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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region

Japanese Episode 075
Episode Stats:

Japanese Episode 075:  "The Curtain Rises on the Pokemon League! The Water Field!"
American Episode 221:  "Round One -- Begin!"
Pokemon Dare Da?  Azumao (Japanese), Nidoran (English)
Dr. Orchid's Pokemon Course:  Pokemon League Special
Japanese Air Date:  December 17th, 1998
American Air Date:  October 30th, 1999
Important Characters:  Kohmu (The Astounding Mandi)

Now that the opening ceremonies have wrapped up, Satoshi heads over to the Representative Village to register for the Pokemon League. As he does so, the young Trainer learns that the first four rounds of the Sekiei Pokemon League take place on elemental-themed battle fields and that every match from the fifth round onwards take place in the main Sekiei Stadium. Later, Dr. Orchid contacts Satoshi to ask if he wants him to send over any of the pokemon he's been keeping at his lab. Since his first match will be on the Water Field Satoshi asks to have his Crab sent over despite the fact that he's never used it in battle before. The league matches begin and before long it's Satoshi's turn to take the stage. His opponent, a juggler named Kohmu, sends out a Nassy and so Satoshi responds by sending out his Crab. The Water-Type surprises everyone by managing to endure Nassy's Psychic-Type attacks long enough to pull out a victory from behind and then evolving  into a Kingler! In the second match-up, Satoshi's Kingler uses a powerful Crab Hammer attack to make quick work of Kohmu's speedy Seadra. A desperate Kohmu sends out Golbat as his final pokemon. His Flying-Type seems to have the advantage since it can dart out of Kingler's reach but Satoshi gets around this by having his pokemon use Hyper Beam to attack its opponent from afar. With Kohmu's defeat, Satoshi has won his very first match in the Pokemon League! 

The Sekiei Pokemon League is finally here and it's off to a pretty decent start...until we get to its first full battle, anyway. Once we get to the match between Satoshi and Kohmu then things start to go downhill real fast.

But let's start with that first half, which I think is actually pretty great. I know there are some viewers who probably see Satoshi registering for the League, picking his battle field, and struggling with his team selection to be boring wastes of time but I for one eat this kind of thing up. If we had just rushed into the first battle after the end of the previous week's opening ceremonies then the pacing of the whole tournament would have felt off, you know? This little boy who left Masara Town with a cantankerous Pikachu has (somehow) managed to stumble his way into the big leagues now and I'm glad the show is giving us the time to kind of soak that in for a minute. Satoshi deciding to go with Crab is super dumb and the only reason he wins is because our hero was wearing his plot armor during his first match but everything leading up to the commercial break is great.

...And then we get to the actual first battle and holy crap you guys does the Satoshi vs. Kohmu battle suck. In the match between Nassy and Crab, everyone acts like the fact that Nassy can use Psychic-Type attacks makes it some kind of God-tier pokemon when all it really ends up doing is make a swimming pool go round and round a bit before being taken down by a crab kicking it in the face. Crab evolves into Kingler, because of course it does, and then faces off against a Seadra who's sent ricocheting into the air because it runs into some bubbles. Why does a seahorse charging into foam on the top of a swimming pool make it shoot several meters up into the air? Who the eff knows! In the final match, Kingler wins the day after Golbat stupidly flies in low enough for Kingler to just kind of hop up and snatch it before succumbing to the crab's Hyper Beam. Oh, and by the way during its battle Crab forgets all four of its moves the instant it evolves into Kingler and replaces them with four brand new, super strong attacks. The whole battle is a mess.

I suppose Satoshi bringing out a pokemon he's never used in battle before for his first Pokemon League match ever is meant to make us go "That Satoshi sure is unpredictable~!!" or "Wow, I never knew Crab was so strong!" but all it really does is make me roll my eyes and how bad the writing in this show can get. Kasumi and Takeshi were absolutely right to question his choice here but Satoshi ignores them anyway just so the show can present us a "surprising" come-from-behind victory.

