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EP038

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These donuts are great! This article is about an episode of the Pokémon anime that has not been dubbed into English. As such, its coverage may contain romanized Japanese names, rather than dub names.
EP037 : Ditto's Mysterious Mansion
Original series
EP039 : Pikachu's Goodbye
EP038
EP038.png
  EP038  
でんのうせんしポリゴン
Denno Senshi Porygon
First broadcast
Japan December 16, 1997
United States Unaired
English themes
Opening
Ending {{{en_ed}}}
Japanese themes
Opening めざせポケモンマスター
Ending ポケットにファンタジー
Credits
Animation Team Ota
Screenplay 武上純希 Junki Takegami
Storyboard 井硲清高 Kiyotaka Itani
Assistant director 井硲清高 Kiyotaka Itani
Animation director 志村隆行 Takayuki Shimura
Additional credits
  • Screenshots on Filb.de
  • Electric Soldier Porygon is the most commonly used translation: no known official English title exists for this episode.

(Japanese: でんのうせんしポリゴン Computer Warrior Porygon, commonly Electric Soldier Porygon) is an infamous episode of the Pokémon anime which, upon its single airing in Japan on December 16, 1997, resulted in over six hundred Japanese children suffering adverse health effects, including epileptic seizures, vomiting, irritated eyes and other related symptoms, due to use of a flashing strobe effect. After being banned by the Japanese government, Electric Soldier Porygon was never commercially released or re-broadcast anywhere in the world.

The frames which caused the seizures are a four-second section in which Pikachu uses an Electric attack on a group of vaccine missiles. The explosion—which occupies a significant portion of the frame—flashes brightly and alternates rapidly between red and blue. The seizures caused by this episode resulted in OLM dropping strobe effects from Pikachu's electric attacks. For years following the incident, a disclaimer was broadcast at the beginning of all Japanese television shows, cautioning viewers not to sit too close to the television screen and to watch only in a brightly-lit room. (「テレビアニメを見るときには、部屋をあかるくして近づきすぎないようにしてみてくださいね。」)

201 Spoiler warning: this article may contain major plot or ending details. 201

Plot

The episode begins with Ash, Misty and Brock going to the nearest Pokémon Center in Matcha City in order to revive Ash's tired Pikachu when they see a distressed Nurse Joy. There's a problem with the Poké Ball transporter — the Pokémon she sends never arrives at another Pokémon Center, and it's replaced by a different Pokémon!

Dr. Akihabara, the inventor of the Pokémon Transport System, is at the Center trying to figure out what went wrong with the system. Brock suggests that a computer virus could be the source of the problem. Akihabara explains that the system couldn't have been infected with a virus because he designed the circuits so well. Ash confuses his explanation of a computer virus with a biological one and thinks the transport system is actually sick. Nurse Joy is told about an anti-virus vaccine, which is a powerful software made to fix the problem. However, upon further investigation into the system, Akihabara unexpectedly gasps and suddenly bolts out of the Center, leaving Joy and the others confused.

Ash, Misty, and Brock break into Akihabara's huge laboratory mansion to figure out what happened to him. Inside, they are startled by a giant holographic image of Akihabara's head. After realizing Akihabara is still friendly, Ash and his friends are lead into a room with a giant machine. The doctor orders them to enter the machine, only telling them that they have entered a giant Human Transporter after he has sealed and locked the door. It is at that time that Porygon appears in the midst of them. Akihabara introduces Porygon to the group and explains that some thieves, namely Team Rocket, have stolen his other prototype Porygon, and are causing havoc. Team Rocket is literally inside the system, blocking the Poké Balls from reaching the Pokémon Centers and keeping them for themselves. Akihabara can't send the anti-virus vaccine in there because humans are inside the computer, and the vaccine would surely blow them to pieces. So, Akihabara's solution is to send Ash and friends into the machine with Porygon to defeat Team Rocket. Ash and his friends refuse, but Akihabara traps them inside the Human Transporter and they are eventually sucked into cyberspace.

The group falls into the Transporter system, but Porygon flies beneath them, grows in size, and catches them. Riding on Porygon's back, Ash, Misty, Brock and Pikachu ride over to Team Rocket's location.

Team Rocket are celebrating their so-far successful raid of Pokémon, confident since they are where no human has ever gone before. Just as Team Rocket claims that no one can catch them, Porygon floats into view, infuriating Meowth. Jessie and James send out Arbok and Weezing into a battle. Weezing uses Poison Gas on them, making Ash and friends cough. Then Porygon regains composure and uses Conversion. Porygon's skin color becomes purple, like Weezing's. Porygon charges, with the group still riding it, right into Weezing and Arbok, effectively knocking them out.

Team Rocket decides to send their prototype Porygon out next, which looks similar to Akihabara's Porygon, except that it bears a "R" flag on its tail and a zero on its forehead. Team Rocket's Porygon uses Sharpen to give itself a sword-like beak and tries to attack the other Porygon, who has also changed shape to counter it. Ash and his friends decide to capitalize on the distraction to move the barrier Team Rocket built to hold back all the Poké Balls that were intended to be delivered to the Pokémon Centers. Team's Rocket's attempt to stop them were stopped by Pikachu's ThunderShock. Then, Akihabara's Porygon sent Team Rocket and the prototype Porygon "blasting off again".

Ash and friends weren't out of the woods yet. Akihabara, represented by a floating TV screen, tells them that trouble is afoot again. Nurse Joy has hired another technician to put the anti-virus vaccine program into the computer, and it indiscriminately targets Team Rocket and Ash and his friends. Trying to fix the problem himself, the doctor did not tell Nurse Joy that the problem was caused by real people and not a virus. As the Vaccine targets the heroes, Porygon gathers Ash and his friends and attempts to escape. From the ground, Team Rocket call Ash out for running away, but are corrected by Ash when he tells them to run from the Vaccine. The Vaccine launches a few rockets that destroy the remainder of the Poké Ball barrier in sparkly, flashing red and blue explosions. Meowth and the prototype Porygon rescue a panicking Jessie and James from the moving sea of Poké Balls and join Akihabara's Porygon in an attempt to escape.

