Published On: October 6th, 2019Categories: Memes News

Editor’s Note: This entry may be offensive to some users. View it with your own discretion.


Nessa is a gym leader set to appear in the upcoming Pokémon Sword and Shield video games. After her cameo in the Nintendo Direct for E3 2019, she quickly developed a massive fandom, as fans created memes and fan art about the character, similar to their response to Sonia.


At E3 2019, during Nintendo‘s Direct presentation, it announced that a playable demo was at E3 that year, and that players could challenge the game’s Water-type Gym leader, Nessa (shown below).


Fans were quick to create fan art for the character after her reveal. Twitter user @AkaiRiot posted art that gained over 6,000 retweets and 24,000 likes (shown below, left). Twitter user @ScruffyTurtles did the same, gaining over 2,600 retweets and 10,000 likes (shown below, right).

Aai Cartoon Animated cartoon Illustration Fictional character + + + Cartoon Animated cartoon Fictional character Illustration

Many also joked about how the character was bound to be Rule 34’d. Redditor Manny4044 posted a You Are Already Dead joke about the character being Rule 34’d, gaining over 3,600 points in /r/Animemes. Redditor Steelerskc12 also made a Rule 34 joke on /r/animemes (shown below, right).

34 Nes you are already porn Spider-Man Peni Parker Spider-Woman Cartoon Pokémon dev: Rule 34: The raging wave! It's the master of Water types, Nessa! Cartoon Anime Fictional character

The art jokes were further highlighted by Nessa’s popularity shortly after Sonia’s announcement and respective popularity spike less than a week prior, with many memes pointing out how attention shifted away from Sonia following Nessa’s announcement. Redditor u/ZomicN3rf posted a Friendship Ended With Mudasir edit, gaining over 50 points, Tumblr user aiaikawa posted a Fairly OddParents edit gaining over 2,100 notes and Twitter user @MinaCreamu a comic about it gaining over 3,600 retweets and 17,000 likes in less than 2 weeks (shown below, left to right).

Friendshin onped with Sonya Now Nessa smy loest frdend AH Friendship Green Cartoon Giani CARS dte Deal! You're my new waifu W Cartoon Animated cartoon Adventure game Games GO AHEAD. TAKE ALL THE PHOTOS YOu WANT! TEE HEE HEE! WANNA SEE MORE? Gase Mina Creamo 6/12/19 CCS Cartoon Comics Fiction Comic book Text Fictional character Illustration

Whitewashing Controversy

On June 12th, 2019, Twitter user @Anonemose posted fan art of Nessa in which they simply reposted the official Nessa artwork but gave her a lighter skin palette, claiming they “fixed” her (shown below, left). This was possibly done in parody of artists who post their versions of artwork claiming they “fixed” a character. The user stated in a followup tweet that it was intended to be satirical (shown below, middle). Users @HappaBadger outlined the type of post @Anonemose was intending to satirize (shown below, right).

@Anonemose hey @NintendoAmerica I just fixed Nessa, please hire me #PokemonSwordShield #Nessa #Pokemon 8:52 AM Jun 12, 2019 Twitter Web Client Pokémon Sword and Shield Cartoon 杏子。 @Anonemose going to mute this S A T I RIC tweet, good night to everyone who replied 6:37 PM Jun 12, 2019 Twitter Web Client Text Font White Product Line Document Logo TheHentaiChrist @HappaBadger Replying to @Raging loser1 and @Anonemose Dude do you know the context is? This is what he's parodying/satirizing the whole fixed it posts. FARTIST @Hamu Bear I made her look less....Ugh Hire me, Nintendo~ t 4K O477 1 I Are Juanpool cuz we Is JuanPool OMistahMahvel Fellow Replying to ramos isaak I fixed it for you. You don't need to maker a man to make her tough, intimidating and battle worn. Mine has a scar and shaved head. Yours is a dude. 7:40 PM Jun 17, 2019 Twitter for Android Persona 5 Text Cartoon Human

However the image already led to a wave of backlash from the fan art community who saw the user’s post as racist, “improving” her by making her skin lighter. The Twitter account for the podcast Build Casters said “@anonemose
is a Racist and Anti-Black Dickhead. We are sick and fucking tired of the Anti-Blackness that permeates both Anime and Gaming culture and it needs to fucking stop,” gaining over 60 retweets and 230 likes (shown below, left). User @hyperpan posted a clownposting response, gaining over 330 likes (shown below, right).

