Pokémon’s famous Charizard artist lends his talents to Magic: The Gathering for the first time

A graphic shows the card art for two cards, each with art drawn by Mitsuhiro Arita. The left shows a rampaging bear in Magic: The Gathering and the right shows Charizard from a retro set of Pokemon cards.
Graphic: Polygon | Source Images: Mitsuhiro Arita/Wizards of the Coast, The Pokémon Company

Mitsuhiro Arita is creating his first Magic: The Gathering card

Mitsuhiro Arita, the artist behind one of the most recognizable Pokémon cards of all time, is lending his talents to Magic: The Gathering. For the first time, the illustrator known for drawing the base set Charizard in the Pokémon Trading Card Game will collaborate with MTG. Wizards of the Coast revealed a first look of the card in February and shared more details on Bloomburrow as part of a preview press event in July.

Wizards of the Coast will release the card as part of the creature-focused Bloomburrow expansion on Aug. 2. The card is called Lumra, Bellow of the Woods and it portrays a ferocious bear rampaging through the woods. Wizards will release it as part of the Bloomburrow expansion, which is the first MTG set to exclusively feature anthropomorphic animals. There’s not a single human in the set, thus making it the perfect entry point for a Pokémon illustrator like Mitsuhiro Arita.

Mitsuhiro Arita is a renowned artist known for creating Pokémon cards and products since the franchise’s inception. He drew the base set art for Pikachu and for Charizard, which later became one of the most prized trading card collectibles in Pokémon’s history. Since then, he has contributed work on a variety of projects. He’s drawn promotional materials for Final Fantasy 11 and did concept designs for the theatrical animation, Berserk: The Golden Age Arc.

A prolific illustrator, he has contributed more than 600 cards to the Pokémon Trading Card Game, according to an interview he did GamesRadar. He hasn’t stuck to any specific art style or medium — he has experimented with several art styles throughout the years, but Pokémon has been the underlying thread that connects much of his work. You can view a bit of how it’s changed below.

An image of a Pikachu card from the base set of the Pokemon Trading Card Game.
Image: The Pokémon Company
An image of Spiritomb in the Pokemon Trading Card Game. It looks like it has a pastel and brushed look.
Image: The Pokémon Company
An image of Dark Vaporeon in the Pokemon trading card game. It’s swimming underwater with a peaceful look on its face.
Image: The Pokémon Company
An image of Lugia in the Pokemon Trading Card Game. It looks like it’s kicking up a storm in the ocean and has a fierce look on its face.
Image: The Pokémon Company

Unlike Pokémon, Bloomburrow will lean more into classic fantasy elements when compared to Pokémon. The basic concepts allow players to fight as adorable little critters — like warrior mice or sorcerer frogs — to restore balance and peace. So instead of our beloved electric mouse, we will get to see loyal adventurers seek out their glory in a magical woods setting. What might Arita do with the settings’ other animal folk, which will include anthropomorphic raccoons, bats, and other critters? With luck this bear fella isn’t the last we’ll see of the Pokémon masters’ work in this, or other future Magic sets.

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