Pokemon (Banned) Episode 38 Analysis – Electric Soldier Porygon

Pokemon ep 38 screen8
I’m certain most of Japan agrees with you, Kasumi.

CotD(s): Akihabara-Hakase – Creator of the Monster Ball transfer system, Akihabara is very intelligent but also eccentric and somewhat dangerous.

Reappears?: No.

Pokemon: Akihabara has two Porygon, and the species as a whole is also his creation.

Pre-Analysis Notes: Look, you know what this is. I know what this is. Nearly everyone who knows even a little about classic Pokemon or anime knows what this is. But, just in case, let’s be frank about it anyway.

It’s the seizure episode.

It’s arguably the most well-known singular episode of Pokemon and, arguably, the most well-known banned episode of any animated series outside of that one episode of Tiny Toons where they drink beer.

The cause of the famous Pokemon Shock incident, Electric Soldier Porygon is the episode that caused seizures in 600+ kids in Japan when it first aired. The effects of this episode airing are still being felt to this day. In fact, this episode caused the creators of Pokemon to go back and edit some of their episodes to help prevent possible seizure-inducing shots.

For instance, you may have noticed by now in certain episodes where Pikachu is doing electric attacks (most notably in these instances, I might add, but let’s address this later) that the animation starts jutting or slowing down and the brightness gets significantly lower. I also mentioned that I believe this incident is the reason for the nightmare fuel animation Hypno and Drowzee shots in Hypno’s Naptime.

It’s not just contained to Pokemon either. Other anime and western animated shows also tone down the brightness and tweak the animation in flashy action shots, such as in shounen fighting anime, to prevent this same thing from happening.

That’s not all. Many anime also started putting those all too familiar ‘don’t sit too close to the TV and turn up the lights in the room’ warnings at the start of certain shows to also help prevent this.

And that’s still not all. Because of this incident, the creators of Pokemon felt they had to do damage control in the future and prevent people from remembering this event. Thus, Porygon had to be sacrificed.

In addition to it never getting an anime release outside of Japan, Porygon and all of its evos have been silently banned from ever getting their own episodes or being used by Trainers in the entirety of the anime. They don’t even get mentioned. The best they get are incredibly minor cameos in the background, almost always just being an obligated feature in a huge collab screen during those The World of Pokemon openers for the movies.

And it was wrongfully damned because…..*huff* Nope. Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it.

This is our second completely banned episode in regards to it obviously being taken out of rotation (In Japan too, which makes it ultra-banned) and never being dubbed by 4Kids. In fact, unlike The Legend of Miniryu, it’s highly unlikely 4Kids ever got a copy of this episode to dub considering that they wanted to basically remove this episode from existence.

You can find more information on the event, the banning and why it likely wasn’t ever dubbed and will probably never be released, even edited, here http://dogasu.bulbagarden.net/comparisons/kanto/ep038.html And I know Dogasu links to this page in the article, but just because I believe it deserves a look for the sake of learning more about the event itself https://www.csicop.org/si/show/pokemon_panic_of_1997

Without any further adieu. The seizure ep—Er, The Electric Soldier Porygon.

Japanese Key: Satoshi/Ash, Takeshi/Brock, Kasumi/Misty, Hakase/Professor, Monster Balls/Pokeballs, Fushigidane/Bulbasaur, Arbo/Arbok, Metadogas/Weezing, Masaki/Bill

Plot: Satoshi, Kasumi and Takeshi have arrived in Matcha City. Pikachu seems really tired, so they visit the local Pokemon Center to get him some rest. When they arrive, they find the Pokemon Center in chaos as they try to field phone call after phone call with complaints about the Monster Ball Transfer System not functioning.

Whenever a rare Pokemon is being transferred, the Pokemon is switched with a much more common Pokemon and the original Pokemon never arrives. Joy and the tech specialist who created the system, Akihabara-hakase, are working to fix it, but so far have been unable to find the bug.

Takeshi suggests that it’s a virus, but Akihabara vehemently refuses the suggestions. He runs out of the building stating that the system is far too advanced to get a virus.

Satoshi and the others go to Akihabara’s laboratory to see what’s wrong when they’re stopped by a strange polygonal Akihabara head that turns out to be a hologram. Akihabara lures the group into a giant Monster ball transfer machine where he tells them that the source of the problems for the system is Team Rocket.

They somehow managed to sneak in, steal a prototype CG Pokemon, Porygon Zero, and transfer themselves into the network. Whenever a rare Pokemon is sent through, Team Rocket snatches it and replaces it with a common Pokemon.

