Pokémon Art Appreciation, Day 6: Charmander 044

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 Charmander from the Scarlet & Violet Black Star Promos series. It’s card 044, released in 2023, and illustrated by MINAMINAMI Take. It was included in the Obsidian Flames Elite Trainer Box. Here’s the card:

The Charmander 044 Pokémon card from Scarlet & Violet Promos

MINAMINAMI is a relative newcomer to illustrating Pokémon card art, having just begun last year. This Charmander card is their very first, and they’ve contributed a total of seven cards so far. Like OKACHEKE, whose Bulbasaur was covered yesterday, MINAMINAMI’s art can be beautifully soft and impressionistic in nature. I enjoy this style of art a lot, especially when it’s depicting nature or the comforts of home.

Charmander is shown peering out of a corner room window. His nose, forehead, and hands are pressed firmly against the glass, and he wears a look that might be equal parts concern and scorn. His signature tail flame appears to be burning somewhat more intensely, complementing the somewhat intense look on his face. Outside, we see two Pidgeys, one perched on the windowsill and another on a patio chair. A lush garden forms the majority of the outside scene, with all manner of beautiful plants and flowers growing abundantly and adding lovely color.

There are two things that I especially love about this art. One, of course, is Charmander himself and everything about what he’s doing. His body language and facial expression are clear to us, but the reason for them is a bit more ambiguous. He might be annoyed with the Pidgeys, in the same way that a dog might want to go after a squirrel it sees outside. Or maybe he’s concerned about something else going on outside that we can’t see ourselves. Perhaps nothing overly interesting is happening, and Charmander just really wants to go outside and play, and he’s unhappy about being cooped up. The ambiguity of the scene is more a feature than a bug, allowing the viewer to choose a scenario, or enjoy pursuing multiple possibilities).

The second thing that I love about this art is the attention to detail. While no particular portion of the art is intricately detailed in its rendering (owing to the impressionistic style), there is nonetheless a great deal of detail throughout the piece. We can see the back of the Pidgey’s head reflected in the nearby window pane, a small but incredibly delightful detail. There’s a Glameow curled up near the bookcase in the interior, though it appears to be keeping one eye open. The little dark blobs where Charmander’s skin is pressed against the glass, and even the slight wrinkle of his nose from the pressure against the window—these are marvelously done. And then the wonderful details found in the outside area are fun to take in, like the bit of short landscaping fence off to the left of the building, the terracotta pot holding some annuals, and even the various colors and and cut of the stones that make up the exterior of the house. And of course the garden is gorgeous in every way.

While we don’t see any people in this particular scene, it’s clear that this Charmander does live with people (who evidently love to read and have one or more green thumbs). Over the next few days, we’ll examine artwork that explores the relationship between Pokémon and people living in the world together.

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