Japan's Mitsuhiro Arita is most well-known for illustrating the iconic Base Set Charizard card, but there is SO much more to love about MANY of the other 500+ Pokémon cards he's brought to life over the past two decades. Let's take a closer look at five of Arita's best!
#5 – Piplup (Platinum #85)
Arita has illustrated many of the first-partner Pokémon over the years, with the Gen 1 Base Set trio of Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle always being popular amongst collectors. However some love really should be given to this beautiful Piplup card from the Platinum Base Set.
The use of vibrant pastel colours and shading to do the forest and rushing water really makes it like a mini work of fine art, that even Bob Ross at his best would be proud of!
#4 – Flaaffy (Expedition #77)
I didn't even know this card existed until I did my Top Christmas Pokémon Cards last month, but it made me even more surprised and happy when I found out that Arita had illustrated this charming Flaaffy card!
Just looking at the Christmas scene on the card bring up all sorts of joy and whimsy from holidays past, and Flaaffy itself helps frame the entire thing perfectly.
#3 – Mewtwo GX (Shining Legends #78)
I would have loved to put more GX and modern cards on this list, especially some of the Tag Team GXs, but often the text on the card can obscure a lot of the design and make it look cluttered as a whole.
I am willing to make an exception to this stunning “Test Tube” Mewtwo GX from Shining Legends. The story of the card echoes back to the first Pokémon movie that starred Mewtwo and Arita himself even said it was one of his favourite cards in the Shining Legends artwork book released alongside the set.
#2 – Dark Raichu (Team Rocket #83)
To me the Dark Raichu card from Team Rocket is not only my favourite card from the set, but also probably my favourite Raichu art full-stop.
As well as holding the unique title of the first English-language “Secret Rare” card, Dark Raichu is also unique on this list as the only card not to have a fully illustrated background, allowing the Pokémon itself to really stand out. I really need to pick up a PSA copy of Dark Raichu for my collection soon!
#1 – Dragonair (Base Set #18)
It was hard to pick the number one for this list, but I feel this stunning and iconic Dragonair from Base Set really hits all the right notes. Featuring a beautiful Northern Lights style effect in the sky, to the reflections in the water, to then having Dragonair proud and strong-looking in the forefront, this card really does have everything.
When many of the other holos and non-holo rare cards in the Pokémon Base Set mostly just feature profiles of the Pokémon with no real background to speak of, Dragonair really does stand out and makes it a natural choice for my favourite Mitsuhiro Arita card.
You can find out more about Arita and his history on his personal website, which also is regularly updated with upcoming signing events, where can get your Pokémon cards autographed by the master himself. I've seen Arita twice already and I'm eagerly awaiting the next encounter, perhaps I'll get Dark Raichu signed this time!
Stephen Kent – Ludkins Collectables Editor