“How I Became a Pokemon Card” or “Pokemon Card ni Natta Wake” was a manga released in six volumes between 1999 and 2001. Kagemaru Himeno wrote and illustrated each chapter, which told the story around or behind the scenario seen in a particular Pokemon card (she also illustrated all of the cards featured in each chapter).
Chapter 38, or “The Final Chapter”, appears at the end of volume 6 and tells the story behind the famous Japan-exclusive “Birthday Pikachu” or “_______’s Pikachu” card. This story is about Akari, a transmasculine child who is struggling with expectations and appearances. It’s perhaps a little wishy-washy about affirming his identity, but it’s still nice to see this kind of gender representation in children’s media. There’s lots of bold, dramatic panels in this brief story, and some lovely art on Himeno’s part.
Scelus of the Manga-Tube group scanned this volume, and agreed to provide me with the scans so I could create an English scanlation. Horseypope translated the Japanese script, and I did all the cleaning, editing, typesetting, etc. I’m happy with how it turned out, and thankful to my friends whose perspectives I sought on the nuances of Akari’s character.
This manga series is one of my favourites, as it tells smaller, diverse one-off stories in the Pokemon world that are outside the ordinary “Trainer’s journey” narrative. It’s not the only manga that does this but I think Himeno does a great job with these, and I’m very pleased to bring this one to an English-language audience.