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JEDDAH: Mitsuhiro Arita, the acclaimed Japanese illustrator of the Pokémon TCG trading card game, met his Saudi fans for the first time in Jeddah at the Anime Village in City Walk, one of nine zones in the 2022 Jeddah season.

Whole house meet and greet sessions on May 27 and 28 allowed Arita fans to hear and talk with the artist behind their favorite childhood cartoons and card games.

Arita has illustrated hundreds of Pokémon cards during a 26-year artistic career that has also produced “Final Fantasy Games,” the “Berserk: The Golden Ages” film trilogy, a favorite of anime and Nintendo fans alike. everyone, and “Culdcept”.

“I supervised these three jobs, but the only thing that mattered to me at the time was to get an excellent result in all three jobs, which I love equally. But my admiration goes to ‘Culdcept’. For me it is art, and I am proud that it is among my works,” he told Arab News in an exclusive interview while signing cards and autographs for his fans.

“Culdcept” is a series of turn-based strategy video games developed by OmiyaSoft in which the player traverses a map and uses magic tablet-like “cards” to defeat their opponents by forcing them to land on specific spaces and paying a toll: similar to Monopoly.

Arita was born in 1971 in Fukuoka, Japan, and now lives in Tokyo, where he began his career as a professional illustrator in 1996, with the Pokémon TCG as his first project.

SPEEDREAD

• Whole house meet and greet sessions on May 27 and 28 allowed Arita fans to hear and talk with the artist behind their favorite childhood cartoons and card games.

• Arita has illustrated hundreds of Pokémon cards during a 26-year artistic career that has also produced ‘Final Fantasy Games,’ the ‘Berserk: The Golden Ages’ film trilogy, a favorite of anime and Nintendo fans. worldwide, and ‘Culdcept’.

• Has designed and illustrated more than 660 Pokémon cards and has also worked on the design of ‘Final Fantasy XI’ for 11 years, as well as designing magazines and movie books.

He has designed and illustrated more than 660 Pokémon cards and has also worked on the design of “Final Fantasy XI” for 11 years, as well as designing magazines and movie books.

A self-taught illustrator, Arita said his inspiration is Katsushika Hokusai, known simply as Hokusai, and famous for the “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” series of woodblock prints and the iconic “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.”

“When I was in high school, back in 1998, one of my friends introduced me to Yoshitaka Amano’s ‘Final Fantasy’. I used to draw from time to time, and ‘Final Fantasy’ was an inspiration, and my favorite artist and role model was Katsushika Hokusai,” he said.

The talented and ambitious Arita had the opportunity to impress the creators of “Final Fantasy XI” when they saw his drawings in the book “Arms and Armor”, which was published in 2004. He then spent more than 11 years working on “Final Fantasy XI .”

Arita said, “I enjoyed working with the team that built the world of ‘Final Fantasy’; we used to enjoy working together.”

Saudis have long been fans of Japanese culture, anime productions and illustrations, and the first Saudi-Japanese anime film “The Journey” will be released worldwide in 2021.

Arita advised young Saudis who want to be anime, manga, or video game illustration artists to “see different illustration works more than once to get ideas clear and make sure you submit anime works that represent your Saudi culture.” .

Over the past five years, Arita has traveled the world, appearing at public events in Japan, the US, China, Italy, and now Saudi Arabia.

Arita said her views on the Kingdom changed on her first visit after meeting her enthusiastic fans, who showed her stickers, posters and cards for her to sign.

As a gesture of gratitude, Arita drew an illustration for City Walk on a live broadcast before heading to Anime Village from her hotel. The illustration is available for sale on his website https://linktr.ee/mitsuhiroArita

Among the fans was 35-year-old Saudi businessman Mohammed Fakhry, who carried an album binder with over 200 Pokémon TCGs, dating back to the ’90s when kids would take their Pokémon trading cards to show their friends at the school.

“When I heard that the designer of the original card game was coming, I wanted to show him my appreciation and what I still have, still lives on. It’s not just a trend. He stayed with us, he is a part of us,” Fakhry told Arab News.

“Pokemon was the first card game I was exposed to. We collected, we bought, we traded cards and we had battles. I have the collection of trading cards, it is very important for collectors”.

Fakhry said that he and his friends view the cards as an art form.

The longtime fan asked Arita for a one-of-a-kind signature, saying it was an “unforgettable moment” for him.

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