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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Orange Islands

Japanese Episode 096

Episode Stats:

Japanese Episode 096:  "Lord Nyarth's Island!?"
American Episode 242:  "Meowth Rules!"
Pokémon Dare Da?  Nyarth (Japan), Magnemite (English)
Dr. Ookido's Pokémon Course:  Pippi
Japanese Air Date:  May 13th, 1999
American Air Date:  March 25th, 2000
Important Characters:  Mikeosu ("acolyte"), Shimajio ("druid")
Important Places:  Ougonkan Island (Golden Island)

The Rocket-Dan challenge Satoshi and his friends to a battle! The trio loses, of course, but this time Nyarth ends up blasting off separately from his human teammates. He lands on Ougonkan Island, a place where its inhabitants worship something called the Great Nyarth of Happiness in the belief that it'll bring them fortune and happiness. The islanders quickly mistake the Rocket-Dan's Nyarth for the deity of legend and begin showering him with attention in an attempt gain his favor before the Ceremony of Happiness. During this ceremony, they reveal, they will ask Nyarth to use its "Neko ni Koban" attack to shower the island with coins. But there's just one little problem; the Rocket-Dan's Nyarth actually used up all its energy learning how to speak human and is unable to learn the technique! The islanders choose not to believe Nyarth's protests and decide they'll simply draw the power out of him by forcing him to gain experience in a series of Pokémon battles. Nyarth is unceremoniously thrown into a stadium where he soon comes face to face with massive Pokémon like Nidoking and Iwark. Musashi and Kojirou, seeing their friend in trouble, step in and start throwing their own money into the crowd to make everyone think their Great Nyarth of Happiness has learned how to use Neko ni Koban. When Nyarth discovers what his teammates had done he decides to leave the island and his worshippers behind to continue his own search for happiness, together with his friends.

I've defended the Orange Islands before for being more than a "mere filler arc," pointing out events like Satoshi getting Kabigon as being these big events that happen in the Orange Islands that affect later arcs in the series. And well here we are, not two episodes later, with another major revelation; Nyarth cannot learn how to use Neko ni Koban ("Pay Day").

It's something I'm kind of surprised took us nearly 100 episodes to find out. The Rocket trio is a group of Pokémon thieves, and Nyarth is part of the only species who can naturally learn a technique that produces coins out of nowhere. So the idea of "hey, why don't we just have him magic us some more money" was something that was bound to come up sooner or later, right? And so we get this episode. The explanation as to why he hasn't bothered to learn it yet is a very simple one-liner that may seem like a cheap little handwave at first but it actually works out pretty well. If nothing else it's memorable; "Meowth can't learn Pay Day because it used up all its energy learning to speak English" is something fans just know, even if they don't realize exactly when or where they heard it from.

But the bigger theme of this episode is "happiness" and, more specifically, the friendship between Nyarth and his teammates. If you could live on an island where your every wish and command was catered to, but had to do so without your best friends, would you? I think the way we go through the roller coaster of Nyarth feeling like he's the one getting one over on the islanders, to him initially rejecting his teammates, to him realizing they actually do care about him after an act of selflessness, to him wanting the islanders to find happiness for themselves...it's a great ride. It's also the kind of story you could only really do with the Rocket trio, you know what I mean? If they were to try to do, say, a "Lord Pikachu's Island!?" it just wouldn't work nearly as well.

The depiction of the islanders is also something that really stands out to me about this episode. They're a bunch of weirdos in cat cosplay who are superstitious enough to believe some old legend about a Great Nyarth of Happiness who will literally make money rain down on them from the heavens. And then once they get all this money they plan to...I dunno, construct more giant Nyarth robots? Build more Pokémon stadiums? Trade with local governments? Nyarth's message to the islanders (in the Japanese version, at least) is also really great; don't just sit around waiting for happiness to fall into your lap, go out and grab it for yourself. I feel like the TV show doesn't really do characters who are just straight up misguided like this anymore and so I'm really enjoying it now while we have it.

And hey, Satoshi and his friends are barely in this episode! They make a few obligatory cameos here and there but at the end of the day this is the most Rocket trio centered / least twerp centered episode to date. More of this, please!

I'm honestly a bit surprised 4Kids was allowed to dub this episode in the first place since it's basically all about a cult dedicating itself to worshipping a false god. At the very least I would expect the network to force them to cut out all those scenes of the islanders bowing down to Meowth but nope, all that gets left in! Then again, if you look at what else Kids' WB! was airing back in the day I suppose it is kind of tame in comparison; the episode of Batman Beyond that premiered the same morning as "Meowth Rules!," for example, ended with the villain realizing he's going to die and launching into a laughing fit as he literally falls his way toward Hell. Kids' WB! was definitely in its most "not giving a shit" phase of its life.

But "thankfully" this is Season 2 and so it gets to stay! I put "thankfully" in quotes there because this is actually a really terrible episode from a localization point of view. Half the dialogue's rewritten, it has the "honor" of being the Orange Islands episode with the most replacement music, we have to suffer through Stuart and Lillis trying to act "serious" on top of those goofy cartoon voices they've been putting on for the Rocket duo...it's just an objectively bad anime dub. If you watched the English version of this episode and like it then great, more power to you. But I'm sorry, I just don't feel the same way about it.

Dialogue Edit
This is a Team Rocket episode so I'm going to have a lot to talk about today.

