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.