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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Orange Islands
"Go Help Laplace!"
Satoshi and Kasumi’s blimp lands safely on an island called Bontan
Island! The two pick themselves up from the wreckage and begin to walk
around a bit until they see a Laplace being assaulted by a trio of
delinquents on a beach. Satoshi is about to attack the bullies to get
them to stop when a Pokémon Watcher named Kenji walks by and
notices how weak the Laplace is. Pikachu uses Thunderbolt to quickly
take care of the delinquents so that Satoshi and the others can go
ahead and take Laplace to a nearby Pokémon Center. As our heroes
wait for Water-Type to recover Satoshi and his friends find out that
the Orange Islands has its very own Pokémon League, with Gym
Leaders and badges and everything! Satoshi calls Dr. Ookido and gets
permission to take a slight detour on his GS Ball delivery to go
compete in the Orange League. Kenji, meanwhile, sees this as a rare
chance to meet his idol Dr. Ookido and declares that he will join
Satoshi and Kasumi on their journey until they get back to Masara Town.
Later that day, the Rocket-Dan appears and kidnaps Laplace from the
Pokémon Center. After a fast-paced truck chase, Satoshi manages
to free the Laplace and eventually gain its trust. Now that Laplace is
safe and sound it decides to go with Satoshi, Kasumi, and Kenji around
the Orange Islands. Their first destination is the Natsukan Gym, the
site of the first Orange League Pokémon Gym.
But how do you pick a
single image to sum up "Go Help Laplace!"? I mean, look at what all
happens in this half hour of television:
We meet Kenji in this episode, and while he is a major part of this episode I'd argue that his impact on the series as a whole (and this episode in particular) is pretty minimum. He doesn't really affect much at the end of the day, does he? I'll go more into my thoughts about Kenji later, but is the kid who just shows up out of nowhere, with zero backstory, who then just up and decides to join our heroes on an island-hopping adventure, the most important part of the episode? I don't really think so.
The Orange League and the Southern Cross (more on that later) are also introduced in "Go Help Laplace!" This one's a bit more important because -- and spoiler alert for an episode that came out more than 20 years ago -- Satoshi ends up actually winning this whole thing this time around. But the fact that the league exists and a vague description of what it is, while important, isn't something that I feel really stands out about this episode in particular.
Satoshi getting Laplace is what I eventually chose to represent this episode. That's because everything that happens in it, from our heroes meeting Kenji to them finding out about the Orange League, only happens because this Laplace got the crap beaten out of it by a bunch of hoodlums on a beach. Plus, without Laplace our heroes have no way of doing all the island hopping they'll be doing the next half a year or so. The "Satoshi gets a Pokémon by befriending it" thing is something that's become a sort of trope at this point (Kasumi even pokes fun at this at the end of the episode) but the way it's presented here doesn't make it feel too derivative of the other times it's been done before.
The English dub casts Ted
Lewis as Tracey and it's alright, I guess. After playing villains up
until this point (James for the early part of Season 1 and Giovanni in
every episode up until now)
it's kind of nice he gets a chance to play a good guy for a
change. Script-wise, this episode's weird in that the first half is
basically just one rewrite after the other while the second half is
comparatively much more faithful. Perhaps two writers worked on this
episode, with the one who worked on the first half taking a more
laissez-faire approach to script writing and the one who worked on the
second half being a bit more faithful? Unfortunately the show's credits
don't bother to tell us who wrote any given episode and so all we can
do is blindly speculate.
Ash's Lapras keeps its
Japanese voice which is great because we'll be seeing a lot of it in
the next 30 episodes or so.
Rodger Parsons, who I hope is getting paid by the word here, delivers the opening narration:
So right off the bat we get this change, where the English version narration is soooooooooo much wordier than its Japanese counterpart. There are certain 4Kids writers who seem afraid to let a single second go without having somebody saying something and so they create a bunch of filler dialogue to make sure a single second doesn't go by without someone rambling on about something.
Ash and Misty wonder where all the people are:
4Kids brings in Misty's fear of real world animals, something that isn't brought up in the Japanese version.
The English dub gives Ash a callback to the whole "eating bugs" thing later in the episode; that time, the Japanese dialogue is "You see? It wasn't a deserted island after all" (よかったな、無人島じゃなくてさ).
Tangelo Island tourists gather around Ash:
Usually the dialogue in crowd scenes like this is pretty much just throwaway fluff but in this case the dub brings up something interesting that the Japanese version doesn't; is the existence of Togepy supposed to be common knowledge at this point? I mean, if random tourist dude in a pre-Johto region is able to identify a Togepi within seconds then that must mean it's supposed to be common enough for people to know about by now, right?
So when our heroes are brought to a theme park and there's this big sign that says "Pokemon Park," one would reasonably expect that this is what it's called, right?
Well this isn't the case in the Japanese version! While the sign that says "Pokemon Park" is indeed there in the Japanese version as well (no 4Kids digital paint here!), both the hulu girls and the announcer on the PA refer to the park as Yasei Pokemon no Mori (野生ポケモンの森), or "Wild Pokemon Forest." I'm not sure why there's this weird disconnect between what the sign says and what the dialogue states but the dub decided to change it so that everything's more consistent.
