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VIZ Media’s New Pokémon Books Offer More Art than Farfetch’d Can Shake His Stick At

By Sherilyn Connelly

VIZ Media’s New Pokémon Books Offer More Art than Farfetch’d Can Shake His Stick At

If you’re reading Wizard, you may have heard about that Pokémon Go game the kids are into these days. (Kids these days!) But did you know that Pokémon existed before that, and is in fact an entire media empire? Strange but true. Two books recently published by VIZ Media can you help you get caught up: Satoshi Yamamoto’s The Art of Pokémon Adventures and Kazunori’s Aihara’s exuberantly-titled Let’s Find Pokémon!: Special Complete Edition.

The Art of Pokémon Adventures is a clearinghouse for illustrations from the Pokémon Adventures manga, which are almost certainly taking up an entire row of the Graphic Novels shelf in the children’s section of your local library.

Like most art books that span a franchise rather than a specific work (think Kei’s Mikucolor rather than The Art of My Little Pony: The Movie), there’s an index in the back giving the source of each illustration. On the main pages, some have individual captions…

…but otherwise most are presented page by page with very little context. If you know, you know. Y’know?

Whereas the whitespace-heavy Art of Pokémon Adventures is a collection of individual elements from previously published works which arguably lose their meaning without context, Let’s Find Pokémon is all original context, and is aesthetically defined by its busy, full-page Where’s Waldo-type illustrations.

An omnibus reprint of the first three Let’s Find Pokémon! puzzle books from the late 1990s, the first volume ends with “A note to the older folks” (hey, that’s us!). It gives a brief history of the franchise up that point, describing it as growing from a Nintendo Game Boy® system game into an “animation series, comic book series, line of toys, stuffed animals, games, and more.” They go on to assure concerned parents that the player’s primary goal isn’t the vanquishing of enemies but rather “to see the world” and “go on adventures,” and that while the world of Pokémon may belong to young people, you can “use this book to play with your children.” But they save the real money shot for the end: not only can the book help teach children to differentiate shapes and solve puzzles, it also can “aid in their moral development.” How capturing sentient creatures for sport qualifies as a morality-development aid is left unexplained, and Let’s Find Pokémon! volumes 2 and 3 notably lack any such reassurances for parents.

Unfortunately, VIZ has declined to allow any pictures from the inside of Let’s Find Pokémon! to be posted, which probably has nothing to do with the presence of the cringy, blackface-esque character of Jynx. She’s right there on the cover, too, which doesn’t make coming across her on nearly every page any less of a needle-scratch feeling. To be clear, this is not to suggest that the character should have been altered after the fact, because it’s better to acknowledge the icky aspects of a franchise’s history than to rewrite them. Still, ick.

In any event, in lieu of any imagery from (or further discussion of) the book, bust out your Google Cardboard and give this live action Where’s Waldo? VR a spin. It’s pretty fun, and is in no way Jynxed.

Images: ©2017 The Pokémon Company International.