Pokemon's Porygon Controversy Helped Make Mewtwo Strikes Back a Hit

You may not remember, but the Pokemon incident faced a terrible hurdle in its first season which almost led to its cancellation. Back in the day, the show wanted to introduce Porygon to audiences, but the episode's animation induced epileptic fits in kids across Japan. Despite the backlash, Pokemon did survive the PR nightmare back in the '90s, and it turns out the controversy gave the first Pokemon film something it needed to become a hit.

And what might that be? Well, according to the original writer on Pokemon, the ordeal gave him the space to work on the movie without any sort of micromanaging. Takeshi Shudo says that is why Pokemon the First: Mewtwo Strikes Back became the hit it was (and still is) today.

For those curious about Shudo's reasoning, the writer penned it all down in his personal blog. The online diary has surfaced every so often online, but a recent translation ordered by Dr. Lava made the writer's thoughts on the Porygon controversy clear.

pokemon porygon mewtwo

"Lugia’s Explosive Birth, as well as the first movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back, were both lucky films to work on from the perspective of a scriptwriter. Because right before Mewtwo Strikes Back, an unfortunate incident occurred — a flashing sequence in the Pokemon anime caused a substantial number of viewers to have seizures. So I think the film management team was so busy dealing with the seizure situation, that they didn’t have time to worry about the script of the first movie," Shudo explained.

As you can see above, Shudo goes so far as to call the first Pokemon films lucky because of their timing. They were being made or developed while fallout over Porygon was fresh. That means Shudo was given more free reign with his movie scripts as executives were not trying to tell him what to do. And while the film's main producer did have issues with the final cut of Mewtwo Strikes Back, its overwhelming success convinced execs to let Shudo follow his gut with the second movie.


And for anyone who might not understand why executives were so busy doing Porygon damage control, it was totally necessary. The infamous episode aired in Japan in December 1997 as the Pokemon anime began to grow around the world. The episode, "Densho Senshi Porygon", had an animated sequence which contains seizure-inducing flashes. Over 620 people were hospitalized after watching the clip, and the Pokemon anime was put on hiatus for four months afterwards as its future was uncertain. Luckily, the show was able to make a successful comeback, but the Porygon episode continues to live on in infamy.

Are you surprised by Porygon's impact on the first Pokemon movies? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!

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