Pokémon Art Appreciation, Day 2: Magikarp & Wailord GX 161/181

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 Magikarp & Wailord GX (161/181) from the Sun & Moon era set Team Up. It’s a Tag Team card illustrated by Kouichi Ooyama.

Here’s what it looks like:

The Marikarp & Wailord GX 161/181 Pokémon card from Team Up

Ooyama has worked on Pokémon since its beginnings, serving as a game designer and illustrator of 35 cards. His style tends to be simpler in nature, and he often makes use of bold colors and high contrast in his art. This card is no exception.

We see a light blue ocean with a Wailord spouting a Magikarp high up into the foreground. The ripple lines emanating from Wailord suggest that there’s some significant force behind the spout. The Magikarp is suspended on the column of water, resting on a surface of foam with flying droplets. It’s hard to tell how the Magikarp feels about this, since it’s wearing the same expression that every Magikarp displays at all times (something like a mixture of surprise and great focus). There’s a slight shadow applied to Magikarp’s body and fins, and a corresponding reflective shine on its forehead and along its back, suggesting that the sun is shining high above and to the left of the scene.

The art is simple and pure, very obviously and proudly hand-drawn, and soft and round in its overall style. It’s a very plain scene, free of distractions, allowing for an immediate focus on the duo on display. Despite the plainness, though, there is obvious motion and energy on display—if the card were animated, you would see the water rippling around Wailord, the column of spray flowing upward, and the foam droplets flying out from around Magikarp. There is abundant movement contained in this single frame.

There are a few other Magikarp & Wailord Tag Team cards, but this artwork is my favorite. It’s also a favorite of many other people, if the card’s price is any indicator: in near mint condition, this particular card will set you back more than $200. Even the damaged ones go for $100. Needless to say, I don’t own one, but I would consider it a wonderful addition to my collection.

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