But what's actually surprising here is that this episode was written by Atsuhiro Tomioka, a man who would go on to produce some of the best battles in this show's history. He wrote all all three episodes of the Satoshi vs. Shinji league match in Diamond & Pearl, for God's sake! I guess it's a testament to just how much Mr. Tomioka's been busting his ass all these years if he can go from the shitty Satoshi vs. Kohmu battle to one of the most well-liked League matches in the show's history. But still, though, what the hell.

Something Mr. Tomioka does do well is make Kohmu a fairly interesting character despite how little screentime he had. He's a juggler, of all things, and for some reason that makes him both super popular and also kind of a dick! He's also responsible for one of my favorite moments in the episode: right before he lets out his Golbat, there's this shot of him nervously opening and closing his right hand over and over and for some reason that really stands out to me. Kohmu also happens to be voiced by Hikaru Midorikawa, a voice actor you'll probably recognize as Butta and Artificial Human 16 in Dragon Ball Z, Heero Yui from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, and Zelgadis Greywords in Slayers. This isn't his first time in Pocket Monsters (that'd be when he played Daisuke way back in Episode 011) but it's nice to see such a prolific voice actor return to the show after only about a year's absence.

So here's a story from Dogasu's real life that I think you might enjoy: when I saw the dub of this episode when it first premiered on Kids' WB! back in the day I remember being perplexed at why the English dub decided to give Ash's male opponent a girl's name like "Mandi" instead of something that I felt (at the time) to be more gender appropriate. Back then the only "Mandi's" I had ever heard of were all women! It wasn't until many years later that I learned that it's sometimes (well, rarely) used as a boy's name and so in a way I guess the 4Kids dub taught me something.

Kingler keeps its Japanese voice.

Dialogue Edit
The script for "Round One -- Begin!" is absolutely awful. There are so many rewrites and mistranslations throughout the episode that I actually wondered if 4Kids was ever given a copy of the Japanese script to work off of or if they just made it up as they want along. There are a lot of tiny things that I'm going to skip over - Brock's flirting, the Rocket trio's reactions to Jenny,
Brock's explanation of the differences between each Jenny, etc. - because if I didn't this comparison would end up being 100 pages long.

The narrator starts things off:

Narrator:  "With Team Rocket defeated and the central flame burning brightly atop Indigo Stadium, Trainers from around the world are now ready to compete in the Pokémon League competition."

The Ishizuka Unshou narrator doesn't say anything about Trainers coming "from around the world"; he instead tells us that this festival for those Trainers who have collected eight badges or more is about to begin (バッジを8コ以上を集めた強者たちの祭典が今始まる).

The "Competitors' Village" (選手村), which was referred to as Pokémon League Village in the previous episode, is now being called Pokémon Village. 4Kids of course had no reason to know that the name would be used again in a video game that would come out nearly twenty years later but it is weird that they'd go and change it after only one episode.

Ash finds out who his first opponent is:

Receptionist:  "Now the system will select your opponent."
  "Huh...I guess that's the guy I'm gonna beat."

Receptionist:  "His name's Mandi. You're the third match. Be there by 1:00...and good luck."

The receptionist in the Japanese version doesn't tell Satoshi his opponent's name; she instead confirms that he'll be battling in the Water Field (水のフィールド、第3試合ね). The time she tells him is different as well; originally she tells him that the match begins at 2:00 (試合開始は2時よ). I guess you can argue that this isn't really a real change per se and that the dub receptionist is simply telling him to be there an hour early but none of that ambiguity is there in the Japanese version.

Next up is a scene that I think most of you assumed was a bit off even without a Dogasu's Backpack comparison to point it out:

Jessie:  "Please, tell our viewers all about your rare and valuable Pokémon!"
Trainer:  "My Pokémon are winners. I've got a Dodrio, a Raticate, and a Venomoth."

Now this is the image we see when the Trainer says "Raticate":

Morphon da!

The Pokémon he has are the same in the Japanese version (it's kind of messed up that I have to bother to point that out, well, because...) and the order he lists them out isn't changed either. The problem is that the Trainer in the English version takes so long to spit out the first two Pokémon names that by the time the Venomoth's shown in the background he's still only on Raticate. Could this gaffe that undoubtedly confused fans all over the world have been fixed if the Trainer's lines were rewritten (I dunno, maybe something like "Sure, I've got a Dodrio, a Raticate, and...a Venomoth!")? Sure!

