Atsuko Nishida

Atsuko Nishida (Japanese: 西田敦子 / にしだあつこ Nishida Atsuko) is a graphic artist who has been involved with several aspects of the Pokémon franchise since it began. She was part of the graphics team on Pulseman, one of Game Freak's most successful early titles, working alongside Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri and artist Ken Sugimori. During the development of the first Pokémon games, she helped design key characters and several Pokémon, notably the cuter ones as opposed to the tougher ones.

Atsuko Nishida in 2018

Nishida is a character designer for the mascot of the Pokémon franchise, Pikachu. She stated that first design of Pikachu looked like a vertically long daifuku rice confection with ears.[1] She also modeled Pikachu's cheeks, which are used to store electricity, after squirrels storing food in their cheeks.[2] Nishida is also a fan of Eevee and the Eeveelutions, having personally designed all of the Eeveelutions except for Jolteon and Flareon.[3][4]

She also contributed to the conceptual design of characters that appeared in the first few Pokémon movies, as well as several of the main cast members of the Pokémon anime itself, including Ash Ketchum, Misty, and Brock.[5] Nishida has continued to work within many areas of the franchise, credited on the majority of the main series games, movies, and produced an array of original illustrations for the Pokémon Trading Card Game. She is also the illustrator for the mini-comic series titled Together with Pokémon! (Japanese: ポケモンといっしょ!) for a monthly children's magazine, Chara Pafe (Japanese: キャラぱふぇ).



The following is a list of Pokémon designed by Nishida.


Official Artwork

There are 446 cards illustrated by Nishida. For a list of cards she has illustrated, see here.

Staff Artwork

This is a collection of unofficial Pokémon artwork drawn by Nishida.



Title Platform Release date Position
Pulseman Mega Drive 1994-07-22 Graphics
Pokémon Red and Green Versions Game Boy 1996-02-27 Character Design/Pokémon Design
Bazaru de Gozaru no Game de Gozaru TurboGrafx-16 1996-07-26 Graphics
Pokémon Blue (Japanese) Game Boy 1996-10-10 Character Design/Pokémon Design
Pokémon Stadium (Japanese) Nintendo 64 1998-08-01 Pokémon Design
Pokémon Yellow Version Game Boy 1998-09-12 Character Design/Pokémon Design
Pokémon Stadium (English) Nintendo 64 1999-04-30 Pokémon Design
Pokémon Gold and Silver Versions Game Boy Color 1999-11-21 Pokémon Design
Grandia II Dreamcast 2000-08-03 "Carro" Design
Pokémon Crystal Version Game Boy Color 2000-12-14 Pokémon Design
Pokémon Stadium 2 Nintendo 64 2000-12-14 Pokémon Design
Grandia: Parallel Trippers Game Boy Color 2000-12-22 Pinky Design
Grandia Xtreme PlayStation 2 2002-01-31 "Carro" Design
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Versions Game Boy Advance 2002-11-21 Pokémon Design
Pokémon Channel Nintendo GameCube 2003-07-18 Pokémon Design
Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen Versions Game Boy Advance 2004-01-29 Pokémon Design
Pokémon Emerald Version Game Boy Advance 2004-11-16 Pokémon Design
Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness Nintendo GameCube 2005-08-04 Pokémon Design
Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Versions Nintendo DS 2006-09-28 Pokémon Design
Culdcept Saga Xbox 360 2006-11-22 Illustration Artist
Pokémon Battle Revolution Wii 2006-12-14 Pokémon Characters Designed By
Pokémon Platinum Version Nintendo DS 2008-09-13 Pokémon Design
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions Nintendo DS 2009-09-12 Pokémon Design
Pokémon Black and White Versions Nintendo DS 2010-09-18 Pokémon Character Design
Pokémon Black and White Versions 2 Nintendo DS 2012-06-23 Pokémon Character Design
Pokémon X and Y Nintendo 3DS 2013-10-12 Pokémon Character Design
Hometown Story Nintendo 3DS 2013-12-12 Character Design
Chaos Rings III PlayStation Vita, iOS, Android 2014-10-16 Card Illustration
7'scarlet Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Vita 2026-07-21 Guest Designer (Okune Panda)
Pokémon Sun and Moon Nintendo 3DS 2016-11-18 Pokémon Characters Design
Pokémon Sword and Shield Nintendo Switch 2019-11-15 Pokémon Design
Pokémon Legends: Arceus Nintendo Switch 2022-01-28 Pokémon Character Design
Trinity Trigger Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4,
PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch
2022-09-22 Trigger Designer
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Nintendo Switch 2022-11-18 Pokémon Design


