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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region
Japanese Episode 001: "Pokemon I Choose You!"
American Episode 101: "Pokémon I Choose You!"
Pokemon Dare Da? Pikachu
Japanese Air Date: April 1st, 1997
American Air Date: September 8th, 1998
Important Characters: Satoshi (Ash Ketchum), Shigeru (Gary Oak), Orchid-Hakase (Professor Oak)
Important Places: Masara Town (Pallet Town)
Satoshi is a young boy in Masara Town who cannot sleep on the night before his tenth birthday. That's because on this day, children become eligible to receive a starter pokemon from Orchid-Hakase and can travel the land as Pokemon Trainers. However, on the fateful day, Satoshi oversleeps and arrives at the laboratory after all the starter pokemon had been handed out! The young boy pleads with the professor to give him any pokemon he has left, so Orchid-Hakase apprehensively gives Satoshi the ill-tempered Pikachu. The electric mouse pokemon doesn't want anything to do with the young trainer at first, but Satoshi doesn't give up on being its friend. After a few unsuccessful attempts at catching his first pokemon, Satoshi accidentally upsets a wild Onisuzume. The bird pokemon calls on its flock, and before long both Satoshi and Pikachu are running for their lives! After borrowing a young girl's bicycle, the beginning trainer stumbles and finds himself surrounded by the flock of pokemon. Seeing no other way out of the situation, Satoshi stands up for the battered Pikachu, impressing the pokemon and finally earning its trust. Pikachu steps up and unleashes a powerful Thundershock attack, wiping out the entire flock and saving the two from the angry pokemon. The next morning, Satoshi witnesses a golden-colored bird pokemon in the sky who he'd never seen before. The young trainer isn't able to figure out what it is, so he ignores it and takes his Pikachu to the Pokemon Center in Tokiwa City in order to treat its wounds.
By this point, we all know the story of this first episode. I've seen it, you've seen it, even most of the non-fans have seen it...what more could I say that hasn't been said already?
This episode starts the whole series, and I have mixed feelings about it. It does a good job of setting up the entire world of pokemon, and I guess it's a faithful to the game as one can expect. However, it's apparent in this early episode that without a traveling companion, Satoshi just isn't all that interesting. I mean, let's face it; he couldn't carry an entire series by himself if he tried.
As far as the dub goes, I have a soft spot for these first episodes. While they have their problems, to be sure, the dub is generally better here than it is later down the road. Veronica Taylor said in an interview that they were really careful about the first ten episodes or so, taking more effort than usual to translate every line as closely as they could. They'll start taking more liberties as the series progresses, but for now, everything's more or less the same in both versions.
This episode also introduces 4Kids to the world of anime. A lot of the editing practices they become famous for later on get their start here, and that includes the insane practice of removing Japanese writing from the screen. To this day, I've never understood the company's borderline racist vendetta against written Japanese. The company would probably defend their actions by saying they're making the show more accessible for American kids, but I honestly can't see kids changing the channel or even being the least bit bothered by seeing a foreign language on the screen. Despite all this, though, 4Kids kept a few Japanese symbols untouched in this episode. The spines of Satoshi's books as he wakes up, the sign outside Orchid-Hakase's lab, the establishing shot of the three Monster Balls...all untouched. Strange.
The opening theme for this episode is Mezase Pokemon Master, and the ending theme is Hyaku Gojuu-Ichi.
I want to point out that the first season episodes have almost dead-on title translations. "Pokemon I Choose You!" works as the title for both the Japanese version of the episode and as the title of the dubbed episode, and that's very rare in non-Cartoon Network TV-dubbed anime. Later, 4Kids goes for stupid puns for their titles ("Good 'quil Hunting" comes to mind), but for now they're sticking to literal title translations. Enjoy it while it lasts.
During Orchid-Hakase's TV program, we get the first of many, many paint edits in the series:
Click here to view more pictures from the scene.
Professor Oak: "It's usually shy, but can sometimes have an electrifying personality."
And then about one line later:
Professor Oak: "Shocking, isn't it?"
puns...4Kids, where do you
come up with this stuff?
Click on each image for a larger version.
Early Pocket Monsters has a lot of visual puns that only make sense in Japanese. Here's an example.
Ash: "Well I like you a lot. And since you're the pokémon I'm training, don't you think you could be a little nicer and just open your mouth and tell me what's wrong?"
Pikachu: "Cha~!" (Pikachu opens its mouth)
Ash: "Well, that's not exactly...what I meant. Is your name all you can say?"
Originally, the pun is with the word hanashi (話), which means "story," and ha nashi (歯なし), which means "no teeth." Satoshi asks Pikachu to listen to his hanashi ("story"), but the mouse pokemon thinks he's saying ha nashi ("no teeth") instead. So, it opens its mouth to show Satoshi that it does, indeed, have plenty of teeth. It's one of many of those untranslatable things that 4Kids has not choice but to rewrite, and I'll try to point as many of these out as I'm able to catch.
When Kasumi fishes Satoshi out of the water, she says "Are you OK?" Satoshi says that he's fine and Kasumi slaps him, saying that she was asking about his pokemon, not him. In the English version, the scene freezes on Ash's face to remove the actual slap.
One episode down, only a bajillion more to go.
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