Jessie's unimpressed:

Jessie:  "Oh great. A three-headed bird, an overgrown rat, and Bugzilla."

What's a bird? What's a rat? What's Godzilla? Jessie, you do realize you're in a show called Pokémon, correct?

Originally Musashi says that the only rare thing here is the person who's so proud of having something as pathetic as a Morphon (モルフォン?そんなもん自慢するあんたのほうがよっぽど珍しいわよ!).

Next, we get introduced to the Astounding Mandi. We're first shown this shot:

Which later gets Meowth to say this:

James:  "I like that guy's style."
Meowth:  "I like those Pidgeotto."

Ignoring the fact that those are Pidgey and not Pidgeotto for a second, didn't Musashi just go off on a Trainer for being so proud of a Venomoth literally ten seconds ago?

In the Japanese version Kojirou states that Kohmu is even more showy than they are (あいつ、俺たちより派手だな) while Nyarth wonders if he's a professional entertainer (あれ芸人じゃニャすが).

Side Note
I'm actually fairly shocked that the 4Kids dub kept the name of the Rocket trio's news station, Lovely Charming Network (well, OK, in the original it's "Lovely Charmy," but whatever, close enough).

Lovely Charmy Network

It's like, oh look, the Japanese Rocket trio are sneaking their way into the dub, that's kind of neat! Dub-only fans won't get the reference at all since that part of the Team Rocket motto got rewritten but I think it's kind of cool that 4Kids left it in anyway.

Dialogue Edit
The Rocket trio introduce themselves to Mandi:

Jessie:  "I'm Jessie and I came up with the name. I felt it captured the essence...of me. Aha~!"
Mandi:  "That may be, but Mandi the Astounding only appears on networks that have viewers."

Musashi doesn't take credit for coming up with the name in the original; she instead just introduces herself (あたし美人看板レポータのム・サ・シで~す!). Kohmu then responds by saying that he only appears on TV shows that are shown nationwide (悪いけど全国区の番組意外の取材はお断りしてるんだ).

Next up is a conversation between Ash and Gary and oh look the whole thing got rewritten again.

Japanese Version
English Dub
Shigeru:  "I saw that you're going to be on the Water Field."
Gary:  "So, you're on the Water Field first."
Satoshi:  "Yeah. How about you?"
Ash:  "Yeah. How about you?"
Shigeru:  "I am under no obligation to answer that. Well, since it's not me you're up against then that's lucky for you."
Gary:  "I'm battling on the Ice Field first. Well, I really hope you win your first battle, Ashy-boy. I would feel just terrible if you lost."
Satoshi:  "Lucky for me?"
Ash:  "Yeah...why is that?"
Shigeru:  "That's right. If I was your opponent then that'd be just as good as promising that you'd lose, wouldn't it?"
Gary:  "Ha! 'Cause I want the pleasure of beating you myself. Then you'll see what a real Pokémon Master looks like."
Satoshi:  "Who and when did anyone promise that?"
Ash:  "Gee, I thought I had confidence."
Shigeru:  "Oh, I'd better get going. It's almost time for my match...well, I'm off. Do your best...to not be an embarrassment to Masara Town. Hahahahahaha!"
Gary:  "Hey, it's getting late. Time for my first victory. Well, looks like I gotta run, Ashy-boy. I think Pallet Town deserves at least one Trainer who's not a total embarrassment. Ahahahahaha~!"

Ugh, pretty much every interaction between these two during the Indigo Pokémon League get rewritten like this.

By the way, Shigeru's "I am under no obligation to answer that" (キミに答える義理はないね) is one of the more well-known quotes among Japanese fans. Of course in the English dub Gary just tells him right away because why the hell not.

Professor Oak contacts Ash:

Professor Oak:  "In fact, Gary just traded two of his Pokémon to get ready for his first battle."
Ash:  "Hey! Krabby'd be perfect for a water battle!"

Dr. Orchid doesn't tell Satoshi how many pokemon Shigeru traded to prepare for his first battle the way Oak does; he just says that he traded some pokemon for his match (先シゲルが1回戦用にポケモンを交換していたじゃが) without mentioning how many. Ash's line is a rewrite as well; originally Satoshi says "Crab! Oh yeah! I almost forgot about you!" (クラブ!そうか、お前がいたんだっけ).

