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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Best Wishes!
Japanese Episode BW 022: "Hiun City! The Fushide Panic!"
American Episode 1422: "A Venipede Stampede!"
Pokemon Live Caster: Deathmas
Japanese Air Date: March 10th, 2011
American Air Date: July 2nd, 2011
Important Places: Central Area (Central Plaza)
Now that he's arrived in Hiun City, Satoshi tracks down Arti and challenges him to a Gym match. He agrees to a battle but asks Satoshi if he can wait until a crisis involving a group of Fushide is resolved first. The Gym Leader explains that hundreds of the "Centipede Pokemon" have migrated into the city from the area around the Resort Desert and have started wreaking havoc on the streets. After Satoshi runs into his rival Shooty, a plan is formed to lure the Bug-Type pokemon into Hiun City's Central Area so Araragi-Hakase can work on finding out what caused them to leave in the first place. As Arti uses a special Bug Flute to herd the pokemon into a line, Satoshi, Iris, Dent, Shooty, and the city's Joi all lend a hand by using their pokemon's attacks to gently nudge the Bug-Type pokemon into the procession. After they finish bringing in the last few stragglers, Satoshi's Mamepato evolves into Hatohboh! Once the Fushide are finally gathered in one place, Shooty tells Satoshi that he's going to go to the next city to challenge its Gym instead of waiting around on Arti. Later, Araragi-Hakase arrives in Hiun City and reports that an unusual energy signal at the Resort Desert is to blame for the Fushide's sudden migration. She agrees to let Satoshi and his friends tag along and leads them to a helicopter headed toward the Resort Desert. Meanwhile, the Rocket-Dan's boss arrives in the Isshu Region to see the "Meteonite" that his subordinates have found...
On March 10th, 2011, the 22nd episode of Pocket Monsters Best Wishes aired on TV-Tokyo. It got a 6.4 rating, meaning that 6.4% of the entire population of Japan watched the episode. Looking at the number of people living in the country at the time, this means that approximately 8 million people, most of them kids, watched this episode.
The next day, the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred. The resulting tsunami killed thousands of those viewers.
I hate to start this comparison on such a depressing note, but it really is all I can think about when I watch this episode. I was in Japan when the earthquake hit. I remember the fear, the anxiety, the looming sense of hopelessness. I can also remember the scary memos that'd get left in our mailboxes, the frequent blackouts as the country tried to deal with its power shortages, and how none of the supermarkets had any food. As I devoured news report after news report, I learned about Okawa Elementary School, a school in Ishinomaki that lost 77 of its 108 students. And it got me thinking: Of those 77, how many do you think were fans of Best Wishes? How many students from the other elementary schools in the Tohoku region were watching Pocket Monsters the night before, completely unaware that they would not survive to see the next week's episode?
I will always associate this episode with the tragedy. It sucks, especially since I actually like this episode a whole lot. But I can't help it. I do have a "job" to do, though, so I'll try to push that out of my head for a bit to focus on the actual content of the episode itself.
I think one of the reasons I liked this episode was because of how everyone got their own little moments to shine. Shooty got to show how he's more concerned with results than the methods, a nice little personality trait that I hope will come into play later. Dent was useful but not shoved down our throats, and while I'm not fond of the Fukamaru face Kibago made after its botched Dragon Rage attack, I did like the little fist bump it gave Iris after its attack ran off the Fushide. Hell, even Joi and her Tabun'ne managed to contribute to the plot! It's rare for an episode to have so many characters and have all of them do something, so I applaud the writers for being able to pull it off so well here.
I also really liked the way the Fushide were drawn in this episode. Sure, it was obvious that the majority of the Bug-Type pokemon in this episode were computer generated, but for some reason that didn't bother me. I guess it's partly because I understand why the animators went that route and partly because the fact that they were CG freed the animators to focus on other things. I liked the scenes where you see dozens of antennae twitching, or a random Fushide climbing the wall in the background. Rendering the pokemon with computers allowed the animators to have them moving all the time, and that added a lot to the atmosphere this episode was going for.
