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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Orange Islands
Japanese Episode 083: "Tropical Pokemon and the GS Ball"
American Episode 229: "Pokéball Peril"
Pokemon Dare Da? Nyorozo (Japan), Lapras (English)
Dr. Ookido's Pokémon Course: Eleboo
Japanese Air Date: February 11th, 1999
American Air Date: January 15th, 2000
Important Characters: Minami (Charity), Tsunami (Hope), Konami (Faith)
Satoshi and his friends are on Daidai Island they head for Dr.
Uchikido's laboratory. When they find the laboratory they're shocked to
see that the professor's a beautiful woman..!? She leads our heroes
inside her lab where she explains that the Monster Ball that Dr. Ookido
had sent them there to get, the gold and silver colored "GS Ball," is a
mysterious item that cannot be transferred or broken into. She hands
the GS Ball over to Satoshi and asks him to deliver it to the Ookido
Laboratory. Later, Dr. Uchikido decides to show the young Trainers
around the island. Takeshi shows off his Pokémon Breeder skills
by helping feed a wild Butterfree and then, later, shows off his
housekeeping skills by cleaning the professor's house. Dr. Uchikido,
meanwhile, shows off how much she cares for Pokémon by shielding
a Ratta from a startled Rafflesia's Stun Spore attack. It seems like
both Takeshi and Dr. Uchikido are getting along really well...? The
next day, Satoshi and Kasumi prepare to leave for Masara Town when they
hear some shocking news; Takeshi has decided to stay behind as Dr.
Uchikido's assistant! His friends respect his decision and bid him
farewell. Later, they board a blimp headed for the Kanto Region,
unaware that this one is also being run by the Rocket trio! Purin has
also snuck aboard and sings, putting everyone to sleep and leaving no
one awake to fly the blimp. Will our heroes be OK? To be continued!
I'll talk more
about Takeshi's departure later on in this comparison but I want to use
this space to talk about how wild it is that this could have been Takeshi's
grand departure from the show. I haven't seen anything that suggests
that the show's staff would have seen Takeshi's departure in this
episode as a temporary one and so
this right here could have maybe been his big exit from the show! "I'm
going to stay
with this woman I just met yesterday." "OK, sure, bye." The end! There
wasn't any sense of sadness, we didn't get any tearful montage
sequence, or anything! Like, the Rocket trio's Nyarth
got a better farewell in that Orange Islands episode where he's
worshipped as a god, and he didn't even leave the show then!
I'm really glad
Takeshi did get to come back and eventually get a proper farewell
because if this had been it then...well, it would have been really
The GS Ball is
also introduced here, and as of this episode I'm pretty OK with it. I
don't want to get too much into its ultimate fate here (I'll save that
when I get to that particular Johto comparison, in the year 2046 or so)
but I do
want to say that I think this episode does a pretty good job of setting
everything up. The mystery behind what could be
inside (it just has to be a
new Gold & Silver
Pokémon, fans back then wondered), the background that explains why
it can't be transported like any other Monster Ball, the fact that this
item is more or
less the catalyst for everything else that happens throughout the rest
of this series; all the setup this episode's doing is absolutely
fantastic. Now whether or not it actually
sticks the landing? That's a topic for another day.
The other thing I
remember about this episode, something that's stuck with me for a few
decades at this point, is that part toward the end of the first half
where Takeshi's like
"Pokémon care about the way food tastes you guys." And everyone's like "ah, of course!" as if he just made
some incredible observation about life instead of stating the most
obvious thing ever. That scene's just always felt weird to me.
The English dub
is fairly average, as far as the 4Kids dub goes. Lots of baffling
rewrites, of course, but there are also lots of parts that are
surprisingly well done. Professor Ivy's
assistants (Hope, Charity, and Faith, apparently) have these really
cartoon voices that sound just godawful
but we'll never have to hear them
again after this
episode so I guess it's not that big a deal.
Our heroes meet their first Orange Islands Joy:
Sekichiku City was localized as Fuchsia City in the video games so why go to the trouble of changing it to Saffron City here? It's not like Saffron City would take up any fewer mouthflaps or anything like that.
Also, sidebar: I do kind of wish the Orange Islands Joy had a more radically different design than what we ended up getting here. Their sleeves are a little more wavy and they have hibiscus flower patterns on their dresses now but other than that they don't look too different from their relatives back in Kanto. Best Wishes! would end up being the first time the Junsars and Joys got major re-designs but can you imagine if the staff on these Orange Islands episodes had been a little more ambitious? Maybe we could have seen more variety from Johto onwards!
Ash asks for directions:
Joy's dialogue doesn't last for the entire duration of the pan shot in the Japanese version so I'm guessing 4Kids added all those extra little details there to avoid there being even a single second where someone isn't talking.
