His hair looks red. Why does it look red

why is the gulf between official art Red and the fandom’s perception of Red so wide??

I’ve been aware of this for years but never properly talked about it, but it just seems like the pokémon fandom has this collective idea about what red looks like despite the fact that he’s never once looked like that in any official art

official Red:

the very first. look at this dork. does he look cool to you?? I think not

but then:

what about this guy?? this brooding, pensive man with his red eyes and swoopy hair. surely it’s just one artist exercising their right to age up game protagonists and make them badass?

or is it? let’s do another comparison

manga red. it’s not canon canon exactly, but it still counts as an official incarnation. but this red is a go-get-em chap. he’s pumped. he’s smiling.

this guy is NOT smiling. he’s looking into your god damn soul. he is not a man to be trifled with. 

origins red. an awkward kid with short arms and a wide mouth. not your typical bamf

this guy looks like the sexy crossroads demon from an ancient episode of supernatural. he’s got eyes that stare into your soul. they’re so powerful that they can see through the giant wisps of hair hanging in his face. fear him

it says a lot that leaf green red probably looks closest to what we see in fan art. he’s not smiling. he’s got a somewhat badass pose going on. but his eyes and hair are brown and he’s not rocking the lank emo fringe that we’ve come to expect

again. the boy is caught in a permanent wind tunnel. he needs a haircut. someone help him.

sun and moon red. he’s older, he’s not smiling, so that ticks two boxes. but he hasn’t got a fringe, he hasn’t got red eyes, he hasn’t got black hair, and it’s too fluffy in any case. he is A Different Red.

he’s back again. who is he?? not official red, that’s for sure

but here’s the thing: I’m not surprised that people are adapting characters from the official art. people do that with all pokémon characters, in varying ways. what I find so bizarre is that the pokémon fandom has converged on a shared perception of what Red looks like, and a lot of his traits can’t be traced back to anything official. sure, the brooding look goes with his silent game personality and reputation as a powerhouse trainer, but very little official art shows him with red eyes - it’s only in the manga that he has them, and I don’t think that could account for such a strong trend. and whilst the black hair is understandable (nobody ever accepted brown haired Red, myself included) the style is not - he’s never had the flat emo hairdo except in fan art.

I have no answers for it. but I think about it a lot