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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region
Japanese Episode 056: "The Pokemon Certification Exam!?"
American Episode 052: "The Ultimate Test"
Pokemon Dare Da? Purin (Japanese), Vulpix (American)
Japanese Air Date: July 30th, 1998
American Air Date: April 24th, 1999
Our heroes having lunch one day when Tohru tells them about the Pokemon Certification Exam, a test that allows Trainers to qualify to enter the Pokemon League without the hassle of having to travel around and collect Gym Badges. Satoshi decides he wants to give it a shot so he finds the campus where the exam's being held and applies right away. The first part of the exam is a written questionnaire that tests Trainers' general knowledge of pokemon and the second part asks examinees to look at a partial image of a pokemon and identify what it is. Satoshi manages to pass both sections by the skin of his teeth. The exam continues with a third part in which Trainers must battle using never-before-seen rental pokemon. Satoshi's portion is interrupted by the revenge-seeking Rocket-Dan when they barge in and try to steal all the pokemon on-site! Unfortunately for them, the rental pokemon they try to use to round up all the others are loyal to the proctor and therefore refuse to listen to the trio's commands. The ensuing battle sends the Rocket trio packing but also destroys the campus' battle field, forcing the test to be put on hold while the arena is repaired. Satoshi takes this opportunity to bow out, explaining that this was fun and all but that traveling around is his preferred way of qualifying for the Pokemon League. With this unique experience behind them, Satoshi and his friends continue on their journey toward Guren Island.
When you have an Olympics-like "Pokemon League" as the end-game for your TV series, coming up with a bunch of different ways for its characters to qualify for said event is a crucial part of your world building. Some people are just too busy to travel around and collect badges, you know? The video games only had "collect eight badges" as their prerequisites but the TV show adds Pokemon Seminars and now, as of this episode, a Pokemon Certification Exam.
The Pokemon Seminar episode was great because it had a moral that reading about something in a textbook is not the same thing as getting out there and actually doing it. This exam episode, on the other hand, doesn't really do anything so noble. It presents the Pokemon Certification Exam as a perfectly legitimate way to bypass a huge part of what most would consider to be the road to becoming a Pokemon Master but then also spends half the episode treating it as this big joke, filling it with impossible bullshit and having all the characters react with sweatdrops and faceplants over how absurd the whole thing is. So is this exam serious or is it just one big joke? The episode never really commits either way.
I guess it's kind of cute that Musashi and Kojirou also take the exam because they secretly want to become Pokemon Masters but it's also slightly out-of-character? I mean, they've never once expressed any interest in obtaining such a title for themselves and in the hundreds and hundreds of episodes that follow they never once aspire to do so again and so the whole thing feels a little bit off. On the other hand, Musashi being the one to call out the proctor for the exam being ridiculous nonsense and Kojirou being super giddy at finally being able to command a Pikachu in battle is completely in-character so I guess it all balances out in the end?
Oh, and Tohru's a recurring character now, apparently! His motives for traveling with our heroes are never really made clear and his inclusion in this episode in particular doesn't really amount to jack so I'm not sure why the writers thought he should tag along. Is Kappei Yamaguchi friends with someone on the staff or something? Did the showrunners think a photographer character would help shake things up only to realize every early on that no, he actually won't? Whatever the reason for his extended stay in the series is, Tohru at least stays out of the way for most of the episodes he's in so I can't say I mind that he's here. Still think it's weird, though.
People often defend the dub's tendency to erase Japanese text without bothering to put anything in its place as a way to make the show more marketable to the foreign audiences. The idea is that by making a single "clean" version of the show, 4Kids / TPCI is actually saving foreign localizers a lot of time and money. And well, one, foreign markets don't require that and are absolutely fine with foreign text appearing on-screen so no they're not, and two, all they're actually doing is making it look like everybody in the Pokémon world is illiterate and therefore needs to use pictures and other drawings to pass ideas on to one another. There's this reading PSA Kids' WB! apparently released in 2001 that has Ash talking about how important reading is to him that's actually kind of hilarious since "Ash" and "reading" are two words that definitely do not belong together in this version of the show.
Snap performs his single useful role in this episode:
Snap: "Well, why don't you just get yourself admitted?"
Snap: "Take the Pokémon League Admissions Exam."
Ash: "The Pokémon League..."
Misty: "Admissions Exam?"
The name of the test in Japanese is the Pokemon Kentei Shiken (ポケモン検定試験), and a better translation would be something like "The Pokemon Certification Exam." While admission into the Pokemon League is indeed what can apparently happen if you pass, this fact isn't present in the name of the test. Maybe it was just a mouth flap issue or something?
Also, 4Kids slips in a "Snap makes Ash think he wants him to check himself into a mental hospital because he makes very odd and unnatural word choices!" joke in there, because why the hell not!
This episode has some of the highest number of paint edits in the series.
The first batch occurs in the lobby of whatever school it is our heroes go to. Seven scenes are edited altogether.
There are seven scenes that had their text erased in the lobby.
See all the Paint Edits from Japanese Episode 056Also, does the phrase "8 x 10" even make sense to the non-Americans out there?
