Pokémon "Computer Warrior Porygon" (lost unaired English dub of anime episode; existence unconfirmed; 1998)
On December 16th, 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 for a particular scene about halfway through the episode: As the group is 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 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.
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 and its evolutions also never appeared in any other episode except for minor cameos.
Existence and Availability of English Dub
While the original Japanese dub of the episode has been unofficially released online, an English dub of the episode has not surfaced at all. The existence of the dub has long been questioned, with no consolidated proof of it ever existing, and even actors who worked on the dub itself share conflicting information.
Veronica Taylor (Ash's English voice actor) claimed in a 2004 interview that they had never dubbed the episode, and that it never will be dubbed in future. But in an online Q&A with the late voice actress Maddie Blaustein (who voiced Meowth in the English dub), she claimed that 4Kids had in fact 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. As such, it has never been heard/seen by the public. Eric Stuart (Brock and James' English voice actor) would later corroborate her claims in an interview at Ramecon 2016, stating that it was dubbed and that he had seen it. How Eric and Maddie could have seen and dubbed the episode but not Veronica is unknown, as the episode was pulled from broadcast long before 4Kids officially received the anime's dubbing rights in April 1998. As such, it's unlikely that they would've even received footage of the episode in the first place. It is also possible that the staff may have confused this episode with other episodes and official material featuring Porygon, such as its appearance in the "Who's That Pokémon?" eyecatch segment of the episode titled "A Way Off Day Off".
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