Why Are They Making Ash Ketchum’s Eyes So Huge? I’ll Tell You!

In anticipation of the latest Pokemon Black & White games, the anime of Pokemon is undergoing a revamp, and with this newest iteration comes a great amount of aesthetic change for a series which has up to this point remained fairly static in that regard (or at the very least has experienced change so gradual as to be unnoticeable). Many long-time characters are undergoing design changes, but perhaps the most prominent is that of main character Satoshi, possibly better known as Ash Ketchum, whose irises appear to have doubled in size.

Around the internet, people have been wondering what could possibly be the catalyst for this change. The truth lies with the character designer for the Pokemon games, Sugimori Ken.

Sugimori was the original Pokemon artist, drawing up all 151 of the originals as well as all of the character artwork. Even now he remains in that position, with his works being the official depictions of all humans and Pokemon in the franchise. Essentially, this means that Sugimori has been drawing for Pokemon for 15 years now, and his artistic sense and style have grown accordingly. Whereas the designs for the anime originally drew inspiration largely from Sugimori’s original designs for the first generation of Pokemon games and have remained fairly constant since, Sugimori’s own artwork has gone through a one and a half decade process of refinement.

Left: 1995-1998, Right: 2010

When you look at the anime’s new character designs, you can see that they are simply re-aligning themselves with Sugimori’s work.

So in a way, the artwork for the Pokemon anime is pretty much ending up where it should be.

9 thoughts on “Why Are They Making Ash Ketchum’s Eyes So Huge? I’ll Tell You!

  1. Those big, soulless doll eyes make him look dumber then usual but it mostly reminds me of when western cartoons parody pokemon and how they depict Ash.

    The new wide open eyes do show more youth and lack of experience which is sadly fitting despite him being on his journey 10+ years now.

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  2. The new look for Satoshi/Ash will definitely take some getting used to – I’m one of the few hardcore Pokemon fans who has watched every episode of the anime and movies, so a new look for him after all these years will surely stick out like a sore thumb for a while. But I don’t have much of a problem with it – B&W are supposedly going to be more different than any other previous games, so it’s no surprise that the anime will have striking differences too.

    But I can’t decide whether the enlarged irises make him look older or young.

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  3. Ken Sugimori is doing to Pokémon what George Lucas had (apparently) done to Star Wars, tinker around with their creations until they are retarded parodies of themselves.

    I really enjoy the old-school artwork much more, with Red’s patchy watercolor coloring with bright spots of white. Pokémon was way better when character designs were more rough around the edges, not so full of modern-day anime polish. Just look at those nostalgic ugly Generation I sprites! The Johto games also, had a nice “woodsy” feel to them, andeven the anime was good during the years, or maybe year, that Pikachu was still stubby looking.

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  4. I honestly don’t mind his brown eyes but the big honking irises I do. Why do they have to be so big to where they take up almost his whole eye? I wouldn’t mind if in the flashbacks Ash didn’t have those eyes because the old episodes are special but when they reanimate them they lose that special feeling

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