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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region
063: "Tokiwa Gym! The Final Badge!"
As we all know, Kanto is an absolute mess pacing-wise. Here we are, only four episodes after watching Satoshi earn his seventh badge and yet we're already at him getting his eighth and final badge. Four episodes...that's only one month later in real world time. And while the battle for the seventh badge was a two episode affair, this one, for some reason, only lasts one? Despite it being the final badge of the region and sorta-kinda serving as the big Rocket-Dan battle?
The real answer is that they wanted to hurry up and introduce Mewtwo in the TV series before the movie came out and this would have been the best time to do it. But even if "Tokiwa Gym! The Final Badge!" had aired when it was supposed to (more on that later) there still would have been plenty of time to get everything done.
Cramming everything that this episode tries to do into 22 minutes definitely has its drawbacks. The first half is Shigeru vs. Sakaki but nothing really gets to happen with that because we keep cutting to this lame "Togepi gets separated from the group" subplot that exists for God only knows what reason. I guess the show was still in its "we can't cut away from Satoshi and his friends for more than two minutes" phase? The second half of the episode is the Rocket trio getting the gym handed over to them and then Satoshi's battle against the trio. Now I'm not trying to be that guy but if I was in charge I'd have axed one of the crappier filler episodes from earlier in the saga and then made this Gym Battle last two episodes; one for the Shigeru vs. Sakaki portion and the second for the Satoshi vs. the Rocket trio part. I think the final gym battle of the region deserves at least that much, don't you?
This episode is also a little bit more slapstick-y than most. The facepalm-worthy "I'm all fired up!" gag, Kojirou getting hit on the butt, that whole sequence with Musashi crossing the bridge only to have it vanish from underneath her, etc. It's all very Looney Tunes-esque. I mean I get that they were probably trying to lighten the overall mood of the episode given how dark the Sakaki vs. Shigeru stuff was (well, for this series, anyway) but I think they may have overdone it a bit.
It probably sounds like I hate the episode. And on principle, I guess I do. But then when I actually sit down and watch the thing I forget about everything I just complained about and just enjoy the episode for what it is. I forget about the rushed pacing and the bad story structure and about how it could be so much better because, at the end of the day, it manages to be an entertaining way to spend 22 minutes. I think the issue I have is that the stuff that does work does so really well and it makes me want to see more. The battle between Shigeru and Sakaki - two men with massive egos - was honestly one of the most interesting battles up to this point in the series and I would have loved to have seen more of it. And the idea of the Rocket trio getting to be the Gym Leaders is a fun one and I wish we had gotten to see them in that role for more than the five minutes or whatever it is that we ended up getting instead. Even the Togepi-gets-separated-from-the-group thing ends up being alright because it leads to that great scene of the Rocket trio capturing and then presenting the little egg pokemon to their boss. The episode has a lot of problems but it manages to trick us into forgetting all of them due to how well the individual moments in this episode work.
Whenever someone brings up the dub of this episode I have to let out a heavy sigh because the "one year" rewrite that this episode is so well known for keeps coming up over and over. Luckily it seems to be one of those lines that people know is a rewrite but that's only after years and years and years of us fans of the Japanese version going around, message board post by message board post, setting the record straight. In a perfect world 4Kids would have just done their jobs and translated the dialogue as-is but unfortunately we live in one where the English dub has its own canon separate from the Japanese version. Some additional explanation, unfortunately, is required.
Onidrill, Nidoking, and Kingler all keep their Japanese voices.
Side Note - Airing Out-Of-Order
Anyone who's spent any amount of time on this site knows that the Pokemon Shock incident that put the show on a four-month hiatus at the beginning of 1998 wreaked absolute havoc on the schedule for the following year. This episode is yet another victim of a ton of careful planning being all for nothing.
If you use the TV schedules we had at the time the Porygon episode aired and go from there, you get a pretty good idea of what the rest of 1998 would have looked like. According to my calculations, "Tokiwa Gym! The Final Badge!" was originally going to air on June 16th, 1998. "A Rival Showdown! The Orchid Laboratory," the other episode to feature Mewtwo, would have aired June 30th, 1998. In other words, both of these episodes featuring Mewtwo would have aired before Mewtwo Strikes Back hit theaters on July 18th, 1998.
It would have been perfect. Give viewers a taste of Mewtwo - who they'd already be familiar with thanks to the movie trailers that would have been out by then - and get them excited for the movie's July 18th release.