Ash's mom talks to her son:

Delia:  "Ash, just remember to brush your teeth, go to bed early, and make sure to wear clean you-know-what everyday."

Ms. Ketchum's tendency to bring up her son's underwear without any provocation whatsoever isn't even the tiniest bit creepy! Nope! Not at all!

Originally Hanako tells her son to be careful not to get too worn down (夜は早く寝て、体を壊さないように気を付けるのよ).

Mandi decides not to shake Ash's hand:

Japanese Version
English Dub
Satoshi:  "...and with this I shouldn't have any problems on the Water Field or anywhere else."
Ash:  "Haha. With Squirtle and Krabby, this match should be pretty easy. Huh?"
Kohmu:  "My opponent in the first round is you, huh? Satoshi-kun from Masara Town. I'm Kohmu the juggler."
Mandi:  "You must mean easy for me. I am the Astounding Mandi. I am your opponent."
Satoshi:  "Yeah. Let's have a good match."
Ash:  "I'm Ash. It's very nice to meet you."
Kohmu:  "Sorry...I have a principle that I don't use the right hand I use for Monster Balls toward people."
Mandi:  "Eh...I'm sorry. My hands are for Pokéballs, not for people."
Kasumi:  "What's your problem? He just wants to with you a good match."
Misty:  "Hrm...it wouldn't hurt to shake before your Pokémon match."
Togepi:  "Togepi~i" Togepi:  "Togepi~i"
Kohmu:  "I can already see the results now. If the match is decided too quickly then it'll be a let down for the audience. Well, do your best."
Mandi:  "That's an unfortunate word. I'm afraid your eager little friend...will be no match for me. Lovely meeting you"

The changes here aren't as major as the conversations between Satoshi and Shigeru tend to be but as you can see the original didn't have all these "match" puns the way the dub does.

Brock and Misty tell Ash about the importance of planning ahead:

Brock:  "Well, it's still your decision."
Misty:  "We just want you to win, Ash."

Originally, Takeshi says "well, you still have plenty of time" (まあ、時間はまだまだあるから), a reference to the 2 o'clock start time the receptionist gave them earlier. This line is the reason why the camera in this scene is positioned the way it is in order to draw attention to the clock in the foreground; his match starts at 2:00 but it looks like it's still only about 11:20 or so.

Plenty of time

Kasumi adds that Satoshi should really think carefully about his pokemon choice (よく考えてみてね).

Gary gets interviewed on TV:

Reporter:  "We're here live, on the Ice Field, where Gary Oak has just scored an impressive victory. Gary, how are you feeling about your first win?"
Gary:  "Well naturally, winning your first battle is always important. Of course, in every Pok
émon match there has to be a winner and there has to be a loser. And the Trainers I know are real losers."

Shigeru doesn't goad Satoshi here; instead, he says that he's happy to have won his first match and that it pretty much went according to plan (大事な一試合目ですから、勝てて嬉しいです。もっとも戦いは僕の作戦通りの展開でしたけどね) and that him winning this match has him feeling relieved (まあこれで一安心です).

Also, the announcer simply identifies Shigeru as "Shigeru-kun from Masara Town" (マサラタウンのシゲルくん); she doesn't reveal that Gary is related to the famous Professor Oak here.

Some interesting choices this time around:


On the Japanese side we get Azumao, a pokemon who appears in the blink-and-you'll miss it second round. On the English dub side we get a male Nidoran, a Pokémon who won't appear again until the Orange Islands.

Dialogue Edit
Speaking of that second round:

Announcer:  "Right now on the Water Field the second battle's about to begin."

The Japanese announcer tells us that the match is about to end, not begin (ここ、水のフィールドの第二試合もいよいよ大詰め). Which is super obvious if you look at the scoreboard being shown on the screen right as the announcer's saying this:

The beginning of the match...?

Ash is nervous:

Japanese Version
English Dub
Kasumi:  "What are you so nervous about?"
Misty:  "Ash, you're shaking."
Satoshi:  "This is just me shaking because I'm so excited!"
Ash:  "That's not me, that's the stadium shaking."
Takeshi:  "W-we...we're not n-nervous."
Brock:  "Speaking of shaking, I could go for a chocolate shake."
Kasumi:  (let's out a sigh)
Misty:  "Then go."

