Satoshi Yamamoto has been illustrating the Pokémon Adventures manga series since 2001, beginning with volume 10. He now has the art of more than fifty Pokémon volumes to his name, including arcs like Pokémon X•Y and Pokémon Omega Ruby Alpha Sapphire. Yamamoto’s work—particularly his manga cover art—is celebrated in this book.
This art book includes hundreds of full-color images as well as some sketches and grayscale artwork. Most of the art first appeared as the front covers, back covers or frontispieces of manga volumes. Also included are alternate versions of covers, unused sketches, promotional images created for magazines and postcards, and drawings that appeared only in the Japanese version of the manga. A guide to the illustrations appears toward the back of the book, followed by the full first chapter of the Pokémon Ranger comic, which has appeared online but never before in print. Four full-color pull-out posters make for a nice bonus feature.
While the cover images of various Pokémon volumes may be familiar, seeing them blown up large is a different experience. The colors, though still bright and bold, look softer and more painted than the crisp images you see on the actual manga covers. In addition, the elements of a cover often appear separately on opposite page; for instance, characters who overlap on the cover are drawn individually, allowing us to see parts of their poses, outfits, etc. that might be obscured in the final cover image. Anyone interested in how the manga is created will enjoy seeing these, and will also appreciate that the book contains a few planning sketches and character designs. There are even examples of art with color specification notes attached.
Human characters and Pokémon alike are colorful, expressive, and creatively arranged. Most of the images feature groups of characters striking dramatic poses together, movie-poster-style. Fans of the manga will recognize the stars of various Pokémon plot arcs, while those who know Pokémon from another medium (like the video games or card game) might not know the human characters, but may enjoy identifying the fantastical creatures.
The book is a large, sturdy paperback with a slipcover and thick, semi-glossy pages. It reads from right to left, like manga, and concludes with a brief letter from Satoshi Yamamoto. As his note mentions, this is actually the second book compiling Yamamoto’s Pokémon art. The first, however, was much shorter and only available as a limited release in Japan. This is a more formal and complete book celebrating the artist, completed on the twentieth birthday of the Pokémon franchise—and Yamamoto’s fiftieth birthday.
The Art of Pokémon Adventures: 20th Anniversary Illustration Book
by Satoshi Yamamoto
VIZ Media, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages