The Pokemon TV series is definitely one worth watching again. But there’s a whole other side to the story. Currently, a total of five episodes have been banned. The process is that the creators of the show in Japan send the completed animation to the U.S. for a redub in English. 4Kids, which (used to) broadcast Pokemon, found some of the episodes a little too extreme for children (because in Japan, there were less restrictions on what children could watch). Instead of airing the episode, they would skip it.
The first banned episode is from Season 1, Episode 18. Its name was “Beauty and the Beach”, and its setting was centered at Porta Vista, a beach town. Basically, Ash and his friends decide to help fix a friend’s boat by entering a Pokemon Beauty Contest and winning prize money. Team Rocket, who is there at the time, also decides to give it a shot. In Japan, the animators included a scene where James dressed up to look like a woman, which was supposed to be pure comic humor. Apparently, 4Kids decided it was not appropriate for children in the U.S. to watch and banned the episode. Even though this episode was the scorn of 4Kids, it eventually became a “lost episode” and aired in 2000, even though the original in Japan aired in 1997, making this the longest delay for an episode to be broadcasted.
The second episode to be banned is Episode 35 (also in Season 1) titled “The Legend of Dratini”. The controversy starts out early in the episode, when Ash, Brock, and Misty are in the Safari Zone. Ash is singing because he is hopeful on catching a lot of Pokemon, which brings about the attention of Kaiser, the owner of the Safari Zone. Kaiser tells them to “shut up”, which makes Ash a little irritated. Ash asks him what his problem was, which leads Kaiser to pull out a gun and say, “Do you want to get shot”? (this is translated from Japanese). The reason 4Kids took this episode off the air (it never aired outside of Japan) was because of Kaiser’s frequent use of his gun, which he called Thunderbolt.
Another banned episode comes three later, titled “Electric Soldier Porygon”, which never made it on air either. This is known by many as the most notorious episode, because there is a scene when Pikachu uses Thunderbolt and it causes a rapid flash of red and blue colors. In Japan, nearly 800 children suffered from epilepsy, causing the Japanese government to ban this episode and threatened to cut the show off.
The next banned episode doesn’t come until Episode 250, “The Ice Cave”. Brock gets a fever and stays at a Pokemon Center. Nurse Joy, who takes care of him, leaves the room and has Jynx supervise. While Brock is in bed, he dreams of Nurse Joy, and thinking that Jynx is Nurse Joy, kisses it. Americans thought that Jynx’s design in the Pokemon Center was some sort of racial stereotype (I can’t see it), and skipped this episode as well. This episode couldn’t be cut like the first one, because Jynx was in the majority of the episode, and without those scenes, it wouldn’t make any sense.
The last one that was banned did not broadcast at all. Episode 377 was pulled out of the show because it featured massive earthquakes, which hit Japan recently. This would lower the morale of kids, or make them feel even worse, so it was postponed, but never made it on TV. Don’t lose hope if you’re a fanatic, though: they release unofficial English dubs, which you can find if you look hard enough.