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Top 10 Banned Pokémon Episodes

VO: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
These episodes were put in Bills storage system. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 banned “Pokémon” episodes. For this list, we’ll be going over the episodes of the “Pokémon” anime that were banned, delayed, or removed from being broadcast temporarily.
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Top 10 Banned Pokémon Episodes

These episodes were put in Bills storage system. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 banned “Pokémon” episodes.

For this list, we’ll be going over the episodes of the “Pokémon” anime that were banned, delayed, or removed from being broadcast temporarily.

#10: “Rocket-dan VS Plasma-dan!”

Fans of the game series may have noticed than in the anime, Team Plasma in the anime resembles their appearance and intentions from “Pokémon Black 2” and “White 2,” rather than the original “Black” and “White.” However, this wasn’t always the plan. A two-parter featuring Team Plasma, with their original costume designs and mission statement, would see them facing off against Team Rocket over possession of meteonite, a powerful substance Rocket had been pursuing for several episodes prior. This dual episode story would have been the conclusion to that arc. Unfortunately, the Tōhoku earthquake/tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe happened shortly before they were due to air, which put the episodes on hold indefinitely, and they still have yet to air as of 2019.

#9: “An Undersea Place to Call Home”

Ash and company encounter a pair of undersea archaeologists in search of a sunken luxury cruise ship. While investigating the briny wreck, they find that the ship has become a habitat for many water Pokémon and they also face off against Team Rocket, who are after any sunken treasure that may be left behind. The episode was delayed due to being set to air shortly after the South Korean ferry the MV Sewol sank in real life, claiming the lives of hundreds, including many children. Naturally, the studio wanted to avoid bringing up thoughts of the disaster so soon after it occurred.

#8: “Shaking Island Battle! Barboach VS Whiscash!!”

In this episode, the heroes become caught in an earthquake caused by the Pokémon Whiscash while visiting Jojo Island on their way to the next gym. This is another example of an episode that was banned due to its proximity to a disaster, in this case, the deadly Chūetsu earthquakes of 2004. Not only has the episode never aired anywhere, but the event also influenced Pokémon moves like Earthquake, Fissure, and Magnitude to never be used again in the anime; likely to avoid any further possible insensitivity, given that Japan has frequent seismic activity.

#7: “Challenge of the Samurai”

The “Pokémon” anime didn’t take long to receive a banned episode, with this, its fourth episode being banned in South Korea. The story sees Ash encounter a bug catcher trainer dressed as a samurai, while also fending off a horde of Beedrill, and of course Team Rocket. The reason for the ban has to do with Korean and Japanese relations, which have been historically poor, to put it mildly. The acts committed by the Japanese in Korea have caused South Korea to censor or ban properties with overt references to Japanese culture from appearing in their media or products. And while the samurai trainer may seem inoffensive from other cultures’ perspectives, to Korea his mere presence sparks controversy.

#6: “Tentacool & Tentacruel”

When visiting a port city, Ash and the gang meet a wealthy real estate developer who offers them a reward to exterminate the jellyfish Pokémon, Tentacool, that are living in the coral reef that she wants to build on. Although Misty convinces Ash and Brock not to help, Team Rocket has no such conscience. Unfortunately their efforts lead them to creating a giant Tentacruel, which wreaks havoc on the city. The widespread destruction of buildings led U.S. broadcasters to pull the episode from reruns following the September 11th terrorist attacks, along with episodes like “The Tower of Terror,” whose title also brought to mind the Twin Towers.

#5: The Jynx Episodes

While on the surface, these three episodes appear to have little in common, other than taking place during the original anime series, all of them share one thing in common that resulted in their removal from later reruns and appearing on Netflix – its depiction of Jynx. The original design for the Pokémon features it with black skin and large lips, which has drawn comparisons to the racist practice of blackface. Jynx would eventually return to the series later down the line with its new purple redesign.

#4: “Satoshi and Nagetukesaru! Touchdown of Friendship!!”

Jynx wasn’t the only part of Pokémon to get the series accused of blackface! One of the most recent banned episodes of the series sees Ash try to mediate the conflict between two groups of territorial ape Pokémon called Passimian. In order to better understand the Pokémon, Ash begins acting like them. To further ingratiate him to the creatures, his friends make him a Passimian costume, complete with makeup. Unfortunately, The Pokemon company decided that this could be interpreted the wrong way, and the episode was skipped entirely in it’s international release.

#3: “The Legend of Miniryu”

As far as plot importance, this is one of the biggest “Pokémon” episodes to be banned. Ash and his friends visit the Safari Zone, in the hopes of catching rare Pokémon, including the titular rare dragon-type, Dratini. The Dratini is sought by the Safari Zone’s elderly warden, an old friend of Professor Oak’s. The reason for the ban, which occurred pretty much everywhere outside of Asia, was for the excessive use of guns. The warden is rather trigger-happy and points it at the children, and even shoots at Team Rocket. “The Legend of Miniryu” is Ash’s only visit to the Safari Zone in the Kanto region and it explains where he got his Tauros herd that appears later; leaving many viewers scratching their heads.

#2: “Beauty and the Beach”

It seems like every anime has a beach episode, and “Pokémon” is no exception. A trip to an island resort sees Ash and the gang in a competition with Team Rocket to help competing restaurant owners. The primary source of controversy for the episode is a portion that sees Team Rocket’s James dress as a woman, complete with fake, inflatable breasts. The overt sexuality displayed by James during this episode and the fact that anything to do with crossdressing was much more controversial a few decades ago, is why “Beauty and the Beach” was banned. An edited version with James’ portions removed was eventually aired, though it was never released on home video formats, at least in the U.S.

#1: “Electric Soldier Porygon”

You all knew this one was coming. Arguably the most infamous episode of “Pokémon,” and anime in general, “Electric Soldier Porygon” sees Team Rocket disrupting the Pokémon transfer system using a stolen artificial Pokémon, Porygon, with Ash and company entering the system to battle them. The controversy in this case doesn’t derive from the content of the episode’s story, but rather its animation. One attack by Pikachu creates an explosion with a strobe effect, which resulted in 700 people, young and old, having epileptic seizures, vomiting, and other ill effects in Japan. The episode’s effects were so dramatic that it changed Japanese animation practices, which now contain disclaimers, and have their lighting effects altered before broadcast; and the show was taken off the air for four months.

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