d be... you know, round.
Back Stripe: The spikes start right about where the stripes start on Raichu and Pikachu’s gen 1 sprites. However, they’re clearly dimensional, and they don’t seem to wrap around the body (there’d need to be another few triangles for that to work).
Electric Mane: This was my original thought (think like Jolteon), but the spikes are far too big, and are facing the wrong direction.
Tail: Gonna have to agree with Helix Chamber; a tail seems the most likely, especially because it’s at the back of the neck, where a raijin’s ribbons flow. Given Raichu’s long tail, it would make sense for this to be the direction the line was going in.
It seems unlikely (in the official art) that its tail would be shorter than Raichu’s rather than longer, so I tried to make long and flow naturally around the body. Also, if it was this long it could arc over the head during attacks to make it even more raijin-esc.
I also disagree that the tip 'hooks’ around the neck. Aside from feeling unnatural, it doesn’t actually seem to wrap as noted above; rather, I think it was being held several inches or even feet away from Gorochu, and it only looks like it’s directly against the neck because we can’t see the bottom. Cover up the bottom in my illustration and you’ll get the same effect.
Finally, it has distinctive pyramid-like shading that I can only interpret as folds in the tail, which makes sense when you consider that that would make it zigzag lighting style across the top as well as the sides. There’s no guarantee the zigzag ran down the base like I have it here, but it felt unique so I left it.
Color: What we know from the backsprite is that it had a similar palette to Raichu; darker fur with light (presumably yellow and white) accents. Because the ‘chu line darkens as it goes, many people make Gorochu red, but I’m not fond of this as it makes it look too much like a fire type (indeed, there are almost no red electric types presumably for this reason). And given that Raichu shares Pikachu’s yellow, a warm brown seems likely--especially because Ms. Nishida also designed Alolan Raichu, which has a brown palette to differentiate it from regular Raichu.
Markings: Markings are made up and your feelings don’t matter. Some raijin art depicts them with decorative bracelets, which is where the stripes come from. The pattern and colors are meant to look like a more advanced version of the dark points Raichu introduces, as I’m assuming they were going somewhere with that. And I’d assume the underbelly stays, seeing as the white from the horn would need to be pulled through somewhere.
Anyway, the point of this was that I have no idea what Gorochu looked like at all. thank you for coming to my TED talk
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