He knows he could fix the problems with a vaccine program. The problem is, if he activates the program now, Team Rocket will be killed. In order to avoid this, he sends Satoshi, Kasumi and Takeshi into the digital world to take down and retrieve Team Rocket so he can execute the program and fix the system.

Riding on an enlarged Porygon, the group assesses their situation and follows the network highway to Team Rocket, who are stopping all transfers in the middle of the highway with a literal road block and taking all of the rare Pokemon for themselves.

Satoshi and the others arrive, demanding they release the Pokemon. Team Rocket refuses and sends out Arbo and Metadogas. Metadogas uses Smokescreen, but Porygon uses its Conversion technique to match Metadogas’ physical traits and knock it away. (Actually it adopts the Pokemon’s type, but this is fun too)

Team Rocket uses Porygon Zero to fight the other Porygon, but it’s mostly a stalemate of Porygon transforming into a shield and Porygon Zero transforming into various weapons. Akihabara tells the group to take this opportunity to take down the barriers on the network highway and restore the Monster Ball transfers.

Team Rocket tries to stop them, but they get electrocuted by Pikachu and blasted off with Porygon Zero.

Akihabara and the others believe the problem is about to be solved, but the Pokemon Center suddenly accesses the system. Akihabara learns that the main Center sent down a computer specialist who is using a strong vaccine to take care of the problem. Akihabara panics since Satoshi and the others are still in the system. If the vaccine hits them, they’ll be unable to escape back to the real world.

Akihabara warns Satoshi and the others to get out of there. They call Porygon and start to make their escape. Team Rocket also starts to escape via their Porygon Zero as the vaccine starts its assault.

They race to the exit, dodging blast after blast of bright assaults from the vaccine. Team Rocket gets wrapped up in one of the attacks, which causes a hole in the system’s coding. Team Rocket, now with a knocked out Porygon Zero, is trapped within the hole, and the computer specialist in the Pokemon Center starts to close it. Satoshi and the others near the transfer point, but Satoshi wants to go save Team Rocket.

Just when it seems like Team Rocket is done for, Satoshi, Fushigidane and Porygon swoop in to save them. But they’re not out of the woods yet. The vaccine is still pursuing them, and now Porygon is faltering due to exhaustion and too much weight. The vaccine launches four missiles. Pikachu manages to blow two of them away with an electric attack, but the other two smash into the transfer point, causing the entire laboratory to explode.

Luckily, they all managed to get out just in time. The Pokemon transfer system is now working perfectly, but Akihabara’s human transfer system is destroyed. With the group keeping their digital heroics a secret, they continue on their journey.

————————–

– Akihabara-Hakase made the transfer system?…..Considering Masaki made the storage system, I always thought he made the transfer system too. Hm. Anyone want to throw in their two cents about whether this is BS to game canon?

– For some reason, I think it’s adorable that Satoshi thinks computer viruses are little demons who poke at computers in hospital beds.

It also just dates the hell out of this show. Ten year old kid is clueless about everything computers. You just wait a decade or two, Satoshi. You’ll be catching Pokemon with your smartphone and annoying the shit out of everyone around you soon enough.

– What the hell is up with this map? Why is it taking a ridiculous route around the backside of the Pokemon Center when you could just hang a left at the entrance and then head north? Is there an annoying ‘you can jump down but not up because I said so’ ledge over to the left?

Pokemon ep 38 screen1

– They follow that map with no problems whatsoever, but get lost every damn episode even with a professionally made–…

POKEMON EP31 screen1

Er….nevermind. Pokemon really needs a better educational system because they are in desperate need of competent cartographers.

– I love how Kasumi is concerned about walking around some other person’s house. I think you’ve long since passed that worry, Kasumi. You were breaking and entering without issue just last episode.

– Some strange man in the dark is telling us to follow him into a strange dark room? Well, we really shouldn’t, but we have no sense of self-preservation so why not?

– He trapped them in a giant Monster Ball transfer machine? That is straight up kidnap—……that is a really cool concept that might answer numerous questions I’ve had about that thing…..But he is kidnapping them……..Hm…..Promise me they’ll be un-kidnapped and I’ll turn a blind eye.

– Unless Akihabara works for Silph Co., which I doubt because it doesn’t seem to exist in the anime, he did not canonically create Porygon.

– Bullshit Team Rocket was smart enough to not only steal a CG Pokemon but also somehow have been stealing Pokemon in cyberspace on purpose. They can barely steal a scene.

