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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Orange Islands
087: "The Crystal Iwark"
A message in a
bottle asking about something called a “Crystal Iwark” prompts Satoshi
and his friends to make Ponkan Island their next stop. They soon meet
Masami, the letter’s young author, and learn that her older brother
Isao is looking for an Iwark said to be made entirely out of crystal to
help him get out of the creative rut he’s been in with his glass-making
lately. This Crystal Iwark is said to be hidden somewhere on the island
but nobody knows where it is and so our heroes decide to help look for
it. Kenji’s Maril, a rare Pokémon with an incredible sense of
hearing, uses its unique abilities to lead everyone to a shore where a
second island can be seen across the sea. But how can they get across?
Suddenly, the waters part to the side, revealing a hidden path to the
other island! Satoshi and his friends deal with a quick distraction by
the Rocket-Dan before entering the cave and coming face-to-face with
the Crystal Iwark. Isao weakens the Pokémon in battle in order
to get it – first with his Parshen, then with his Lizardo – but
eventually decides that just seeing the majestic Pokémon has
been enough to give him the inspiration needed to pull himself out of
his rut. Our heroes leave Iwark behind and return to town where the
glass-maker begins to work with a renewed fervor. Now that Masami’s
prayers have been answered our heroes leave Ponkan Island for their
So what is the "Crystal Iwark," anyway?
We don't really have much to go off of. It's an Iwark made
entirely out of rock crystal who's also strong against Water
but weak against Fire...and that's pretty much all we get!
Yet Pokémon fans seem to have latched onto it regardless. I
guess part of the appeal is the visual -- the light blue coloration
good on the original Iwark design -- that makes it familiar yet juuuuust
different enough to make it stand out. But also, people
want what they can't have, and a special Iwark you can't get in any of
the video games (to this day!) is just too intriguing to ignore. Over
the years fans
have gone on to hack the Pokémon into the main series games,
merchandise, and imagine other
Pokémon with the crystal motif, all based on this single
filler episode. I can't think of many other episodes that have inspired
The only real problem I
have with the Crystal Iwark, as a concept, is that somehow people
aren't storming Ponkan Island to try to get this presumably
one-of-a-kind Pokémon. The Crystal Iwark's
existence isn't exactly a secret; the residents of Ponkan
bring it up in casual conversation all the time, with absolutely zero
regard for who might be within earshot. So why isn't the island overrun
Pokémon Hunters and the like? Or, at the very least, the
Rocket-Dan? You would think that, after being defeated by
this ultra rare Pokémon, Musashi, Kojirou, and Nyarth would just
hang out for a day or
two -- long enough for Satoshi and his friends to leave the island,
probably -- and then call up their Boss to tell them what the hell just
"Hey, we found this Iwark made entirely out of crystal, and we know
exactly where it is. When are you sending a team our way?"
While on the topic of Gen 2 Pokémon, I'm kind of surprised the show never ended up giving Satoshi one of those new-fangled Johto creatures while he was in the Orange Islands. Both Kasumi and Kenji get to walk around with promotions for the upcoming Gold & Silver video games for quite a while (Kasumi's had hers for almost half the series at this point) while Satoshi's stuck with a team of nothing but Gen I Pokémon until the day he sets foot in the Johto Region. Isn't that odd? He won't get any Gen 3 Pokémon in Johto either, or Gen 4 Pokémon in Hoenn, or Gen 5 Pokémon in Sinnoh, and so on and so on. The writers seem to have decided that it'll be Satoshi's companions who get to advertise the next series of games but never Satoshi himself, and this episode here, at least in my mind, helps solidify that.
If there's one word to
describe the English version of this episode it'd be "inconsistent."
Look at the dialogue; we'll go whole minutes
without any significant
deviations from the Japanese script and then all of a sudden bam -- five dialogue edits, one
after the other. Voice-acting wise, Mateo
sounds perfectly fine but Marissa is a screechy mess and that one rival
is given a Joey Wheeler voice for literally no reason whatsoever.
were also kind of up and down, with the second half of the episode
faring much better than the first. It's both better and worse
than the episode that came before it, a criticism I'll end up having
for a lot of the dubbed episodes of this arc.
Maril doesn't get to
keep its Japanese voice,
which is odd because I think its Japanese cry could have worked for the
English dub. I
mean, if we can have the Crystal "Onix" going around saying
"Iwaaaaark!" all the time then surely we can have "Marill" going around
"Mari ruru," right? I know 4Kids made their choice back when they
dubbed Pikachu's Vacation the
year before and
are just sticking to their guns here but I really do wish they could
pulled a Victreebel again and restored its original voice.