Since I know people are going to ask: yes, Musashi states she's 17 years old in the Japanese version as well as in the dub. Her "job" is a little different though; she's an aidoru (アイドル), or "idol" in the Japanese version while in the English dub she calls herself a "diva."
Either way, she's neither an "idol" nor a "diva" so I would also take her claim that she's 17 years old with a grain of salt.
After the proctor, who 4Kids gave a vaguely eastern European accent to for some reason, makes off with Ash's Pokémon:
Proctor: "Good luck, Mr. Ketchum."
Misty: "I'd wish you luck too, but you're just so skilled."
Ash: "You got that right!"
Originally Kasumi tells Satoshi to give it his all; she doesn't make a callback to the luck vs. skill conversation they had before the episode's title screen.
Also, the proctor doesn't address Satoshi by name here in the Japanese version.
Jessie lists her accomplishments:
James: "What's your reason for being here?"
Jessie: "I simply wanted to add another talent to my very impressive and extensive resumé. As you know, I'm already an accomplished hostess, florist, costume designer, wine expert, beautician, style consultant...in fact one of the only things I'm not..."
Meowth: "Is a Pokémon Master!"
Let's break this list down one by one.
Actual, nice kimono aren't
something you can just put on by yourself; you need to have someone
known as a kimono fitter help you tuck yourself into one. The dub
changes this to costume designer, because I guess to most Westerners a
kimono is seen as a type of costume instead of a piece of formal
I'm also kind of surprised
to see 4Kids allowed Jessie to say "wine expert" here because you know
that if this was an Advanced Battle
episode they would have redrawn the wine and called her a juice
something like that.
But what if I told you there's actually a reason why these two were given those two very specific numbers!
In Japanese, each number has multiple ways of being pronounced. The number "one" (1), for example, can be read as hitotsu, hito, hi, ichi, i, or wan depending on the context. "Two" (2) can be pronounced futatsu, fu, futa, ha, ni...the list goes on and on. It's actually kind of annoying!
Since each number is so versatile a type of Japanese wordplay came about known as Goroawase (語呂合わせ), a system that uses numbers to spell out words. The numbers "3476," for example, can be read as sa (3) yo (4) na (7) ra (6), or "sayonara." "724106" can mean na-ni-shi-te-i-ru (何している), or "what are you doing?" And so on and so on. Goroawase is often used as a mnemonic device to help people remember things like pincodes, mathematical figures, and historical dates.
What does all this have to do with "The Ultimate Test"? Well, Jessie's exam number is 634, which can be read as...you guessed it!...mu-sa-shi. And James' exam number is 546, or ko-ji-ro.
(Satoshi's exam number doesn't fit with this convention; his number is, indeed, just meant to be "lucky seven")
Long story short, the Rocket duo's exam numbers are actually a neat little Easter egg put in by the show's animators!
Outside, Meowth approaches his teammates:
Meowth: "This seems suspiciously un-like a visit to your sick uncle's bedside."
Meowth: "And I thought you had a dental appointment."
James: "Well I..."
The excuses the duo gives their teammate is different in the Japanese version; originally Musashi said she was going to a relative's wedding (ここのどこが親戚の結婚式だってニャー) while Kojirou said he was going to a relative's memorial service (どこが親戚の法事だってニャー).
Meowth: "Come clean, what are ya doin' here?"
Jessie: "Mind your own business!"
James: "Take this and leave us alone!"
Originally Musashi tells Nyarth that it's their day off so Kojirou tells him to take this (catnip) and leave them alone. The fact that today is Team Rocket's day off (or that Team Rocket even has days off in the first place) is not expressed in the dub.
The sign Pikachu holds up at the beginning of each test gets translated.
I'm not sure why there are quotation marks around EXAM #1 in the English version. Is 4Kids low-key making fun of this episode and how ridiculous it is by putting the word exam in quotes like that?
So, onto the exam. In the Japanese version every single test question is presented with the image and text on the screen together. In the English version, the text all gets eliminated and the image is replaced and / or blown up to take up the entirety of the screen.
There are six questions presented in "EXAM #1" and this edit is done to all six of them. Check out the link below to see images of every single paint edit in the episode.
See all the Paint Edits from Japanese Episode 056
(Also, I'm kind of surprised that 4Kids left in the very Japanese O or X buttons our heroes press instead of changing them to T and F to match up with the way the rest of the test is presented...)
The questions used in the English dub are identical to the ones in the Japanese version with the exception of the second one.
Here's what the questions are in each version:
In the Japanese version,
the test makers took an actual Japanese proverb, "Cranes live for a
thousand years, turtles live for 10,000 years" (鶴は千年、亀は万年) and replaced
the animal names with pokemon names. The Kyukon species is based on the
story of the nine-tailed fox spirit
who is said to live for 1,000 years while the Kameil species is based
on the minogame (蓑亀), a
turtle who lives for 10,000 years, so based on that it seems like the
answer to the question should be True.
understandably, changed the question to be completely different.
For the second part, the proctor shows either a silhouette or a body part and the test takers have to write in the answer on the monitor in front of them, Jeopardy! style.
