Pokémon episodes removed from rotation

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The Pokémon anime debuted in Japan on April 1, 1997, with a total of 809 episodes as of December 18, 2013. However, for various reasons, some have been taken out of the rotation of reruns in certain countries, while others were altered or completely banned.

Global removals[edit]

Dennou Senshi Porygon (Computer Warrior Porygon) (Episode 38)[edit]

Screenshot of "Dennou Senshi Porygon", an episode of Pokémon notable for causing multiple seizures in Japan.

"Dennou Senshi Porygon", literally "Computer Warrior Porygon", but fans refer to it as "Electric Soldier Porygon", aired on TV Tokyo in Japan on December 16, 1997 at 6:30 PM Japan Standard Time.[1] This episode was claimed to be dangerous for health. 20 minutes into the episode, there is a scene in which Pikachu stops some vaccine missiles with its Thunderbolt attack, resulting in a huge explosion that flashes red and blue lights.[2] Although there were similar parts in the episode with red and blue flashes, an anime technique called "paka paka" made this scene extremely intense,[3] for these flashes were extremely bright strobe lights, with blinks at a rate of about 12 Hz for about 4 seconds in almost fullscreen, and then for 2 seconds outright fullscreen.[4]

At this point, viewers started to complain of blurred vision, headaches, dizziness and nausea.[2][5] A few people even had seizures, blindness, convulsions, and lost consciousness.[2] Japan's Fire Defense Agency reported a total of 685 viewers, 310 boys and 375 girls, were taken to hospitals by ambulances.[2][6][6] Although many victims recovered during the ambulance trip, more than 150 of them were admitted to hospitals.[2][6] Two people remained hospitalized for over 2 weeks.[6] Some other people had seizures when parts of the scene were rebroadcast during news reports on the seizures.[5] Only a small fraction of the 685 children treated were diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy.[7]

The news of the incident spread quickly through Japan. The following day the television station that had aired the episode, TV Tokyo, issued an apology to the Japanese people, suspended the program, and said it would investigate the cause of the seizures.[2] Officers acting on orders from the National Police Agency questioned the program's producers about the cartoon's contents and production process.[3] The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare held an emergency meeting, discussing the case with experts and gathering information from hospitals. The series exited the airwaves.[2]

After the airing of "Dennō Senshi Porygon", the Pokémon anime took a four-month break until it returned in April 16, 1998.[8][9] After the hiatus, the time slot changed from Tuesday to Thursday.[10] The opening theme was also redone, and black screens showing various Pokémon in spotlights were broken up into four images per screen. Before the seizure incident, the opening was originally one Pokémon image per screen.[10] Before the resumption of broadcast, "Problem Inspection Report on Pocket Monster Animated Series" (アニメ ポケットモンスター問題検証報告 Anime Poketto Monsutā Mondai Kenshō Hōkoku?) was shown. Broadcast in Japan on April 16, 1998, host Miyuki Yadama went over the circumstances of the program format and the on-screen advisories at the beginning of animated programs.[10]

Later studies showed that 5–10% of the viewers had mild symptoms that did not need hospital treatment.[4] 12,000 children reported mild symptoms of illness, but their symptoms more closely resembled mass hysteria than a grand mal seizure.[2][11] A study following 103 patients over three years after the event found most of them had no further seizures.[12] Scientists believe the flashing lights triggered photosensitive seizures in which visual stimuli like flashing lights can cause altered consciousness. Although about 1 in 4,000 people are susceptible to these types of seizures, the number of people affected by this Pokémon episode was unprecedented.[6]

According to Maddie Blaustein, the then voice of Meowth in the 4Kids dub, this episode was in fact purchased and dubbed into English by 4Kids using an edited version of the scene with the flashing lights, but this was scrapped after the Japanese government's decision to ban the episode also meant it could not be aired anywhere else.[13]

Unaired episodes[edit]

"Yureru Shima no Tatakai! Dojoach VS Namazun!!" (Battle of the Quaking Island! Barboach VS Whiscash!) (Episode 377)[edit]

In "Yureru Shima no Tatakai! Dojoach VS Namazun!!", most commonly translated as "Battle of the Quaking Island! Barboach VS Whiscash!!", Ash Ketchum has just finished the Mossdeep City Gym, and his next goal is the final Gym at Sootopolis City. Ash and friends journey toward Jojo Island on the way and are caught in an earthquake caused by Whiscash. They then met a Pokémon trainer named Chōta.

The episode was originally set to air in Japan on November 4, 2004, between AG100, "Solid as a Solrock", and AG101, "Vanity Affair", but was skipped due to the episode's similarities to the Chūetsu earthquake on October 23, 2004. The episode was later postponed, but was skipped in rotation order and eventually discontinued. While most of the other episodes were either not dubbed for English-language release or taken out of English-language syndication rotations, this episode of Pocket Monsters Advanced Generation was the second episode not to air worldwide. Since then the move Earthquake alongside similar moves such as Fissure and Magnitude have not been used in the anime. The episode did not end up as a DVD exclusive.

