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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Orange Islands

Japanese Episode 095

Episode Stats:

Japanese Episode 095:  "The Ghost Ship and the Ghost Pokémon!"
American Episode 241:  "A Shipful of Shivers"
Pokémon Dare Da?  Ghos
Dr. Ookido's Pokémon Course:  Shellder
Japanese Air Date:  May 6th, 1999
American Air Date:  March 25th, 2000
Important Places:  Sudachi Island (Moro Island)

The sun is about to set and so Satoshi and his friends head to Sudachi Island to rest. A quick check in with Dr. Ookido reveals that a museum on the island is currently displaying an Orange League championship trophy from 300 years ago but then when they go see it the next morning they learn it's been stolen...!? The trio soon discovers the Rocket-Dan were the ones who took it and so they chase them off the island and into the sea. Eventually the two groups stumble upon an old ghost ship and so, with nowhere else to go, all decide to climb aboard. The trophy is eventually retrieved by a Ghos and Ghost who, with the help of Nyarth's (unwilling) interpretations, tell our heroes about how it belonged to their former master and captain of the ship they're on. One day their ship got caught in a storm and sank to the bottom of the sea where, some time later, the trophy was plundered by humans wanting to put it in their museums. It has therefore been the Ghost-Type Pokémon's mission to retrieve this treasure; after all, that trophy serves as proof that their former master was once an Orange League Champion! Satoshi and his friends realize the significance of the trophy and, after a quick battle with the Rocket-Dan, relinquish it over to its rightful owners. The Ghost-Type Pokémon make their exit as Satoshi dreams of one day getting an Orange Island championship trophy of his own.

I imagine one of the perks of working on a TV original story arc like the Orange Islands is that you're given the freedom to take a deep dive into an aspect of the Pokémon World you probably wouldn't be allowed to explore otherwise. Pitching an episode where we meet a Pokémon League Champion from around 300 years ago would be pretty risky if this was one of the game-based regions -- what if the episode somehow contradicts something the games might do in the future? -- but since we're "just" in the Orange Islands then it's probably fine! Things are a little bit looser when it comes to this "filler arc" and so sure, why not take a look at the past of the region on which this show is currently set?

Unfortunately, the amazing setup this episode is given is kind of spoiled by its bad writing. For starters, Mr. Yukiyoshi Ohashi's script is this weird Frankenstein's monster of ideas we've already seen before, a collection of bits taken from various episodes that've been cobbled together into a shaky half hour of television. Togepy wandering off inside a rickety old ship (Episode 082, "The Miserable Dirigible!?"), Ghos and Ghost seeming to be all scary at first but turning out to be not that bad (Episode 023, "Get Pokemon at the Pokemon Tower!!"), Nyarth getting his mind controlled by another Pokémon so he can dump exposition on the audience (Episode 019,  "Menokurage and Dokukurage")...it's stuff we've all seen before. There's also a few points where the episode just straight up repeats information we've already been given before, like Satoshi "finding out" that he has to get four badges to enter the Orange League (wasn't that implied by both the Orange League poster as well as the existence of the Southern Cross??) and the part where he re-scans Ghos and Ghost even though they should already be registered in his Pokémon Bestiary from the last time he saw them. "The Ghost Ship and the Ghost Pokémon!" is a fascinating episode in that it has a really unique setup and yet somehow manages to leave the viewer with feelings of "been there, done that."

One thing in particular I find absolutely hilarious about this episode is how, as far as the Sudachi Island police and the museum and the residents of the island are concerned, The Mystery of the Missing Trophy never really gets resolved. We know what happens to it, of course, but as far as the inhabitants of this island are concerned this is going to end up an unsolved mystery. Do you think Satoshi and his friends ever went back to Sudachi Island, off-camera, to tell Junsar and everyone else what happened? "Hi, we found the priceless treasure you had on display here but we let the thieves who stole it get away and then we also handed the treasure over to a couple of ghosts on a haunted ship." Or! Do you think the kids just snuck away to their next adventure, not really being bothered that the people of Sudachi Island are left scratching their heads? It's such a massive, obvious plot hole that I can't help but be amused and the show's audacity for leaving it as-is.

