Pokémon enthusiasts may still be buzzing about this year’s Pokémon collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, featuring the exclusive “Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat” card that ignited a fervor among fans and collectors alike. Yet, unbeknownst to many, this wasn’t Pokémon’s inaugural foray into the realm of fine art. In 2016, Pokémon joined forces with the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum for a remarkable collaboration that celebrated the iconic work of Edvard Munch in a way that resonated with fans on a deeper, existential level.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum played host to the “Munch Exhibition – The Scream of the Resonant Soul” in 2018. Commencing on October 27, just in time for Halloween, the exhibit aimed to explore the profound themes of Munch’s masterpiece, “The Scream.” Surprisingly, the Tokyo Art Museum decided to enlist the help of Pokémon for promotional cards and merchandise. While the connection between Pokémon and Edvard Munch might not be immediately apparent, a closer look reveals the underlying theme of existential dread woven into the fabric of many Pokémon tales. Creatures like Cubone, which dons its deceased mother’s skull, and Phantump, born from the spirit of a lost child, mirror the haunting narrative of Munch’s renowned artwork.
The collaboration marked a significant moment as it coincided with the first-ever display of Munch’s “The Scream” in Japan. Pokémon’s involvement added a unique touch to the celebration of this timeless masterpiece. The Tokyo Art Museum, in collaboration with Pokémon, crafted five cards inspired by Munch’s work, alongside an array of merchandise to commemorate the exhibit. While the frenzy generated by this collaboration may not have rivaled the recent Van Gogh collaboration, the cards themselves became coveted collectibles.
The five Pokémon cards inspired by “The Scream” featured Pikachu, Mimikyu, Psyduck, Eevee, and Rowlet. The Pikachu card was exclusively released to visitors of the exhibit at specific times, adding an element of exclusivity to its allure. The Mimikyu Scream card, accompanied by a mini card file showcasing Munch-inspired versions of Pikachu and Eevee, offered fans an artistic twist on their favorite characters. Psyduck, Eevee, and Rowlet’s “The Scream” Pokémon cards were distributed as gifts with purchases of expansion packs at Pokémon Center and Pokémon Store locations.
Beyond the card collection, the collaboration extended to a range of merchandise, including keychains, phone cases, handkerchiefs, and charms. The pièce de résistance, however, was the Edvard Munch “The Scream” Pikachu plush, undoubtedly a must-have for avid collectors and Pokémon enthusiasts alike.
Regrettably, the collaboration took place in 2018, rendering the Munch-inspired Pokémon cards a rare find in official channels. However, for those determined to secure a piece of Pokémon history, the secondary market may still offer a chance – though the price tags may induce a scream of a different kind.
As we fondly reminisce about Pokémon’s artistic collaborations of the past, anticipation builds for what the future holds. Pokémon enthusiasts around the world eagerly await the unveiling of the next fine art collaboration, hoping it will surpass even the beauty and excitement of its predecessors. Until then, the legacy of Pokémon’s union with Edvard Munch remains a cherished chapter in the rich tapestry of Pokémon history.