The PA announcement welcomes us to Tangelo Island:
First and foremost, the dub gives us another gender swap! For the second time in two episodes, a female announcer's voice in the Japanese version is changed to a male announcer's voice for the English dub.
Secondly, "the world's first Pokémon theme park?" Um...
Ash and Misty confront the delinquents:
The green-haired delinquent implies that Lapras is their Pokémon when no such claim is made in the original. The English dub also glosses over the perfectly translatable "we're not your average delinquents" joke, for some reason.
Also, "our big Pokémon battle (singular) against the Orange Crew" sure doesn't really make sense with what we'll eventually come to find out about the group, now does it?
Let's talk about Kenji.
So as I alluded to in the previous comparison, Takeshi was given the boot because the staff behind the show thought Americans wouldn't accept a show where one of the main characters looks so Asian-y the way Takeshi does. So, they replaced him with a kid with larger eyes.
This character model sheet -- taken from The Memorial Book of Orange Islands -- is dated August 27th, 1998. That's about a little over a week before the Pokémon anime would even make its North American debut, meaning the show's producers weren't even going to wait for the show to come out in the U.S. to get fans' feedback. They had already decided that Westerners weren't going to like Satoshi's friend with the almond-shaped eyes and so Kenji was brought in.
I personally think Kenji, as a character, is perfectly fine. He likes drawing and ordering random Trainers to just sit there and listen to his critiques on their Pokémon? And he idolizes Dr. Ookido? Um, alright, that's fine. Honestly, the most interesting thing about the character to me is the fact he's voiced by Tomokazu Seki (関智一), the actor who provides the voices of characters like Toji Suzuhara in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Touya Kinomoto in Card Captor Sakura, Van Fanel in The Vision of Escaflowne, and who would go on to voice characters like Rob Lucci in One Piece and Whisper in Yokai Watch.
At the same time, I do kind of really hate what it is that Kenji represents. Because when I look at this dorky little sketch artist, I see Japan trying really hard to change itself for somebody else. I see the negative effects of the show becoming so mainstream, especially abroad. I see an animation company going from making a really great piece of Japanese animation to a vanilla product that's constantly in a state of fear, always worrying that what they're doing at any moment is "too Japanese."
People absolutely hate it whenever I use the word "whitewash" to describe what happened to this show once it became an international success but it's honestly not a bad way to summarize what happened during the Orange Islands arc. The animators' native language is forbidden from appearing in the show, and the one person in the cast with "Asian-y eyes" gets replaced with a character that makes it easier for Americans to project their whiteness upon. Episodes about Japan-only holidays will no longer be produced, and Japanese food will all but disappear from the show altogether. Violence against Pokémon will be toned down (notice how, for example, the delinquents beating up Lapras all happened off-screen?), and violence against humans will all but disappear as well. Do you like to see the Rocket trio cross dressing? Sorry, but in a few years that'll be gone too thanks to complaints from the West.
I like Kenji and the Orange Islands and the overall story of this arc but I also hate it, on principle, for representing all the changes I see it bringing about. The show will continue to thrive for decades to come, of course, but I can't help but wonder how things would have turned out if the show didn't take the weird turn it's taking with this arc.
Kenji has a catch phrase in the Japanese version, kansatsu sasete itadakimasu (観察させてもらいます), or "let me get a closer look!" He basically says it every single time he starts observing some Pokémon and/or or takes out his sketchbook. It's like Dawn's "No need to worry!" or Cilan's "It's ___ time!" and shows up just as often.
4Kids doesn't seem to like translating traveling companions' catchphrases for some reason (Haruka's kamo won't get localized either, for example) and so they just kind of ignore it. The phrase will get a fresh translation each and every time it's used; in this episode alone we get "This should only take a second," "I just want to make a quick sketch," "Wow, a Jigglypuff! I have to sketch this," "A Meowth that can talk human language! Haah!" and "And I'll be with him to help out, too."
Tracy makes some guesses about Lapras:
So how old is Satoshi's Laplace? Well, according to the Japanese version it's still a kodomo, a word that can include babies and infants but can also include children much older than that. Laplace could be six years old and still be a kodomo, probably. The English dub, meanwhile, has decided that Ash's Lapras was definitely only just born.
And how did that Lapras come to be on the island, anyway?
"Pass by this island every year" is a random 4Kids rewrite.
Speaking of random 4Kids rewrites, here's Nurse Joy explaining what Pokémon Watchers are!
The dub states that Pokémon Watchers "travel the world" but that's not in the Japanese script. Joy simply states that Pokémon Watchers "travel around," without the "the world" part. She also doesn't say anything about Pokémon Watchers searching for undiscovered Pokémon, for what that's worth.
Team Rocket's up to something:
Ugh, this is going to be one of those "everything Team Rocket says is a 4Kids rewrite" type of episodes, isn't it?
Let's talk about the "Orange Crew" for a moment because the way 4Kids handles the naming of the group kind of messes up a bunch of the lore the Japanese version had set up for this arc.
