- Pokémon episodes removed from rotation
There are hundreds of episodes of the Pokémon anime; however, for various reasons, some have been taken out of the rotation of reruns in some countries. Pokémon is aimed at young children, which required some episodes to be altered. However some episodes are completely banned.
Dennō Senshi Porygon
"Dennō Senshi Porygon", literally "Computer Soldier Porygon", though most commonly translated as "Electric Soldier Porygon", aired in Japan on December 16, 1997 at 6:30 PM Japan Standard Time. 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. Although there were similar parts in the episode with red and blue flashes, an anime technique called "paka paka" made this scene extremely intense, 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.
At this point, viewers started to complain of blurred vision, headaches, dizziness and nausea. A few people even had seizures, blindness, convulsions, and lost consciousness. Japan's Fire Defense Agency reported a total of 685 viewers, 310 boys and 375 girls, were taken to hospitals by ambulances. Although many victims recovered during the ambulance trip, more than 150 of them were admitted to hospitals. Two people remained hospitalized for over 2 weeks. Some other people had seizures when parts of the scene were rebroadcast during news reports on the seizures. Only a small fraction of the 685 children treated were diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy.
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. Officers acting on orders from the National Police Agency questioned the program's producers about the cartoon's contents and production process. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare held an emergency meeting, discussing the case with experts and gathering information from hospitals. Video retailers across the country pulled the series from their rental shelves.
After the airing of "Dennō Senshi Porygon", the Pokémon anime went into a four-month hiatus until it returned in April 1998. After the hiatus, the time slot changed from Tuesday to Thursday. 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. Before the resuming 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, a woman named Miyuki Yadama went over the circumstances of the program format and the on-screen advisories at the beginning of animated programs.
Later studies showed that 5-10% of the viewers had mild symptoms that did not need hospital treatment. 12,000 children reported mild symptoms of illness, however their symptoms more closely resembled mass hysteria than a grand mal seizure. A study following 103 patients over three years after the event found most of them had no further seizures. 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.
According to the late Maddie Blaustein, the then voice of Meowth in the 4Kids dub, this episode was in fact purchased and dubbed into English by 4Kids using a censored version of the scene with the flashing lights, but the episode was still banned worldwide and not allowed to be aired.
"Ō mi-sō Kada yo! Pocket Monsters"
This episode was supposed to air on December 31, 1997 (New Year's Eve), but was left unaired after the Porygon episode incident. This episode was the first not to air, even worldwide, and it hasn't aired since.
"Yureru Shima no Tatakai! Dojoach VS Namazun!!"
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 and they start the Whiscash extermination there.
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 worldwide.
The episode was intended to be aired between AG100, "Solid as a Solrock", and AG101, "Vanity Affair".
The episode didn't even end up as a DVD exclusive.
Episodes removed from rotation in certain countries
"Challenge of the Samurai"
This is episode 4 of the Indigo League series of the original Pokémon series. The episode has been aired almost worldwide in multiple languages, but has been banned in South Korea for cultural reasons; the "samurai" that Ash battled in the episode caused a semi-cultural clash there, thus causing a South Korean continuity error which involves Ash's Metapod evolving into a Butterfree.
This episode is episode 26 of the Indigo League series. The episode also aired almost worldwide in multiple languages, but, like "Challenge of the Samurai", has also been banned in South Korea. However, this ban involved Ash getting kicked out of a store by a girl; this is considered an insult in South Korea, because girls are not allowed to kick boys in that country. This episode also causes a South Korean continuity error in which Ash has obtained the RainbowBadge at the end of the episode for rescuing Erika's Gloom.
Several other episodes were also banned in South Korea, in which none of them were banned by 4Kids Entertainment.
