Pokémon episodes removed from rotation

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The Pokémon anime debuted in Japan on April 1, 1997, with over 1000 episodes as of 2018. However, for various reasons, some have been taken out of rotation of reruns in certain countries, while others were altered or completely banned.

Global removals[edit]

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

"Dennō Senshi Porygon" (でんのうせんしポリゴン, Dennō Senshi Porigon, translated as "Cyber Soldier Porygon", though more commonly referred to as "Electric Soldier Porygon") aired on TV Tokyo in Japan on December 16, 1997, at 6:30 PM Japan Standard Time.[1] 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 rapidly 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 5 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 on 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 11, 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] The seizures were actually caused by animation errors. After that episode aired, prior episodes with seizure-like effects were edited for rebroadcasting (especially the non-Japanese releases).

Unaired episodes[edit]

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

In "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 meet a Pokémon trainer named Chōta.

The episode was originally set to air in Japan on November 4, 2004, 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 outside of Japan, and the first episode not to air in Japan. Since then the move Earthquake alongside similar moves such as Fissure and Magnitude have not been used in the anime.

"Team Rocket vs. Team Plasma!" (Episodes 682 & 683)[edit]

The two-part episode "Team Rocket vs. Team Plasma!" was originally scheduled to be broadcast on March 17 and March 24, 2011. The Pokémon Smash episode on the week that would've followed by the first part was preempted 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,[13] but the episode was never actually aired. Footage from this episode was later used in the episode "Meloetta and the Undersea Temple", which aired on September 27, 2012, as well as in "Strong Strategy Steals the Show", which aired on December 13, 2012.

Another episode, "Hiun City Fishing Competition! Fishing Sommelier Dent Appears!!", was scheduled air on April 7, 2011, but was postponed due to the tsunami as well. It was later retitled "Fishing Sommelier Dent Appears!!" and aired on June 23, 2011, with all references to Hiun (Castelia) City removed to fit into the new continuity.

Postponed episodes[edit]

"A Fishing Connosseur in a Fishy Competition!" (Episode 696)[edit]

The episode "A Fishing Connosseur in a Fishy Competition!" was postponed from its original airdate of April 7, 2011, to June 23, 2011 due to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The episode was originally titled "Hiun City Fishing Competition! Fishing Sommelier Dent Appears!!" (ヒウンシティのつり大会!釣りソムリエ・デント登場!! Hiun Shiti no Tsuri Taikai! Tsuri Somurie Dento Tōjō!!), but to fit in with its new airdate, references to the setting of Hiun (Castelia) City were removed.

"An Undersea Place to Call Home!" (Episode 851)[edit]

The episode "An Undersea Place to Call Home!", 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 sinking of MV Sewol led to the episode being pulled from its timeslot with plans for a later broadcast which Japan did eventually see officially on November 20, 2014.[14][15] It has had its world debut in South Korea on August 8, 2014 right after Episode 824 as originally planned.[16][17][18] It also finally made its English debut on February 7, 2015, with the season 18 theme song "Be a Hero".[19]

Episodes removed in Japan[edit]

"Pikachu Short": Pikachu & Pichu[edit]

The Pikachu short Pikachu & Pichu (Japanese: ピチューとピカチュウ) has never been released on video, or shown on TV since 2009 after Noriko Sakai got arrested for possession and abuse of drugs.

Episodes removed worldwide[edit]

These episodes were never aired outside of Asia (with one notable exception of Episode 18 in the United States).[20]

Episodes removed by 4Kids Entertainment[edit]

"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, an 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 or the English Indigo League Champions Edition Blu-ray boxset released in November 2017.

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, one day 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. In addition, all Japanese text on signs, etc. remains intact in this episode, as opposed to other first-season episodes in which it was digitally replaced with English text.

A continuity problem created with this episode's removal is due to a flashback in "Hypno's Naptime". Also, this episode marks the first time chronologically that Misty and Brock meet Gary and Delia.[21]

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

"The Legend of Miniryu (Dratini)" (ミニリュウのでんせつ, Miniryū no Densetsu) 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 frequent appearances of firearms throughout the episode, as well as a scene where Team Rocket's Meowth wears a mustache resembling that of Adolf Hitler. 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 tournaments by Ash, and only one episode alludes to where they came from.

"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. This episode, much like episode 39 "Holiday Hi-Jynx", was banned because of the appearance of the controversial Pokémon Jynx.[22] 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 black skin, or that it looked like a blackface actress. Jynx was later re-edited and given purple skin instead in later episodes.[22]

Episodes removed by the Pokémon Company International[edit]

"Satoshi and Nagetukesaru! A Touchdown of Friendship!!" (Episode 1005)[edit]

"Satoshi (Ash Ketchum) and Nagetukesaru (Passimian)! A Touchdown of Friendship!!" is the 64th episode of the series Pocket Monsters Sun & Moon. It aired in Japan on March 1, 2018, but never aired in the United States. Although it was never explained why the episode was skipped over, some speculated that the face paint Ash used to disguise himself as a Passimian could resemble blackface.[23]

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.[20]

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

This episode was temporarily removed from rotation after the September 11 attacks of 2001, mainly because of the similarities between the attacks and 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 dub's opening theme, and the episode is still 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.[24] 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.[25] The episode features Ash and his friends travelling to Lavender Town to catch a Ghost Pokémon in the Pokémon Tower. Ash Ketchum and his Pokémon, Pikachu, ‘died’ during this episode and haunted his friends with the ghost type Pokémon Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar, before his spirit went back into his living body and came back to life.

See also[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. Archived from the original on 2012-12-08. 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. Archived from the original on 2012-06-29. 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. Archived from the original on 2012-02-01. 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. ^ "Archived copy" 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. Archived from the original on August 28, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Pokémon XY Episode About Sunken Passenger Ship Delayed". Anime News Network. April 21, 2014. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  15. ^ "Pocket Monsters XY official website". TV-Tokyo.com. Retrieved 2015-04-18.
  16. ^ "아루 on Twitter". twitter.com.
  17. ^ Dogasu. "A timeline of the events leading up to / following the skipped Kuzumo episode". dogasu.bulbagarden.net. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  18. ^ "일일편성표 :: 신나는 상상, 즐거운 변화 재능TV". www.jeitv.com.
  19. ^ "An Undersea Place to Call Home! | Watch Pokémon TV". Pokémon. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  20. ^ a b "Official episode guide of all American-dubbed episodes sorted by season pack". www.pokemon.com. Retrieved 2009-05-13.
  21. ^ Dogasu. "Japanese Episode 027". Dogasu.bulbagarden.net. Retrieved 2010-04-09.
  22. ^ a b Pulliam-Moore, Charles. "How Nintendo changed this racist Pokémon's design for the better". fusion.net.
  23. ^ "'Pokémon' episode pulled from airing in the US over 'blackface' concerns". NME. 2018-07-12. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-05-10. Retrieved 2011-08-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-08-14. Retrieved 2016-08-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]