December 16, 1997 noticed the printed of the thirty eighth episode of the legendary Pokémon anime in Japan—and the final time it was ever broadcast in any respect, because of a scene that modified broadcast TV within the nation for a era.
“Dennō Senshi Porygon,” translated as “Pc Warrior Porygon,” was named for the polygonal, technological creature that is without doubt one of the weirdest designs in Pokémon’s authentic 151-strong roster. It isn’t controversial due to a second of violence or something of an grownup nature that will require censorship or something. It’s an episode the place Ash and his friends are tasked with infiltrating a digital world with the assistance of a prototype Porygon, the place the dastardly Crew Rocket are utilizing a pc virus and the Porygon’s stolen sibling to disrupt the technological transport system between Pokémon Facilities of their newest try and nab some pocket monsters for themselves. Up to now, so typically Pokémon.
Issues get bizarre when Ash and co. discover themselves having to work along with Crew Rocket to flee the digital system after an anti-virus program is deployed to repair it whereas they’re nonetheless inside, indiscriminately concentrating on the residing beings because the bug. Remodeling into, uh, a UFO for some motive, the anti-virus software program makes an attempt to blast our heroes and villains alike with missiles, resulting in Pikachu letting out a devastating Thunderbolt attack to destroy them… ensuing a fast strobing red-and-blue gentle within the aftermath.
What occurred subsequent was ultimately dubbed “Pokémon Shock.” Over 700 alleged cases of quite a lot of illnesses, together with nausea, dizziness, complications, and photosensitivity-triggered seizures in audiences throughout Japan watching the episode rapidly emerged. Pokémon was placed on hiatus for months, investigations by the Japanese Nationwide Police Company into the manufacturing of the present had been carried out, and even Nintendo itself staged a press convention distancing the corporate from the anime, arguing it was to not blame because the Pokémon video games had been created for the black-and-white display of the Recreation Boy. When Pokemon ultimately returned to broadcasting new episodes in spring 1998, it was heralded with modifications to previous episodes of the present to melt vibrant flash results, and aspecial program explaining that going ahead, all anime reveals broadcast on Japanese TV would characteristic a warning of their opening minutes advising audiences to observe in a properly lit room, moderately distanced away from their TV units. It’s a disclaimer that also exists at this time, though primarily now simply on TV reveals aimed toward youngsters, reasonably than the broad swathe of applications it was initially deliberate for. Exterior of Japan, the incident was mocked by the likes of The Simpsons and South Park, despite the truth that the episode was by no means broadcast in different nations.
However whereas the legacy of “Dennō Senshi Porygon” nonetheless endures 25 years on—the topic continues to be so taboo that in 2020, the Pokémon official Twitter account tweeted and hastily deleted a message stating that “Porygon did nothing incorrect” in reference to the incident—the episode itself doesn’t. It was by no means broadcast once more in Japan, and was stricken from dub broadcasts of the Pokémon anime the world over. Not even Porygon itself escaped punishment, although it was collection mascot Pikachu that prompted the impact within the first place—resigned to background appearances and cameos in future collection of the anime and flicks, Porygon and neither of its evolutions Porygon-2 and Porygon Z have had a significant look within the collection since. Can’t a polygonal beastie catch a break after 25 years?
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