Pokémon GO Artist Jason Marino Explains Hopeful 2021 Screen

If there is one thing and one thing only that Pokémon GO fans can agree on, it's this: the loading screen art is absolutely incredible. These screens started out beautiful and have gotten better and better over the years, helping Niantic set the tone for events, holidays, and entire seasons with artwork featuring Pokémon and everyman/everywoman trainers in various settings. Yesterday, as the clock struck 12 and brought in the new year, the loading screen was updated with a new image that seems more than just a way to set the tone for 2021. Instead, with an image that harkens back to the very first episode of the Pokémon anime, it seemed that the image signified a hopeful new start… something that I believe most would agree we need. Now, Pokémon GO artist Jason Marino, the creator responsible for this screen, has explained the thought process that went into this striking, inspiring image.

Jason Marino's January 2021 loading screen for Pokémon GO. Credit: Niantic
Jason Marino's January 2021 loading screen for Pokémon GO. Credit: Niantic

Jason Marino, responsible for many of these beloved loading screens, took to his Twitter to explain this image to Pokémon GO trainers:

This New years@PokemonGoApp Loading screen was something I HAD to do… Let me explain.

Painting a loading screen isn't about making a pretty image or an excuse to embrace my inner nerd. Instead it's an outlet, to have one loading bar moment with you. A moment to bring something positive and hopefully memorable.

For this year it was a moment to bring HOPE.

From the rising Phoenix to the passing storms. The light at the end of the tunnel and the start of a new journey (totally Pokemon Ep1). 2020 has been a year we'd like to forget. It has brought many "OMG!" moments and taken us to some really low places.

As a person who has been through a lot myself I can confidently say, with positive energy, dash of grit, and a bucket full of hope, there is no dark place/obstacle we can't overcome!

So I'm hopeful, there will be light at the end of this storm and hopefully, this loading screen reminds you of that too. To everyone around the world, keep those heads up and Happy New Year!

That's a message I believe we can all feel deeply.

The episode to which Marino refers is the very first of the series, where Ash is struggling to get an injured Pikachu into town so that he can be taken to the Pokémon Center. They are chased by a flock of aggressive Spearow as a storm rages on, slowing them down. As the Spearow are about to get Ash, who is attempting to make himself their target to save Pikachu, Pikachu sees Ash's heroism and gathers the strength to shock the Spearow. After this, both Ash and Pikachu pass out and awake to a new day, as they see a Ho-Oh, a then completely unknown Pokémon, flying off toward a rainbow, gleaming and golden, signifying a new day.

Happy New Year, fellow trainers.

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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