The script for the English dub is uncharacteristically good this time around! There are some odd choices to be sure (why does the dub spoil the revelation that the captain was an Orange League champion as early as it does?) but for a 4Kids-era episode this one was actually fairly light on the rewrites. Unfortunately the episode makes up for its decent-ish script by messing around with the background music too much. The second half of the Japanese version of the episode, in particular, has very little music playing in the background and instead allows the silence to only be punctuated by the rather loud, rather ominous sound of the ghost ship creaking and moaning as it struggles to stay afloat. But the English dub's always-on background music drowns most of this out. The sounds of the ship can be heard in a few scenes, if you really listen for them, for the most part the sound design of the two versions are vastly different. I've said it before but I'll say it again, adding in "filler" music to scenes that didn't have any in the original is, to me, just as bad as swapping out one piece of music with another.

Dialogue Edit
As mentioned above, the script in this episode is uncharacteristically faithful to the source material. There are a lot of tiny little changes here and there (i.e. right before the title screen Ash says they should find a Pokémon Center on the island to stay at while Satoshi just says they should find a place to stay, without mentioning the details of where...y'know, small things like that) but most of it is fairly benign.

In the Japanese version the name of the island this episode takes place is Sudachi Island (スダチ島), named after the small green citrus fruit of the same name. It's changed to "Moro Island" for the dub even though, to me at least, "Moro" doesn't really sound any less "foreign" than "Sudachi" does *shrugs.*

Tracey reads from a newspaper:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ケンジ 「なになに?スダチ島近海にて沈没船からお宝発見⁉300年前のオレン ジリーグの優勝トロフィーか⁉」
Kenji:  "Let's see here...'Treasure found from sunken ship off Sudachi Island coast!? Possible 300 year old Orange League championship trophy'...!?"
Tracey:  "Treasure found. Divers have recovered what they claim is an Orange League championship trophy dating back over 300 years from a sunken ship off the coast of Moro Island."

As you can see, what Kenji is reading aloud sounds like a newspaper article headline while Tracey appears to be reading from the body of the article itself. There's also a very slight discrepancy between the numbers; Tracey says over 300 years while Kenji just says (exactly) 300 years.

Either way, I find it really charming that this show's depicting a child reading from a newspaper that an old man's holding up in front of a video camera for him. It's almost like this show predicted what it would be like to have a Zoom call with the elderly in the 2020s!

Professor Oak tells the kids where they can see this trophy:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
オーキド博士 「そしてそのトロフィーは今お前たちがいるスダチ島の博物館に 飾ってあるんじゃよ」
Dr. Ookido:  "And the trophy is on display at the museum on the very island you're on right now, Sudachi Island."
Professor Oak:  "You can see it if you'd like. They have the trophy on display at the Moro Island Museum of Art."

The word Dr. Ookido uses here to describe the museum where the trophy is being put on display is hakubutsukan (博物館), or simply "museum." If he had wanted to say "Museum of Art" like what the dub says then he probably would've used the term bijutsukan (美術館) instead.

Team Rocket sneaks into the museum at night:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「ニャんと昔のポケモンリーグの優勝トロフィーが引き上げられた ニャ。これを放ってく手はないニャ」
Nyarth:  "An old Pokémon League championship trophy was salvaged from the sea Nya. There's no way we can just leave it here Nya."
Meowth:  "Maybe we can find out from this museum guidebook where they're keeping that trophy. Meow meow meow~ meow meow~ ♪"

I guess 4Kids felt compelled to provide an explanation as to why Nyarth is reading from some random book with no title and no cover image and so they decided to have him refer to it as a museum guidebook.

Nyarth also moves his mouth a bunch more times after he finishes talking in the Japanese version and so 4Kids fills in those extra mouth flaps with him singing "Meow" a bunch of times to make the scene look a little less awkward.

James dreams about getting a trophy:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ムサシ 「こんなお宝めったにない!」
Musashi:  "You don't see a treasure like this everyday!"
Jessie:  "I can't wait to get my hands on it."
コジロウ 「それを持ってあのお宝鑑定団に出るんだよね。これでやっと俺もテレ ビに出られる~!嬉しいなー!」
Kojirou:  "And thanks to this we'll be sure to be on The Treasure Appraisal Team. This is my chance to finally make my TV debut~! I'm so excited~!"
James:  "And once we have that trophy, we'll all be big celebrities. Maybe I'll even get my own television series! Wouldn't that be exci-!"