The name of the island "The Crystal Iwark" takes place in is called Ponkan Island (ポンカン島). "Ponkan" comes from "ponkan orange," a citrus fruit that's kind of a mix between a mandarin and a pomelo. The English dub changes the island's name to Sunburst Island, after the tangerine of the same name.
Our heroes arrive on Sunburst Island:
As you can see from the side-by-side dialogue here, Sunburst Island is "world famous" while Ponkan Island is less so.
Inside the shop, Mateo talks about his grandfather:
"I tried my best to follow in his footsteps...and also, we're just standing in front of a grave, in our Sunday best, for no reason whatsoever. What's that? Who said anything about anyone dying? Not us, that's for sure!"
This seems like your typical 4Kids death cover-up, but this one is weird because later in the episode they'll go on to have Mateo say "For the rest of his life grandpa turned out one great sculpture after another." You don't typically say "for the rest of his life" about someone's who still alive, right? Dub-only fans can figure out he's dead either way so why dance around a reference to his death here?
Mateo sets up the plot of this week's episode:
Isao mentions that his goal is to find the crystal Pokémon, not catch it. He'll kind of contradict that later in the episode (more on that in the second half) so maybe 4Kids changed this line to make the first half of the episode a bit more consistent with the second half? Isao also mentions his grandfather still undergoing training when he came across the Crystal Iwark, something Mateo doesn't bother to mention.
After Mateo shows everyone the statue of the Crystal Onix his grandfather made:
I'm guessing Isao's second line got changed because of the word "god."
Tracey's Venonat tries to find the Crystal Onix:
This one's kind of interesting! In the Japanese version, Satoshi and Kasumi each get a line of dialogue here but in the English dub Ash delivers both lines while Misty just stands there silently.
This might seem like a random and pointless change until you look closely at the animation and notice that Ash's mouth is the only one that's actually moving! When Kasumi says her line in the Japanese version it's actually Satoshi's mouth that her voice is coming out of, not hers!
4Kids noticed this animation error and adjusted the dialogue so that we no longer have Misty's voice coming out of Ash's mouth.
Tracey addresses his Venonat:
Ouch Tracey, that seems a bit harsh!
After Tracey recalls his disappointment of a Venonat:
Satoshi's line is interesting to me -- he actually assumed his friend Kenji only had one Pokémon on him this whole time! I guess this means Kenji never bothered to introduce his Maril to his new traveling companions? That, despite the fact he's been on (at least) two whole other islands since he met Satoshi and Kasumi, running around with a Gym Leader and saving other Pokémon from a Rocket duo, that he never once turned to his friends and was like "hey, there's someone I'd like you to meet." Isn't that absolutely ridiculous? I mean, not a Kojirou's Muskippa level of ridiculous, but still...!
Tracey shows off the Pokémon he's been keeping trapped in a ball all this time:
Kasumi makes a great observation here -- you'd expect a Pokémon Watcher to carry around a wide variety of Pokémon to help him or her out in various situations -- but for some reason 4Kids removed that to have her talk about their teamwork instead.
The eyecatch Pokémon this week is the Crystal Iwark! Well, in Japan at least.
I get that the dub is trying to shake things up by showing the Pokémon that will be the star of the next episode and all but I do wish that they would have at least used the art of the pink Rhyhorn from the next episode's Japanese eyecatch instead of the same stock art that's used everywhere else.
Marill guides our heroes to the part of the island where the Crystal Onix is located:
If you think long pause we hear after Ash says his line feels off, then guess what...! That's would be because the English dub forgot (or decided not) to translate Isao's line here!
The path to the Crystal Onix's island opens up:
Isao mentions that today is a spring tide, indicating that our favorite glassmaker here keeps track of what the ocean's doing on any given day. Guess Mateo isn't as meteorologically inclined?
After the Team Rocket motto:
Why would Misty come up with a "make like a tree and leaf" joke here? Like, if they were in a forest and fell into a pitfall trap covered up by a bunch of leaves and twigs then yeah, that would make sense to me. But our heroes fell into a pitfall in the middle of a sandy beach. Why are "trees" or "leaves" any part of this? And why is James playing along?
