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|| 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.
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Computer Soldier Porygon
|| December 16, 1997
| United States
|| Team Ota
|| 武上純希 Junki Takegami
|| 井硲清高 Kiyotaka Itani
| Assistant director
|| 井硲清高 Kiyotaka Itani
| Animation director
|| 志村隆行 Takayuki Shimura
| Additional credits
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 Soldier Porygon, commonly Electric Soldier Porygon; no known English title) is a somewhat notorious episode of the Pokémon anime, due to the fact that on its single airing in Japan on December 16, 1997, nearly seven hundred Japanese children suffered seizures, vomiting, irritated eyes and other symptoms due to a flashing strobe effect.
The episode was never commercially released or re-broadcast anywhere in the world due to it being banned by the Japanese government.
The scene which caused the seizures was a fifteen-second section in which Pikachu used an Electric attack on some vaccine missiles. The explosion was shown as a bright flashing object which alternated rapidly between red and blue.
The seizures caused by this episode caused OLM to drop the strobe effects from Pikachu's electric attacks. Also, a disclaimer is now broadcast at the beginning of television anime precautioning viewers to not sit too close to the television screen and watch it 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。)
Also, this episode gained Pokémon the dubious title of "Most Seizures Caused by an Animated Television Program" from The Guinness Book of World Records.
The episode begins with Ash, Misty and Brock going to a Pokémon Center 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 device 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, he leads them 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 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 co. 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 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 that since they are where no human has gone before. Just as Team Rocket claims that no one can catch them, Porygon floats into view, infuriating Meowth. Jessie and James send Arbok and Weezing into battle. Weezing uses Poison Gas on them, making Ash and co. 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, knocking them out of battle.
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 swordlike beak and tries to attack the other Porygon, who has also changed shape to counter it. Ash and company 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 yet again, then Akihabara's Porygon sent Team Rocket and the prototype Porygon blasting off again.
Ash and co. 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. In all his haste, the doctor forgot to tell Joy that the problem was caused by real people, not a virus. As the Vaccine targets the heroes, Porygon gathers Ash and co. back into the air and attempt 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.
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 to the air in 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. 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.
In the remains of the mansion, Ash and co. 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 co. risked their lives to fix the system. In the end, however, Ash decides not to tell Joy.
Who's That Pokémon?: Porygon
Pokémon seen at the Pokémon Center:
- Fantasy in My Pocket replaced Meowth's Song as the ending.
- Akihabara, the name of the professor, is also the name of a famous electronics district in Tokyo.
- This episode caused roughly 600 seizures all over Japan, this was the reason the episode was banned.
- The seizures caused from this episode were parodied by The Simpsons in the episode "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo" and South Park in the episode "Chinpokomon".
- There was originally going to be a New Year's Eve episode of Pokémon. It was never shown, not even in Japan. Electric Soldier Porygon is to blame for this.
- After the hiatus, the time slot changed from Tuesday to Thursday. The original schedule was as follows:
|| English title
|| Japanese title
|| Planned broadcast
|| Actual broadcast
|| Holiday Hi-Jynx
|| December 23, 1997
|| October 5, 1998
|| Snow Way Out!
|| January 6, 1998
|| October 5, 1998
|| The Battling Eevee Brothers
|| January 13, 1998
|| April 16, 1998
|| Wake Up, Snorlax!
|| January 20, 1998
|| April 23, 1998
|| Showdown at Dark City
|| January 27, 1998
|| April 30, 1998
|| March of the Exeggutor Squad
|| February 3, 1998
|| May 7, 1998
|| The Problem with Paras
|| February 10, 1998
|| May 14, 1998
|| Princess vs. Princess
|| March 3, 1998
|| July 9, 1998
|| The Purr-fect Hero
|| May 5, 1998
|| July 9, 1998
- 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.
- Before the series restarted, a special report was aired on April 11, 1998 titled 検証番組 アニメ ポケットモンスター問題検証報告 Inspection program: inspection report of the anime Pocket Monsters problem.
- Despite Pikachu being the one to launch the seizure causing attack, Porygon has never had an important role in another episode since. (It should be noted that Pikachu has appeared in every Pokémon episode to date, barring Pokémon Chronicles). Its evolved form, Porygon2, is the only one out of the one hundred Generation II Pokémon that hasn't appeared in the anime and many believe that it never will. Also, many believe that Porygon's final form, Porygon-Z, will never appear either, and Porygon-Z is currently the only Generation IV Pokémon that hasn't appeared in the anime or movies yet. Porygon has appeared in the first four films as cameos however.
- 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.
- 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.
In other languages
- Following the results of the Japanese premiere, this episode has never aired anywhere else in the world.