Top Japanese Artists Share Their Interpretations of the Pokemon Eevee

posted on by Kim Morrissy

Eevee is a special Pokémon that is capable of evolving into eight different types of Pokémon, depending on how its trainer raises it. The limitless possibilities associated with Eevee makes it a ripe subject for artistic interpretation. Nine artists were recently asked to share their drawings of Eevee at the Roppongi Hills café/SPACE. Many of these artists had little to no familiarity with the Pokémon series, and brought a fresh perspective to Eevee and its evolutions.

Yuko Higuchi is an illustrator and fashion brand maker. Drawing Eevee for this collaboration was her very first exposure to the Pokémon Eevee. She interpreted Eevee as a “kitsune”-like creature and depicted it standing on two legs. At first, she drew it trying to eat an insect, but after consulting with children about Eevee's dietary habits, she drew it holding a Tamato berry instead.

Toshiyuki Fukuda was also unfamiliar with Eevee before drawing it. His image of Eevee's design is that it is simple and cute, but when it evolves it becomes more up-market, like someone who goes from living in Kichijoji to Aoyama, Roppongi, or Ginza. Since he does not know much else about Eevee, he just drew it in his own idiosyncratic style.

Taro Yamamoto is a Nihonga (Japanese-style) painter. He drew his piece in the style of Tawaraya Sōtatsu, who co-founded the Rinpa school of Japanese painting. This style involves depicting simple natural subjects such as birds, plants, and flowers. He matched each Eeveelution with a motif from nature. Because Eevee can take so many different forms in evolution, he thinks of it like a character from a Japanese myth.

Aki Kondo drew on her feelings about Eevee from playing Pokémon Go with her kids. She thought of Eevee as an adorable Pokémon, more like a pet than a battling companion, and she always felt a little sad to see it change when it evolved. She decided to make her illustrations of the Eeveelutions equally cute, so that they give the impression that Eevee never went away.

Q-rais is a manga artist, illustrator, and animator. He has strong memories playing Pokémon Red in fifth grade and drew from his experiences for the 4-koma manga he drew for the exhibit. Like Kondo, his manga was inspired by the idea that Eevee is better off without evolving. He drew the manga with watercolors.

Kunika is a sweets decorator. Vaporeon is the motif of their piece because it is their favorite Pokémon. They got the tile art inspiration from their time living in the London, as well as from their recent trip to Portugal. They were inspired particularly by the kinds of portraits you can find in mansions by the coast.

Kenjiro Sano, a D&AD award-winner and one of Japan's leading designers, created minimalist designs for Eevee and its original three evolutions. He chose this style and those four Pokémon to express his appreciation for what the games managed to achieve with pixel art at the time. He laid out the designs like a grid to emphasize the different color schemes between Eevee and its evolutions. The only shapes that don't fit the grid are the eyes, which are modeled after the Pokéballs from the original games.

BEAMS is an artist duo that has done numerous collaborations with Pokémon. Despite that, they've never played the games or watched the anime, and thus had no idea about Eevee. They were struck by the changing colors of all of Eevee's evolutions. Although the Pokémon has had a long history, they decided to depict it using motifs from Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon because children today would associate it with that game. The Eeveelutions are represented through colorful flowers on a clock in accordance with Sun and Moon's tropical island setting. The clock's hands point to 11:21 because that was the exact minute when they tweeted that they had undertaken the Eevee project.

Finally, a small collection of Ken Sugimori's early concept art for Eevee was on display. Sugimori was one of the original character designers of the Pokémon series.

The Eevee illustrations will be on exhibit at the Roppongi Hills café/SPACE from September 1-9. In addition to a gallery, there is also a store selling goods based on the art on display. Visitors can also buy ice cream with flavors based on each of the Eeveelutions for 600 yen each.

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