Japanese Episode
059






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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region

Japanese Episode 059

Episode Stats:

Japanese Episode 059:  "The Decisive Battle! The Guren Gym!"
American Episode 204:  "Volcanic Panic"
Pokemon Dare Da?  Boober (Japan), Paras (US)
Japanese Air Date:  August 20th, 1998
American Air Date:  September 18th, 1999

Boober's Daimonji attack hits its target before disappearing in a brilliant flash! When the smoke clears, Satoshi sees that his Pikachu was able to grab onto the edge of the platform at the last minute and save itself from falling into the magma! Satoshi realizes that it's pointless to continue the match so he swallows his pride and throws in the towel. Later that night, the Rocket trio sneaks into the Guren Gym armed with ice rocket launchers in hopes of stealing Katsura's Boober for themselves. When the Fire-Type pokemon does appear, however, the trio panics and begins haphazardly firing ice rockets all over the place. Our heroes are woken up by the noise this causes and rush downstairs to find that the sudden temperature drop caused by the ice rockets is causing cracks to open up in the volcano walls. Magma begins pouring into the arena so Satoshi and his friends come together to plug up the holes and stop the magma from filling the arena. Later, Katsura suggests they hold a rematch outside near the mouth of the volcano. Satoshi agrees and before long a battle between Satoshi's Lizardon and Katsura's Boober begins. Lizardon, motivated by a respect for Katsura's pokemon earned during the incident in the volcano, gives the battle everything it's got and eventually defeats Boober with a powerful Seismic Toss attack. Satoshi receives the Crimson Badge for Lizardon's efforts and soon sets his sights back on Tokiwa City, the site of his final gym challenge.


Thoughts
At one point in this week's episode, Katsura thanks Satoshi for helping save his gym. He's about to tell the young Trainer what he'll do to reward him for all his hard work when Satoshi interrupts him with the assumption that Katsura is just going to give him a Crimson Badge like so many of the other Gym Leaders have before him. Katsura kind of does a double take and then informs the young Trainer that no, that's not what he's going to do at all. It's one of my favorite gags in the entire series because it shows the writers owning up to the fact that, yeah, we've kind of been letting Satoshi just cruise through Kanto without actually knowing how to battle, haven't we?




That's not to say that Satoshi emerges from this episode as some great Trainer who suddenly understands how to plan for a battle or how to use his pokemon effectively, either. Satoshi's still kind of a shit Trainer, and Lizardon's actions in this one have almost nothing to do with it respecting Satoshi. Still, it's nice to see the writers acknowledge their shortcomings and take steps, no matter how small they are, to change course and attempt to make up for mistakes made in the past. We get a great battle between Boober and Lizardon in this one and at the end of the day isn't that what draws so many of us to this show?

Unfortunately, the rest of the episode is kind of dragged down by how much time is spent showing everyone carrying rocks around to plug up that big hole in the volcano. Like, I get that they want to show Boober proving itself to Lizardon and set up Satoshi's pokemon getting ready for the battle ahead of it. But did those scenes really have to take up so much of the episode? Wouldn't it have been better if the volcano stuff was all wrapped up before the commercial break so that the entire second half of the episode could be devoted to the rematch?

Luckily, it's easy to ignore the episode's flaws thanks to how gorgeous the whole thing looks. This is the first episode to all its key animation done by Mr. Masaaki Iwane, the animation director that many feel is the best this series has, and in a 2015 issue of the magazine Animage he tells us how he landed this particular gig:

When we were doing the first movie, the short Pikachu's Summer Vacation (1998) had Mr. Tamagawa in charge. At that time, Mr. Tamagawa and I would tackle most of the key animation ourselves. When I was asked if I would take on the key animation for the episodes (Studio) Cockpit was working on while Mr. Tamagawa was off working on the main feature, I said "sure, why not?" So I did two episodes by myself as both the animation supervisor and the person in charge of the key animation. After the movie was finished I thought things would go back to the way they were but OLM wanted to know if we at Cockpit would be willing to make two separate teams for Pokemon. So a Team Tamagawa and a Team Iwane was proposed. After all that happened I thought that the two episodes I did must not have been too bad after all and so I said "'yes." Since then I've been doing the key animation by myself.

