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Better versions of the Ken Sugimori Pokémon artwork getting disseminated in the West

This… This is art

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Content creator and self-styled Pokémon archivist, Lewtwo, has announced that they’ve managed to obtain high-quality scans of the original Pokémon artwork by Ken Sugimori. While the original Twitter thread in which Lewtwo reveals these scans does a great job of explaining where they’re from and how they’re significant, here’s a quick rundown.

The scans themselves come from the Japan-exclusive Pokémon Gold and Silver Pokédex. In other words, this wasn’t something provided as a special case from Nintendo. The images washed out when they came West, but so many sources distributed them that they became ubiquitous. Speaking to Kotaku, Lewtwo clarified that it’s taken so long for the West to get better scans of the originals because we’re so used to seeing the low-quality copies of the artwork that we didn’t know better.

Ken Suigmori Art
Image via Lewtwo

In order to ensure that these scans depict the art in the way Ken Sugimori originally intended, Lewtwo and company cross-referenced against material released around the same time in Japan.

“You can literally see all of Sugimori’s imperfections with the tools he used, right down to the way the watercolor bleeds in and around the lineart, to the point we’re convinced that this is the closest we will ever get in being able to scan the original piece,” Lewtwo said to Kotaku.

Who’s that Pokemon?

The difference is intense. I’m very familiar with the artwork, and as Lewtwo suggests, I never really knew anything was wrong with it. I just kind of accepted that this was the classic Pokémon art style. Back in the day, when I was an aspiring artist, I used them as a resource to inform my style. Unfortunately, some bad teachers and tutors obliterated my artistic trajectory by sucking the fun out of the process. I still have a lot of fondness for these images.

The intention is to meticulously cut out each image for transparency and disseminate them. Most prominently, Bulbapedia will be updating each of their articles for the 251 depicted Pokémon to include the higher quality artwork.

Wild. This sort of thing is just so unlikely in today’s more connected workplace.

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Zoey Handley
Staff Writer - Zoey is a gaming gadabout. She got her start blogging with the community in 2018 and hit the front page soon after. Normally found exploring indie experiments and retro libraries, she does her best to remain chronically uncool.