Atsuko Nishida (Japanese: 西田敦子 / にしだあつこ) 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.
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. She also modeled Pikachu's cheeks, which are used to store electricity, after squirrels storing food in their cheeks. Nishida is also a fan of Eevee and the Eeveelutions and personally designed Espeon, Umbreon, Leafeon, Glaceon, and Sylveon.
She also contributed to the conceptual design of characters that appeared in the first few Pokémon movies. 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 magazine Chara Pafe (Japanese: キャラぱふぇ).
The following is a list of Pokémon designed by Atsuko Nishida.
- Mega Charizard X
- Alolan Raichu
|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|
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 an interview with the character designers of Pokémon in 2018, Nishida said originally Pikachu was supposed to have a third evolution stage after Raichu, which was named as "Gorochu" (Japanese: ゴロチュウ). However, Ken Sugimori stated that it was scrapped due to the game balance.
- Nishida's favorite Pokémon is Charizard.
- Pikachu was a squirrel at first - Yomiuri newspaper (Japanese, images by Hinopika, overview by The Japan News)
- Pikachu is a daifuku? - Yomiuri Shimbun (Page 1) (Japanese, translation by Siliconera, excerpts by Dogasu)
- Pokémon Card Game website
- Pokémon designer interview with Famitsu, translated by the UK's Official Nintendo Magazine
- Creator Profile: The Creators of Pikachu - Pokemon.com
- Interview with Atsuko Nishida on Game Freak's website
- Fun's Project interview with Atsuko Nishida
- Interview with Ken Sugimori in Pokémon Ultra Sun & Pokémon Ultra Moon Edition: The Official National Pokédex
- November 2010 of Nintendo Dream (RPGLand's scans)
- April 2011 of Nintendo Dream (Shellspider's blog)
- The Untold Story of Pikachu's Creation - Pokemon.co.jp (Japanese)
- The Untold Story of Pikachu's Creation (Page 2) - Pokemon.co.jp (Japanese)