Is that chocolate shake...let's call it a joke? something that this show's target audience actually enjoys? Is 4Kids' lame attempt at humor here doin' it for anybody?

Cut - 3 seconds / Added Footage - 3 seconds
Right after the scene where Satoshi walks out onto the stadium there's this three second shot of the scoreboard that gets cut from the dub.

Pockemon League

Instead, the dub freezes the next scene for three seconds to make up for the lost footage.

My guess is that the English dub didn't think it'd be worth the edit to bother changing the word "Pockemon" to "Pokémon" or to fix the rather Engrish-y "Battle of Water Field" and so they decided that'd it'd be easier to just cut the whole thing instead.

Side Note

I'm kind of surprised that the dub kept the two Trainers' boxes as Red and Green considering how the games released in the U.S. were called Red & Blue instead. I mean they didn't do it for "The Battle of the Badge" so this is just a continuation of that but on the other hand the English language text here makes the "waitaminute, why is it not Red and Blue?" disconnect much more obvious.


They could have tried to recolor the box from green to blue in every shot it appears in and also change the text from GREEN to BLUE but that would have been a whole lot of work for nothing. It's nice to see common sense prevail.

Dialogue Edit
Exeggutor starts throwing eggs around:

Announcer:  "Wow, Exeggutor is putting on quite a show. It looks like the fourth of July down there."

It might shock you to learn that the Japanese version just said "fireworks" instead of referencing America's independence from Great Britain.

After Mandi calls out Golbat:

Brock:  "Misty, this is the worst thing that could happen to Ash now. Kingler is really weak against air attacks."

Wait, what? Since when?

Originally Takeshi states that Satoshi was too focused on battling in the water and that Kingler is at a disadvantage against attacks from above (水のフィールドに気をとらえすぎたんだ。空からの攻撃は、キングラーには不利だ). There's a major difference between the two; being "at a disadvantage" is very different from being "really weak against."

After Ash wins the battle, there's a shot of the people in Pallett Town cheering. Originally Dr. Orchid cheers that "He did it! He did it! He really won!" (オォーやったやった!サトシのやつ、やりおった!) but for some reason the dub doesn't have Stan Hart record any lines for this and so Oak's just kind of moving his mouth without any sound coming out.

Brock checks his Trainer's Book:

Brock:  "It says here that winning Trainers should conduct themselves with dignity and restraint."

Takeshi’s guidebook, on the other hand, tells him that Satoshi's match is the day after tomorrow and so he should have plenty of time to get ready (サトシ、第二回戦はあさってだぞ。それまで十分…).

Side Note
So the "Dr. Orchid's Pokemon Course" segments at the end of each episode are usually light fluff that's easy to ignore - Orchid introduces a pokemon, it attacks him, and then he recites a senryuu he made up that uses the pokemon's name in some punny fashion - but from this episode until the end of the league he starts talking about the Sekiei Pokemon League instead. It's a neat little recap of what's happened so far and so I'd like to translate what he says .

Dr. Orchid:  "Hey there, boys and girls. The time has finally come for the curtain to rise on the Pokemon League Sekiei Conference. I'll be using this time for a special course to help you better understand the league. So let's get started with the first lesson. As you boys and girls out there already know, you have to battle against Gym Leaders and their pokemon and collect at least eight badges as proof of your victory in order to participate in the Pokemon League. There are gyms in more than ten cities and Trainers are free to challenge whichever gyms they choose. There are also things like Pokemon Seminars and Pokemon League Certification Examinations one can undertake to become specially qualified to enter the League. And that's why there really will be a lot of different types of Trainers gathered at the conference."

And here are the clips they decided to use:

It's nice to see so the show remember that the Pokemon Seminar and the Pokemon Certification Examination exist! The "gyms in more than ten cities" part is also a great little throwback to how Trainers like Shigeru and Saizo have all these weird non-game badges. We fans tend to give the show a hard time for not being super great at remembering its past but things like this segment shows that somebody, somewhere is paying attention.

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