May 08, 2019

The Art of Sun & Moon—Unbroken Bonds

The latest Pokémon TCG expansion is filled with amazing illustrations, and we take a closer look at some of our favorites.

Whenever a new Pokémon TCG expansion is released, we like to take some time to look through the new cards and admire their artwork. The latest expansion, Sun & Moon—Unbroken Bonds, contains plenty of fabulous depictions of some of our favorite Pokémon, and we wanted to share them with you. Check out these outstanding illustrations, and don't forget to take a closer look at your collection as well. You might just discover a new favorite!

Who's That Other Pokémon?

Every now and again, a Pokémon ends up sharing the spotlight on its card with another Pokémon. These “photobombers” sometimes lurk in the background, but they'll occasionally get right in next to the card's star for an extended cameo. Stunfisk here is dealing with the former. It's clearly enjoying its time in the sun, but those Goomy are letting us know that Stunfisk isn't the only Pokémon around.

Snorlax is happy to welcome its Torchic and Pikachu buddies to chill out with it on its card. These friends are content to spend a lazy day just hanging out together.

Although we don't actually see the other Pokémon on Greninja's card, the intruder's shadow certainly tells us that the card's subject is not alone. Hopefully whoever's looming over Greninja isn't looking for trouble…

The Scene of the Crime

It's inevitable that Pokémon will occasionally find themselves in a spot of trouble. Whether it's by their own design or the result of an outside influence, these Pokémon are depicted in the thick of it. Take Carvanha, for example. It may look like it's merely swimming through the water, but look closer and you'll see the chunks of broken wood floating nearby. Then you'll notice that the wooden boat floating above has a large hole in it. Looks like Carvanha just tore through a boat's hull!

Cleffa's trouble is more mischievous than dangerous—it's just knocked over a plant and swiped some candy—but its defiant expression speaks volumes. Go to your room, Cleffa!

Marowak isn't causing any harm, but look out for those Team Rocket Grunts approaching from behind. We hope Marowak is prepared for troub—wait a second. Team Rocket…a lone Marowak…could this be the poor Marowak whose restless spirit haunts the Pokémon Tower in Lavender Town? The scene of the crime, indeed.

Art by Tomokazu Komiya

As you're admiring the wonderful artwork on Pokémon TCG cards, don't forget to read the illustrator's name in the lower-left corner of the card! While perusing the Sun & Moon—Unbroken Bonds expansion, we were consistently impressed by the work of Tomokazu Komiya. His rough, sketchy style filled with bold colors and whimsical scenarios really make these cards stand out. Behold this imposing Crabominable with its massive claws delivering an icy blast of air. The twinkling lights surrounding it bring an extra burst of warm life into this chilling scene.

Speaking of warmth, the warm colors reflected on the water on Sharpedo's card really give the impression that the scene takes place at sunset. We're a little flummoxed by the two gentlemen in the boat behind Sharpedo, though. One fellow has his camera out ready to capture this beautiful scene, but the other guy seems to be flinging himself overboard! Who knows? Maybe this is the same boat that Carvanha was tearing into up above.

We can't help but love Mr. Komiya's depiction of Purugly. The Tiger Cat Pokémon is lounging on its back in a kitchen sink, but its feet are sticking out a bit. Purugly's making it work, though!

Living Their Best Life

In order to be truly happy, it's important to keep a positive outlook on life. And when you're living in the world of Pokémon, positivity seems to be the order of the day. As evidence, look no further than Mew here. This tiny Mythical Pokémon looks as though it hasn't a care in the world as it flies through the sunny sky. Its carefree grin shows that it's living the life it wants to live.

So is Meowth, for that matter! This feisty Scratch Cat Pokémon is taking a break from battling to get its cuddle on. Lounging on a giant Poké Ball cushion while curled up with a pair of Substitute plush—what a life! Meowth's contented smile speaks volumes. (Happy Caturday, Meowth!)

Of course, it's not just Pokémon that love to live their best life—humans want to have fun, too! Alolan Pokémon researcher Samson Oak is always ready for a good time, and he's ready to step out on his card. The collar of his flowery shirt is popped, his long hair is blowing in the breeze, his shades are at the ready, and his stylish watch is giving off a radiant glint in the sunlight. But we don't need a watch to check the time—when Samson Oak's around, it's always awesome o'clock.

Pokémon Trainer Cameos

There are few things stronger than the bond between a Pokémon and its Trainer, and this special connection is occasionally celebrated on Pokémon TCG cards. Indeed, the Sun & Moon—Unbroken Bonds expansion features a few cards that highlight not just their Pokémon subject, but also its dedicated Trainer. With its whipping tentacles, Tentacool is engaged in a fierce battle, but without Fuchsia Gym Leader Janine lending her expertise, the Jellyfish Pokémon wouldn't be nearly as effective.

This delighted-looking Koffing seems excited to head into battle. Clearly it has a good relationship with its Trainer, a Team Rocket Grunt. Now, we can't say that we agree with Team Rocket's philosophy or approve of any of its methods, but when they're raising Pokémon as cheerful as Koffing here, well, can they really be all bad?

Wait a second…were we just attempting to defend Team Rocket?! We may have to rethink that after seeing Rhydon's card. Sure, Rhydon looks plenty powerful and awfully intimidating, so we have no doubts as to its skill in battle, but we're given pause when we see its Trainer in the background. Yep, that's Giovanni, the Boss of Team Rocket. He may be a snappy dresser, but Giovanni is one bad dude. That sinister smirk...his clenched hand reaching out as though to seize power through any means necessary...yikes. Yeah, you're back on our “avoid” list, Team Rocket, no matter how happy your Koffing are.

Those are a lot of amazing-looking cards, right? And that's just the tip of the Sun & Moon—Unbroken Bonds iceberg. Whether you're a collector or a competitive player, don't forget to take a moment to appreciate the wonderful art on display when you're opening your new booster packs!

Sun & Moon—Unbroken Bonds
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