Unfortunately, that isn't what ended up happening. Everything got pushed back four months because of the aforementioned Pokemon Shock scandal and so this episode didn't end up airing until after the movie that it was supposed to serve as a tie-in to had finished up its theatrical run.
Shudou Takeshi, the man responsible for writing the screenplay for the first movie, stated in his blog that the cold opening to the theatrical version of Mewtwo Strikes Back - the part where it wakes up, destroys the lab, works for Sakaki, and then goes off on its own - didn't actually exist before the Pokemon Shock incident. Here's what he wrote:
That would have been the first time audiences got a good look at Mewtwo. Not any of the dozens of full body shots we end up getting in the cold opening; this shot right here would have been the first time any of us would have seen or heard Mewtwo.
But since "Tokiwa Gym! The Final Badge!" ended up airing late, we got all those extra scenes tacked onto the beginning of the movie.
Fortunately for fans of the English dub, "The Battle of the Badge" actually did debut before Pokémon The First Movie's November 12th release and so they got the pre-movie introduction to Mewtwo that Japanese fans never got.
There are no cuts or digital paint edits in this episode but that's OK because the script is complete garbage and that more than makes up for that.
Right at the very beginning of the episode we get one of the biggest lies the 4Kids dub has ever told us:
Ash: "I can't believe it's been a whole year since we were here."One of the annoying things about the English dub of this series is how it has its own canon that's separate from the Japanese version. There are a lot of things that apply only to the dub and so whenever someone says something about Brock's mom being dead or Meowth's first word being the word "Rocket" then we fans of the Japanese version have to sigh and be like "yeah, OK, but in the Japanese version dot dot dot." Please believe me when I say that these explanations are just as annoying for us to give as they are for you to have to sit through.
This is another one of those type of lines. In the Japanese version, all Satoshi says is "Tokiwa City? Wow, it's been a while..." (トキワシティか。久しぶりだな). It's an extremely simple and straightforward line to translate and so of course 4Kids decided to just throw it away and make up their own bullcrap instead. The English dub of this episode did air a little bit over a year since the first Viridian City episode aired but that shouldn't be a factor here; 4Kids' job is to translate the script, not change random lines just because they can.
After Pikachu tries to set Ash on fire:
Brock: "A boy and his Pokémon...that's so beautiful."Originally Takeshi is happy to see a friendship between "two guys" (いいな、男の友情ってのは). It's yet another hint at Pikachu's gender (the first being his use of boku in "Island of the Giant Pokemon!?") that doesn't make its way over to the English dub.
Gary arrives on the scene:
Gary: "I thought you finally gave up catching and training Pokémon. I figured you went back to Pallet but no~, here you are, still at it."Originally Shigeru passively aggressively praises Satoshi for making it as far as he has without giving up and running back to Masara Town, even going so far as to say "I commend you." Gary? Not so much.
Ash: "I'll show you!"
Misty points out that Gary's always been a few steps ahead of Ash, prompting him to pout:
Ash: "Maybe I'm not the greatest Trainer yet, but I care about my Pokémon just as much as anybody does. Maybe more."Here, Satoshi states that even though he may have been the fourth one to leave home - a reference to both the first episode and "Full of Digda!" - he's still doing the best he can.
After Togepi gets kidnapped:
Misty: "Why did you do that to my Togepi!?"
Ash: "Misty, it was an egg-cident."
Ash: "Get it? Egg?"
Misty: "LET'S GO!"
There's an tricky pun here in the Japanese version. Originally Satoshi says Gomen, Kasumi de...iya, hazumi de (ごめん、カスミで...いや、はずみで) which I'm going to choose to clumsily translate as "Sorry, I was Kasumi...I mean, caught off guard." The joke here is that Satoshi mixes up hasumi de (which usually means "spur of the moment" or "on impulse") with the name of his friend Kasumi. Kasumi responds by calling him an idiot.
Jessie: "I don't see those twerps anywhere James, do you?"
James: "No, and I haven't spotted Pikachu either, Jessie."
Meowth: "Hey, I bet the Boss would love a spotted Pikachu."
Meowth's line can be read one of two ways. One, he's taking what James said about "spotted Pikachu" and decides to make a lame joke with it, a joke that will coincidentally go with the Pokémon that's about to arrive on the scene. Or two, Meowth sees Togepi, a Pokémon with spots on it, through his binoculars and decides to make a comment about it.
Regardless of what 4Kids was going for, in the Japanese version of this scene Nyarth states that if they don't find Pikachu then they run the risk of being fired from the Rocket-Dan.
