Banned Pokémon Cards: Grimer Has Changed For The Better

Tonight, April 20th, from 6 PM – 7 PM is Grimer Spotlight Hour in Pokémon GO. In honor of this event, let's break from the normal Bleeding Cool tradition of showcasing a Pokémon's most iconic cards and instead showcase a banned card and its story. Today, we tell the shocking take of Grimer from the Team Rocket expansion and the ghastly accusation that faces it.

Grimer from Team Rocket expansion. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Grimer from Team Rocket expansion. Credit: Pokémon TCG

When Wizards of the Coast adapted the Japanese-language Pokémon TCG set Team Rocket to English, there was an aspect of the card that they believed too nasty for the American audience. Instead of outright banning the artwork and replacing it fully, as they would with the Misty's Tears and Sabrina's Gaze cards from the Gym expansions that would follow (with the former being banned for for very compelling reasons), they instead banned just one aspect of the Grimer artwork.

His gaze.

It appeared to Wizards of the Coast that this Grimer was emerging from the sewer to creep on the character Lass pictured walking over the manhole. This was not something they wanted to depict on a Pokémon card. The eyes were altered in the English version to show Grimer looking forward like a respectful gentleman and all was well.

However, the artist Kagemaru Himeno has long denied that she intended to depict Grimer engaging in any questionable activity. She has gone on to illustrate hundreds of cards with none of the Pokémon doing anything disgusting, so you know what? Personally, I believe her. And beyond even that, I believe in Grimer. Now… were it Alolan Grimer, who is part Dark-type… well, Dark-type Pokémon often have their moves named after questionable behavior: There's Bite, Crunch, Fake Tears, Foul Play, Payback, and more. All I'm saying is… if you see an Alolan Grimer pop up, it might have some darker intents.

Seriously, though, this one seems to be a bad faith interpretation of a Pokémon illustration that likely didn't know it was creating any innuendo. The same cannot be said for Misty's Tears from Gym Challenge illustrated by the iconic Pokémon artist and designer Ken Sugimori who, uh… took liberties with that one. But that's another story for another day.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.