Pokemon Episode Allegedly Banned From Airing in United States

An episode of Pokemon the Series: Sun and Moon may not be airing in the United States due to Ash Ketchum appearing in the episode in what could be construed as blackface.

Episode 64 of the series, titled "Touchdown in Friendship!!" in Japan, does not appear on Disney XD's current schedule. The episode has Ash Ketchum befriend a tribe of Passimian, a group of lemur-like Pokemon known for playing a sport not unlike football. The Pokemon are being bullied by another Passimian tribe, and Ash integrates himself into the tribe by dressing as one of the Pokemon. Unfortunately, the costume, seen below, has Ash's faced entirely dressed in dark grey paint.

The episode, if played in order, would have aired in the United States in the beginning of August. Instead, Disney XD is choosing to run "Turning Heads and Training Hard!," the next episode in the series, in its stead. In addition, the episode has not received an English title, even though the following four episodes (episodes 65-68) were all re-titled for their planned broadcast in the United States.

The possible issue is that Ash's costume looks very similar to blackface, a type of make-up used by non-black people to create a theatrical or costumed caricature of black people. Blackface is considered to be racist around the world and was largely abandoned in the United States during the Civil Rights movement. Coupled with the fact that Ash dressed himself up to look like a monkey-like Pokemon, the episode has plenty of uncomfortable undertones that the Pokemon Company probably wants to avoid.

This wouldn't be the first time that the Pokemon episode has banned an episode due to content that could be perceived as racist. Another episode of the Pokemon anime to be "banned" in the United States featured the Pokemon Jynx. Jynx's original design strongly resembled that of a caricature of a black person, with all black skin and exaggerated large red lips. The Pokemon Company re-designed Jynx to give the Pokemon purple skin and was pulled from the anime's rotation after its initial airing in 1999. Although the Pokemon Company eventually re-tooled the episode to change Jynx's skin color, the episode has never aired in the United States since.


ComicBook.com reached out to The Pokemon Company about the episode not airing in the United States, but were told that the company had "no comment at this time." We'll update this article if The Pokemon Company chooses to release an additional comment about the episode.