The latest episode of Pokémon Sword & Shield involves Ash returning to the Vermillion City Gym, but it appears that the artists have forgotten what Blaine looks like, as he appears with an incorrect design during a flashback.
Blaine is the seventh Gym Leader of the Kanto region and he specializes in Fire-type Pokémon. Blaine resides in the Cinnabar Island Gym, which means that most players won’t be able to encounter him until they have the capacity to use Surf. Blaine’s design differed in the anime and in the games. In the anime, Blaine is a hippy who wears a bad wig, while the video game version of Blaine is a bald scientist, who sports a pair of glasses, a mustache, and a lab coat.
The reason Blaine had different designs is due to last-minute changes. Blaine was originally meant to be dressed in military garb, but this design was scrapped, most likely due to its similarities to Lt. Surge. This was confirmed in a Twitter post made by Ken Sugimori. The army design made it as far as the leaked Pokémon Red & Green beta. The leaked beta also confirmed that Blaine’s scientist design was originally meant for the Silph Co. chief, but it was repurposed at some point in development.
The flashback of the Gym challenge in the latest episode of the Pokémon anime was meant for new viewers. It’s likely that Blaine’s scientist design was used so as not to confuse players who had defeated him in the Pokémon: Let’s Go! games. The Blaine episodes were first broadcast back in ’98 in Japan/’99 in Europe & North America, so it’s likely that the creators of the show thought that no one would remember or care about the original design.
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