The banter continues:
The Rockets' explanation about how they set the traps creates plot holes no matter what version you're watching. In English the Rocket trio ran ahead and set up a bunch of traps for our heroes in advance, which OK, makes sense until you remember they have absolutely no way of knowing where the Crystal Onix is supposed to be in the first place. But things aren't much better in the Japanese version; the trio followed after our heroes and got all their information after they did, but yet somehow were also able to set traps on a part of the island they've never been on before? Huh?
To be honest neither version really makes any sense to me.
Our heroes dig their way out:
I don't know about you, but I think the proper response to a young girl exclaiming "Yay, pretty shells!" isn't to be like "oh, we're probably all going to die out here by the way."
All the scenes inside the crystal cave have a key difference to them between the Japanese version and the English version; an echo effect.
The Japanese version has no special effect applied to the characters' voices whatsoever. All the dialogue inside the cave sounds as clear and unfiltered as the dialogue elsewhere on the island.
When it comes to the English dub, however, 4Kids apparently thought it would sound too unnatural for everyone to sound like they're in a recording booth while they're inside this massive cave and so they added an echo effect to the characters' dialogue. Interestingly, 4Kids only adds the effect to those elements that they themselves created; all the human characters and the Pokémon whose voices got dubbed over by 4Kids' voice talent get the effect applied to them, while the Pokémon whose voices were kept as-is from the Japanese version -- Iwark, Pikachu, Togepy, Utsubot, Arbok, Hitodeman -- do not. The sound effects, which are brought over from the Japanese version, are also left as-is.
I can't say I blame 4Kids here; it's a pretty innocuous change that makes a lot of sense. I do wish they had been able to apply the effect to all the voices and not just the ones recorded there in New York but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume there were some technical issues or something preventing them from doing so.
The Crystal Onix makes its big debut:
The same mouth flap error that happened in the first half of the episode strikes again! Originally we hear Satoshi's voice coming out of Isao's mouth, for some reason, and so the dub fixes this by giving Satoshi's line to Mateo instead.
Our heroes continue to gawk:
Aside from the usual rewrite of Kenji's catchphrase (this is the eighth time this has happened since his debut episode, by the way), we also get a rare instance of Pikachu's voice getting muted from the English dub, for some reason.
Mateo prepares to confront the rare Pokémon in front of him:
Earlier in the episode 4Kids rewrote a line about Isao wanting to find the Crystal Iwark to make him say that he wants to capture it, but then here they do the exact opposite! Originally Isao states very clearly that he wants to get the rare Pokémon while 4Kids changes that to have Mateo say he just wants to battle it.
Team Rocket arrives in the cave:
Other changes like this, where one character's line of dialogue is given to someone else, were obviously made to cover up animation mistakes from the original. But this time 4Kids' change isn't so noble; they simply wanted to shoehorn in a fourth wall breaking joke instead!
The fourth wall breaking continues:
The trio daydreams:
Out of all the rewrites here the final Kojirou change is the biggest one to me. Kojirou has this ridiculous dream of making a bath out of the Crystal Iwark and then is automatically like "actually, nope, scratch that, that's stupid." It's a rare bit of self reflection on his part and I absolutely love him for that.
Team Rocket blasts off:
It's very similar to the little "song" they made up in the airship episode not too long ago that 4Kids didn't bother to adapt back then, either, so the dub deciding not to do anything with it in this episode at least shows a desire to be consistent!
Charmeleon vs. Onix:
I've seen people online claim that Isao
his Pokémon to use Fire Spin -- hono'o no uzu in Japanese -- but no
matter how many times I listen to this part of the episode all I hear
is hono'o o utta -- "shoot
off a fire
Either way, we know that Isao did not
command his Pokémon to use Hinoko,
which is what "Ember" attack is known by in the Japanese version.
So what does 4Kids do this time? Well it's not as bad as the Metronome sequence in the previous episode but it's still noticeable. They add sound effects of a fire burning to the first and last shots of the scene, and then add this whooshing noise to the middle animation of Isao and the Crystal Iwark looking at each other in the eyes.
That probably doesn't sound like a lot, and at the end of the day it really isn't. But like...why bother in the first place? What would the harm have been to just keep the sequence as-is?
It's time to say goodbye:
The English dub ends this episode on a sad note by making a little girl believe she'll ever see these people again! How cruel!
Ash looks at his crystal Pikachu:
Another perfectly translatable line of
Kasumi dialogue gets rewritten for seemingly no reason at all!
This page was last updated on April 1st, 2021
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