When it comes to Pokemon, you may think you know it all, but there is certainly more to the series than you realize. The franchise is a couple decades old now, leading it to become one of the world's most easily recognized properties out there. Pikachu and Ash Ketchum have icons in their own right, but there are things about Pokemon's history you may not know if you absorbed its anime in the U.S.
After all, censors are a thing, and they'd rather be safe than sorry when it comes to certain things.
While the anime has become a worldwide hit, its creation in Japan has led to some hilarious (and sometimes disturbing) censorship needs. Whether the blame is placed on translation error or cultural differences, there are some things the Pokemon anime has done that U.S. TV just cannot allow. So, if you want a look into the franchise's more controversial canon, you can check out a series of its strangest censored blips below:
So, what do you think of these censored moments? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!
For those unfamiliar with Pokemon, the franchise was created way back in 1996. The video game series was developed by Game Freak for the Game Boy. As the game gained popularity in Japan, OLM Inc. was quick to snag rights to animate Pokemon, and its anime went live in April 1997. To date, more than 20 Pokemon films have been released, and its various anime seasons have produced over 1,000 episodes to date.
Nature is nature, and there is nothing wrong with cows providing milk; However, it can be weird seeing your go-to Pokemon suckle on the udders of Miltank. So, when “Got Miltank?” came to the west, the anime removed a scene where Cyndaquil and Meowth were seen drinking from a Miltank in order to heal themselves.
For some reason, everyone seems to forget the stars of Pokemon are just kids. Ash is little more than a pre-teen when he meets his best friend Pikachu, and his comrades aren’t much older. So, when a kid asks to drink Misty’s breast milk in “The Kangaskhan Kid”, censors were rather horrified. The joke may have flown in Japan, but the scene was dubbed over with totally different lines in English.
In the wake of 9/11, shows around the U.S. were put on hiatus, and several made the decision to cut certain episodes which may trigger audiences. Pokemon was one of these series as it removed “Tentacool and Tentacruel” from schedules after the terrorist attack. The episode featured mass carnage within a metropolis as Tentacruel toppled tall buildings and skyscrapers. So, the anime decided it would be best to pull that episode from cable in light of the New York attack.
Team Rocket isn’t a gang you want to mess with, but it is not on the level as real-life hate groups. So, when an episode titled “All Things Bright and Beautifly” saw minions of Team Rocket do a united Nazi salute, censors in the U.S. couldn’t cut out the footage fast enough.
Jynx isn’t a Pokemon you see often nowadays, but its original appearance caused big concern years ago. The pocket monster had exaggerated facial features many construed as racially insensitive, and that was made worst when you factored in Jynx’s black coloring. Concerns of the character doing black face were raised by fans in the U.S and around the world, leading Game Freak and Pokemon to turn the character purple.
Giovanni is one bad dude, and he just oozes slime. As the leader of Team Rocket, the stern villain will do what it takes to steal Pokemon, and that may require a glass of wine on occasion. However, the U.S. decided the guy needed to be sober, so it wiped out his wine glass with some juice in the episode “Critical Situation! Bakuong vs Juptile” in the U.S.
Team Rocket is a quirky organization, and James is evidence to that fact. He is liable to do some crazy things, but James took it a step too far for censors when he donned some fake boobs. The baddie was out to win a beauty contest, but his scantily clad boobs got the episode “Beauty and the Beach” banned from TV.
Pokemon’s theme song is an iconic one, but U.S. fans may not be familiar with its first cut. In Japan, the original theme song is clearly different from the rock anthem western fans know, and it includes some eye-raising lyrics.
The track begins with the lyrics, “I’ll get you, Pokemon / Even if in fire in water, in grass / In forests, in ground, in clouds, in that girl’s skirt.” Clearly, parents weren’t going to fly with that verse, so it wasn’t translated in to the U.S. theme song.