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The Pokémon Company International logo
The Pokémon Company International (abbreviated to TPCi) is a subsidiary of The Pokémon Company in Japan, responsible for managing the Pokémon franchise outside of Asia. In Australia, the Pokémon franchise is managed by Nintendo Australia. In South Korea, the franchise is managed by Pokémon Korea, Inc., which started operations in 2006 alongside Nintendo of Korea.
The company was formed in 2009 with the merger of Pokémon USA and Pokémon UK into a single international subsidiary.
As Pokémon USA
Pokémon USA, Inc. (or PUSA) was founded in February 2001 to handle the licensing and marketing of Pokémon in all territories outside of Asia. The first President of PUSA was Tatsumi Kimishima. In 2002, he was replaced by Akira Chiba, when Kimishima was promoted to President of Nintendo of America following Minoru Arakawa's retirement.
In 2003, the distribution agreement with Wizards of the Coast for the Pokémon trading cards ended. After this, Pokémon USA took over as the manufacturer and distributor of the Trading Card Game.
In January 2005, an issue of the science magazine Nature featured an article in which a group of researchers named a newly discovered cancer-causing gene "Pokémon". Later that year, Pokémon USA had promised to take legal action, causing the gene to be renamed.
In January 2006, the licensing and merchandising agreement between 4Kids Entertainment and Pokémon USA expired. This agreement included the dubbing of the anime so Pokémon USA switched to producing the English dub in association with TAJ Productions which had worked with 4Kids on seasons one through five. The recasting of the main characters created a large controversy. In May of the same year, Kids' WB! announced that it would be dropping all anime from its autumn lineup in its move to The CW, which included the Pokémon anime. Pokémon USA went into negotiations with Cartoon Network to air past and future episodes of Pokémon, which turned out successful. In June, a Master Toy licensing agreement was signed with Jakks Pacific.
In 2007, Kenji Okubo became the President when Akira Chiba stepped down. In 2008, the production of the dub moved to DuArt Film & Video.
In February 2009, PUSA announced a deal with Toys "R" Us in which stores would have a dedicated Pokémon Boutique. A deal was also announced with Universal Studios Home Entertainment, in which the company will be distributing the Pokémon movies on DVD.
As Pokémon UK
Pokémon UK was established in March 2003, to handle the licensing and marketing of Pokémon throughout the United Kingdom, rest of Europe, and in Africa.
In 2007, Red Central was commissioned by Pokémon UK to create a marketing style guide for Europe.
In 2008, a partnership with Network was announced. Network will distribute the Pokémon movies and anime episodes on DVD. It was also announced Jetix Europe (now Disney XD) would air the next season of the Pokémon anime.
Pokémon USA merged with Pokémon UK in April 2009. The two companies now work under the name The Pokémon Company International, which is responsible for the Pokémon franchise in all territories outside of Asia. The company's president is Kenji Okubo, the former head of Pokémon USA. Okubo said the two companies had worked closely together on a day-to-day basis and that the change in name was done to reflect the connection between the two offices and ensure their worldwide reach.
Voice actor controversy
- Main article: Pokémon USA recasting controversy
Pokémon USA received some complaints after the initial airing of The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon. They were accused of lying about not being able to use the voice actors from 4Kids Entertainment due to contract issues. This claim was denied by the voice actors themselves (with the exception of Stuart Zagnit), but never by 4Kids Entertainment.
They also faced criticism in regards to Kayzie Rogers (credited as "Jamie Peacock") in voicing Ash Ketchum. Many fans complained about her portrayal of the character. In response, Pokémon USA announced that they would make a new dub of the The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon with improved voices. The new dub became available on the eighth movie DVD, and was aired on October 28, 2006 on Cartoon Network.
At Comic-Con 2006, it was revealed that Ash's voice actor would change and that his new voice actress would be the then nineteen-year-old Sarah Natochenny. Although generally accepted as a talented actress with many non-animation credits to her name, some fans criticized the company and TAJ Productions for their decision to hire Sarah Natochenny, as she had no experience with anime voice-overs; they claimed that Sarah Natochenny was too inexperienced. Nonetheless, Veronica Taylor, the first actress to voice Ash, was only twenty-years-old and had only started acting when she landed the role, although she had previously voiced anime roles prior to being cast as Ash.
Game Corner censorship
In Pokémon Platinum, due to stricter classification standards at PEGI implemented in the period of the game's release (which required that any game deemed to "encourage or teach gambling" be classified 18), the Veilstone Game Corner's slot machines were all replaced in the European localizations—including the UK release—with game machines which randomly give out some Coins daily if checked, but could not be played on. This extended into Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, which removed the slot machines altogether in all non-Japanese releases, replacing them with Voltorb Flip and disallowing the player from buying Coins.
As a result, Game Corners have been absent from the core series games since Pokémon Black and White. In Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, the Mauville Game Corner is closed.
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