Junji Ito Cast a Dark Shadow over the Pokémon Universe

Pokémon is primarily associated with children, but it’s always been fairly creepy. If you look beyond the brightly colored rodents and the catch-em-all gimmick, you’ll find spooky cemeteries and Pokédex entries that are downright disturbing.

Nintendo has been known to conceal their dark side, but in the case of Pokémon, they opted to embrace it. In October of 2014, they asked horror mastermind Junji Ito to create a few terrifying Pokémon drawings.

pokemon manga junji ito

Ito’s Pokémon images were standalone pictures, not comics, but they still told an intriguing story. In one image, a menacing Banette stalks a seemingly innocent girl. The text below the image explains that the Banette once belonged to the girl, but was thrown away. Full of resentment, he tracked down his former owner and silently followed her. What happened past that is left up to the imagination.

junji ito pokemon

In a more overtly horrific image, a murderous-looking Gengar has his tongue wrapped around a woman’s waist. The text below this image explains that the woman was his trainer, and it suggests that this attack — and her impending doom — were completely unexpected.

The horrors of Pokémon probably seem like child’s play to an artist like Ito, who regularly deals with bleak subjects like murder, suicide, and torture — not to mention fish with metal legs. Still, Pokémon‘s hidden darkness and Ito’s ghoulish art style complement each other beautifully. His images aren’t for the faint of heart, but they really highlight how frightening the world of Pokémon can be.

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