Komiya Tomokazu Pokemon Card Art Spotlight

It’s time for our long-awaited article on Komiya Tomokazu Pokemon Card art! My Pokemon card art spotlights are very popular and give me lots of ad revenue, so of course I will do more.

This man’s been a source of controversy. Huge hate from weird forum children. He even admits in an interview that he’s not a universally beloved artist in the fandom. Well, I’m here to set the record straight. Komiya’s art is wonderful! In fact, I think people who don’t like this art lack a certain joy in their lives. That or they just haven’t stopped to really appreciate yet just how great these cards really are. I’m hoping for the latter.

Let’s start with the first batch of Komiya Tomokazu cards, with the Neo sets. That four-set block of Gold & Silver cards that really stands as my favorite period for Pokemon card art–although recent sets are starting to give it a run for its money, even with Komiya art. But first:

The art is so funky, so cool. Extremely weird scenarios, super sketchy designs, really off-model characters. That Ledyba in particular is kinda iconic, just bawling with a spotlight under it for no reason I know of.

And for one of my favorite Pokemon, Smeargle, he paints a wonderful little portrait. This was Smeargle’s very first card, too! Why’s it sitting on the top of a Mayan temple? Probably because it’s found in the Ruins of Alph or whatever but I can’t remember the games anymore and don’t want to look it up. I love how cute it is regardless of the setting.

And Pokemon March is for sure one of the coolest Komiya Tomokazu cards from the early sets. It’s a who’s who of the cutest dudes from Gen 2, all centered around a jumping, whirling radio. The soundwaves warp the scene and it really feels like the entire cast of Pokemon is pulled towards it by force of gravity. The’re delighted and so are we.

This early e-card series of Pidgey, Pidgeotto, and Pidgeot especially showcases Komiya’s early strengths. The color palettes are weird, the poses are great, and the use of shading and darkness really works. These aren’t exceptional Komiya cards by any means, but they show what his art was going to become over time.

Komiya also does really good action poses. For an artist who loves drawing total weirdoes, he’s really good at injecting energy and movement into any card that asks for it. Also, sweaty Pokemon are really funny and I don’t know why.

Komiya Tomokazu is particularly great, though, with shadow. He’s amazing at using darkness, even with the cutest cards. The colors used for that shading are also really out-there sometimes, and gives these cards a unique funkiness you’ll only ever see in the Pokemon Trading Card Game.

For one excellent example, one of my all-time favorites of his is Light Ledian. It’s amusingly ironic to depict a “Light” character in complete darkness, and it works perfectly here with the ladybug character, hovering gently over a stream of water and glittering against the night with bright red fading into navy blue. And that stupid-looking moon in the background is the chef’s kiss.

Over time, Komiya’s art style started to shift into more cool action poses. Legitimate badass characters who are ready to fight. And the cute designs became more standardized, less funky, as well. As we’ve seen with so many other Pokemon card artists, there was a shift between, I don’t know, 2007 and 2012, where each artist started to conform to the house style more and more closely. Komiya is no exception, with more standard colors and poses. He went in a more painterly direction, but even he has plenty of cards that are totally normal. They still look amazing, though!

And of course, he still made plenty of weirdo poses when the Pokemon called for it:

Like, dang, these are some conked-out Pokemon. They wandered into a construction site and got too many paint fumes or something, because these guys are tripping. They don’t know where they are or what their names are, and they’re on official Pokemon card art.

This is the stuff Komiya Tomokazu lives for. And as Pokemon card art started opening up in the late 10s and early 20s, so too did he get to go even further with his style.

The colors here are vibrant, confusing, chaotic. The backgrounds range from “detailed with weird colors” to “vibrant kalediscopes of random shapes.”

Absolutely gorgeous, some of them. No other artist could be so bold and pull it off so well.

You can best trace Komiya’s overall evolution as an artist through his depiction of the various Slowpoke evolutions:

First, the out-of-their-minds Slowpoke and Light Slowbro, living in another world up there in the sky mentally. And Dark Slowbro, who’s covered in immense, high-contrast black-and-yellow darkess that looks as adorable as it does sinister. Then a Slowpoke with a yellow pool and blue shading, such weird colors that work so well. then a Galarian Slowking resting in a psychadelic cave, with a more traditional pose and color palette, surrounded by indiscernable plants and shells and a stream flowing with nonsense letters. Komiya Tomokazu is an artist at the top of his game, and he’s just doing whatever the heck he wants.

Another one of his recent full-art illustration cards is particularly lovely:

This might be my favorite card of all-time. A carnival past sunset, families with annoyed and upset kids, tired and ready to go home. The world illuminated and dark reds and purples and oranges… And then a single solitary, lonely Drowzee sitting backwards on a bench looking over at this world. Stage lights brighten it up, giving it our full attention as it stares at the crowd with an ambiguous expression. Is it lonely? Sneering? Hungry for dreams? Impossible to know, except that nobody seems to notice Drowzee at all.

What a gorgeous piece of art.

Lastly, outside the scope of the card game, but Komiya also worked on the Pokemon X Van Gogh collaboration in 2023, submitting two fantastic pieces.

Smeargle, with both ears

Let’s hope Komiya Tomokazu has a long, beautiful career ahead of him at the Pokemon Company. I am more excited than ever to see what weird dudes he gets to paint.

Liked this post? I have a whole series on amazing Pokemon card artists you can read.

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