Pokemon ep 38 screen2

– So instead of recruiting people qualified to enter a digital world and fight monsters to take down evil forces, Akihabara decides to just kidnap whatever children just happen to be nearby and make them do it–……Holy crap, this is Digimon Adventure 01!

– Porygon may be far from my favorite Pokemon, but it’s still pretty cute in this episode.

– Well, we finally know what the inside of the digital world looks like…..a bunch of non-detailed tubes…….I like Digimon’s interpretation better. Also, this is a missed opportunity for some nightmare inducing polygonal CGI scenes.

– I don’t really understand Team Rocket’s plan. Sure, they’re stealing the most amount of rare Pokemon they’ve ever managed to get their hands on…..but how do they expect to leave? They can’t even contact Giovanni or anyone from within the system. They could steal every rare Pokemon in the world in there and it wouldn’t matter. Unless they plan to accumulate a ton of digital monsters and create a new world order within the system—Oh my God, it’s a prequel to Digimon Adventure 01!

Pokemon ep 38 screen3

– Porygon’s an interesting Digim—Pokemon purely for Conversion and the way it transforms in the digital world. In a lot of ways, it’s like Ditto, which is weird to follow up with immediately after the Ditto episode.

– Takeshi: “Just what you’d expect from a pair of Porygon.” Dude, you just learned what a Porygon was five minutes ago, and you still weren’t properly given a rundown on what it was outside of being a CG Pokemon. Stop being a not-knowing know it all.

– Where did Team Rocket get the road blocks in the mostly vacant digital world? Why are these pitifully undersized roadblocks stopping this massive pile of Monster Balls from transferring?

– I know Akihabara’s a crazy weirdo, but they seriously sent down someone else to fix a problem in the system he created without even telling him? What asses at the….main Center…..what main Center? Where is this?

– He could’ve avoided this whole mess if he told Joy the problem in the first place instead of just being incredibly vague and running out of the Pokemon Center without a word.

– I don’t know why, but I find it really cute that the vaccine program is a little ambulance.

Pokemon ep 38 screen4

– Rocket-propelled needles….not so much.

– Alright, so we’re at the seizure moment basically. The action escape scene involves a lot, and I mean a lot, of bright blue and red beams and flashes of red and blue light. And it’s not anime-ish drawn light, it’s full-on neon colors legit light-light.

Most of the scene is not too much of a problem because the characters are usually taking up much of the shot, the light is simply beams or the light is contained to maybe 50% of the screen. I imagine kids might have been getting flicker vertigo at this point.

The part of the episode that was the tipping point into massive seizures, however, was the finale where the entire group are about to be hit with a barrage of vaccine missiles before they leave the system. In order to help save them, Pikachu shocks two of the missiles into blowing up before they reach them, which briefly causes the entire screen to flicker blue and red for about two seconds, followed by a shot of the flashing taking about 70% of the screen for another couple of seconds. And that’s all it takes, really.

That’s also why this incident is coined the Pokemon Shock incident. All of the other scenes were mostly okay, but the finale with Pikachu’s shock was the crux.

Pokemon ep 38 screen5
Whoo yeah, you did it Pikachu! Now let’s wait for the audience to get back from the hospital to talk about how proud we are of you.

What’s that, you ask? What did Porygon do to contribute to this event? You say it must’ve done something horrible because it’s anime-banned? Oh it just bravely fought through exhaustion and encumbering weight to help everyone, including Seizurechu, escape. Porygon was not, in any way shape or form, responsible for the flashes. The only two things that caused the seizures were the vaccine program and Pikachu.

Surely, this must mean Pikachu is the one who deserves to be banned then, right? What say ye, Nintendo?

Nintendo: “Pikachu’s face is already plastered on a fuckin’ jet, and we are not going to risk our newest, cutest money whore. Ban the polygoned duck thing and shut up.”

……

sad okay

You know….I really have to tamp down my anger both at the injustice towards Porygon and the secret-service-esque maneuvers to save honored Messiahchu……because I get it. I really do. Logically, it makes sense.

As much as we, the viewers and fans of the show, know how much of a raw deal Porygon’s getting here, let’s be honest, other people, those who don’t watch the show regularly and the parents of these kids, are never going to associate this event with Pikachu because the scene was literally seconds long.

When people have talked and currently do talk about this episode, they usually refer to it as the Porygon episode or, at most, Electric Soldier Porygon. What matters most to fans is not what’s put in play here. It’s what matters to the public at large. Porygon is the face of this episode and, sadly, that means he’s damned to being the face of this incident.

Banning Pikachu would seem logical to us, but I can bet damn near anything that parents would petition to have Porygon removed from the franchise for the sake of avoiding trauma anyway, and the franchise as a whole would suffer do to lack of ‘chu.