Title Release date Position
Mewtwo Strikes Back 1998-07-18 Original Character Design
The Power of One 1999-07-17 Original Character Design
Pikachu & Pichu 2000-07-08 Conceptual Character Artist
Spell of the Unown: Entei 2000-07-08 Conceptual Character Artist
Mewtwo Returns 2000-12-30 Character Conceptual Design
Pikachu's PikaBoo 2001-07-07 Conceptual Character Artist
Celebi: The Voice of the Forest 2001-07-07 Conceptual Character Artist
The Legend of Thunder! 2001-12-30 Conceptual Character Artist
Pokémon Heroes: Latios & Latias 2002-07-13 Conceptual Character Artist
Gotta Dance!! 2003-07-19 Conceptual Character Artist
Jirachi: Wish Maker 2003-07-19 Conceptual Character Artist
Destiny Deoxys 2004-07-17 Conceptual Character Artist
Lucario and the Mystery of Mew 2005-07-16 Conceptual Character Artist
Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea 2006-07-15 Conceptual Character Artist
The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon 2006-10-13 Conceptual Character Artist
The Rise of Darkrai 2007-07-14 Original Character Design
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time & Darkness 2007-09-09 Conceptual Character Artist
Giratina and the Sky Warrior 2008-07-19 Original Character Design
Arceus and the Jewel of Life 2009-07-18 Conceptual Character Artist
Zoroark: Master of Illusions 2010-07-10 Conceptual Character Artist
White—Victini and Zekrom/Black—Victini and Reshiram 2011-07-16 Conceptual Character Artist
Kyurem VS. The Sword of Justice 2012-07-14 Conceptual Character Artist
Genesect and the Legend Awakened 2013-07-13 Conceptual Character Artist
Hoopa and the Clash of Ages 2015-07-18 Conceptual Character Artist
Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel 2016-07-16 Conceptual Character Artist
I Choose You! 2017-07-15 Conceptual Character Artist
The Power of Us 2018-07-13 Conceptual Character Artist
Best Wishes series 2010-09-23 Conceptual Character Artist
XY series 2013-10-17 Conceptual Character Artist
Sun and Moon series 2016-11-17 Conceptual Character Artist

TCG illustrations

Nishida has produced illustrations for the TCG since the some of the earliest Japanese promotional cards, though her first in regular expansions was in the Team Rocket set. Nishida's style is distinctive, using an airbrush technique with a soft palette of colors that is easy on the eyes and convey the feeling that the portrayed Pokémon is at one with their environment. Light is also a large factor, using it to highlight key areas of the overall image to maintain the "soft" aspect. For a list of cards she has illustrated, go here.

In-game appearances

Generations I, III, and VII

Main article: Erik and Sara

Sara (Japanese: アツコ Atsuko) may be a reference to Atsuko Nishida. She appears in all Generation I games, as well as their Generation III and VII remakes.

She and Erik (Japanese: コージ Kōji) mention each other in their dialogue. He may be a reference to Kōji Nishino.


  • Atsuko Nishida is the only person who has been credited as a Pokémon designer in every generation.
  • In an interview with the character designers of Pokémon in 2018, Nishida said that Pikachu was supposed to have a third evolution stage after Raichu, which was named "Gorochu" (Japanese: ゴロチュウ). Ken Sugimori stated that it was scrapped for game balance reasons.[6]
  • Nishida's favorite Pokémon is Charizard.[6]


  1. Pikachu was a squirrel at first - Yomiuri newspaper (Japanese, images by Hinopika, overview by The Japan News)
  2. Pikachu is a daifuku? - Yomiuri Shimbun (Page 1) (Japanese, translation by Siliconera, excerpts by Dogasu)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 (2018) EVs. (English translation written by Anthony Madry and commissioned by Dr. Lava)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 AtsukoNishida's Tweet
  5. Press release of "Hometown Story"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Creator Profile: The Creators of Pikachu - (archived)
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 Interview with Atsuko Nishida on Game Freak's website
  8. 8.0 8.1 "What It Takes to Create a Pokémon." Interview with Ken Sugimori in Pokémon Ultra Sun & Pokémon Ultra Moon Edition: The Official National Pokédex, p. xxi
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 Fun's Project interview with Atsuko Nishida (Page 2)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Nintendo Dream Vol. 201, January 2011 (Translation by Dr. Lava)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Nintendo Dream Vol. 204, April 2011 (Shellspider's blog, Translation by Dr. Lava)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Fun's Project interview with Atsuko Nishida (Page 1)
  13. Pokémon designer interview with Famitsu, translated by the UK's Official Nintendo Magazine.
  14. Comment on an Instagram post by Atsuko Nishida (@coloatsu). Posted on November 20, 2019.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Instagram post by Atsuko Nishida
  16. The Pokémon Center confirming Nishida drew the Ceramic Doll key art.

External links

Pokémon designers

Emi AndoHitoshi ArigaKanako EoHiroki FuchinoMotofumi Fujiwara
Misaki HashimotoMana IbeAsuka IwashitaTomohiro KitakazeFumie Kittaka
Yusuke KozakiKazuyuki KurashimaLee HyunJungMegumi MizutaniShigeki Morimoto
Keiko MoritsuguKensaku NabanaAtsuko NishidaYusuke OhmuraTomohiko Ohkubo
Muneo SaitōKen SugimoritakeReiko TanoueAimi TomitaKenkichi Toyama
Saya TsurutaJames TurnerTakao UnnoEmi YoshidaHironobu Yoshida