Original Pokemon artwork from Ken Sugimori can finally be viewed below.
Archivist and YouTuber Lewtwo received accurate scans of the original 251 Pokemon artwork by Ken Sugimori, in high quality—and they show the real beauty of the Pokemon creator’s design. These scans cover the first two generations of Pokemon, as seen in Pokemon Red and Blue (and Yellow)—the predecessors to the popular Pokemon Scarlet & Violet for which Nintendo had to hand out refunds—and Japan-only Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal gaming releases.
As reported by Kotaku, Ken Sigumori is the primary creature designer for the Pokemon gaming series, which inspired the name of a new cockroach, as he designed the original rosters for the franchise’s early Game Boy entries. The importance of this find can’t be understated for the Pokemon community, which has had access to poor-quality scans of the original watercolor artwork for more than 20 years. This meant that the scans that were delivered to the Western market were discolored, distorted, or simply missing some details that were depicted in the original artwork.
Namely, the scans of the original Pokemon artwork are courtesy of software developer Christopher Wells and originate from the Japan-only Pokemon Gold and Silver Pokedex strategy guides. These are pretty significant; according to Lewtwo, the unearthed scans actually show all of the artist’s imperfections with the tools he used, like the watercolor bleeds in and around the lineart, which is probably the closest the community has ever got to the original artwork crafted and watercolored by Ken Sugimori himself.
The difference in artwork happened due to the poor quality of scans that took place when Pokemon Blue first came out. Game Freak, the game’s developer, had to make new artwork for each monster, which ended up being very high contrast compared to the original design. As a result, characters like Ditto ended up looking nearly colorless, despite being a deep shade of watercolor pink.
These variations extended to both the linework and general shape of some Pokemon, which removed plenty of the subtlety included in the original art created by the artist.
But that’s not all. Having gained access to the original scans, Lewtwo is sharing these scans with Pokemon-centered websites, such as Bulbapedia, to restore the original artwork and incorporate it into the community. This was met with some backlash from the community, stating that the old art—the inaccurate one—would be lost to the ages after a while. Admittedly, after the poor-quality scans were originally released, they became so embedded into the community that even future releases relied on inaccurate artwork.
However, Bulbapedia will continue to feature previous iterations of Pokemon art that they have on file and make them accessible to the fandom. This means that the inaccurate art wouldn’t be lost to history—and it shouldn’t be, since it served as the original art for more than 20 years. In other Pokemon-related news, Pokemon fans are livid over Pokemon Go—a gaming release that might be in trouble, following a series of controversies and gameplay changes that fans disprove of.