Mamepato is the first of Satoshi's Isshu pokemon to evolve. It sucks that the writers are having the regional bird pokemon be the first one to evolve again, but at least the fact that we had no idea that this was going to be the episode in which it evolved helped make it a little more bearable. It also sucks that the bird only got like seven seconds of screentime before the end, but I guess there was so much crammed in this episode that they just didn't have the time. I'm kind of surprised to see that Satoshi didn't capture the Fushide given how "get" happy he's been lately, but I guess the writers feel like one (underdeveloped) Bug-Type is enough.
As we all know, the next two episodes of the series were supposed to be the two-parter with the Rocket-Dan facing off against the Plasma-Dan. Well, that didn't end up happening due to the aforementioned disaster, so Satoshi's Gym Battle against Arti aired the following week instead.
The major thing about the English version of this episode that people remember is how TPCI changed the ending so that Professor Juniper goes to the Desert Resort by herself instead of with Ash and his friends. I totally understand why they did what they did, but I'm kind of surprised they didn't go further. I mean, couldn't they have also cut out the other Rocket scenes as well? Or altered the dialogue so that moving all the Venipede into the Central Plaza somehow solved the problem? Maybe they could have created this conversation where Burgh agrees to battle Ash the next day, perhaps recycling some of the footage from Burgh's other episodes? There are a lot of things they could have done to cover their tracks better, but the cut footage combined with the fact that none of the "Team Rocket vs. Team Plasma" promos ever aired outside Japan was probably seen as being enough. Do any of you with younger relatives who are into the franchise notice anything amiss?
While scanning the Resort Desert Desert Resort:
Pierce: "Well, Dr. Zager?"
Dr. Zager: "Excellent. If we're able to maintain these coordinates..."
Meowth: "Coordinates holdin' at one-two-one-six."
In the Japanese version, Nyasu makes it sound like this meaningless string of numbers is a unit of time, not a set of coordinates.
I'm also fascinated by the keyboard that Nyasu is sitting in front of. It looks like your standard QWERTY keyboard, yet Nyasu has these big ol' cat paws and therefore shouldn't be able to actually use it. Is it all just for show? Is there a bigger, more Nyasu-friendly keyboard anywhere on that aircraft?
After the opening theme:
Narrator: "Completing their trip across the Skyarrow Bridge, our heroes have arrived in Castelia City, site of Ash's third Unova Gym Badge challenge."
The narrator doesn't mention the Sky Arrow Bridge in the Japanese version.
Ash and his friends ask Burgh what's worrying him:
Burgh: "The Bug-Type Pokémon...they've picked up on something last night and have been restless ever since."
Iris: "Y'know what? I've heard Bug-Types become restless when something bad's gonna happen."
Burgh: "That's right. It's also been scientifically proven that Bug-Type Pokémon have an ability. They can sense electromagnetic waves."
Arti says that they can sense electromagnetic waves before humans can, something Burgh leaves out.
Later, Ash looks up Venipede in his Pokédex:
Pokédex: "Venipede, the Centipede Pokémon. Venipede explores its surroundings by sensing vibrations in the air with feelers on its head and tail."
Ash: "Wow, so it has really amazing antennae."
Which is more strange: The fact that Ash is marveling at Venipede's antennae, of all things? Or that he knows that the plural of "antenna" is "antennae?"
Originally, Satoshi is marveling at Fushide's shokkaku (触覚), or "sense of touch." It's still weird, yes, but at least the comment in the Japanese version doesn't make Satoshi sound a lot more book smart than he actually is.
Upon arriving at the Pokémon Center:
Iris: "They're everywhere!"
Cilan: "Thousands of them!"
Dent doesn't guess how many Fushide there are in the Japanese version. He simply says the Fushide's name.
I'll skip Ash's "Who's that Pokémon?" this time around and focus on this next change that takes place after the commercial break:
Professor Juniper's Assistant: "Professor Juniper, we've received data from the Unova Star Satellite."
