Evolution

Name: Pangoro (Goronda)
Pokedex: 675 (National), 092 (Coastal Kalos)
Type: /
Category/Species: Daunting Pokemon
Height: 2.1m (6.89ft)
Weight: 136 kg (299.8 lbs)
Egg Group(s): Field and Human-like
Hatch Time: 6630-6884 steps

Pokemon X/Omega Ruby · Although it possesses a violent temperament, it won’t put up with bullying. It uses the leaf in its mouth to sense the movements of its enemies.

Pokemon Y/Alpha Sapphire · It charges ahead and bashes its opponents like a berserker, uncaring about any hits it might take. Its arms are mighty enough to snap a telephone pole.

At level 32, Pancham is able to evolve into Fighting/Dark-type Pokemon Pangoro, pictured above. In order to do this, the player must have an additional dark-type Pokemon in the party when Pancham levels at any point once it hits level 32. This is the only way to obtain a Pangoro in the games because they are not found in the wild.

Pancham becomes significantly taller and heavier when he evolves into Pangoro, gaining a great amount of physical strength. He still greatly resembles the original Pokemon though! Pancham's scruffy fur on his head becomes spikier, and his leaf becomes a twig with two leaves. The darker fur on the upper body extends both upward, around Pangoro's neck which resembles a collar, and downward, hanging around Pangoro's back to give an appearance of some sort of cape or coat.

Co-Evolution

Requiring another Pokemon to evolve is something that is extremely rare. In fact, there's only one other explicit occurence of this in the series, when Mantyke requires Remoraid in the party in order to evolve into Mantine. There are other instances where this happens such as Slowpoke evolving into Slowbro only when a Shellder latches onto its tail, but having both Pokemon in the party is not a requirement in order for Slowpoke to evolve like Mantyke and Pancham. Mantyke and Remoraid are two Pokemon that coexist and benefit from one another in a mutualistic relationship. Remoraid attaches itself to Mantyke's fin in order to scavenge leftovers, and Mantyke evolves into Mantine. This is an example of co-evolution, defined as two organisms evolving together. It is through this partnership the two Pokemon developed. Remoraid can even be seen in Mantine's sprites before Generation V. However, in Pancham's case, the required catalyst Pokemon is not very specific outside of being a dark-type Pokemon which is significant.

Another interesting thing that I noticed is that Pangoro is only obtainable through evolution in the games. Wild Pancham must come into contact with a dark-type Pokemon in order to evolve. This means that they do not interact with any. Wild Pancham are found on Route 5 in the game, and Scraggy, both fighting- and dark-type, is also found on that same route. It would seem that Pancham would be able to evolve. However, Scraggy is only found in hordes on the route. Since Pangoro is not located on this path as well, one can only assume that the wild Pancham does not interact with these gangs of Scraggy, and it simply is not high enough level to evolve at this point in the game.

In the anime adaptation, wild Pancham and Pangoro appear and seem to live together as a group. Pandas are mostly known for being solitary animals, but they've also been observed living in groups so it's not unusual to see this. In this case, Pancham can easily evolve because Pangoro is a dual-type Pokemon, one of those types being dark.

Japanese Delinquency

The subculture of delinquency in Japan has a long and complicated history which I am not going to cover on this shrine, and it's something I'd only recently been able to learn about so I don't want to provide misinformation. Instead, I will take a look at the juvenile delinquent trope that commonly appears in various forms of media that has drawn inspiration by this subculture and compare this to Pangoro. I have also provided some resources for further reading later in this section. One important character trait to know is that delinquents have a tendency to cause trouble or rebel.

Delinquency is not a foreign concept in the Pokemon series already. Bosozoku is defined as a bike gang, which has previously appeared in Pokemon before Pancham was even conceived. These tough bikers are trainers and have been causing trouble since Pokemon Red and Blue. Bosozoku have a unique sense of style, a flashy bike, and rowdy and violent temperaments. These trainers are no different and actually really intimidated me!

The fashion can be outrageous at times, in order to distinguish themselves from the norm. Anime and video games have embraced this fact, and a lot of delinquent characters are super easy to identify. Pictured below are four examples (click for full body images) that are some examples of Japanese juvenile delinquents that appear in other titles. At first glance, they may not appear to be related at all, but taking a look at the smaller details reveals that each of these characters actually have a lot in common.

