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]

"Dennō Senshi Porygon" (Episode 38)[edit]

Main article: Dennō Senshi Porygon
Screenshot of the episode "Dennō Senshi Porygon" after Pikachu blew up the vaccine missiles.

"Dennō Senshi Porygon", literally "Computer Warrior Porygon", although most commonly known 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]

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][8] A study following 103 patients over three years after the event found most of them had no further seizures.[9] 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]

After the airing of "Dennō Senshi Porygon", the Pokémon anime took a four-month break until it returned in April 16, 1998.[10][11] After the hiatus, the time slot changed from Tuesday to Thursday.[12] 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.[12] 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, as well as showing letters and fan drawings sent in by viewers, most of whom were concerned that the incident would lead to the anime being cancelled. .[12]

According to Maddie Blaustein, who used to voice Meowth in the 4Kids dub at the time, 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]

"Battle of the Quaking Island! Dojoach vs. Namazun!!" (Episode 377)[edit]

"Battle of the Quaking Island! Dojoach (Barboach) vs. Namazun (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 episode 376, "Solid as a Solrock", and episode 378, "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.

"Team Rocket vs. Team Plasma!" (Episodes 680 & 681)[edit]

The two-part episode "Team Rocket vs. Team Plasma!" was originally scheduled to be broadcast on March 17 and March 24, 2011. They were initially postponed from broadcast due to the news coverage of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, before being postponed due to the content of the episodes wherein Castelia City is destroyed. There were plans for the episodes to be broadcast at a later date, but there has been no such broadcast.[14] Footage from this episode was later used in the episode "Meloetta and the Undersea Temple" originally broadcast on September 27, 2012, as well as in the opening sequence of the Episode N episode arc. Another episode with a similar theme, "Hiun City Fishing Competition! Fishing Sommelier Dent Appears!!", was scheduled to be broadcast on April 7, 2011, but was postponed due to the tsunami as well. It was later retitled "Fishing Sommelier Dent Appears!!" and broadcast on June 23, 2011, with all references to Hiun City (Castelia City) removed from the episode in order to fit into the new continuity.

"The Undersea Castle! Kuzumo and Dramidoro!!" (Episode 826)[edit]

The episode "The Undersea Castle! Kuzumo and Dramidoro!!", featuring Ash, Clemont, Serena, and Bonnie helping a Skrelp (Kuzumo) return to its family in a sunken cruise ship, was originally set to broadcast on April 24, 2014. However, the then recent sinking of the MV Sewol led to the episode being pulled from its timeslot with plans for a later broadcast.[15] It finally made its world debut in South Korea on August 8, 2014.[16][unreliable source?]

Episodes removed by 4Kids Entertainment[edit]

These episodes were never aired in the United States. Although they were dubbed, they still have not aired.[17] As a result, these episodes were never made available in any country airing the English dub, or a redub of this dub.[17]

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

Screenshot of the episode "Beauty And The Beach" 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 was dubbed and aired 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.[18]

"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 appearance of firearms throughout the episode, and because Meowth appears to be dressed like Adolf Hitler[citation needed]. 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 and are used in Pokémon Tournaments by Ash, and only one episode briefly alludes to where they came from.

Voice cast member Rachael Lillis has said in an interview[citation needed] that this episode was in fact purchased and dubbed into English by 4Kids. Cast member Eric Stuart disputed this and said no dub was produced[citation needed].

Dubs of the episode for South Korea and China have also reportedly been produced[citation needed].

"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 (except in Brazil).[citation needed] It was the first widespread ban of a Pokémon episode in four years. This episode, much like episode 39 "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.[citation needed] Some people believed Jynx was a racial stereotype of Africans similar to those from The Story of Little Black Sambo 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.[citation needed]

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.[17]

"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.[19] 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 due to its title. It has since been aired in the regular episode rotation.[citation needed] The episode features Ash and his friends travelling to Lavender Town to catch a Ghost Pokémon in the Pokémon Tower.

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. ^ Radford B, Bartholomew R (2001). "Pokémon contagion: photosensitive epilepsy or mass psychogenic illness?". South Med J 94 (2): 197–204. doi:10.1097/00007611-200194020-00005. PMID 11235034. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ "10th Anniversary of Pokemon in Japan". Anime News Network. March 27, 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  11. ^ Hamilton, Robert (April 2002). "Empire of Kitsch: Japan as Represented in Western Pop Media". Bad Subjects. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?116935-Ask-Maddie-Blaustein-Q-amp-A-with-Meowth&p=3281064&highlight=Porygon#post3281064
  14. ^ "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. ^ "Pokémon XY Episode About Sunken Passenger Ship Delayed". Anime News Network. April 21, 2014. Retrieved April 21, 2014. 
  16. ^ Secret_No89's Twitter account
  17. ^ a b c "Official episode guide of all American-dubbed episodes sorted by season pack". www.pokemon.com. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  18. ^ Dogasu. "Japanese Episode 027". Dogasu.bulbagarden.net. Retrieved 2010-04-09. 
  19. ^ http://affiliate.zap2it.com/tvlistings/ZCGrid.do?fromTimeInMillis=1312574400000#54[dead link]

External links[edit]