This week’s episode of the Pokémon Sun and Moon cartoon was all about Pikachu and its Alolan older brother, Raichu. While it’s always cute to see the two together, the half-hour instead reminded fans just how much Pikachu and Raichu can’t stand each other — and how much Alolan Raichu loves pancakes.
The episode hasn’t aired in the U.S. yet, although Japanese-language uploads have made their way online. As per usual, the installment follows Ash and Pikachu in their latest attempt to become a better Pokémon fighting team. This week’s obstacle? A very competitive, very hungry Raichu.
This will be familiar to Pokémon fans new and old, particularly those who watched the original anime. In Raichu’s first appearance in the show, back in 1998, it squared off against Pikachu in an intense gym battle. Although the Pokémon are technically related — using a Thunder Stone on Pikachu will transform it into the stronger, heavier Raichu — the episode showed that they had nothing but animosity toward each other. (Their fight is even immortalized in the first season’s theme song.)
They’ve continued to butt heads in subsequent cartoon encounters. Why that is, exactly, has never been clear. Is it because both Pokémon are prickly by nature, despite their cute, calm veneers? Is it because of an inherent jealousy about Raichu’s increased strength or how pampered Ash’s Pikachu is? There’s something deeply psychological about this dispute, and we may never know the real answer.
In Sun and Moon, however, the reason for the rivalry is a lot more cut and dry. There’s a competition in Alola that requires Pokémon and their trainers to race across the finish line ... while carrying a stack of pancakes.
It’s pretty cute and seemingly random, but there’s a reason for this. Before Sun and Moon launched, Alolan Raichu’s introduction caused many fans to comment on how much its coloring made it look like a burnt pancake.
Pancakes? Alolan Raichu? I just can't tell pic.twitter.com/4tDArRZja5— Fae (@Chariflame) November 26, 2016
Is it just me or does alolan raichu gave a color palette resembling pancakes w/ butter— 2017 Jackalope (@RaquaoRoheline) November 27, 2016
The Pokémon’s official description even mentioned that its tanned Alolan version could be the result of its obsession with sweets, particularly the classic breakfast food.
alolan pancakes are so good they decalcified raichu's pineal gland and opened its third eye and it gained a secondary psychic type pic.twitter.com/jqbcljNdGS— peril deity (@thotcelot) December 28, 2016
It’s clear in the new episode that Raichu is deeply attached to pancakes, so much so that it is almost never seen without them.
It’s important to note that Pikachu and Raichu aren’t fighting over the pancakes, but simply because of them. The pair remain as competitive as ever — but throwing flapjacks into the mix makes their classic rivalry that much cuter.