"Rocket-dan VS Plasma-dan!" (Team Rocket VS Team Plasma!) (Episodes 680 & 681)[edit]

The broadcasts of this two-parter was postponed in response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami due to the nature of the plot.[14]

  • These episodes were originally scheduled to air on March 17 and March 24, 2011. They were postponed because of the destruction of Castelia City, featured as a main event of these episodes. There were plans to air them at some point in the future because of their importance in the plot of the anime, but no specific dates were cited.[14] As of December 18, 2013, a release date for the episodes has not been given. However, TV Tokyo has stated they have plans to release it "eventually".
  • "Hiun City no Tsuri Taikai! Tsuri Sommelier Dent Tōjō!!" (Castelia City Fishing Competition! Fishing Sommelier Cilan Appears!!) (Episode 694) was initially scheduled to air on April 7, 2011 in Japan but was postponed as well due to a wave-scene and its continuity after the two-parter. The episode has since been broadcast and initially aired on June 23, 2011, retitled to "Tsuri Sommelier Dent Tōjō!!" (Fishing Sommelier Dent Appears!!). The title was changed because at the point in the anime when this episode aired, Ash and his friends had already left Castelia City and the episode's content was edited accordingly. The episode was broadcast in the United States and United Kingdom under the title "A Fishing Connoisseur in a Fishy Competition!" edited the same way as the Japanese version and placed in the same order.
  • A scene which was shown in the preview for the two-parter of a Liepard using Hyper Beam on a building was reused for the opening theme of Pocket Monsters: Best Wishes! Season 2 – Episode N. It was newly animated and the Team Plasma member shown in the scene was replaced with Aldith and Barret, also members of Team Plasma in the anime.
  • "Meloetta to Kaitei no Shinden" (Meloetta and the Undersea Temple) (Episode 753) featured an altered version of the original temple scene shown in the two-parter's preview.

Episodes removed by 4Kids Entertainment[edit]

These episodes were never aired in the United States. Although they were dubbed, they still have not aired.[15] As a result, these episodes were never made available in any country airing the English dub, or a redub of this dub.[15]

"Beauty and the Beach" (Episode 18)[edit]

Misty, Jessie, and James in a screen capture from the unedited version of the episode when James shows off his inflatable breasts, offending Misty. The top right sign reads "Contest" (コンテスト Kontesuto?).

"Beauty and the Beach" is the 18th episode of the original Japanese series. It was originally skipped by 4Kids Entertainment upon the original American broadcast of the series until 2000. On June 24, 2000, a newly produced English-language version of the episode aired on Kids' WB! as "Beauty and the Beach". Promoted as a "lost episode" special presentation, it has only received one rerun and has not yet been shown elsewhere, nor was it included in the English Indigo League DVD boxset.

In this episode, the female characters all enter a beauty contest. Team Rocket also enters, with James donning a suit with inflatable breasts. One scene of the episode involved James showing off his artificial breasts for humorous effect, taunting Misty by saying, "Maybe when you're older, you'll have a chest like this!". In one scene, he puffs up his breasts to over twice their original size. When it aired dubbed in 2000, all scenes of James in a bikini (about 40 seconds) were edited. There were a number of other sexualized scenes, such as one in which Ash and Brock are stunned at the sight of Misty in a bikini and another in which an older man appears to be attracted to her.

The main reason for banning this episode was the fact James had inflatable breasts and he offended Misty with it. The scene was later cut out and was only shown once in Japan.

A continuity problem created with this episode's removal is due to a flashback in "Hypno's Naptime", where Ash is mistaken for another child causing him to remember his own mother using a scene from that episode (incidentally, the flashback was originally from "Pokémon – I Choose You!" and was changed in the dub). Also, this episode marks the first time chronologically that Misty and Brock meet Gary. [16]

"The Legend of Dratini" (Episode 35)[edit]

"The Legend of Miniryu" (ミニリュウのでんせつ Miniryū no Densetsu?), or "The Legend of Dratini", was the second episode to be banned by 4Kids Entertainment. This was the 35th episode of the original Japanese series.

It was banned due to the sight of firearms throughout the episode. The removal of this episode leads to continuity problems, as Ash captured 29 Tauros in this episode, and he got #30 from Brock with one of his Safari Balls. The Tauros appear in later episodes, even being used in Pokémon Tournaments by Ash, with only one episode that briefly alludes to where they came from.

Several cast members have revealed this episode was in fact purchased and dubbed into English by 4Kids, but the episode was held back by the censors and has never aired.[citation needed] This would explain why clips from the episode have been used in several music videos produced for the 4Kids dub. Though Eric Stuart said they didn't dub it at all, Rachael Lillis confirmed in an interview that 4Kids did dub the episode into English and this contradicts Stuart's confirmation. Also, rumors have said that a Korean dub has been produced for this episode.[citation needed]

This episode did not end up as an Exclusive DVD release for the English Dub.