Pokemon ep 38 screen6
Yeah, you got banned for Pikachu’s sins! Thanks, Porygon!

It’s just more painful when you actually watch the episode. Porygon is still far from my favorite Pokemon, but this episode gives you a new appreciation for it. It has cool abilities, at least within the system, it’s very nice, brave and even kinda cute.

This whole incident is really just a shame all around. Truthfully, if it wasn’t Porygon and this episode, I can bet anything it would’ve been some other episode or even another show triggering the necessary changes for preventing seizures. Best case scenario is finding out about these risks beforehand and changing things before incidents such as Pokemon Shock occur, but we can’t always be so lucky.

I should mention that, while I am not epileptic or prone to seizures, I still very easily get motion sickness. I am extremely prone to carsickness, seasickness, lightheadedness, dizziness and I am prone to being digitally motion sick (getting motion sick while playing video games). It’s only with certain games and lighting, but it does happen.

For instance, I can’t play many classic Star Wars games, such as Dark Forces and Mysteries of the Sith (classic FPS’s in general mostly due to the art and way you move) and Dead Island (really bright first person environments) for longer than about five minutes without getting a splitting headache and feeling like I’m going to barf.

While I was watching ‘the scene’ I did feel slightly ill and off-kilter, but only a little. That was my experience anyway. I can certainly see how that scene would trigger seizures. I do have to wonder how many people who have watched the bootlegs of the episode have gotten seizures or illness.

– Bullshit they all survived the laboratory blowing up. Then again, this is, worryingly, not the first or last time Satoshi and co. will survive being inside of a building as it’s blown to smithereens (See: Pokemon Emergency!)

– I do like Team Rocket being appreciative of the group saving their lives, though.

Pokemon ep 38 screen7

– So Akihabara made the human transfer system for the sake of making people’s lives easier? But you still need to actually travel within it. Without a Porygon, it would’ve been ridiculous. And the slightest errors or viruses could kill you or make you unable to return to the real world.

– Why is this whole thing being kept a secret anyway? If Akihabara had just told Joy about what was going on, none of this vaccine stuff would’ve happened. Actually, none of this episode would’ve happened. Oh, right, nevermind.

– Despite the fact that Fushigidane also did work today, why is Satoshi only telling Joy to care for Pikachu? Well, I guess sending 600+ kids to the hospital IS tiring.

archer-burn

————————–

I did enjoy this episode. We really needed a change of pace from forest, city, forest, city, forest, forest, city, forest. The digital world in Pokemon is…..a little boring, but has some cute and interesting aspects. Team Rocket’s plan made absolutely no sense, but at least they netted a crapton of Pokemon for a change. Honestly, I could spend pages just asking questions about the transfer system and the digital world, but I think we had enough to go over today.

Akihabara had more personality than the average CotD, but he was also a bit of an ass for kidnapping Satoshi, Takeshi and Kasumi and risking their lives when it was totally avoidable. At least he got a bittersweet ending.

I’ve said my piece about Porygon. Fare thee well, little angled duck. We’ll always have Paris the games.

Next episode, Jynx’s deb—Oh right, crap. Okay, there’s also one more consequence of this episode. Due to the Pokemon Shock incident, Pokemon was put on hiatus for four months, throwing its whole schedule out of whack. The next episode preview is for what we in the west know as Holiday Hi-Jynx (Rougela’s Christmas)……which is, oddly enough, ANOTHER banned episode (to a degree).

It was also meant to be followed by Snow Way Out (Iwark the Bivouac). As you can guess, these episodes were meant to be aired in winter, with Holiday Hi-Jynx being planned for the day before Christmas Eve. However, due to the hiatus, both episodes were ripped from their respective spots and saved until the following October, where they were aired as special episodes, kinda.

There’s a lot more to go over here, but I think that’s enough for now. Let’s talk about this whole mess when we get to the actual episodes. Since I’m following the wiki’s episode list and Dogasu’s listings, I’ll be moving on to Pikachu’s Goodbye next…..which is also a source of some anger for me, to be honest, as it comes hot on the heels of this episode, but again, let’s save that for later.

Next episode, Pikachu’s Goodbye.

Previous Episode….

One thought on “Pokemon (Banned) Episode 38 Analysis – Electric Soldier Porygon

  1. I didn’t realize Porygon and its evolutions never got an episode again and aren’t even used by Trainers ever. Poor Porygon.

    I do kind of miss the cutesy and funny warnings at the start of anime though.

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