Revisiting Pokemon's Banned 'Gun Violence' Episode

In the past, Pokemon has experienced a few bumps as its plans for global domination panned out. [...]

In the past, Pokemon has experienced a few bumps as its plans for global domination panned out. The franchise is one with little drama to its name, but its early days did stir up unrest. When its anime came to the West, a fair bit of tailoring was done to keep Pokemon kid-friendly, and that means some episodes had footage added to the cutting room floor. And thanks to one controversy, one episode was cut entirely from U.S. broadcasts.

If you have not heard oof "The Legend of Dratini", you should not be too surprised. The episode was aired in Japan on November 25, 1997. As part of the original series, Pokemon fans were eager to eat up this episode, but viewers in the U.S. were never given the chance.

As it turns out, this episode was never aired in the U.S. for a major reason, and that is gun violence. The episode follows Ash and the gang as they enter the Safari Zone to catch various Pokemon. As they enter the area, they are approached by an irate man shushing them, and things get out of control when he pulls a gun on them.

pokemon banned episodes
(Photo: The Pokemon Company)

Yes, an actual handgun. Ash Ketchum was very nearly shot, and it was only his quick mouth that talked him out of the issue.

The older man who pulled the gun happened to be the Safari Zone overseer named Kaiser. The warden is quick to anger, and he isn't afraid to pull out his gun. In fact, he begins reaching for the weapon when Ash's gang learns of his ties to Dratini, but Kaiser pulls his hand away when the kids scurry off.

While guns in television are commonplace, the idea of having an older man threaten a 10-year-old with a pistol was a bit much for censors. To keep Pokemon family friendly, it was decided to scrap this episode entirely. There was no good way to censor the gun from the episode, and it also featured other weapons such as bombs. Ultimately, The Pokemon Company chose to scrap the episode for audiences outside of Asia, but dedicated fans have found raw clips of "The Legend of Dratini" online.

Did you happen to see this episode? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!