Nostalgia, as we all know, is one of the most powerful forces on Earth. Forget gravity, magnetism, the combined zeal and enthusiasm of Justin Bieber’s Beliebers, or any other forces you may have heard about in science class. That crap is overrated. Nostalgia is the invisible glue that holds the world together, in one great sticky ball of love and awesome.
In the video games industry, this is especially evident. Generally, Gamers have two tendencies that make them especially vulnerable to this sort of thing. They’re super quick to bitch ferociously about the slightest change to their beloved franchises, and they have favorite series entries that they’ll defend to the death. This is why we’re experiencing an influx of HD remasters, remakes and rereleases at the moment.
Adding to that, in the last year or two, big names like Resident Evil and Pokémon have been celebrating anniversaries. All of these things draw more attention to franchise firsts, the games that started it all. Anyone who’s currently enjoying the ball-bustingly tough Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy will know exactly what I’m talking about.
Pokémon’s legions of genwunners will too. For many fans, the Kanto days were the very best, like no-one ever was, and the series has never lived up to it since. I’d dispute that, personally, but never mind all of that. Today, we’re riding the wave by checking out the best and hottest fan art of the original Kanto crop of gym leaders. Buckle up and let’s take a look.
Ah, Erika. The shy, demure, frankly kind of lazy leader of Celadon City’s gym (she’s sleeping on the job when you meet, and you have to wake her to battle her). I had slim to bupkus issues with this one. What with having my lifelong BFF Charmander to roast her Grass types into sad, defeated hunks of charred defeated failure and everything. Still, that’s the wonder of type advantage.
Nevertheless, there’s one thing I can’t deny: This lady boasts all the elegant beauty and dignity that wearing a fancy kimono can give. There’s an effortless, maybe it’s Maybelline beauty about her, which tsuaii has captured perfectly in this fan art. She can run her fingers through my Vileplume’s leaves any time she likes… whatever that means.
The thing about Pokémon is, it’s a super toontastic and child-friendly franchise (aesthetically, anyway, there are all kinds of terrifying elements that the series keeps on the down low). This, naturally, tends to have an impact on the art that fans create based on the games and their characters.
Oftentimes, there’s more of a cartoony emphasis placed on the pieces, which is all well and good and often works to excellent effect. As a result, though, exceptions to this rule truly stand out as a result. As Rule 34 of the internet states, there’s no shortage of raunchy Misty fan art out in the wild, but this is my personal favorite. A more realistic, adult Misty, courtesy of SpiderWee. After all, what’s more realistic than a smartphone running out of battery just when you need the damn thing?
Like the main trio themselves, Jessie has been doing the rounds since the beginnings of the franchise. As you can tell from this piece by Sakimichan, she’s looking great for her age. Granted, the Pokémon series seems to exist in a bizarre Peter Pan Neverland, but we won’t get pernickety about that.
Jessie, as I’m sure you know, is one third of the iconic Rocket squad that continually opposes Ash and his buddies. Jessie, James, and Meowth have their own theme song, catchphrase, and all the other trappings of villainy. They’re hilariously useless and bumbling, but that just adds to their charm. In a lot of ways, these are the guys that set the tone for the entire franchise. Where would Pokémon be without the whole thwart-the-evil-team plot device?
12 Leaf (Blue)
Earlier in the Pokémon franchise, our protagonist could only be a boy. I guess the humble Game Boy couldn’t handle offering us two different sprites for our character. After all, it needed all the space it could get to animate those fat Snorlax blocking the path and all. The Game Boy did sport the tech specs of a pair of light-up sneakers, after all.
Snark aside, it was more of a reflection of the male-dominated nature of gaming at the time, with a couple of Ash fantasies thrown in. However, by the time we returned to Kanto for the remakes, FireRed and LeafGreen, things had changed. We could at last play as a girl. This girl, to be precise. A lot of fans have taken it upon themselves to creat adult version sof Leaf (or Blue as she’s known in Japan).
11 Nurse Joy
Do you remember when the anime revealed that ‘Joy’ was not the first name of these women, but rather their surname? That was the kind of revelation that blows your mind right out of the damn top of your skull, and hit the ceiling in a grisly, blood-leaky mess.
Whatever their names might be, there’s one thing you can’t deny: these ladies are the real MVPs. A full insta-heal for your whole party, for free? In most other RPGs, that would cost you a teeny amount of money at an inn or something. Thanks, Nurse Joys, for keeping our pocket change in our pockets where it belongs. Kudos for your hotness, too, in this retro pin-up style art from Spooky-the-Boo. You’re taking a little too long picking up that ball, aren’t you?
10 Ash’s Mom
We’ve already spoken about underappreciated and overlooked women in the series. Where the heckwould we have been in Pokémon Red and Blue without Daisy to give us our town maps? We’d have been… well, mildly inconvenienced at worst (the world’s not exactly complex to navigate). Still, she tried to help, and that’s never something to bitch about in my book.
The ones you’ve really got to feel for, however, are the mothers of Kanto. I’m sure some parents would be thrilled at the thought of being able to throw their little urchins out of their homes way before they reach 18, but that’s got to be tough for others. Ash’s mom took it in her stride, though, and props to her for it. Shine on, you mommy diamond. Good catch, nightmareschild.
9 Daisy Oak
That’s right, friends. You may not be very familiar with Daisy Oak, but you’d better pay attention and appreciate. This young lass is one of the most underappreciated, obscure heroines in gaming.
Canonically, your rival through your Kanto journey is none other than Gary Oak, grandson of the legendary professor. You can, of course, name him whatever you want. The important thing is, jerk-faced as your rival was, his sister bore you no ill will. I’m not sure what she was doing with all of those town maps, like some kind of amateur cartographer, but there it was. She lent you one (despite Gary having told her not to), and you were away. As midnitez-remix shows here, Daisy has certainly grown since then.