Mr. Iwane will go on to animate some of the franchise's most beautiful looking episodes and I'm so happy he was given this one (and "When Yadon Becomes Yadoran," the other episode he mentions in the above quote) to prove himself. If you don't know who Mr. Iwane is I implore you to look him up because his episodes are some of the best-looking in the franchise. This one is no exception.

For a show that produces 52 episodes a year, having multiple people working on multiple episodes at the same time is the only way you're ever going to meet any of your deadlines. I assume work on "Riddle Me This" wasn't finished when "Volcanic Panic" entered production because there are so many weird rewrites / inconsistencies between the two (t
he quotes during the flashback to last episode all got rewritten, Blaine's love of riddles gets turned into a love of Dad jokes, etc.) that a lack of access to a finished version of "Riddle Me This" is the only explanation that makes sense.

Dialogue Edit
The narrator in the English version talks waaaay more during the last episode recap than he does in the original. There are also a few weird rewrites:

Narrator:  "But water was no match for fire, as Ninetails won the first round with its Ember attack."

It won with Fire Spin, narrator, not Ember.

(Originally the Japanese narrator simply says that Kyukon defeated Zenigame without specifying the attack used to do so)

There are also a number of lines in the recap that were changed from the actual episode:

Blaine:  "Come out...Magmar!"

In the previous episode this line was "I choose...Magmar!", not "Come out...Magmar!"

And then, a bit later:

Ash:  "You'll feel 100% soon, Pikachu."

In "Riddle Me This" the line was "No...we can't give up now."

Neither one of these rewrites occurred in the Japanese version.

Next up is, sigh, the Team Rocket scene. Simply put, literally every single thing Team Rocket says in the hot springs is a complete and total rewrite. Take a look:

Japanese Version
English Version
Satoshi:  "Do you think I could just leave after being defeated? If only Lizardon would show some motivation... (sigh) ...with Lizardon it's always this or that ..."
Ash:  "If Charizard would battle I know I'd win. But it still won't listen to me (sigh) There's gotta be a way."
Kojirou:  "This...?"
James:  "It's getting warm down here."
Musashi:  "Or that...?"
Jessie:  "I know, but we have to get used to the heat."
Musashi:  "If we're asked about this or that..."
James:  "It's getting hotter!"
Kojirou:  "It's up to the world whether or not we answer..." Jessie:  "Stop complaining!"
Nyarth:  (singing) "Even inside the hot bath...hoya hoya~♪ Splash around until you stand up...soya soya~♪!
Meowth:  "Jessie's in the lead in Lane 1, but James is closing in fast in Lane 2. This is an exciting match-up as these two great Team Rocket champions go for the gold.
(The Rocket duo coughs)
(The Rocket duo coughs)
Nyarth:  "You guys...you just had to say your catchphrase while underwater, didn't you nya?"
Meowth:  "If you two can't stand the heat in this hot spring, how are you gonna stand it inside of that volcano?"
Kojirou:  "But you know that whenever we hear those words..."
James:  "How else can we kidnap Magmar?"
Musashi:  "Our bodies have a Pavlovic reaction to them."
Jessie:  "We've got to have Magmar...it beat Pikachu."
Nyarth:  "And is that OK nya? All I'm saying that we should focus on catching the super strong Boober who apparently pummeled Pikachu so badly! My paws are getting wet here waiting around in this hot spring..."
Meowth:  "I got a plan to snag Magmar. We'll go down to the volcano and tell Magmar it won some phony prize. And then, when its guard is down, we'll use our Freeze Blaster. Now where am I gonna get gloves with three fingers?"
Musashi:  "Don't worry...you told us you were leaving it to us."
Jessie:  "Haha. We'll have our own Poke-sicle."
Kojirou:  "And we have it all planned out."
James:  "Hehe...a frozen Magmar-ita."

