Pokémon "Computer Warrior Porygon" (unaired English dub of anime episode; 1998)


Dennō Senshi Porygon (English dub)
Screenshot from one of the seizure inducing scenes.
Screenshot from one of the seizure inducing scenes.
Status Lost

On December 16, 1997, "Dennō Senshi Porygon" (translated in English as "Computer Warrior Porygon", but more well known as "Electric Soldier Porygon"), the 38th episode of season one of the Pokémon anime, aired in Japan.

Plot and Controversy

The episode centered around Ash (known as Satoshi in the Japanese dub) and his friends literally going inside an out-of-order Poké Ball transmitting device at a local Pokémon Center to determine the cause of its malfunctioning. They find out Team Rocket is behind the "malfunction" and are using the machine to steal other trainers' Pokémon, including one of Professor Akihabara's Porygons.

The episode is infamous, however, for a particular scene about halfway through the episode. As the group are combating Team Rocket, an anti-virus program is sent into the device by Nurse Joy to combat what she believed to be a computer virus. When Pikachu attacks the program with Thunderbolt, it causes a huge explosion that takes up most of the screen and flashes red and blue very quickly.

The scene caused over 10,000 viewers to experience things such as blurred vision, nausea, headaches, and dizziness in minor cases, and convulsions, loss of consciousness, blindness, and seizures in more severe cases. Japan's Fire Defense Agency reported that 685 children ended up being sent to the hospital by ambulances due to their seizures. While most of these children recovered during the trip, more than 150 of them had to stay in the hospitals, with two having to stay for over two weeks.[1]

After the episode's premiere, the show went on a four-month hiatus, and "Dennō Senshi Porygon" was banned from re-airing anywhere. The incident also prompted the creators to edit any previous episodes that featured flashing lights and tone down the flash frequency, despite no reports of seizures or similar conditions for those episodes. Porygon also never appeared in any other episodes minus minor cameos.

Existence and Availability of English Dub

While the original Japanese dub of the episode has been unofficially released online[2], an English dub of the episode has not surfaced at all. While the existence of the dub has been questioned, it has been confirmed by two actors on the show to exist.

In an online Q&A with the late voice actress Maddie Blaustein (who voiced Meowth in the English dub), she stated that 4Kids had produced and completed a dub of the episode (with the seizure-inducing flashes likely edited out), but, due to the previously imposed ban on the episode, it was still not allowed to go to air, and as such, has never been heard/seen by the public.[3] Eric Stuart (Brock and James' English voice actor) later confirmed in an interview at Ramecon 2016 that it was dubbed and he had seen it.[4] Veronica Taylor (Ash's English voice actor), however, claimed in a 2004 interview that they never dubbed the episode and that it will never be dubbed.[5] How Eric and Maddie could have seen and dubbed the episode but not Veronica is unknown, although the announcement that the episode was banned may have come before Veronica was able to dub Ash's lines. She may have also been afraid that, if she said a dub happened, that she would get in trouble with 4Kids.

References

  1. Washington.edu article on the incident. Retrieved 22 June '17.
  2. A streaming copy of the original dub. WARNING: DO NOT WATCH IF YOU ARE PRONE TO OR HAVE A HISTORY OF EPILEPSY. Retrieved 29 May '13.
  3. 2008 Q&A with the late Maddie Blaustein. Retrieved 29 May '13.
  4. Ramecon 2016 interview of Eric Stuart. Retrieved 05 May '17.
  5. 2004 interview with Veronica Taylor. Retrieved 22 June '17.

Comments


avatar

TeridaxXD001

11 months ago
Score 4++
I'm not holding my breath for this to be leaked, but I will say this: Porygon has been treated very unfairly for something it didn't even do.
avatar

JonM313

11 months ago
Score 0++
I do hope an English Dub of this episode is leaked
avatar

Anonymous user #1

10 months ago
Score 0++
Seriously! It was pikachu's fault! :(
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Anonymous user #3

8 months ago
Score 3++
you are (i'm assuming) an adult expressing sympathy for a fictional monster from a franchise aimed at children. yeesh.
avatar

TeridaxXD001

7 months ago
Score 1++
You've never felt any sympathy for a fictional character before?
avatar

Davidporkchop

11 months ago
Score 0++
This and all the other lost media associated with Pokemon fascinates me. I would say release the dub with the bad bit edited to make it safe, as a lost episode, for a ratings grab. This is assuming the dub existed. But great article!
avatar

Anonymous user #5

6 months ago
Score 0++
That would be a great idea, I mean it would get LOADS of ratings! Also it would fill the hole in every 90's kids heart.
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Anonymous user #2

9 months ago
Score 3++

If the dub exists, it was probably never intended to be released anyway. The ban would've happened when they were still producing episodes aired long before the Porygon one. Likely they dubbed and edited it for completion's sake, on the off-chance that Nintendo would allow the episode to at least be put on DVD, and to avoid in-house confusion.

I asked Mike Pollock about it (he voiced the narrator) but he said he had no clue. In all honesty, his answer is more believable than Veronica Taylor's. It's just hard to believe she remembers doing a specific episode since she did every one of them.
avatar

TeridaxXD001

7 months ago
Score 1++
685 children were not hospitalized. That's a common misconception. 685 children reported uncomfortable symptoms, anywhere from headaches and slight nausea to vomiting and seizures, and a few were hospitalized.
avatar

TeridaxXD001

7 months ago
Score 0++
At least, that's what I've heard before, but even Wikipedia claims it's true.
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Anonymous user #8

2 months ago
Score 0++
685 children were SENT to the hospitals, but most did not end up being admitted.
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Anonymous user #4

6 months ago
Score 0++
I can't find the link to the video right at this second, but last year there was a Q&A with Eric Stuart in which he explicitly stated that they dubbed this episode (describing it in enough detail that it was very unlikely he was thinking of another episode) and even said that he watched the finished product.
avatar

TeridaxXD001

5 months ago
Score 0++
avatar

DigitalDiamalra

6 months ago
Score 2++
Poor Porygon, if they didn't made the missile explosions flashy Porygon would've been okay. But I know it was Pikachu who caused the explosions but I wouldn't blame it that hard.
avatar

Anonymous user #6

4 months ago
Score 0++

I think the problem was more of a low or high end CRT TV that was selling well back in 1995-1997 that maybe had some unknown problems in how its colors work or something.

Some people do says they get headaches from looking at a 60Hz CRT. So maybe it was more of the type of TV, maybe maybe a bad line of TVs as well.
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Anonymous user #7

3 months ago
Score 0++
theres clips on youtube of it
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AhHAivedoneit527

2 months ago
Score 0++
this needs to be changed to lost please.
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TeridaxXD001

20 days ago
Score 0++
I seem to recall reading somewhere that Rachael Lillis personally refused to dub it, though I may be confusing that with the Veronica Taylor statement mentioned in the article.
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