8 Misty Redux
Let’s be real here, you and I. You can never have too much Misty in your life. She’s one of the first ladies of Pokémon, and that sort of nostalgia factor leaves a mark. Particularly on us gamers. Many pretenders have come and gone as the series progressed, from May to Serena and beyond, but Misty endures. Is it her ballsy, snarky personality? Her give-no-effs spirit? Her skimpy fashion sense?
It’s all of the above, to be honest. Combined with the fact that fan artists like Sa-Dui here can’t resist naughty-ing her up to eleven. In this piece, we’re getting our voyeur on while she’s in the bathtub, and she’s totally cool with the whole thing. What a minx. That’s a happy Psyduck right there, that’s for darn sure.
Of all of the many gym leaders in the Pokemon franchise, Sabrina is the one I’d never expect to be down for this sort of thing. She is Kanto’s Psychic type specialist, and the master of the Saffron City gym. She is also, let’s be frank here, all kinds of a buzzkill.
Cold, calculating and super serious, Sabrina is much more at home with her Psychic Pokémon than with people. She’s standoffish and unwilling to fight, but goes along with her duty as needs must. All of this combines to make her the worst party pooper since Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop (I hope someone out there gets that reference).
In short, you sure as hell wouldn’t peg her as the cosplaying type. Which is a shame, as she makes one darn fine looking Espeon in this piece by xhrono.
Well, this was just inevitable. If you’ve seen the Pokémon anime, you’ll know that Lorelei has some pretty darn ample assets. And that’s just in her regular, Nintendo-approved form. With the way that the artists of the internet like to run things to the end zone, she was just asking for a raunch-ification.
Lorelei is the first member of Kanto’s Elite Four. In her intro spiel, she boasts of her formidable Ice Pokémon, apparently forgetting that Ice was barely a freaking thing at all in first gen. She’s more of a Water-type user, as a result. Still, I guess that’s close enough. To prove her Water affinity, here she is posing seductively on a Cloyster in a piece by Southern Panda. Those are some legs that never quit, right there.
5 Aroma Lady
Casual Pokémon players will be familiar with the basic elements of the RPGs. You travel from town to town acquiring gym badges, collecting and battling Pokémon on the routes in between, and eventually challenge the almighty Elite Four. Along the way, there’ll be some plot fluff involving a criminal organization and their nonsensical plans, which a greenhorn child must foil singlehandedly.
You know how all of this stuff works. More committed players, on the other hand, will know that there’s much more to see and do besides this. There’s a complex breeding system, generous NPCs with valuable items, and that crazy lady who massages your Pokémon once a day to increase their happiness. I don’t know about you, but this Aroma Lady (courtesy of Sca) massaging my ‘Pokémon’ would sure increase my ‘happiness.’ Interestingly, Aroma Lady also appears as one of the trainer archetypes you’ll battle.
Pokémon Red and Blue had a real dearth of female trainers. The various archetypes, from Bird Keeper to Scientist, mostly consisted of dudes. Apparently, Little Jimmy would have been utterly traumatized if there had been female counterparts of the Swimmer class. An awful-looking, hilariously pixelated bikini? Your innocent young eyes couldn’t handle such a sight. Won’t somebody think of the children?
Despite that, there’s one trainer archetype that has been all-female from the start, and proud of it: the Beauty. Pokémon’s definition of beauty has changed a little with each generation, but they’ve always been slim, flowing-haired young women, as depicted by lord-phillock here. Their Pokémon pool consists of some quite feminine-looking ones, like Gardevoir and other Fairy types. Or, of course, canine and feline-based ‘mon, just to ensure we’re hitting as many stereotypes as possible.
This guy, huh? This freaking guy. I don’t know about you, but an old dude in chinos with bizarre side-parted hair and a cartoon fisherman’s hat isn’t my personal definition of hot. Still, Blaine isn’t perturbed about that. Or anything. He’s a renegade badass with no effs to give, and he’s cruising straight on in through the gates of hell on grandma’s mobility scooter.
Remember his introduction to the player in FireRed and LeafGreen? "Hah! I'm Blaine, the red-hot Leader of Cinnabar Gym! My fiery Pokémon are all ready with intense heat! They incinerate all challengers! Hah! You better have Burn Heal!” Now that’s hot. This image from CrossToons? This is the hottest damn thing I’ve ever seen. Check him out. You don’t need hair to be a stud.
2 Officer Jenny
As with Nurse Joy, Officer Jenny isn’t just the name of one character in the franchise. Rather, this is the name given to all police officers who use Pokémon in their duties. I imagine this to be a logistical nightmare when it comes to the duty roster (which damn Jenny? There are thirty of us), but at least everyone gets to be employee of the month every month. That’s job satisfaction, right there.
Jenny/the Jennys are usually depicted as slim, lithe young women with long green hair. The uniform included a super short skirt in the earlier days of the anime, and was a little naughty fancy dress costume-ish if you ask me. Especially so after Deviant Art’s sakimichan got their hands on her. Now that’s capturing her best side.
1 Bonus Misty
When it comes to waifus from the Pokémon series (a topic which, sadly, arises much more often than you’d think), Misty is always a popular choice. The issue of age is an unsettling one, granted, but real world artists tend to remedy that with a more adult and mature depiction of the character. Misty’s personality resonates with a lot of us; she’s a sassy, spunky young lady who has always reminded me of Final Fantasy VIII’s Selphie.
As such, as a special bonus, you lucky, lucky people are being treated to two bites of the Misty apple. When I mention a more mature depiction of the character, I didn’t mean giving her a huge damn beard, but here we are nonetheless. This super hot image from beethy was far too good not to share with you all.