This episode is from the Indigo League series of the original Pokémon series. This episode is the first to feature a Pokémon called Jynx who, according to a small but vocal group of people, looked as though it was dressed in blackface. After the episode "Holiday Hi-Jynx" aired on Kids WB!, a woman named Carole B. Weatherford wrote an article about Jynx, saying it was racist to black people, and soon after, the episode was removed from rotation temporarily. The controversy seems to have finally waned, as "Holiday Hi-Jynx" is currently (as of summer 2011) back in rotation on Boomerang without edit or significant protest.
"The Bicker the Better"
While this episode was aired almost worldwide, it was banned in some countries (including Egypt) because of a battle of the sexes-type battle, though it has been released on vcr.
"Dawn's Early Night"
For unknown reasons, this episode was skipped in New Zealand. However, an airing on the 15th September 2010 corrected this.
Episodes removed by 4Kids Entertainment
These episodes were never made part of the season packs produced by the American dubbers of the series. As a result, these episodes were never made available in any country airing the American dub, or a redub of this dub.
"Miniryu no Densetsu"
"Miniryu 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 possibly banned because guns are repeatedly pointed at people threateningly at several points in this episode, and warning shots are fired, and that editing them all out would be difficult for the story. This may or may not also be banned because of a scene where James and Meowth hold a police-style interrogation. In the scene, 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, even being used in Pokémon Tournaments by Ash, with only one episode that briefly alludes to where they came from. This plot-hole is very similar to another episode, where James from Team Rocket "reclaims" his Victreebel from a fake day-care center, even though it's never shown how he caught Victreebel in the first place. Unlike Ash's Tauros, though, it's never shown in any episode released how James ever caught his Victreebel
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. This would explain why clips from the episode have been used in several music videos produced for the 4Kids dub, though it is uncertain 4Kids actually dubbed this episode as Eric Stuart confirmed they didn't dub it at all. There is however a Korean dubbed version of this episode which aired in South Korea.
"Kōri no Dōkutsu!"
"Kōri no Dōkutsu!", otherwise known as "The Ice Cave!", would have been part of Pokémon: Master Quest, but was skipped over by 4Kids Entertainment and therefore never shown outside of Asia, except Brazil. 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. The episode was also banned because of the disease influenza going around (the symptoms were SARS-like). In this episode Team Rocket doused Ash and his friends with cold water inside an icy cave, causing Brock to come down with symptoms similar to influenza, though according to Carole Boston Weatherford, the SARS part is a myth, and the episode was skipped due to the controversial version of Jynx.
"Beauty and the Beach"
"Beauty and the Beach" is the 18th episode of the original Japanese series. It was skipped by 4Kids Entertainment upon the original American broadcast of the series. 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.
A continuity problem created with this episode's removal is due to a flashback in "Hypno's Naptime", where Ash is mistaken as a " mama's boy ", and he remembers his own mother winning the beauty contest (incidentally, the flashback was originally from "Pokémon - I Choose You!" and was changed in the dub).
Episodes banned in the United States after September 11, 2001
These episodes were removed after the September 11 attacks for destruction of buildings, the name, and or weapons in the episode.
"Tentacool and Tentacruel"
The first episode to be banned after the September 11 attacks, 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. This episode also aired on Cartoon Network at least once. The episode is still aired on Cartoon Network's sister station BOOM.
"The Tower Of Terror"
This episode was temporarily banned after September 11 attacks. The official reason has never been confirmed, but many believe that the episode's title may have had something to do with it. The episode is no longer banned and continues to air.
Episodes delayed after the March 11, 2011 Japanese earthquake
The broadcasts of three episodes were postponed in response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami due to the nature of their plots.
- The first of these episodes to be postponed were the two parts of "Team Rocket vs. Team Plasma!", originally scheduled to air on March 17 and March 24, 2011. They were postponed because of Castelia City's destruction, featured as a main event of these episodes. There are plans to air them at some point in the near future because of their importance in the anime's plot, but no specific dates have been cited.