After Togepi falls on James' butt:
James: "What did you do that for, Meowth?"
Meowth: "Heh? I don't know what you're talking about."
James: "Meowth, I demand to know why you just kicked me."
Meowth: "Don't flatter yourself. I wouldn't waste my time kickin' you!"
Kojirou: "You kicked me in the butt just now!" Nyarth: "I'm not interested in your butt or anything like that nya~!"
...I like the Japanese version better.
Up until this point in the series, the 4Kids dub had always added a voice filter to Giovanni whenever he spoke, I guess to make him sound more mysterious or whatever. I'm old and so I instantly think of Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget as being a possible inspiration for this. But maybe 4Kids was going for something else! As of this episode, however, 4Kids decides to do away with the filter and just let Ted Lewis' voice come through as-is.
The Japanese version, on the other hand, never altered Sakaki's voice at any point in the series. Suzuoki Hirotaka's voice was simply used as-is from his first appearance onwards.
Originally, Sakaki gives his name to Shigeru, something Giovanni neglects to do here. Which normally wouldn't be a big deal except that this is the part in the series where Giovanni finally comes out of the shadows and so it's actually kind of important. I mean why do subtle things like no longer modify Ted Lewis' voice but then refuse to actually have the character identify himself by name when the time comes?
Giovanni: "I am the Viridian Gym Leader. Who are you?"
Gary: "I'm Gary Oak, the best Pokémon Trainer in Pallet."
The English dub won't get around to actually saying Giovanni's name out loud until Mewtwo Strikes Back in a line that is ironically not in the Japanese version.
Also, I think this is the second or third time Gary's referred to Pallet Town as simply "Pallet" in this episode and it sounds kind of weird to me. I know they're probably omitting the word "Town" because of mouth flap considerations but it's still kind of odd.
After the first match:
Gary: "Looks like your Kingler'll do in a pinch, but it's not strong enough to tackle my Arcanine. [kisses PokéBall] Arcanine, I choose you!"That "pinch" pun isn't in the Japanese version. Also, Shigeru refers to his Windie as "my honey" (ぼくのハニー), telling us that Windie is one of his favorites and is also maybe a girl. Dub fans don't get any of that.
Gary's about to defeat Giovanni's Kingler:
Gary's Cheerleaders: "Gary, Gary, he's the best! He's the one who'll beat the rest!"
Gary: "That's true. And I don't wanna disappoint you. Sometimes I wonder why I was cursed with this talent. Well, time to wrap this one up. Arcanine! Fire Blast attack!"
Here, Shigeru thanks his "beautiful girlfriends" (美しいガールフレンドたち) and then says that he can't keep them waiting any longer and so he should get around to finishing the battle now.
After Mewtwo's reveal:
Giovanni: "Now, as I was saying, my friend, I'd like to test out this Pokémon of mine in battle. And go ahead, use more than one Pokémon if you're afraid to lose."
Gary: "I'm not afraid of anything!"
Giovanni: "Well, let's get started."
Sakaki doesn't really goad Shigeru on as much as Giovanni does to Gary. Instead, he tells him that play time is over and invites Shigeru to bring out all his pokemon at once.
The "let's use the eyecatch Pokémon from next week's episode" trend continues!
The English version doesn't have Next Episode Previews like the Japanese version does but I guess this is the next best thing?
Jessie, James, and Meowth present Togepi to the Boss:
Giovanni: "What...exactly does this Pokémon do?"
Jessie: "Um...uh...what does this thing do?"
James: "Uh, well..."
Meowth: "Good question."
Jessie: "Well, it would certainly make a handsome paperweight."
In la versione japonaise Musashi starts to tell Sakaki that Togepi has this really powerful technique that can make people feel good but is cut off by Sakaki's yelling before she gets a chance to finish.
Giovanni's not happy:
Giovanni: "You fools! You search for months and bring me this thing? You're total incompetents"
Sakaki wonders what they've been doing all this time; he doesn't say anything about the Rocket trio "searching for months."
The phone rings:
Giovanni: "What is it? What!? When!? [hangs up the phone] There's been an accident I have to go I'm leaving the three of you in charge of the gym."
There was no "accident" in the Japanese version; Sakaki says "it can't be!", hangs up the phone, and then leaves the Rocket trio in charge of the gym.
This episode marks the very first time that music from any of the theatrical movies is ever used in the TV series. In this episode, Track 3 from the movie's soundtrack, "Powerful Mewtwo" (強者ミュウツー), plays while the plugs in Mewtwo's armor are being pulled out. It's a really cool and creepy piece and is yet another great way the TV series connects with the movie.