And then, a few minutes later,

Japanese Version
English Version
Nyarth:  "Boober-chan, Boober-chan, if you're here then please come to the front of the ring nya. Musashi-san and Kojirou-chan are waiting for you."
Meowth:  "Time to present our winner with a Pokémon sweepstakes grand prize~! A trip for two to Mount Vesuvius! We've come here to the home of our lucky winner, Magmar!"

So. The audio commentary for the original DVD release of
Pokémon 3 The Movie has these parts where Michael Haigney, the voice director and also one of the head writers for the 4Kids dub, talks about the differences between Western and Japanese storytelling techniques. And, surprise surprise, it's condescending as fuuuuuck.

Michael Haigney:  "...In the Eastern storytelling style, perhaps they're like oh, well that's...that's...the mother's there, she's not there...just that's just the story's unfolding for them. But for us we kinda had to...we had to know for ourselves what was going on just so the movie made more sense to us. Not saying it doesn't make sense to...a Japanese audience or...it still makes sense, it's just not as logical."

Michael Haigney:  "Now here you'll see that there's only one Pokémon out, Cyndaquil, but in this edit here...we think they edited this all of a sudden there are three Pokémon out, or four Pokémon out...there's a Water Pokémon and Fire Pokémon. Um, y'know, sharp-eyed viewers might think...and we think, actually, that, uh, the Japanese version of the movie, they must have edited something there. We sort of took it, well, it might be a sort of a time lapse that wasn't really too strongly visually indicated.

But that's a good example of...of something that, that, that to a Western viewer, y'know, th...who's used to picking out gaffes or mistakes or...or perceived mistakes, might say "waitaminute...there-there was only Cyndaquil and now there are three." Which doesn't seem to be a value, uh, in the East. It's not...it's more the, the totality of the story and the kind of magical atmosphere that's happening. So it's not really a mistake for them, it's just something that is not...it-it-it's not seen as...as crucially important where...where we, we kind of think it is important."

If you look at the Team Rocket scenes from this episode I just highlighted above after reading what Mr. Haigney said, the rewrite almost sorta-kinda makes sense. Because for the middle-aged white men who worked on this dub, things like Jessie and James hanging out underwater and the later scene where Meowth is dressed up like a TV announcer out of nowhere are these insane and illogical things that absolutely require some sort of explanation. 4Kids (and, they assume, their audience) don't realize that Jessie and James are actually just spying on the twerps and that the whole "hiding underwater with bamboo snorkels sticking out" thing is a fairly common trope in Japanese media, so they decided to "fix" it by making the scene about Jessie and James training to be able to withstand the heat of the volcano. Likewise, Meowth showing up as a TV announcer is just too random, I mean what the hell is that even supposed to be!?, so they attempt to explain that away by fabricating this whole story about Meowth thinking a creature who lives inside an active volcano would be really really excited about winning a "Pokémon sweepstakes grand prize" from some dumb TV game show. Because that makes way more sense.

I know I'm being overly hard on a bunch of rewrites that, in the big scheme of things, has absolutely no impact on the franchise as a whole. Believe me, I can already hear some of you typing out your wall of text rebuttals as I write this. But I think entire scene rewrites like this one are a great illustration of just how 4Kids views their role in the English language production. If something doesn't make sense to them, they have no problem saying "fuck it" and just throwing away the Japanese script in favor of their own version. Unfortunately, their version rarely ever makes any more sense.

So what you will about The Pokémon Company International's dub (and believe me, I do), but at least, to my knowledge, they never rewrite entire scenes wholesale like this.

By the way, Musashi's "Pavlovic reaction" line from this episode seems to be a fairly famous one among the Japanese fandom. Meanwhile, the English dub drops a reference to Mt. Vesuvius, a real-world volcano located in Italy, for some reason.

After Team Rocket's assault begins:

Blaine:  "I was on my way to the lavatory when I heard all the noise. Of course, in a volcano, every room is a lava-tory. Get it?"
Misty:  "Now I see how you come up with those riddles."