Ash and his
friends meet Professor Ivy:
That little acknowledgment that Satoshi's having obedience issues with his Fire-Type starter is, as you can see, a dub-only rewrite.
Our heroes get their first look at the GS Ball:
So this is kind of a big change! There's so very little we know about the GS Ball as it is and so it's quite disappointing to see the dub remove the one piece of background we get on the item -- even if it is something as vague and useless as "the professor just came across it one day" -- for no reason whatsoever.
Ash and his friends learn the alphabet:
The Japanese version is written for an audience for whom Roman letters are not the default writing system and so the whole vibe in the original is that "it kind of" "looks like" the letters G and S. That same approach would be a little awkward to bring over as-is for the English dub so Professor Ivy speaks with a little more authority on the markings than Dr. Uchikido does.
Professor Ivy hands over the GS Ball:
This is a nice moment in the Japanese version where Dr. Uchikido actually acknowledges that these kids came all the way out to her island to do this little errand for her, something the English dub doesn't really do at all.
The professors geek out at each other:
...this is actually fairly decent? Like, 4Kids usually rewrites the hell out of anything they think sounds too science-y so the fact that they left this little conversation more or less completely intact (with only a few tiny tweaks here and there) is actually kind of amazing.
After Ash hangs up the phone:
Aw, and 4Kids was doing so good! Why randomly change this line here...?
Team Rocket looks at the wreckage of the blimp accident:
James has a line about how they should've bought flight insurance which, according to the English dub, it already has...? I mean, I guess in the dub canon James would have no reason to know that, but still.
After Jessie violently bludgeons her teammates with a wrench:
4Kids: The guy who constantly digs holes and builds giant robots just doesn't do manual labor, OK?
I wanted to bring up this line from Jessie:
"Have you forgotten that the twerp and his friends are supposed to make a round trip?" is a perfectly fine translation of the original Japanese dialogue (よいことっ、ジャリボーイたちは往復のチケットだっ たのよ), so no worries there. But here's the thing: the only other time it's ever mentioned that Ash and his friends have round-trip tickets is in the English dub! Let me remind you of this rewrite from "A Scare in the Air."
So while Jessie's line in this episode is consistent with what was said in the previous episode -- our heroes have round-trip tickets from Kanto to the Orange Islands -- Musashi's line is not. This is the first time we're hearing about a round-trip ticket in the original.
This is super weird, right? Did 4Kids pick up on this and decide to add the "round-trip tickets" line to the previous episode to help cover for this little inconsistency? Because if they did, then bravo, but also that's suspiciously out-of-character for a company that thought Ash's Charmander was going to be a one-off character. So I'm not sure how to explain this.
The professor shows our heroes around her laboratory:
The "breed" part of "We breed and study so many of them" is a rewrite of 4Kids.
Professor Ivy explains Alola Orange Islands regional Forms:
There are lots of little differences here; a mention of the island's location in reference to the Kanto Region is omitted from the dub, Dr. Uchikido clearly states her research theme while Professor Ivy is more vague, 4Kids adds the whole "breeding" thing to her backstory again (I guess to give her a stronger connection to the kid she's about to make her indentured servant?), etc. Alone these things wouldn't be much but put them all together and you have a back and forth that's quite different.
Brock teaches a bunch of humans with medical school degrees that food should taste good:
The comparison to humans that Takeshi brings up is a neat comparison between humans and Pokémon that gets completely removed from the English dub for some reason.
I'm also not a huge fan of Brock's final "only from experience!" line there because it kind of comes across to me as Brock saying he has more experience than these women do...? Or is that just me?
I'm always one to rag on 4Kids for picking random Pokémon for their eyecatches but this time around I have to give it to them. I mean, when did a Nyorozo even appear in this episode? I had to look back again to find it.
This is basically it!
Why didn't the Japanese version just use, oh I dunno, "Orange Islands Butterfree" or "Orange Islands Ratta" or literally any of the other special Pokémon who appear in this episode and this episode only? Why pick the most random Pokémon you could choose?
Lapras, on the other hand, is a Pokémon that will be featured prominently in the following week's episode so I understand 100% why 4Kids made the choice that they did.
As you can see, the comparison to Takeshi's own family is dub-only.
Ash and Misty get ready to leave:
So...I actually think Misty's line makes more sense here? I mean, I like the fact that she hasn't lost sight of what they came there to do in the first place, and it's perfectly in-character for her to be the one to remind everyone of this.
Plus, the Japanese version makes it seem like Kasumi only has a one track mind a bit too much for my taste, and it has her making a promise to come back that -- spoiler alert -- she absolutely breaks.
