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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region
Japanese Episode 069: "Pokemon the Movie!"
American Episode 215: "Lights, Camera, Quacktion!"
Pokemon Dare Da? Pukurin (Japanese), Snorlax (English)
Dr. Orchid's Pokemon Lecture: Kongpang
Japanese Air Date: November 5th, 1998
American Air Date: October 8th, 1999
Important Characters: Katsuko (Katrina), Heat Minamino (Cleavon Schpielbunk)
Satoshi and his friends hike to a nearby camp one day to train for the Pokemon League. When they arrive, Satoshi runs into a Raichu Trainer named Katsuko and decides to battle her. The battle between his Pikachu and her Raichu is soon interrupted, however, when a movie director named Heat Minamino jumps in to ask if they would be willing to let their pokemon star in the new film he's working on. Kasumi, Takeshi, and the Rocket trio are allowed to try out as well. Auditions are held in which the pokemon show off their ability to dance, sing, and interact with the Pukurin who's been cast in the starring role. In the end Mr. Minamino decides that, much to everyone's surprise, Kasumi's Koduck will be the movie's co-star! The Rocket trio's Arbok and Matadogas get bummed out at not being chosen so their Trainers decide to get revenge. Filming begins but is soon interrupted when the Rocket trio appears and scoops up most of the cast with a giant crane! Luckily, Kasumi's Koduck is somehow able to avoid capture and is also so confused by what's going on that it's able to give itself the headache it needs to activate its incredible psychic powers! The Rocket-Dan is sent blasting off, enabling production of the movie to continue. Once filming wraps up, Satoshi and his friends look back at the great day they just had but also wonder if they'll ever get started on training for the Pokemon League...
This is the fourth adventure Satoshi's been on since Dr. Orchid told him when the Pokemon League is going to be held and at this point I think it's become pretty clear that we're never going to actually see Satoshi train for the darn thing. And so since this training arc isn't really much of a training arc at all why not have a fun adventure involving our heroes making a movie instead? After all, Mewtwo Strikes Back's already had its big theatrical debut so now's as good a time as any to do an episode like this, you know?
I really like "Pokemon The Movie." Everyone's pokemon got a chance to shine and the character interactions in this were all top notch. Who doesn't love seeing our heroes compete against each other to have their pokemon star in the movie while also still being friendly with one another? Or Musashi and Kojirou cheering up their depressed pokemon? Add in Heat Minamino, the movie director with the kind of eccentric personality I complained was missing from the previous episode, as well as some really great animation from Izumi Shimura and you have yourself an instant classic.
Even the things in this episode I'm less enthusiastic about end up not being that big a deal. For example, I don't really care for Katsuko as she's kind of a nothing character but she's not terrible either so I guess I don't mind her hanging around. The other thing I have in my notes about this episode is concern about this show relying on Koduck's psychic powers too much to wrap up an episode. The "just give Koduck a headache and have it OP the Rocket trio away" trope was used just three episodes ago and I'm starting to get worried that it's going to become too much of a crutch for the writers from here on out. Don't have an ending for the episode? Let's just have Koduck psychic attack it away and call it a day! I mean, it's fine now and doesn't bring down this particular episode but it's still something I worry about.
My biggest takeaway from this episode, however, isn't about the movie or the characters who appear in it but instead how non-cavalier the Pocket Monsters world is in its depiction of interspecies relationships. Now in the real world, a movie depicting a romance between two different species of animals (say, a balloon with rabbit ears and a duck) would be described as obscene, as pornography, as an attack on traditional values. And, assuming the film didn't get shut down during production and was actually released, it would get slapped with that country's harshest film rating and would go on to be boycott, banned, and possibly destroyed. In the Pocket Monsters world, however, you're apparently allowed to show literally any two pokemon onscreen together without raising any eyebrows whatsoever. In hindsight it's no surprising considering this is the same franchise that would go on to birth the "Hot Skitty on Wailord" meme but I find it interesting how, in our very heteronormative society, interspecies romances are allowed to be a thing in both the video games and the TV show without anyone raising an eyebrow. How did all those hysterical 90s parents miss that?
So you know that rumor about how the people who worked on Samurai Pizza Cats didn't have access to competently translated versions of the Japanese scripts and so they had no choice but to just make up dialogue for the characters to say based on their interpretations of the animation? Now I'm not saying that's what happened with this episode of Pokémon but when you can't go 30 seconds without a complete and total (and also pointless) rewrite you start to wonder what's going on. Like, how in the world did we go from "The Pi-Kahuna" to this shitfest of an episode? Why is this one so, so much worse?
Type: Wild replaces Nyarth no Uta as the ending theme.
The opening narration:
Narrator: "While hiking to their next adventure, our young heroes find a picture perfect spot to set up camp. Now Ash can finally begin training for the Pokémon League."