Build Casters @BuildCasters We're not usually ones to call people out, but @anonemose is a Racist and Anti-Black Dickhead. We are sick and fucking tired of the Anti-Blackness that permeates both Anime and Gaming culture and it needs to fucking stop. Thread Face-off against Nessa Gym Leader and Warer-type Pokéman expert in WPokemonSwardShielo She appears calm and collected, but unleashas her competiive spirit and indomitable will when overwheiming oppanerts with powarful 87 MAnoeoie hey @NintendoAmerica l just fixed Nessa, please hie me Water-type moves #PoemanSwordShiald #Nessa #Polasman awordshield Twet your y 3:07 PM Jun 12, 2019 Twitter for iPad Text Cartoon HyperDragonFrying Pan @hyper pan Replying to @Anonemose and @NintendoAmerica You didn't fix anything you dropped this CLOWNS LICENSE Cartoon Technology

The whitewashing debate extended beyond @Anonemose incident, as other pieces of Nessa fan art were accused of whitewashing the character. For example, a piece by @Naju0517 was accused of whitewashing the character by several users (shown below, left). This led to a debate on if the artist believed they were improving the character by making her lighter or drawing her in a more pastel style consistent with their other artworks. User @itmethanh tweeted that the argument “it’s just a palette choice” was a losing argument in the whitewashing debate, citing, “the fact that they thought choosing that particular color bc it’s ‘pretty’ or ‘fits best’ with their scheme is telling of internalized beliefs of how dark skin should be portrayed” (shown below, right). The debate was covered in a thread on /r/OutOfTheLoop.

najuco 3E -27a @Naju0517 ルリナさん. Translate Tweet iu0517/status/1139183941758283777/nhoto/1 Cartoon Illustration Anime Cassandra was right @itmethanh any time an artist says 'it's not whitewashing it's a color palette choice' they already lost. the fact that they thought choosing that particular color bc it's 'pretty' or 'fits best' with their scheme is telling of internalized beliefs of how dark skin should be portrayed 3:22 PM Jun 15, 2019 Twitter Web App 37 Retweets 107 Likes Cassandra was right @itmethanh Jun 15 Replying to @itmethanh it doesnthave to be picked with malicious intent. whitewashing is simply an act: is the skin tone lighter than what the source material shows? if u can't portray dark skin with ur stylized color choices then draw any of the million other light skin characters. this isn't for u 14 Text Font Line

Eventually the controversy spiraled into artists intentionally creating satirical pieces where Nessa was given a wide range of skin colors or made invisible, such as the pieces by BOW and @Ewe_we01 (shown below, left 2 images). Later, artists also created pieces where they purposely added even more well known racist caricatures, such as drawing Nessa as a chimpanzee or in a SS-outfit by respectively @Evulart and @itsukarine (shown below, right two images). Each of these tweets managed to gather thousands of likes and retweets within days of being posted with varying reactions.

Cartoon Fictional character gerk @Ewe we 0 049 N essa Cartoon 049 frulthen Fictional character Hero Action figure LL Cartoon Illustration

Various Examples

Friendshin onped with Sonya Now Nessa smy loest frdend AH Friendship Green Cartoon Quieres? Co Cartoon Animation Cartoon Clip art Illustration Zene missileten@twitter Cartoon Fictional character Anime D49 Cartoon Animated cartoon Illustration Bert Cartoon Animated cartoon Illustration Fictional character

Search Interest

External References

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