Pokémon Art Appreciation, Day 1: Garbodor 204/182

I don’t post to this weblog very often, and I often feel a little guilty about that. So when Annie recently announced the excellent WeblogPoMo challenge, I jumped at the chance to try writing something here every day for a month.

So, here we go. Each day this month, I’m going to blog about Pokémon card art! (Yes, seriously.) Before you roll your eyes and navigate away, maybe consider sticking around for a bit and seeing where this goes. It might be more interesting than you think!

Today we’re going to take a look at Garbodor’s “illustration rare” card from Paradox Rift, a set that was released this past November. It’s number 204 of 182 in the set, which makes it a “secret” card (all of the cards with numbers after the highest printed number in a set are “secret” cards, and they’re usually very cool and the most sought after in general).

Here’s the card:

The Garbodor 204/182 Pokémon card from Paradox Rift

Shinya Komatsu is a relative newcomer to Pokémon illustration, having only begun in 2022. (Many Pokémon illustrators have been producing card art for over two decades, and some since the debut nearly 30 years ago.) Komatsu produces children’s fantasy manga and is known for his rich detail in his art, which is evident in the Garbodor card.

We see Garbodor perched atop a mountain of trash, which is apt considering that he’s known as the Trash Heap Pokémon. Even though his face doesn’t reveal much in the way of emotion, I like to think he’s pretty happy about where he is. He has all of the comforts of home, being flanked by a fan and lamp, and with a mattress and blanket beneath him. We can see all kinds of things in the pile below him: a volleyball, a tattered chair, an umbrella, a fridge, a dumbbell, an old tire, a clock, and even a deep sea diver helmet.

The detail is lovely, but the color is the real star here. Komatsu has taken a pile of refuse, commanded by a creature literally made of refuse himself, and produced a scene that’s both adorable and generally pleasing to the eye. Color does all of the heavy lifting, starting with the pleasant blue hues defining the sky (occasionally interrupted by a cloud or a contrail). Garbodor appears to be gazing upwards, possibly taking in the nice weather (or maybe just lamenting it, as a trash creature might do). From the ocean of blue at the top comes the detailed visual cacophony of the garbage mound itself, with each piece presented in a cool pastel hue. We see mainly blues and related teal tones, with some subtle violets and purples, and the occasional streak of green. Two small coral-colored items provide the only (faint) hint of warmth within the entire scene. The result is a stunning piece that is pleasant and calming, which is paradoxical given what’s actually being depicted in the scene.

I have this card in both English and Japanese, and I enjoy looking at it a lot. The way the what (a trash monster sitting on a mountain of trash) and the how (drawn softly and playfully, with beautiful cool hues) contrast with one another makes this art truly unique and special.

That wasn’t so bad, was it? Even if you’re not a Pokémon fan, diving into the art can be a lot of fun. Come back tomorrow and we’ll do it again with the next card!

Want to collect this card?

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