- The final episode affected was "A Fishing Connoisseur in a Fishy Competition!", which was initially scheduled to air on April 7, 2011 in Japan, and then delayed because of a giant wave shown during the fishing contest. The episode's broadcast has since been rescheduled for June 23, 2011, and its title has since been renamed "Fishing Sommelier Dent Appears!!" (original title "Hiun City Fishing Competition! Fishing Sommelier Dent Appears!!") for continuity reasons : producers had to delete references to Castelia City (Hiun City in Japanese) in order to place this part of the Pokémon anime between "Archeops In The Modern World!" ("Fossil Revival! Ancient Mysterious Bird Archeos!!") and "Movie Time! Zorua in "The Legend of the Pokemon Knight"!" ("Zorua The Movie! The Legend of the Pokémon Knight!!") because Ash and his friends had already left the city at this point. However, althrough all references to it were cut in this episode, many inconsistencies remained in the original broadcasting of the episode, including Ash seeing James' Yamask for the first time.
- ^ Sheryl, Wudunn (December 18, 1997). "TV Cartoon's Flashes Send 700 Japanese Into Seizures". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/12/18/world/tv-cartoon-s-flashes-send-700-japanese-into-seizures.html?sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- ^ 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. http://web.archive.org/web/20080319080522/http://csicop.org/si/2001-05/pokemon.html. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
- ^ a b Wudunn, Sheryl (December 18, 1997). "TV Cartoon's Flashes Send 700 Japanese Into Seizures". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/12/18/world/tv-cartoon-s-flashes-send-700-japanese-into-seizures.html?scp=1&sq=pokemon&st=nyt&scp=1&sq=pokemon%20seizure&st=cse. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
- ^ 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. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119944452/abstract. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
- ^ a b "Japanese cartoon triggers seizures in hundreds of children". Reuters. 1997-12-17. http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9712/17/video.seizures.update/index.html. Retrieved 2007-09-29.
- ^ a b c d e "Pokemon on the Brain". Neuroscience For Kids. March 11, 2000. http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/pokemon.html. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
- ^ "Fits to Be Tried". Snopes.com. http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/seizure.asp. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
- ^ "10th Anniversary of Pokemon in Japan". Anime News Network. March 27, 2007. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-03-27/10th-anniversary-of-pokemon-in-japan. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
- ^ Hamilton, Robert (April 2002). "Empire of Kitsch: Japan as Represented in Western Pop Media". Bad Subjects. http://bad.eserver.org/issues/2002/60/hamilton.html. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
- ^ 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. http://web.archive.org/web/20080216223620/http://home-aki.cool.ne.jp/soudou.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
- ^ Radford B, Bartholomew R (2001). "Pokémon contagion: photosensitive epilepsy or mass psychogenic illness?". South Med J 94 (2): 197–204. PMID 11235034.
- ^ 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. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118750929/abstract. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
- ^ a b c "Official episode guide of all American-dubbed episodes sorted by season pack". www.pokemon.com. http://www.pokemon.com/#movies. Retrieved 2009-05-13.
- ^ Dogasu. "Japanese Episode 027". Dogasu.bulbagarden.net. http://dogasu.bulbagarden.net/comparisons/kanto/ep027.html. Retrieved 2010-04-09.
- ^ http://affiliate.zap2it.com/tvlistings/ZCGrid.do?fromTimeInMillis=1312574400000#54
- ^ Televi Magazine, July 2011
- CNN archive news article about Seizure episode
- CNN archive news article (2) about Seizure episode
- Neuroscience for Kids (About "Dennō Senshi Porygon")
- An article about Pokémon controversy, (includes the seizure scene)
- Japanese article about the seizure episode
- Psypoke :: The Pokemon Anime - Censorship A site that tells about certain things that were edited or banned outright
- Pictures from the Preview of "Shaking Island Battle! Barboach vs. Whiscash!"
- Japanese Web Newtype (using the 'web archive')
- Information about the Shaking Island Battle! Barboach vs. Whiscash! episode
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