That wasn't really a riddle as much as it was a lame Dad joke, Misty.

Originally, Katsura goes "I go rumble-rumble up top but blub-blub down below. What am I? I'm something that's going on in the underground Gym? Ding ding ding ding ding that's right!" (上でグラグラ下でボーボーな~?それは地下 のジムで何かが起こっているピンポーン♪) Kasumi then wonders why Katsura's answering his own riddles like that.

Blaine gets frozen by Team Rocket's Freeze Blaster:

Blaine:  "Ice in a volcano!? That's freezer burn!"
Ash:  "Maybe you should cool it with the jokes."

Ash is right! Blaine tells riddles, not jokes!

In the Japanese version Katsura asks "Who is an old man whose hair suddenly turns white?" (いきなり白髪おじいさんな~に?) Satoshi then tells Katsura that no, actually he was only just frozen.

The third riddle!

Blaine:  "What's going to happen to this Gym if it's filled with ice?"
Ash:  "It'll be a snow cone!"
Blaine:  "I wasn't making a riddle!"

While the riddle itself is more or less the same in both versions ("What happens when you fire off cold missiles inside a hot cave?" (あつあつ洞窟に冷え冷えミサイルな~に?)), Satoshi's answer is quite different; originally he responds "tempura ice cream " (アイスの天ぷら!).

After Team Rocket blasts off:

Blaine:  "Oh no! Lava's starting to burst through the cracks! I'm afraid it's only a matter of minutes till the volcano blows."

Blaine gives a time limit of "a matter of minutes" while Katsura doesn't say anything about how soon the volcano will erupt in the original.

(*most nerd voice ever* Also, Blaine, you should be using the word "magma" instead since the molten rock you're referring to is still inside the volcano *pushes glasses further up nose*)

Eyecatch
4Kids already used up Magmar for last week's "Who's That Pokémon?" so they went for a different one this time around:

Japanese
English

A Paras would probably burst into flames if it went anywhere near the volcano! Whoops!

Dialogue Edit
Misty decides to help:

Misty:  "And Starmie, you can help them all to keep cool while they're working Go~!." (calls Staryu)

The Starmie / Staryu mix-up doesn't happen in the Japanese version (ヒトデマン、みんなの体を冷やしてあげて…行くのよ!).

Later, right after the great fake-out with Ash asking Blaine to just hand him a Volcano Badge:

Ash:  "I'm gonna win this time! And pretty soon I'll be able to join the Pokémon League."

Satoshi doesn't make a reference to the region's end-game in the original here; instead, he tells himself that he'll definitely win the badge this time (よ~し!今度こそバッジゲットだぜ!).

Side Note
Up at the mouth of the volcano:

Blaine:  "Since my Gym has been wrecked, would you object if we held our match right here on the volcano? It's over the lava pit where I first discovered Magmar."

This isn't a rewrite or a mistranslation or anything, but the choice to have Blaine say "discovered" instead of, say, "found" (which is what he says in the Japanese version) could lead to some people misinterpreting his line to mean that Blaine's saying he discovered the Magmar species as a whole. That's not what he's saying, though; in both versions, the Gym Leader simply found a Boober inside the volcano there on Guren Island.

Paint Edit
When Boober fires off its Daimonji attack, the shape of the flames changes from dai (大), or "big"; to chuu (中), or "medium"; to shou (小), or "small," as it flies into the background. In the English version, however, Magmar's attack stays the same shape throughout the entire shot.

Japanese
English
Japanese
English
Japanese
English

It's actually a really well-done edit, especially considering how this shot, unlike most of the other ones 4Kids edits, isn't just a still sign in the background but is instead an animated character that involves actual movement.

There's also a little sound effect that plays each time the attack changes shape in the Japanese version. The dub doesn't bother to remove this effect, however, so in the English dub there's this weird little sound effect that plays twice in this shot for apparently no reason.

