The reason why the Digimon TCG has a diverse range of art styles is because Bandai hire a handful of freelance artists to Illustrate their cards. One of the most talented and frequently featured of these is Kenji Watanabe, who is a senior designer that has been working on the Digimon franchise since the very beginning.
Watanabe Kenji is the Lead Designer of PLEX, formerly known as Wiz, which is a toy planning company in Japan that also deals heavily in the design and production of anime. Wiz was the company that created the ‘Digital Monster’ series, which became better known as Digimon. Kenji was the first artist to illustrate Omegamon, a Digimon he has returned to depict many times over his extensive career with the franchise.
The Digimon franchise began as a handheld electronic game, inspired by the success of Tamagotchi. Kenji was bought on board during the early days of Digimon because of the successful work he did with Tamagotchi, even illustrating pieces for the proposal of the series before Wiz moved forward into the production of their games. The Digimon Adventure series soon followed in 1999, with Kenji playing a huge part in the design and animation.
The alternate art SR cards that Kenji completed for BT1- BT3 (Special Booster 1.0 and 1.5 for English) are among his most notable work on the Digimon TCG yet. The featured Digimon in these cards are all hyper-detailed sketches void of all colour, except for being a pale shade of whatever colour the background is.
Kenji also designed some of the other SRs of these sets, including the sought after Alternate Art Omnimon card and the MetalGreymon, which referenced the Hyper Colosseum card he designed back in 1999. When asked in an interview which Digimon was his favourite, Kenji Watanabe answered “Beelzemon”, which makes it fitting that he got the job of creating the Secret Rare Beelzmon illustration for BT2.
More recently, Kenji Watanabe illustrated the Premier TO Greymon price card, which has taken a top spot among the most valuable cards in the Digimon TCG. This card has aspects of the vintage Digimon artwork in it, with a simple watercolour background. Kenji also worked on a number of cards from the Battle of Omni booster set, including the connecting ChaosGallantmon and Omnimon Zwart alternate art SRs.
Kenji continues to work on the franchise that he saw grow from a small handheld game into a huge franchise that is still loved by many fans worldwide. We will see more from this talented designer and artist going into the future, in both the anime and the Digimon TCG.
To learn more about the artists behind the Digimon TCG, check out our article here. If you would like to keep up to date with all future Digimon TCG updates, as well as all other TCG related news, make sure you follow Ludkins Media on Instagram or Facebook.
Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media
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