The name of the satellite in the Japanese version is the Kansoku Eisei Ikusa (観測衛星イクサ), or "observation satellite IXA." Japanese fansite Natio Radio thinks the "IXA" there may be a portmanteau of Isshu and JAXA, but it's only a guess. I don't know if the name given to the satellite in the English version is based on any real world aircraft.
After Iris' and Axew's bro fist, Cilan gets to help out:
Cilan: "Pansage, use Bullet Seed...but just to spice things up..."
Dent tells Yanapp to give the Fushide a light taste of its Seed Machine Gun attack, prompting it to gently spit out the seeds onto the ground. The dub line doesn't make sense to me because "spice things up" seems like he wants Pansage to shoot the attack more quickly, not slowly.
Finally, as Trip leaves the group:
Ash: "Hey Trip. Where are you going?"
Trip: "To the next town."
Ash: "What about your Gym Battle?"
Trip: "It looks like it's going to be a while before this is all sorted out. So instead of staying here wasting my time, I'll go to another Gym."
Shooty tells Satoshi that he'll betsu no jimu o saki ni mawaru yo (別 のジムを先に回るよ), or "go to another Gym first." This "first" part is important because it tells us that Shooty may be heading back to Hiun City at a later date, something the dub doesn't infer at all.
Cut -- 47 seconds altogether
The ending of this episode is completely different depending on which version you watch.
In the Japanese version, the episode ends with Araragi-Hakase telling the gang about the energy readings she detected in the Resort Desert. After she announces that she's going to go there to investigate in person, Satoshi and his friends ask if they can come along as well. Satoshi explains that he befriended one of the Fushide in the city and wants to do what he can to help out. After hesitating for a bit, Araragi-Hakase agrees to let them come along. Satoshi, Iris, Dent, Junsa, and Araragi-Hakase all hop on a helicopter and head for the Resort Desert.
The English version cuts a total of 47 seconds worth of footage to give the impression that Professor Juniper and Officer Jenny went to the Desert Resort by themselves, leaving Ash and his friends behind. They do this by cutting out Satoshi asking if he can tag along, his flashback to his encounter with the Fushide, and part where Araragi-Hakase agrees to let them come with her. In the scene where Arti is waving goodbye to the kids, the dub waits until the helicopter's door is completely closed before cutting to the scene. A shot of Satoshi and Iris looking out the window is cut as well.
I've taken screencaps of the footage that was cut out. Those of you on dial-up can view the images here and here; the rest of you can view all 22 images on this page.
The dub also changes the narrator's final line to fit the new ending:
Amazingly, the dub plays the same background music that we hear in the Japanese version. You'd think they'd just use their own music to prevent the music from skipping, but it seems like they were able to find a much shorter version of the song and decided to use that instead. That's actually really cool.
Interestingly enough, the Japanese rental DVD presents the episode as it originally aired on TV-Tokyo on March 10th. The only difference is the episode preview that plays after the end credits; in the DVD version, the next episode preview is for the Hiun City Gym Battle, not the first part of the skipped two-parter like it was when it aired on TV. The Korean dub of this episode was aired unedited as well. Both of these tell us that these edits were done by TPCI, not OLM or TV-Tokyo.
Obviously, this was all done in an attempt to fix the gaping hole left by the absence of the Rocket-Dan vs. Plasma-Dan two-parter. There are still a number of telltale signs that something's missing, but I'm sure there are dub-only fans out there who have no idea that anything was ever skipped. It seems crazy, I know, but the younger fans who don't go to Pokémon websites and don't keep up with the show in Japan may not have noticed.
Like I said earlier, I completely understand why they did what they did. And when you look at the effect the earthquake and tsunami had on the lives of the people in Japan, the editing of a cartoon episode is pretty much the last thing we as human beings should be concerned about. It sucks, yeah, but the loss of a few seconds of footage is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
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