It’s time to take another look at the wonderful art that makes Pokémon TCG cards special and unique. Even on such a small canvas, card illustrators discover ways to portray Pokémon unlike we’ve ever seen before. Suffice it to say, it’s hard to imagine the Pokémon TCG without the incredible new artwork in every expansion.
We turn our attention toward the Sun & Moon—Crimson Invasion expansion, which continues to put the Pokémon and people of the Alola region in the spotlight. Every day this week, we’ll highlight a different theme or aspect of the cards to encourage you to take a closer look at all of the art of the Pokémon TCG.
The Plural of Pokémon Is Pokémon
It’s easy to think of Pokémon as solitary creatures, since each card represents only one of them, and you tend to encounter only one at a time in the wild. But a number of the cards in the Sun & Moon—Crimson Invasion expansion attempt to dispel that notion, portraying Pokémon in pairs or larger groups.
Despite the West Sea and East Sea forms of Shellos and Gastrodon originally being divided by the sprawling Sinnoh region, they appear side by side in the Pokémon TCG. True to its Pokédex entry, Salazzle leads a pack of Salandit over what appears to be Alola’s Wela Volcano Park. We’re not sure why Kakuna hang in groups among the trees, but we’ve seen them depicted like this before in memorable moments in the Pokémon TCG and animation. The art of the Pokémon TCG can shape not only how we envision Pokémon, but also how we imagine them in the wild!
Virtually all of the artwork on Pokémon cards is some sort of 2D method, whether using paint, pencils, and such or computer graphics. So it’s striking when artists diverge from this look and bring the Pokémon into 3D, such as with the Pokémon sculptures by Yuka Morii. Starmie and Primeape are her contributions to Sun & Moon—Crimson Invasion, and they’re among our favorite depictions in the expansion.
You can go back through your collection to see other media used to create unique looks for Pokémon, including the crocheted figures of Marill and Tynamo in the Sun & Moon—Burning Shadows expansion by artist Asako Ito. With so many approaches to portraying Pokémon, the style of art is just one more thing to consider as you look over your Pokémon TCG collection.
Anyone who has played the Pokémon Sun or Pokémon Moon video games and has perused cards from the earlier expansions in the Sun & Moon Series will know that specific locations in the Alola region feature prominently in the cards. The trend continues in Sun & Moon—Crimson Invasion, with even more Alola sightseeing attractions.
This time, there are several instances of different Pokémon showing the same location from different perspectives, which gives us a chance to see how different artists capture the same place and theme. For example, both Magikarp and Swablu are depicted at Seafolk Village on Poni Island, while Aron and Registeel both appear at Aether Paradise. And Misdreavus and Staravia are at virtually the same location: Staravia is at the Altar of the Sunne and Misdreavus is at the Altar of the Moone. These aren’t the only Pokémon portrayed with Alola scenery; try to spot other locations on more cards!
We like to think the life of a Pokémon is carefree and great, but sometimes its face tells a different story! The reactions that some of these Pokémon are showing only make us more curious what’s going on just out of frame. They could be staring out in delight or determination or deep thought—but the ones that really grab us are the surprised and shocked expressions. For example, Feebas in the Sun & Moon—Crimson Invasion expansion is portrayed with its mouth agape, surrounded by what looks like debris from a shipwreck, and it’s just brilliant. We have so many questions! And Alolan Geodude warily peeks out from a rocky recess, obviously concerned about something happening nearby.
It’s a lot of fun to look closely…and then let your mind run wild about what remains unseen in these Pokémon TCG illustrations!
Each Pokémon card represents a single Pokémon, a logical idea and a necessity of the rules of the game. But that doesn’t stop other Pokémon from showing up once in a while on the featured Pokémon’s card. It makes sense that Pokémon interact in the wild, beyond the sight of human Trainers, and scenes like these offer us a snapshot of their lives.
Several Pokémon in the Sun & Moon—Crimson Invasion expansion feature guest Pokémon in their artwork, such as the Weedle who appears to be left in shock as a very grumpy Wigglytuff stomps off. We can only imagine what exchange led to these reactions! Take a closer look at your own cards to find more instances of Pokémon appearing on other Pokémon’s cards.