Pokémon Art Appreciation, Day 14: Noivern V 196/203

This post is part of a series for WeblogPoMo 2024. Each day in May, I’m sharing my appreciation for my favorite Pokémon card art. View all of the posts in this series.

Today’s card is Noivern V from the Evolving Skies set. It’s card number 196/203, released in 2021, and illustrated by Mitsuhiro Arita. Here it is:

The Noivern V 196/203 Pokémon card from Evolving Skies

Like Kagemaru Himeno from yesterday’s post, Arita is another prolific Pokémon card illustrator with hundreds of card credits going all the way back to the start of the TCG. He illustrated many iconic early cards, including the base set Charizard and Pikachu.

Noivern, a bat-like Pokémon, is seen in flight—possibly getting ready to touch down somewhere—against a backdrop of tall buildings in an urban setting. He wears a focused expression on his face, possibly reflecting the concentration required for his landing. The buildings in the background appear at an angle, which is super interesting to me, considering that Noivern is fairly well balanced in the center of the frame. Perhaps the angle is intended to suggest that the viewer captured a quick snapshot of the scene, or maybe it’s more like the way a video stabilization algorithm might rotate a frame to keep the subject centered and upright within. In any case, the angle suggests movement, possibly with significant speed, and I think it was a really neat choice for the art here.

The colors are muted, though there’s not much surprising about that given that the scene takes place at night. The lighting is wonderful, though. Noivern appears mainly lit from below, based on the brighter areas and those that remain in shadow. Each stone on the building to the left shows a thin rectangular sliver of light on the bottom, with shadow above. It’s not clear what the main light source is, as it’s somewhere below the bottom of the frame, but perhaps that’s what is attracting Noivern (he does appear to be staring in the direction of the light source, down and to the left of the frame).

This is a beautiful card, illustrated expertly, with soft edges and brilliant use of light. What I love about this card in particular is the more detailed illustration style of Noivern himself, which contrasts sharply with every other depiction of Noivern out there (which tend to be more cartoony). Seeing Noivern as a somewhat more realistic creature, in an easily recognizable scene (a large city, at night) makes this card unique and thoroughly enjoyable.

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