Pokémon Art Appreciation, Day 8: Drampa 184/162

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 Drampa from Temporal Forces, the most recent Pokémon set to be released internationally (as I write this). It’s card 184/162, released in March, and illustrated by Mékayu. Here it is:

The Drampa 184/162 Pokémon card from Generations

Mékayu is a newcomer to Pokémon art illustration, and this Drampa card their second contribution. They’ve illustrated two others so far (a Pidove from the same set, and a Snorunt from the upcoming set which has already been released in Japan). Mékayu’s style is fun and cartoony, simple but with the right detail where needed, and makes excellent use of color.

As an Illustration Rare card, this one gets the full art treatment. We take in a gorgeous scene set largely against a deep blue-green sky, with Drampa prominently carrying two people on his back. It’s clear that they’re flying across the sky, but the frozen frame suggests effortless movement above the rooftops of the neighborhood below. Drampa looks the same as always, with his usual wise and peaceful appearance. The two people are a bit of a mystery, largely due to the distances involved and the lack of detail. They might be children, but they could just as easily be adults. Their hair gives the only indication of motion in the image, with the lead person’s blonde hair and the second person’s ponytail flowing out behind them.

The sky is the most prominent element of the card. Mékayu offers a beautiful visual complement between the background and Drampa, using a hue similar to Drampa’s body, and clouds that mimic his hair, fluffy fur, and bushy tail. The occasional swirl in the edges of the clouds offer a subtle note of whimsy, which is totally appropriate for an image of a serpentine dragon ferrying a couple of people through the sky.

The neighborhood below might be any Japanese suburb, complete with the traditional tuck-under garages and delightfully inconsistent architecture. We can see a Butterfree flying in front of a small grove of trees, as well as a few other civil fixtures like streetlamps and a couple of park benches. The colors of the neighborhood are somewhat muted, though it’s not clear if that’s intended to complement Drampa’s own limited hues or if it’s meant to be a reflection of the aforementioned stereotypical Japanese neighborhood. In any case, the colors are wonderful, making for a pleasing scene without distracting from the core subject.

One of my favorite things about this card is the near-perfect horizontal division between the top 60% (sky and Drampa with people) and the bottom 40% (the neighborhood below). Nothing protrudes above that invisible line, and the barrier serves as a point of demarcation: above is a magical space where people can enjoy a NeverEnding Story-esque ride on a dragon; below is the mundane world of homes, cars, and ordinary things. I think the presence of this dichotomy strengthens the overall scene, and makes Drampa’s flight all the more wondrous.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at yet another card showing people and Pokémon together (they’re fun!). Until then!

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