(It feels so weird being this positive about the 4Kids dub LOL)
Dr. Uchikido is much more sure of what she's saying than Professor Ivy is; there's none of this "it seems" business in the original.
talk about Brock:
was probably changed to piggy-back off Hope's line, which itself was
probably changed to avoid what could be conceived as sexist overtones.
The "you'll have
to ask the southern wind" is also another example of the Japanese
version telling us that the Orange Islands are in the South, something
the English dub doesn't want to make as obvious for some weird reason.
There are a lot of tiny differences here, but the main reason I bring up this exchange is because this last line of Takeshi's here is one of the more famous lines among Japanese fans. It's pretty iconic over here, actually!
Most people have heard some telephone game version of why Takeshi got the boot during the Orange Islands arc. I've noticed there are some misconceptions out there ("they were afraid Americans would see him as a racist stereotype" being chief among them) so I've decided that, instead of going through the various rumors and debunking them, one by one, I thought it'd be better to start off with a translation of what former head writer Mr. Takeshi Shudo had to say about the subject on his personal blog back in 2009:
"Oh what, so Japan just assumed Americans are all racist, is that it?" And I meeeeeaaaannn............
Look. It's a hard pill to swallow, I know, but maybe they sorta-kinda had a point...? Whitewashing in Western media is still very much a thing. And in the late 1990s you could probably count on one hand the number of American TV shows and movies that featured Asians in anything even close to resembling a leading role. Asians weren't getting cast as leading actors; they were getting cast as nerdy sidekicks, or wise martial artists who impart wisdom to the film's (white) main characters, or femme fatales. Things are getting better, little by little, but we've still got a ways to go.
Making things worse is the fact that even when there is an artform released in the West that heavily features Asians -- say, Japanese animation -- a not insignificant number of viewers perform any number of mental gymnastics to explain away any of the casts' non-whiteness. I've seen the conversation play out a million times over the years. If you ever get into it with these people (not something I recommend, by the way) their argument always, without fail, boils down to the fact that Japanese animators just don't draw Asian people the same way Western animators do. To them, Sailor Moon is a blonde white girl. To them, Goku being played by a white Canadian in that awful live action movie was no big deal because it's not like the characters in Dragon Ball even look Asian to begin with. To them, Scarlett Johansson as Major Kusanagi works because she's just a cyborg, right? And to them, Ash Ketchum from Pokémon certainly looks like a white boy.
But Brock, though. Brock actually does look very similar to the way Western animators draw Japanese people. And, well, it seems that Japan saw that as a potential issue.
So Japan has this idea that Americans don't want "Japanese-looking" characters showing up in every single episode. What's their solution?
It was actually pretty terrible, if you ask me. They remove Takeshi from the show now, a good year and a half after the series has already started, in a move that is very much a case of too little, too late. Audiences will still have over 80 episodes with the smaller eyed kid to wade through before they'd even get to meet his more "Western-friendly" replacement. So what was the plan, exactly? Was 4Kids supposed to just skip all of Kanto and jump straight into the Orange Islands? Were kids in the U.S. expected to just absolutely hate one of the show's main characters for its first year and a half or so? Did they think TV networks in the West were going to be like "Oh yeah, the show's ratings were absolute shit for those first 81 episodes but things really turned around once we got rid of that one Asian looking kid"? Spend even two seconds thinking about it and the whole thing falls apart fairly quickly.
Thankfully, the old Japanese men Mr. Shudo talks about were dead wrong about how Westerners would react to Takeshi. They realized they screwed up and so, in an episode that would have gone into production while Kids' WB! was still in the middle of debuting their first 52-episode season -- well before Western audiences would ever get to meet "Tracey Sketchit," in other words -- Takeshi was brought back to the show. And the rest is history.
A Brock-less Ash and Misty walk back to the airport:
4Kids loves, loves, loves
to rearrange dialogue whenever the characters are too far away in the
background to be able to see the movement of their mouths properly.
Ash and Misty come across Team Rocket's new blimp:
The blimp doesn't get
a name in the English version, unfortunately.
I'm going to skip all
the dialogue with the Rocket trio teasing Satoshi and Kasumi being a
couple because the 4Kids dub is surprisingly accurate with their
dialogue choices there. They could have rewritten those scenes, or
punched some parts up, or shoehorn in an extra joke or two, or any of
the other tricks they apply over and over again and yet this time they
decided to just...translate the dialogue accurately. If only the rest
of the show was dubbed that well!
The final dialogue
edit of the episode appears shortly after the Rocket trio reminds our
heroes that electricity + gas = KABOOM:
Nyarth's death threat here
gets written out of the dub.
This page was last updated on November 30th, 2020
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