The narrator in the original makes it clear that Satoshi and his friends have come to this lakeside camp specifically to train for the Pokemon League (ポケモンリーグを控え自主トレのために湖のほとりにあるキャンプ場にやって来たサトシたちであった). The dub changes it so that this campsite is somewhere they just happen to be passing through on their journey instead.
It wouldn't be a 4Kids episode without a weird food edit!
There are two things going on here.
One, Takeshi's making curry, not chili. I mean, look at the background in the image to the left below; it's clearly curry and rice! And it's not like curry is some strange or exotic food that you can't find in the U.S. so what's the deal?
The original Japanese version of this scene is no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination but the English dub is just embarrassingly bad.
Team Rocket appears:
It's weird...4Kids usually loves adding fourth wall breaking dialogue when there wasn't any in the Japanese version and yet here it is, handed to them on a silver platter and they're all like "No thank you!"
Katrina fights back:
Katrina: "Raichie, Thunderbolt Attack!"
Katsuko's Raichu's nickname in the Japanese version is Rai-chan (ライちゃん).
Let's talk about the movie director in this episode, Heat Minamino (ヒート南野).
Heat Minamino seems to be a combination of two real world people. The first is Beat Takeshi (ビートたけし), an actor turned director who's probably most well known to Western audiences from the Battle Royale films as well as the 2017 live-action Ghost in the Shell movie. The Pocket Monsters people took the bi (ビ) in Biito (ビート), or "Beat," and swapped it out with a hi (ヒ) to create Hiito (ヒート), or "Heat." His family name, Minamino (南野), comes from taking Beat Takeshi's real name, Takeshi Kitano (北野武), and swapping out the kita (北), or "north," with minami (南), or "south."
His looks, on the other hand, seem to be based on his voice actor Kobuhei Hayashiya (林家こぶ 平). Mr. Hayashiya is primarily known for his work with rakugo (落語) but has also dabbled in being a television personality, voice actor, and university professor over the years. He also happens to be the oldest son of Sanpei Hayashiya (林家 三平), the rakugo performer who would later serve as the inspiration for the pokemon Sonansu.
I don't think I have to spend too much time going over the origin of his dub name, Cleavon Schpielbunk, so instead I'll just add that I had no idea "Cleavon" was even a real name until I Googled it just now. So I guess 4Kids taught me something I didn't know...?
Cleavon Schpielbunk introduces himself:
Overall, you can see that the English version differs from the regular Team Rocket motto much more than it does in the Japanese version, which merely swaps out single words for others. The real thing to pay attention to with this, however, is the final part.
The first thing you'll probably notice is how the dub has Cleavon Schpielbunk say he won the "Golden Growlithe" award while standing in front of what is clearly a statue of an Arcanine. Over in Japan, meanwhile, not only do they not make this embarrassing mistake but they also bring back Binnes, the Cannes-based city showcased in "When Yadon Becomes Yadoran" and "The Legend of the Surfing Pikachu." 4Kids really should have called it the Seafoam Film Festival for consistency's sake but I guess they thought "Flea Collar Film Festival" was too goddamn hilarious to pass up on or something.
By the way, the "Golden Windie," as it were, seems to be a reference to the Golden Lion award given out at the Venice Film Festival. Beat Takeshi won it in 1997 for his film Hanabi.
The "Redd & Whyte Song Battle" (赤白歌合戦) Mr. Minamino mentions at the end is a reference to the NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen (NHK紅白歌合戦), or the "NHK Red & White Song Battle." It's a massive singing competition shown every New Year's Eve and is considered by many to be the biggest TV event of the year. Now I'm not entirely sure why Mr. Minamino, a movie director, is making a reference to a singing competition here but regardless of whatever the reason was the English dub changed it to more generic movie terms instead.
Brock's a movie fan:
So the film Brock mentions is clearly a parody of I Know What You Did Last Summer, a 1997 slasher film featuring the biggest stars of the 90s being stalked by a killer for their involvement in a fatal car accident. It's exactly the wacky sort of reference you'd expect from an animated program on the Kids' WB! television network!
It also doesn't resemble the animation that goes along with it in this episode of Pokémon even a little bit. Is this woman supposed to be Jennifer Love Hewitt? Is that guy Ryan Phillippe?
The 30 minutes I spent on Google don't reveal an inspiration for the film in the Japanese version, There's Nothing I Like More Than Breakfast (三度の飯より朝ご飯が好き), so it's possible it's just a title the writers thought would be funny.
Either way, Katsuko's actually seen the director's film while Katrina hasn't.
Team Rocket give some backstories:
So yeah, those backstories aren't in the original at all.
