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Original content (this page; 2004)
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Additional content (2004-12)
Pokémon Ripped from the Headlines...
e've all heard about them...and let's face it, by now, we've all seen them: the banned episodes. For whatever reason the censors can come up with, the Pokémon animé has more than a few gaps with episodes that have been banned, delayed, or temporarily cut from the usual line-up leaving mysteriously-acquired Pokémon, forced character alterations, out-of-order stories, and a lot of questions from fans. The most infamous of all "Electric Soldier Porygon" was the first to go (or at least the first one we knew about); oddly, with all the other edits made to the dub back in first season, it seemed to have never occurred to anyone to just dial down that Thunderbolt (as was consequently done in other episodes both before and afterward). And just when and how did Ash catch those thirty Tauros that still stampede through Professor Oak's ranch to this day? "The Legend of Dratini" was the one and only time that Ash (or viewers) would have had to visit the Safari Zone...and probably also the only time a man pointing a gun was ever censored from television. Although not really banned, delaying "Holiday At Apaculo" ("Beauty and the Beach") for several months while the "Rocket Sisters" were censored then calling it a "lost episode" was the real cover-up.
hen you can turn on the television and see shows such as Threat Matrix (2003) and 24 (2003-present), terror-related episodes of The West Wing (1999-2006) and Law & Order (1990-present), and even the day-of-doom Arthur (1996-present) episode "April 9th" (2002), it's obvious that the events of September 11, 2001 have left their mark on what Americans are watching. However, while these kinds of shows and episodes were showing up all over the air, ironically, episodes of Pokémon that were not only made before 9/11, but contained content not even close to the attacks, and of course, had no such intent were suddenly banned and America's greatest tragedy left U.S. Pokémon viewers with even less than we were originally allowed to see. A total of five pre-9/11 (Japan and U.S. air dates) Pokémon episodes have been deleted or further edited. "Tentacool and Tentacruel" (first season; U.S. 1998) was taken out of context when no one bothered to realize that it had done so to protect its home from greedy developers; ironically, the entire time this episode was disallowed, the scene in which Tentacruel knocks down a building was shown every day as part Pokémon theme song. Probably the longest-running ban was "The Tower of Terror" (first season; US 1998); already misinterpreted, taking this fatally titled episode off the air until November 2004 was more like an excuse to finally do so. Another sensitive title, "A Scare in the Air" (second season [Orange Islands]; US 1999) was not taken off the air, but was rumored to have been changed after 9/11 to "Spirits in the Sky", and not much better when you think about it. And finally, scheduled to air in the November after the unforeseen terrorist attacks, the two-part battle for the Fog Badge was quickly retitled for U.S. television, but squeaked by on video and DVD.
Part 1 "The Tower Inferno" (fourth season; Johto League Championships; U.S. 2001) took on part 2's title, leaving "A Ghost of a Chance" clumsily changed to "From Ghost to Ghost". Thankfully, the episodes themselves involving the legend of Ho-Oh which includes a burning tower (one of two identical towers yet) was again aired as of December 2004.
ometimes, people don't even wait for news to happen to censor Pokémon; banning "Holiday Hi-Jynx" after its one-and-only, already-delayed U.S. airing was the fault of merely one black woman who is apparently still living in the days of segregation and suffrage (and judging by her scathing essay, already disliked Pokémon, only knowing of it after giving in to her kids' interest and being dragged kicking and screaming to the Mewtwo movie), claiming that Jynx (because of its blackish-purple skin coloring) is a negro stereotype. Although I can't for the life of me figure out what is derogatory about these lovely lady Pokémon being Santa's little helpers. And I'm sure this person never noticed that Jynx's pre-evolved form, Smoochum, a pink duckling-like creature looks even less like her paranoia-driven image. It is rumored that the Master Quest (U.S. 2002-03) episode "The Ice Cave" was also banned for including a Jynx, although some claim that its plot centering around a disease outbreak (grossly exaggerated - Brock just caught a cold) was too touchy to be aired during the SARS scare. Too much of a coincidence? Or just a cover? And even though Jynx segments have been deliberately cut from recent episodes, strangely, you can see Jynx regularly in all its black-faced glory as part of the Poké-rap repeats and Pikachu's Jukebox (as of mid 2007). Ah, but Jynx is not limited to two-second cameos. The Orange Islands episode "The Mandarin Island Miss Match" was notably included as a special "Best Battles" episode on 3/9/04 on WB and still airs regularly on Cartoon Network (as of mid 2007). It features Lorelei/Prima's Jynx, of whom James ironically observes, "You don't see one of those every day!"
When I got back from vacation, I was mad to find out that Pokémon had been on for an hour for the first time in months, unannounced on 1/28 (thanks a lot, WB!), and I only had the VCR set for the usual half-hour. I may have missed the episode ("Eight Ain't Enough"), but I know that Ash has earned his eighth Hoenn League badge by the following week. A week later, Ash & friends are suddenly off to Slateport City so May could enter the Grand Festival...after earning her fifth ribbon?? Did I miss that too?? No; yet another Jynx episode was banned in the U.S.! Update! Part one of the 5th ribbon episode "Mean with Envy" slipped in several weeks after the Grand Festival, complete with a very purple Jynx on 4/1/06. April Fools!
nd banned in all countries, even Japan before ever airing once, "The Battle of the Shaking Island! Barboach vs. Whiscash!" (eighth season) was just too close to home after a series of earthquakes in its native country; understandable, though previous episodes of Pokémon featured similar natural disasters¹. Ironically in the post-Katrina era, such tragedies haven't stopped the U.S. from airing its share of similarly-themed shows/movies/episodes, and instead seem to encourage even more, including the infamous Desperate Housewives tornado episode (2007-08), rather brashly touted by ABC as "the best episode of the season" that meanwhile left me with nightmares for weeks and in a panic whenever a little wind picks up outside my door!
"Everyone has too much to say about Pokémon! If it's fun, that's enough!"
-Waitress Leslie (Pokémon Platinum)
¹Pokémon episodes "Foul Weather Friends" (third season, U.S., 2000) and "The Poké Spokesman" (fourth season, U.S., 2001) both featured tornados that damaged property. The Pokémon Chronicles episode "Celebi and Joy" (U.S., 2006) featured a temporal paradox involving a young boy and his father who were destined to die in a landslide.
|Text and artwork copyright © 2000-2013 by Kimberly (RageOfInnocence)
Pokémon © Satoshi Tajiri, Nintendo/Creatures, Inc./Game Freak, The Pokémon Company International
The beautiful screenshots of Ash, Pikachu, and their friends and Pokémon are from various themes and episodes from Pokémon
(Kanto/Orange Islands/Johto series), Advanced Generation, Diamond & Pearl, and Best Wishes!/Black & White
Dream Valley | Oak Branch Woods | We All Live in a Pokémon World | Kimberly's Attic