Akira KongouBanchouLeomonMondo OwadaRoughraff
(Kongo Bancho)(Digimon)(Danganronpa)(Yo-Kai Watch)

In order to relate the characters listed above to each other and Pangoro, I will evaluate Pangoro's physical features and draw comparisons with the characters listed above.

(1) Twig in mouth - One of Pancham and Pangoro's most defining physical features is the twig that they carry in their mouths which is also a trait that is shared with BanchouLeomon pictured above. Characters that fall within this character trope would sometimes chew on a blade of grass in order to portray their toughness, and the twig in Pangoro's mouth is a reference to this. His twig is actually a bamboo sprig because pandas are famous for their bamboo diet, but it still functions the same as the grass. Pancham even carries one in order to appear more intimidating!

(2) Coat - One of the first things that I noticed about Pangoro is the interesting way that his fur falls off of his shoulders. Three characters in the gallery above actually share a similar design, except they actually are wearing coats! Akira Kongou, BanchouLeomon, and Mondo Owada are all wearing long, black coats with their collars raised. These coats are worn in a variety of ways, and BanchouLeomon actually just has his draped over his shoulders. The purpose of these coats is simply to make the delinquent look cooler, and this is typically associated with Bosozoku or street gangs. Pangoro clearly is not wearing a coat, but his fur is designed in a way that makes it appear that he is. Around his neck, tufts of fur come up to make a popped collar. It is separated from the rest of his body and flows downward very unnaturally into a sort of "cape."

(3) Hair - Flagrant hair styles seem to be a recurring theme between delinquent characters. All four characters in the gallery have some sort of unique hairstyle, from spiked hair, long hair, and pompadours. Pompadours, as seen on Mondo Owada and Roughraff, are a very, very commonly reccuring theme among delinquents in media which is pulled from the real style of the Banchou delinquency subculture. Some characters actually have spiked hair instead which is still a hairstyle that is associated with deliquents or "punks." Pancham had a small tuft of fur in his head, but Pangoro's fur on his head is especially interesting because it actually does create a spiked hairstyle, similar to Akira Kongou's style.

(4) Sarashi - Sarashi are those thick strips of cloth wrapped tightly around the abdomen which typically represents toughness and often appears on characters inspired by this trope, as shown on BanchouLeomon from Digimon and Roughraff from Yo-Kai Watch above. Pancham does not have any white fur on his stomach even though panda cubs actually do in reality. Pangoro clearly does have a white patch of fur on his stomach. If someone were to look at Pangoro before noticing Pancham, they will notice that his design looks fairly normal and consistent with a panda's real pattern. I do think that it is significant and symbolic that Pancham does not have a white patch while Pangoro does, and it is most likely a reference to a sarashi since Pangoro wants to appear tough.

Pangoro's appearance is analogous to other delinquents in the media, but one more crucial thing to note is that, even though they're rebellious and violent, delinquents typically are motivated by some cause that they feel genuinely strongly for. Recall Pangoro's Pokedex entry:

Although it possesses a violent temperament, it won’t put up with bullying.

Pandas are animals that are typically associated with tranquility and peacefulness, but Pangoro is the complete opposite of this. The reason is because he is a delinquent that also stands up against bullying. On the exterior, he is violent and unfriendly, but he's motivated by honor and a belief he holds strongly. He is trying to make a statement.

Recall the requirements in order to evolve Pancham into Pangoro. There must be a dark-type Pokemon present in the party any time Pancham levels once he hits level 32. As stated before, co-evolution is something very uncommon in the Pokemon series. Unlike other Pokemon who appear to evolve in this manner, any dark-type Pokemon is sufficient enough for Pancham to evolve. This dark-type Pokemon acts as a negative influence on Pancham which coerces it into a life of delinquency, therefore evolving it into the more powerful Pangoro, whose design is analogous to other representations of delinquency in anime and manga. Pancham is already a rebellious Pokemon that tries to act tough so it most likely would embrace this.

A violent temper, carefully crafted appearance, and aversion to bullying all combine to create this incredibly complex Pokemon. At the surface, Pancham and Pangoro may physically resemble panda bears, but these two Pokemon tell a unique story. If you are interested in more details or more characters that fall into the Japanese delinquent trope, I recommend this article. For further reading on the history of juvenile delinquency in Japan, I have provided some resources in this section.