Our heroes meet Wigglytuff:
Brock: "With a Double Slap attack that strong Wigglytuff could be a superstar. I'd be careful not to step on any of Wigglytuff's lines."
Originally Takeshi praises Pukurin by saying "I'd expect nothing less from an idol starring on TV and commercials. It's Double Slap also has a different flair to it." (さすがドラマやCMで大活躍中のアイドルだ。往復ビンタもひと味違うな), indicating that Pukurin is already a superstar in the Japanese version. In the English dub it's still and up-and-coming actress.
The song that plays during the first audition, the dancing contest, is Lucky Lucky (ラッキーラッキー) in the Japanese version. It's a song that debuted on the Rocket-Dan yo Eien ni CD single that was released back in December 1997 and features Miki Shinichiro singing a drunken karaoke song in-character as Kojirou. Lucky Lucky is well known for being filled with pokemon puns.
It's not the first song I'd choose for the dance competition stage of an audition but I guess the show's sound editor thought now was as good a time as any to take out this unused piece of music.
The English version replaces this with Pokémon (dance mix), a "song" that seems to be just someone shouting the word Pokémon over and over into a microphone over the course of three minutes.
The entire premise of the third phase of the audition gets rewritten:
The dub decides to change the third part of the audition, taking a two-shot with Pukurin to see how the potential co-star looks together with Pukurin, into yet another singing competition. You know, despite the fact that we just had a singing competition in the previous scene. The desire to take a good picture is also why Arbok and Matadogas have hearts in their eyes in the following shot; they're trying to look as good for the camera as they can.
Our heroes weigh in on the Rocket Pokémon's losses:
In the Japanese version the dialogue makes it clear that the very next shot, in which all the other pokemon quietly back away from Pukurin, is due to them seeing how the Rocket pokemon were just treated and not wanting the same thing to happen to them. The same thing is present in the dub, sorta-kinda, but the dialogue 4Kids comes up with could have made this a little more clear.
What does 4Kids give us in the eyecatch as a sort of Next Episode Preview for "Go West, Young Meowth"?
A Snorlax...? Shouldn't that be a Meowth instead?
Cleavon Schpielbunk talks about his movie:
Brock: "Mr. Schpielbunk, how would you describe this movie in one word?"
Brock: "Well, OK."
Originally Takeshi asks Heat Minamino what kind of movie he's filming without any of that "one word to describe this movie" thing the dub decided to add in. Heat's creepy "Do you really wanna know?" (知りたい？) reaction (which the dub changes to "brilliant") then causes Takeshi to reluctantly ask him to continue.
Team Rocket's Pokémon are depressed:
Meowth: "They had their hearts set on stardom. But the movies chewed 'em up and spit 'em out like yesterday's popcorn."
Originally Nyarth is directly translating for the duo here, saying "The two of them were really confidence about their looks but after being slapped around by Pukurin both their bodies and their hearts have been torn to pieces" (”顔には結構自身があったのにプクリンに振られて身も心もズタズタ”だってニャ).
In the Japanese version we can see the show slyly acknowledge that they have to skip the overwhelming majority of the actual movie making in order to fit everything into a 30 minute episode by having Satoshi point this out, only to have his comment completely ignored. The dub goes a different route.
Ash and his friends help with some low budget special effects:
Cleavon: "Now! Cue the thunderstorm!"
In the Japanese version the two order their pokemon to use Thunder, not Thundershock.
Our heroes try to squeeze in some camera time:
There's some information missing from the English version (Satoshi's age, Kasumi's "tomboyish mermaid" reference) as well as some flat-out rewrites (Takeshi's line) but the general vibe of the scenes are more or less the same in both versions.
Psyduck deux ex machinas the Rocket trio away:
The dub decides to add some more movie references (because the ten million already in this episode weren't enough) while the Japanese version was much more simple.
(Also, would a kid today recognize Meowth's "two paws down" line as a reference to Siskel and Ebert's At the Movies TV show? In 1999 this would have been recognizable, sure, but what about today? And how was that line handled internationally?)
Plans for the next film are made:
In the dub Misty suggests that Brock would be a great choice for the next film which is something I feel is kind of an out of character thing for Kasumi to say.
The episode's closing narration:
Narrator: "And so Ash and his friends have learned that making movies can be lots of fun and lots of hard work. And speaking of hard work, Ash needs to start some hard work of his own. The Pokémon League is just a few weeks away. He's gotta get moving!"
Not that the English narrator is wrong or anything, but I would like to point out that the narrator doesn't indicate how much time is left until the start of the Pokemon League in the Japanese version.
The Rocket trio gets the last edit of the episode:
When 4Kids isn't given any mouthflaps to worry about complete and total rewrites like this happen.
This page was last updated on October 11th, 2017
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