The equivalent would have been if 4Kids had used music from their score of Mewtwo Strikes Back and used it here but they didn't do that; the company just used its stock TV background music and calls it a day.
4Kids, by the way, would go on to keep music from the Japanese version of Mewtwo Strikes Back when it's used in future episodes even though they replaced all of it in the actual movie itself. I don't know why either.
The search for Togepi continues:
Misty: "Listen, you, if anything happens to Togepi I'll never forgive you."
Brock: "Misty, that won't help Togepi."
Misty: "Well it makes me feel better."
Takeshi tries to keep the peace but is only greeted with a harsh "Takeshi, just shut up" for his efforts. Poor guy.
Ash runs into the gym and finds his rival on the floor:
Gary: "It's here."
Ash: "What happened? What's here?"
Gary: "A Pokémon that we've never seen...did this. There's something different about this one. This Pokémon's not just powerful...it's evil."
Ash: "Evil? There can't be an evil Pokémon."
I don't think it will surprise you to learn that this whole "evil" subplot, something that's dropped as quickly as it's brought up, is not in the Japanese version at all. Instead, Shigeru tells Satoshi that this unknown pokemon has incredible strength and that none of his pokemon could do a thing against it. Satoshi repeats the "couldn't do a thing against it?" back at his rival before trailing off.
Or maybe 4Kids is trying to establish Mewtwo as evil early on since their version of the character actually is evil, what with his desire to take over the world and also create a storm that will kill everyone and all that? It's just too bad that this contradicts a 4Kids line from earlier in the previous season:
The Rocket trio arrive on the scene:
Satoshi says "Musashi!" and Takeshi says "Kojirou!" instead.
Jessie: "To protect the world from devastation."
James: "To unite all peoples within our nation."
Jessie: "To denounce the evils of truth and love."
James: "To extend our reach to the stars above."
Ash: "It's them!"
Our heroes find out that the Viridian Gym is controlled by Team Rocket:
Misty: "You mean this gym is controlled by Team Rocket?"Musashi, Kojirou, and Nyarth have no idea either, but the way they express this is a little different. When Satoshi asks what the Rocket-Dan's big plans are, Kojirou responds with a modified version of their motto: "When you ask us what those big plans are...what are they again?" Musashi tries to cover for him by saying that in any case, their plans are huge.
Brock: "Why would they want a gym?"
Jessie: "Oh, you little dweebs couldn't understand the complex plans of an organization like Team Rocket."
Ash: "Yeah? Try us."
James: "They're for us to know and for you to find out. What are they?"
Jessie: "Huh? Those plans are classified information."
Meowth: "She don't know 'em either."
Same basic idea, but slightly different execution.
I would just like to say that I am slightly surprised that 4Kids didn't bother to repaint the green Trainer's Box blue to match how the games released in the U.S. were Red and Blue, not Red and Green like they were in Japan.
4Kids won't change any of the Trainers' Boxes from green to blue during the Pokémon League episodes, either.
I guess they thought no one would notice?
So there's this long period during the battle between Musashi and Satoshi in which there's no background music playing whatsoever. From the time Musashi throws her first Monster Ball until Satoshi receives his first Trainer Box shock (so about 38 seconds), all we hear are the voice actors and the sound effects. It's kind of a cool way to make this part of the battle stand out.
The dub, of course, has their background music droning on in the background constantly, making this battle seem like every other fight in the series.
Right before calling out Pidgeotto:
Ash: "I won't give up. I've come too far to quit now. I trust my Pokémon. We can do it!"
Gary: "Maybe...he can."
Gary's sudden confidence in Ash seems a bit abrupt, doesn't it? "Give up!" "No, I believe in my Pokémon!" "OK, don't give up then."
Originally Shigeru merely says Satoshi's name.
Right after Giovanni's Pokémon run away:
Jessie: "Follow...the leader."Yeah, I don't fucking know either.
Originally Musashi says "you idiot" (アン ポン タン), presumably to Kojirou / Nyarth for rigging her side of the ring with the electric shocks as well.
Finally, Gary praises Ash:
Gary: "Huh. I hate to admit it, but that kid's a pretty good Trainer. But still...nobody's ever gonna be able to beat the Pokémon that I saw."Shigeru originally says that Satoshi, who was the fourth one to leave Masara Town, really gave it his all. The "fourth one to leave Masara Town" part isn't there at all.
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