"The Ice Cave!" (Episode 252)[edit]

"The Ice Cave!" (こおりのどうくつ! Kōri no Dōkutsu!?) would have been part of Pokémon: Master Quest (season 5), but was skipped over by 4Kids Entertainment and therefore never shown outside of Asia. It was the first widespread ban of a Pokémon episode in four years. This episode, much like episode 65 "Holiday Hi-Jynx" (though that episode was only removed from rotation in one country), was also banned because of the appearance of the controversial Pokémon Jynx. Some people believed Jynx was a racial stereotype of Africans because of its big pink lips and pure black skin, or that it looked like a blackface actress. Jynx was later re-edited and given purple skin instead in later episodes.

Episodes temporarily withdrawn in the United States after September 11, 2001[edit]

These episodes were temporarily removed after the September 11 attacks for destruction of buildings, the name, and/or weapons in the episode.[15]

"Tentacool and Tentacruel" (Episode 19)[edit]

The first episode to be removed from rotation after the September 11 attacks of 2001, mainly because the censors noted similarities between the attacks and the Tentacruel attacking the city. The character Nastina also used military-style weapons during the fight scenes in the episode. However, Tentacruel striking a building was not removed from the opening theme, and the episode is still readily available on the home video and DVD markets. The episode was aired a month after the September 11 attacks, and was not aired in the US again until the series began airing on Cartoon Network and Boomerang.[17] It was also not shown for a short time in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina as it portrays a city flooded underwater.

"The Tower of Terror" (Episode 23)[edit]

This episode was temporarily withdrawn after the September 11 attacks. It has since been aired in the regular episode rotation. The episode itself was about some Ghost-type Pokémon scaring people in Lavender Town for fun.[citation needed]

Episodes banned in other countries[edit]

"The Bicker the Better" (Episode 348)[edit]

This was banned only in certain countries, excluding the US. It was thought as inappropriate for children only because the episode mentioned line "battle of the sexes" in a children's show.

South Korea[edit]

Aside from the episodes banned outside of Japan and the "Denno Senshi Porygon" episode, a large number of episodes have been banned from airing in South Korea, which has caused a lot of continuity errors within the Korean dub. The main reason is thought to be that these particular episodes contain several references to Japanese culture, something which was common in the earlier episodes before the series went global. However, this was still forbidden by law to show at the time the anime was being dubbed in Korean.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sheryl, Wudunn (December 18, 1997). "TV Cartoon's Flashes Send 700 Japanese Into Seizures". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Radford, Benjamin (May 2001). "Pokémon Panic of 1997". Skeptical Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  3. ^ a b Wudunn, Sheryl (December 18, 1997). "TV Cartoon's Flashes Send 700 Japanese Into Seizures". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  4. ^ a b Takahashi, Takeo; Tsukahara, Yasuo (1998). "Pocket Monster incident and low luminance visual stimuli". Pediatrics International (Blackwell Science Asia) 40 (6): 631–637. doi:10.1111/j.1442-200X.1998.tb02006.x. ISSN 1328-8067. OCLC 40953034. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  5. ^ a b "Japanese cartoon triggers seizures in hundreds of children". Reuters. 1997-12-17. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Pokemon on the Brain". Neuroscience For Kids. March 11, 2000. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  7. ^ "Fits to Be Tried". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  8. ^ "10th Anniversary of Pokemon in Japan". Anime News Network. March 27, 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  9. ^ Hamilton, Robert (April 2002). "Empire of Kitsch: Japan as Represented in Western Pop Media". Bad Subjects. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  10. ^ a b c "ポケモン騒動を検証する" (in Japanese). TVアニメ資料館. Archived from the original on 2008-02-16. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  11. ^ Radford B, Bartholomew R (2001). "Pokémon contagion: photosensitive epilepsy or mass psychogenic illness?". South Med J 94 (2): 197–204. PMID 11235034. 
  12. ^ Ishiguro, Y; Takada, H; Watanabe, K; Okumura, A; Aso, K; Ishikawa, T (April 2004). "A Follow-up Survey on Seizures Induced by Animated Cartoon TV Program "Pocket Monster"". Epilepsia (Copenhagen: E. Munksgaard) 45 (4): 377–383. doi:10.1111/j.0013-9580.2004.18903.x. ISSN 0013-9580. OCLC 1568121. PMID 15030500. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  13. ^ http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?116935-Ask-Maddie-Blaustein-Q-amp-A-with-Meowth&p=3281064&highlight=Porygon#post3281064
  14. ^ a b "ポケットモンスターBW「ヒウンジム戦!純情ハートの虫ポケモンバトル!!」" (in Japanese). TV Tokyo. March 17, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c "Official episode guide of all American-dubbed episodes sorted by season pack". www.pokemon.com. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  16. ^ Dogasu. "Japanese Episode 027". Dogasu.bulbagarden.net. Retrieved 2010-04-09. 
  17. ^ http://affiliate.zap2it.com/tvlistings/ZCGrid.do?fromTimeInMillis=1312574400000#54[dead link]

External links[edit]