First thing's first: Tracey's explanation of the "Orange Crew" -- you have to beat all the Gym Leaders to compete in the Orange League -- is all translated accurately. So no worries there.
But then there's the name of the group. The quartet of Gym Leaders that the English dub refers to as "the Orange Crew" is known as the "Southern Cross" (サザンクロス) in the Japanese version. This name presumably comes from the real world Southern Cross, a constellation visible from the southern hemisphere that's used more or less the same way the North Star is for those of us north of the equator. The constellation is featured on a number of countries' national flags (Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, etc.) and has been referenced in songs and literature repeatedly over the last few centuries or so.
The Orange Islands are a "southern" country (a tidbit the dub keeps avoiding, for some reason) and there are the same number of Gym Leaders as there are points on the cross and so referring to the group as the "Southern Cross" makes sense.
But it goes even further than that. Let's take a close look at the Orange League poster:
So, just to get this out of the way -- 4Kids did not put a drop of digital paint on this poster. The episode features a poster with the words ORANGE LEAGUE written out in English, even in Japan. There's a large golden colored cross in the middle (again, no digital paint here!) while the league's four badges shoot off in four directions.
Now let's talk about the Orange League's four Gym Leaders. In the Japanese version, each Gym Leader introduces themselves as "the ____ star of the Southern Cross," with ____ being one of the four cardinal directions. The 4Kids dub decides to completely rewrite each and every introductions so all of this is probably new information for those of you who have to rely on the dub. Those directions, as you'll see below, all correspond to their badges' positions on the poster.
From Episode 085, "The Orange League! Natsukan Gym!"
From Episode 093, "Navel Gym! The Battle of the Snowy Mountain!"
From Episode 103, "Yuzu Gym! A Three on Three Type Battle!"
From Episode 108, "Tag Battle! The Final Gym!"
Again, the English dub rewrites every single one of these introductions to remove any references to the Gym Leaders' positions on the Southern Cross.
I don't know why 4Kids made a change like this. The reason that instantly pops into my brain is the idea that evangelical Christian parents would be upset by a kids' show using the word "cross" a bunch of times, but then we've seen crosses before ("The Ghost of Maiden's Peak") and we'll see them again later on ("Wherefore Art Thou, Pokémon?") so I don't think that's it...?
No one's being crucified here like they sorta-kinda were at the end of XY&Z, either; it's literally just the show saying the name of a constellation that all our friends on the southern end of our planet would recognize.
At the end of the day the name change is not that a big deal, I guess, but it is a shame that the English dub removes this interesting little piece of lore for seemingly no reason whatsoever.
Our heroes contact Professor Oak:
As you can see, Takeshi doesn't get a shout-out in the English dub at all.
Tracey is starstruck:
Here, Satoshi reveals that he lives in the same town as Dr. Ookido, something that Ash doesn't bother telling Tracey. Kenji's final line here got rewritten as well to make Professor Oak one of the greatest experts in the world instead of just popular among a certain group of Trainers.
Tracey decides to travel with our heroes:
The whole "get him to look at all the documents I've gathered" thing nicely foreshadows what Kenji will actually get to do about 30 episodes from now so it's kind of a shame the English dub decides to gloss over this tidbit here.
The eyecatch differences continue:
The dub already used Lapras last week so I guess instead of using a Pokémon we'll see next week (Seadra? Blastoise?) they decided to go with a random Fire-Type we'll only see in the background nineteen weeks from now. Makes perfect sense!
We actually go a few scenes without any real rewrites, believe it or not! There's some horribly unfitting replacement music during the scene of Satoshi swimming around in the pool, so that sucks, but script-wise the second half of the episode is surprisingly decent.
The next noteworthy dialogue change occurs after Team Rocket's motto:
Kenji's mic test involves him saying honjitsu wa seiten nari, honjitsu wa seiten nari (本日は晴天なり、本日は晴天なり), a phrase used when testing microphones or other wireless applications in Japan. I chose "It's fine today" as a translation but really any phrase used during mic tests will work here.
Musashi's final line has her commenting on how Wocchaa (ウォッチャー), or "(Pokémon) Watcher," sounds like uuronn-cha (ウーロン茶), or "Oolong tea." Both are foreign words, as far as Japanese speakers are concerned, so she's making a joke on how similar the two sound. The English dub comes up with a "watching us steal this Lapras" joke instead, which is actually a pretty clever localization.
Team Rocket makes its getaway:
So this time around the Rocket trio just wants Laplace so they can sell it for a high price, but 4Kids changed it to have them trying to steal it for their Boss instead.
Ash is safe after all:
"Huh" is right! The Japanese dialogue is a perfectly nice little nod at the trope of Satoshi getting a lot of his Pokémon by saving their lives first. But the dub decided to replace that with..."He likes to dream," and I've gotta be honest I have no idea what 4Kids is going for there. What are they trying to go for here?
The narrator takes us out:
The Japanese version of the Orange Islands arc tells us where we're going next but the dub has other plans, apparently!
This page was last updated on December 31st, 2020
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