The TV show Kojirou mentions here, Takara Kantei-Dan (宝鑑定団), which I've translated here as "The Treasure Appraisal Team," is a parody of the real world Japanese TV series Kaiun! Nandemo Kantei-Dan (開運!なんでも鑑定団), an Antiques Roadshow-type show where people take family heirlooms to experts to have them appraised on-air.

4Kids very easily could have come up with a similar play on words here (I dunno, "Heirloom Streetshow" or something equally ridiculous) but they decided to just not bother.

James is lowered down toward the trophy:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
コジロウ 「ゆっくり…ゆっくり…落とさないでよ」
Kojirou:  "Slowly, slowly. Please don't drop me.
James:  "Slowly, slowly. Please don't drop me."
ニャース 「心配しにゃいでも。落っこったら骨くらい拾ってやるニャ!」
Nyarth:  "Don't worry about it Nya. And if you fall then we'll at least bother to attend your funeral."
Meowth:  "Don't worry about that. Just make sure if you fall you don't fall and break the trophy."

I've chosen to translate Nyarth's hone kurai hirotteyaru (
骨くらい拾ってやる) as "we'll at least bother to attend your funeral," though a more literal translation of the phrase would be something more like "we'll a least attend your funeral and then also help out with the traditional Japanese ceremony where your family members will use chopsticks to pick out the bones from your cremated ashes."

This kind of dark humor is all a bit much for a Saturday morning kids' cartoon in the US and so 4Kids changed Nyarth's line to him worrying about James breaking the trophy instead. Which, to be perfectly fair, is actually pretty close to the original's sentiment of "we don't actually care what happens to you one way or the other."

After Kenji uses his kansatsu catch phrase for the episode (jikkuri kansatsu shitakatta becomes "Yeah, and I wanted to make some sketches") Ash and his friends stumble upon the Rocket trio:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
コ ジロウ 「寝た寝た。さすがに夜狩りの仕事するときついな」
Kojirou:  "Well I slept like a log! Pulling a night shift like that really takes it out of you."
James:  "I haven't celebrated like that since I lost my trust fund."
ムサシ 「間祝いでごちそう食べたらお腹はパンパン、瞼はタルンタルン~」
Musashi:  "After stuffing your face like we did it's only natural for our stomachs to get full and our eyelids to get heavy."
Jessie:  "We ate so much and stayed up so late I didn't think we'd come to for days."

James, why would you "celebrate" the loss of your trust fund? Wouldn't that be a catastrophic, life-altering financial event that would make celebrating the last thing you'd want to do?

The Rocket trio makes their getaway:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「あれで逃げるニャ!」
Nyarth:  "We'll use that boat to escape."
Meowth:  "Look, there's a boat we can swipe!"

This is never made clear in the episode itself but The Memorial Book of Orange Islands refers to the Seadra-shaped boat as the "Rocket-Dan's Pokémon-shaped handmade boat" (ロケット団のポケモン型手製ボートだ), implying that the boat they're using in this episode actually belonged to them in the first place. So I guess Meowth's assertion that they stole this boat is false? At the same time, though, the way Musashi and Kojirou act surprised to find out that this is the kind of boat you have to pedal makes it seem like this is the first time they're actually seeing it so it's hard to really know one way or the other.

Anyway, the point is 4Kids rewrote the line.

After the Rocket trio board the ship and James delivers a really cringy "S.S. Spookship" line, Ash and his friends hop aboard:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
サトシ 「うわぁ、なんだかたった今、海の底から引き揚げたって感じだぜ」
Satoshi:  "Yeesh, why do I get the feeling this ship we're on right now was raised from the bottom of the ocean not too long ago?"
Ash:  "This must be the ship they raised that had the Orange Island trophy on it."

No one else in this episode ever even implies that human researchers "raised the ship" to get the trophy inside so I have no idea what Ash is talking about here.

What's this!? The two Pokémon are actually the same for a change!?


So according to Bulbapedia the Japanese version and the English dub having the same eyecatch Pokémon won't happen again until Best Wishes! comes out ten years later (!!!) so I guess I'll be talking about these different eyecatch Pokémon for quite a while yet!

Dialogue Edit
Ash scans Gastly and Haunter again, for some reason.