Scene after Pikachu blew up the missile. For health and safety reasons, please click on the image to view the animation.

The vaccine transforms into an object that resembles a flying spaceship, looking like a cross between a Star Wars X-wing and a medical needle, and takes pursuit. It launches more missiles that both of the Porygon dodge with difficulty. Inside the Center, Nurse Joy and the technician are amazed by the resilience of the "virus" and command the Vaccine to unleash a powerful attack. Revealing a gigantic particle gun, it locks onto the prototype Porygon and fires a huge beam, sending Team Rocket downward into a cyberspace bug hole created by the powerful attack. The passengers of Akihabara's Porygon shield their eyes from the blinding red and blue light. The bug holes created by the vaccine's beam cause a system error, and Joy orders the technician not to use the attack again.

Team Rocket awakens at the bottom of one of the bug pits, and realize that their Porygon is knocked out and that they cannot escape. The flying Vaccine locks onto them again, and it seems that it's all over for Team Rocket if it wasn't for a last minute save by Bulbasaur's Vine Whip. Held onto Akihabara's Porygon by Bulbasaur, Team Rocket weighs Porygon down and slows down its progress toward the exit portal. The vaccine locks onto Akihabara's Porygon, and fires four more missiles. Porygon is tired and cannot dodge the missiles. Pikachu steps in and launches a destructive electric attack, detonating the missiles in a huge red and blue flashing explosion that covers the entire screen. It buys Porygon just enough time for it to escape through the exit portal as the next set of missiles hit the portal itself, destroying Akihabara's entire house, much to Akihabara's dismay.

In the remains of the mansion, Ash and friends are relieved to be back in the real world. Team Rocket spitefully thank Ash for saving them, and then quickly exit, forgetting their prototype Porygon.

The heroes decide to check in on the Pokémon Center. Nurse Joy is relieved to see the Transport system working again, oblivious to the fact that Ash and friends risked their lives to fix the system. In the end, however, Ash, Brock, and Misty decide not to tell Nurse Joy of the ordeal.

Major events

For a list of all major events in the anime, please see the timeline of events.

Debuts

Pokémon debuts

Characters

Humans

Pokémon

Dare da?

Who's That Pokémon?: Porygon

Scheduling conflict

After the hiatus, the show moved from Tuesday to Thursday, where it remains as of 2014. The original schedule was as follows:

Code English title Japanese title Planned broadcast Actual broadcast
* Holiday Hi-Jynx ルージュラのクリスマス December 23, 1997 October 5, 1998
* Snow Way Out! イワークでビバーク January 6, 1998 October 5, 1998
EP040 The Battling Eevee Brothers イーブイ4きょうだい January 13, 1998 April 16, 1998
EP041 Wake Up, Snorlax! おきろ!カビゴン! January 20, 1998 April 23, 1998
EP042 Showdown at Dark City たいけつ!ポケモンジム! January 27, 1998 April 30, 1998
EP043 March of the Exeggutor Squad ナッシーぐんだんだいこうしん! February 3, 1998 May 7, 1998
EP044 The Problem with Paras パラスとパラセクト February 10, 1998 May 14, 1998

In the wake of the incident, all references to Pokémon, including a new-year's-eve show celebrating Pokémon were removed from TV Tokyo's programming. The incident also caused Princess vs. Princess and The Purr-fect Hero to be rescheduled from March 3 and May 5, 1998, respectively, to July 9, 1998.

Legacy

Before the series restarted, a special report was aired on April 11, 1998 titled アニメ ポケットモンスター問題検証報告 Anime: Pocket Monsters Problem Inspection Report. In addition, an explanation aimed for children was shown on the first episode after the incident.

Despite Pikachu being the one to launch the seizure-inducing attack, Porygon has never had an important role in another episode since, while Pikachu has appeared in every Pokémon episode to date, barring side story episodes. Porygon's evolved forms, Porygon2 and Porygon-Z, also remained absent from the anime until the fifteenth movie, and even then only appeared in cameo roles. Porygon itself has also made cameo appearances in the first four films and A Chansey Operation.

The seizures caused from this episode have infamously made the Pokémon anime a frequent reference when discussing Japanese anime and its quick action and flashy effects. Numerous television shows and movies have made parodies with notable references by The Simpsons in the episode "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo" and South Park in the episode "Chinpokomon".

This episode also gave the Pokémon anime the infamous title of "Most Photosensitive Epileptic Seizures Caused by a Television Show" from The Guinness Book of World Records.

Trivia

Errors

  • After Pikachu attempts to shock the floating head, Misty's hair is a darker shade.
  • While the two Porygon fight, one of Misty's shoes is miscolored green.
  • When everyone first arrives back in the real world, Porygon is seemingly floating in mid-air above Misty's head; however, one cut later, it is between Misty and Brock.
  • It shows the same scene before and after the last cut. The reason is unknown.

Dub edits

  • According to Maddie Blaustein, 4Kids Entertainment did in fact dub this episode, reducing the speed and intensity of the flashing explosion to make it safe, but the episode has still never been shown because of the worldwide ban placed on it by the Japanese government.[citation needed]

In other languages

  • Following the results of the Japanese premiere, this episode has never aired anywhere else in the world.

External links

EP037 : Ditto's Mysterious Mansion
Original series
EP039 : Pikachu's Goodbye