In the 4Kids version, that pesky "write in your own answers" part is replaced with what appears to be "just scroll through a bunch of pictures until you find the one you want."
This makes the English version of the test way easier, don't you think? If you just write in the answer then you can mess up any number of ways but if it's multiple choice then all you have to do is just keep scrolling until you get to a Pokémon that looks kind of like the the one the big monitor, right?
There are six answers given throughout the test, and all six of them get edited in this way.
See all the Paint Edits from Japanese Episode 056
Later, the proctor explains the answer to the Nyorozo question. In the original the pokemon's name is plastered across the pokemon's body so 4Kids decided to just replace the whole image rather than try to attempt erasing the text from the one that was originally there.
However, when they did the same thing for the next scene, they goofed up and put in Poliwrath's picture there instead of Poliwhirl's! The proctor's explanation still uses Poliwhirl as the example ("As any Master would know, when Poliwag evolves into Poliwhirl, the swirl on its stomach reverses direction") so 4Kids really should have put the correct Pokémon there.
The poster behind Kasumi and Takeshi gets erased off the wall in the very next scene:
After the written tests are over, our heroes go over to check out their results.
And again in the close-up:
The text, from right to left: "Try just a little harder" (もうひとがんばり), "good job" (よくできました), and "very good job" (たいへんよくできました).
The dub erases this text and has Misty explain out loud how the results are being displayed so viewers know what it is they're actually looking at:
The actual lowest scoreboard gets edited as well:
The top said "you're two or three steps behind" (もうふたつもみっつもがんばり) and got changed to "LOWEST SCORES." The text beside Musashi's picture says taijou (退場), or "walk out."
Finally, the poster on the wall near Kojirou here gets the word riigu (リーグ), or "league" erased.
You guys, the eyecatch for this episode is kind of amazing:
The "Who's that Pokemon?" is "A Purin seen from above," an obvious callback to the question from earlier in the episode! Let's see what the dub did...
Oh yeah, 4Kids. That's way better.
And then, just like that, the final paint edit of the episode!
To make up for the lack of paint edits in the second half, 4Kids made a bunch of script edits instead! (cries)
Brock cheers on Nurse Joy:
Brock: "Nurse Joy, you're doing great! Yeah! (turns to Snap) Alright, shoot away. I want 8 x 10 glossies and wallet sizes, too."
Snap: "Yeah, sure."
The original's a little more creepy. In that version Takeshi tells Tohru that since her skin's glistening from sweat that now's a great photo op (トオル、今だ！あの光る汗こそシャッターチャンス！).
James calls out Pikachu:
James: "With this I can't lose. Thundershock, Thunderbolt...I've been destroyed by Pikachu's attacks so many times I know them all by heart!"
Kojirou also mentions Thunder (かみなり), but I guess there weren't enough mouth flaps for 4Kids to fit that one in.
I noticed something off about the battle between Ash and the proctor. The first time it happens is when the proctor's Flareon goes up against Ash and Weezing:
Proctor: "Now Flareon...the Leer."
"The" Leer? Well, that's a bit awkward...Why not have him just say "use Leer" or something a little more natural sounding?
But then, it happens again!
Proctor: "Quick Jolteon, use the Thunder attack!"
Again..."the" Thunder attack? And not, say, "use your Thunder attack"? Is this guy randomly putting a definitive article in front of attack names because he's supposed to be vaguely Russian, and that's how 4Kids think Russians talk or something?
(Team Rocket's) Meowth: "Use the Fury Swipes!"
Oh, now they've got Meowth doing it! So it's not a character-specific thing, it's-
Ash: "A Vaporeon! OK, Meowth! Use the Fury Swipes!"
It's spreading to our heroes now!
Jessie: "Ivysaur, the Vine Whip now!"
WHAT IS GOING ON HERE!?!?!
Ash's Arbok gets shocked:
Proctor: "Too bad you overloaded Jolteon's spikes. Sizing up your opponent before an attack is a fundamental rule."
"Overloaded?" Don't you mean "overlooked"?
Originally the proctor tells Satoshi that Thunders' thorns aren't just for show (サンダースのとげとげはダテじゃない！).
After the test is finished, Ash learns his lesson:
The original was a little less about stroking Satoshi's ego and instead about telling the audience something we already know, which is of course that he prefers battling to just sitting around and taking tests.
Finally, after our heroes leave:
Snap: "Hey, where's Ash?"
Nurse Joy: "They already left. They're on their way to the next gym. (gasps) What's wrong with that Meowth?"
Snap: "It got hurt in the explosion."
Tohru's second line here is a little different in the Japanese version; there, he says that Nyarth got blown away along with him during the big explosion earlier, suggesting that Tohru and the Rocket-Dan's Nyarth were sent blasting off the same way the Rocket trio was. The fact that both Tohru and Nyarth are equally dirty helps this idea.
Whether you see this episode in Japanese or English, though, the fact remains that Satoshi and his friends just sort of leave Tohru behind, not really caring that their "friend" went missing after that big explosion. Poor Tohru, I guess they don't really give a shit about you after all!
This page was last updated on June 24th, 2017
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