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ポケモン図鑑 「ゴース、ガス状ポケモン。体がうすいガス状のものでできてい て、超次元の生命体だという説もある。」
Pokémon Bestiary:  "Ghos, the Gas Pokémon. Its body is composed of a thin gas-like material and there are some who propose that it's a multidimensional being."
Pokédex:  "Gastly, the Gas Pokémon. Some researchers believe this Pokémon is a multidimensional being."
ポケモン図鑑 「ゴースト、ガス状ポケモン。ゴースの進化系で『ゆめくい』や 『サイコキネシス』も覚えることができる」 Pokémon Bestiary:  "Ghost, the Gas Pokémon. As Ghos' evolved form it is able to learn attacks like 'Dream Eater' and 'Psychic'."
Pokédex:  "Haunter, the Gas Pokémon. After evolving from Gastly this Haunter can learn the Dream Eater and Psychic attacks."

The dub only translates the second half of Ghos' entry, for some reason.

Meowth is taken over by the two ghost Pokémon:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「こんばんは。俺たちはゴースとゴーストだ」
Nyarth:  "Good evening. We are Ghos and Ghost."
Meowth:  "Greetings. We are Gastly and Haunter."

The Japanese version has Nyarth greet our heroes using the phrase "good evening" despite the fact that the chase that brought them to that ship was explicitly stated to take place in the morning. So either our heroes have been on this haunted ship an entire day (was Togepy missing for eight whole hours or something...!?) or Mr. Ohashi just made a mistake.

Either way, I think the dub deciding to use "greetings" here instead ends up working a lot better.

It's also worth mentioning that Nyarth loses his accent (replacing any na syllables with nya, adding "Nyas"  throughout his speech) the entire time Ghost is controlling him. It makes sense; these are Ghost's words he's speaking, not his own. Maddie Blaustein's Meowth sorta-kinda reels in the accent she gave to Meowth but there are a few times she slips up, with "from one island to a'nudder" being the most obvious example.

Haunter tells everyone how the ship was raided:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「それ以来俺たちは船長の宝物であるこのトロフィーをずっと守り続け てきたんだ。ところがある時人間がやってきて優勝トロフィーを持ち去ってしまった」
Nyarth:  "From that day forward we've been protecting this trophy the captain treasured so much. However, at some point humans came and took off with the championship trophy."
Meowth:  "From that day forward, we have guarded our master's treasure: this Pokémon trophy he won in the Orange Islands League. Then a few days ago, humans came and took our master's prized possession."

The two main things to bring up here are 1) Haunter / Meowth is dropping the bomb that their captain was the one who won that trophy way too early (notice how none of the animation during this scene shows anyone reacting surprised at this revelation?) and 2) the dub tells us the trophy was taken "a few days ago" when the Japanese version doesn't tell us that. I don't know much about how museums acquire the artifacts they put on display but I would imagine it's not just a simple matter of pulling it out of the ocean, dusting it off a bit, and then just plopping it onto a pedestal.

Right before Ash and his friends are "transported" to the past:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
サトシ 「船長さんはそんなにも優勝トロフィーを大切にしていたんだ」
Satoshi:  "The captain really did cherish this championship trophy, huh?"
Ash:  "I guess the captain must have been a pretty good Pokémon Trainer to win that."
ニャース 「もちろん」
Nyarth:  "Of course he did."
Meowth:  "See for yourselves."

Again, Satoshi isn't supposed to know that the captain is even a Pokémon Trainer at this point, much less the man who actually earned the trophy.

Gastly and Haunter use their powers to make the ship fly away:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
サトシ 「バイバイ、ゴースにゴースト!船長さんによろしく!」
Satoshi:  "Bye bye, Ghos and Ghost! Say hi to the captain for me!"
Ash:  "Bye Gastly! Bye Haunter! Take care of that trophy!"

Are Ghost-Type Pokémon like Ghos and Ghostly able to communicate with dead humans? Apparently Satoshi believes so!

The final line of the episode:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ナレーション 「オレンジリーグを戦う意欲がますます高まったサトシたち。いつ までも幽霊船を見送っていた」
Narrator:  "The desire to compete in the Orange League has gotten even stronger for Satoshi and his friends. They watched the ghost ship sail off for what seems like forever..."
Narrator:  "With a new sense of wonder our friends watch the haunted ship as it slowly drifts into the night."

The dub could have very easily fit the mention of the Orange League in there (it's not like they had any mouth flaps to worry about or anything like that) but they decided to omit that whole part for whatever reason.

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