I guess this is as good a time as any to bring up how the Daimonji attack is based on the Japanese Daimonji Gokuzan Okuribi, a festival held in Kyoto every August in which a giant 大 symbol is lit up to signal the end of summer. This gigantic bonfire is lit on the side of the mountains located in the Kyoto basin and can be seen from all over the former Japanese capital.

Daimonji

Back in the Red & Green days, basing the game's "ultimate Fire-Type attack" on this real-world bonfire that's as big as three Olympic swimming pools made a lot of sense! And for the Japanese gamers to which these games were originally targeted, it's a reference that was instantly recognizable.

For Western audiences, however, "Fire Blast" is just a powerful Fire-Type attack that looks like a weird star, sorta-kinda?  Most English-speaking fans don't know about its origins as a festival in Kyoto or that it's shaped like the symbol for "big," and so while the fun the animators of this episode have with the symbol going from "big" to "medium" to "small" is something that instantly clicks with Japanese viewers, it's something that doesn't make sense for the rest of us. 4Kids therefore decided to get rid of it.

I'm usually against edits to Japanese text because they rarely actually help make the show easier to understand for Western audiences but I completely understand why 4Kids did what they did this time.

Side Note
Ash orders Charizard around:

Ash:  "Charizard! Let's show Magmar your aerial submission attack!"

A lot of fans probably heard this line and thought "Aerial Submission? Well that's not a Pokémon attack!" And usually, I'd chalk this up as yet another example of 4Kids not knowing enough about the video games this show's based on. But! In the Japanese version of this scene, Satoshi actually does say "Alright! Just like that use your aerial submission technique to make it dizzy!"  (よし!そのまま空中地獄車で目を回させるんだ!).

In other words, this weird "commanding a non-attack" thing is present in the original as well.

Dialogue Edit
In the English dub, Charizard's voice is muted when it's firing off its victory Flamethrowers in its last scene of the episode, for some reason.

Later, we get one more riddle:

Blaine:  "And now I have one last riddle for you, Ash."
Ash:  "Huh?"
Blaine:  "What is it that...is always read, but has no words? Ha! The answer is a Volcano Badge!"

Unlike every other one of Katsura's riddles, the Japanese version of this one is actually a really tricky one to translate! In the original, the badge that Satoshi's after's called the Crimson Badge, right? Well, Katsura asks Kureta no ni son so suru mono na~nda? (くれたのに損をするものな~んだ), which I'm going to translate as "I'm something you can claim but also abandon. What am I?" To arrive at the answer, Katsura breaks it down for us:  "kureta no ni son...kureta no ni zon...kureta no mi zon...korezo! Kurimuzon Bajji!" In other words, the answer to the riddle is "Crimson Badge" because Kurimuzon sounds sorta-kinda like kureta no ni son.

An English equivalent would be something like "I'm something you can claim but also abandon. What am I?", followed by "Claim but also abandon...claim also abandon...clim so don...crim so on...Crimson!" It's a riddle whose answer is forced as hell, which is why Satoshi and the others react the way they do.

The English dub changes this terrible, terrible riddle into something that makes a little more sense.

On the way off the island:

Misty:  "Gee, what was I so mad at you about anyway?"
Brock:  "Don't you remember? You were mad at Ash because he destroyed your--"
Ash:  "Wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa ~"

Not a big deal, but originally Takeshi tells Kasumi "Kasumi you told us, remember?" (カスミ、言ってたじゃないか?) instead of "don't you remember"?, indicating that Takeshi heard about the events of the first episode from Kasumi at some point off-screen. The English dub makes it sound like he was there with them when it all went down which, of course, is not true.

Finally,

Narrator:  "And so, Ash hurries on to Viridian City, eager to compete for a green Earth Badge. Meanwhile, Misty is seeing red, and that's sure to make Brock blue. Orange you dying to find out what happens next?"

There's no color wordplay in the Japanese narration; instead he talks about how it had seemed like Lizardon had finally started to listen to Satoshi but that that's not the case. He then tells us that Satoshi and his friends are on their way to Tokiwa City.

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