The first rewrite comes at the beginning of the episode, when Meowth is enjoying eating some real world animals:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「ニャーは幸せニャ~!トコブシもコンブも取り放題ニャ~!こんな幸 せでいいニャろか~」
Nyarth:  "I'm so happy Nya~! It's all-you-can-eat small abalones and kelp out here Nya~! Is it even OK to have this much happiness Nya?"
Meowth:  "I'm so happy. I'm gonna have free clams for dinner. I'm the happiest Meowth in the whole world."

"Small abalones" are a type of clams, and kelp isn't something you find a lot of in Western cuisine and so the English dub simplified the whole thing to just "clams."

Side Note
Now's as good a time as any to talk about Nyarth and his signature move, Neko ni Koban ("Pay Day").

Neko ni Koban

Neko ni Koban (猫に小判) is a Japanese idiom that roughly translates to "that's about as useless as giving gold to a cat" and you use it whenever you want to talk about someone not understanding the value of whatever it is they have. In English we have the phrase "cast pearls before swine" which more or less serves the same purpose.

Maneko Neko

Nyarth (and its evolved form Persian) are the only Pokémon capable to learning this technique naturally. This is probably because the Pokémon species is modeled after a maneki neko, a figurine you see in storefronts in Asia meant to act as a good luck charm to attract customers. In English maneki neko is often translated as a "beckoning cat" since it's always beckoning you to come into the store to spend money. You can spot one of these beckoning cat statues by its raised paw and its koban coin, an oval shaped gold coin used in the Edo period of feudal Japan.

Most of this is completely lost in translation. Western audiences in the early 2000s wouldn't have necessarily known what a "beckoning cat" is (I imagine most fans just saw Meowth as a cat with some random coin on his head) and so the connection between "Meowth" and "Pay Day" wouldn't have been as obvious as it is to a Japanese audience and/or modern-day Western audience. Still, I think most people managed to get the gist of it either way
even if it's maybe not as explicit in the international dubs.

Sound Effects Edit
While Kojirou is shaking down Nyarth, telling him to hurry up and learn Neko ni Koban, we can hear the sound of Kojirou's bottlecaps jingling around a bit. This is what prompts Musashi and Nyarth to accuse him of holding out on them a few moments later.

In the equivalent scene in the dub ("Now why don't you learn Pay Day and make us happy with some money?"),  the sound of coins jingling is still there but it's baaaaaaaaaaaarely audible. Like, you have to just know to listen for it to even have a chance of hearing it. Part of it has to do with the way the dub tends to turn down the volume on the show's sound effects and part of it has to do with 4Kids' filler music drowning out the jingling, but either way the end result is that Jessie's
"Didn't I just hear the sound of a coin?" line a few moments later ends up making very little sense if you weren't paying super, super close attention.

Dialogue Edit
James protects the bottlecap we weren't able to hear just now:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
コジロウ 「返して!命の次に大事なプレミアつきビンテージ物の王冠なんだから な~!」
Kojirou:  "Give it back! The only thing more precious to me than my own life is this premium vintage bottlecap!"
James:  "I couldn't live without my most very extra-special, favorite, limited edition, vintage bottle cap."
ムサシ 「プレミアつきね…」
Musashi:  "Premium, huh?"
Jessie:  "I guess he likes it."

The dub's "I couldn't live without..." is kinda-similar to the Japanese version's "the only thing more precious to me than my own life..." but it's also different enough for me to bother bringing up here.

Our heroes look for a place to stop:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
サトシ 「島はまだ見えないのか?」
Satoshi:  "Can't you see any islands yet?"
Ash:  "See any place we can stay for the night, Trace?"
ケンジ 「ん…全然見えないな」
Kenji:  "Hmmm...nope, I don't see any."
Tracey:  "No islands. Just a bunch of rocks."

The "just a bunch of rocks" part is added by 4Kids.

The Rocket trio recite their motto (which is just the regular version in the Japanese original, not the "after dark" variant we get in the dub) and then get blasted off to a nearby island. And on that island...

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ミケネス 「聞け皆の者!我がオウゴンカン島の伝説にいわく白き満月の夜、あら われしおニャース様。幸福のニャース様となりて真の幸福を運ぶものなり!今宵こそまさしく白く満月の夜。我らに真の幸福が訪れる夜なのだ!」
Mikeosu: "Hear ye, hear ye! The legends of our Ougonkan Island says that a Lord Nyarth will appear on a night of a bone-white moon! That Nyarth will become the Great Nyarth of Happiness and grant us true happiness! Tonight is, without a doubt, that night of the bone-white moon. In other words, tonight is the night we will know true happiness!"
Acolyte:  "Hear me! Tonight is the night we have long awaited, the night we finally see the ancient prophecy fulfilled. Our ancestors foretold of the night of a bone-white moon when the Great Meowth of Bounty will bestow great wealth upon us. That night has come and now we await the Great Meowth's arrival."

Does 4Kids have some weird aversion to just translating prophecies as-is, without adding anything new or taking away information from the original? Because I feel like this is the third or fourth time this has happened so far.

The English dub leaves out a lot of information, such as the name of the island and the fact that the "Great Meowth of Bounty" is just a regular Nyarth who will then become the Great Nyarth of Happiness later on down the road. This latter point will be what drives the worshippers to suck up to Nyarth so much in the first half of the episode and so it's not really the sort of thing 4Kids should be cutting out of its script.

Meowth is picked up by the villagers:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「ニャ⁉あ?え?ンニャ?」
Nyarth:  "Nya!? Eh? Nya-Nya?"
Meowth:  "Hey, what are you- Huh? Hoh? Hey! What a...Huh?"

"Waitaminute, did this Meowth just speak? Yes? Well, let's all agree to just act surprised when he starts talking in front of everybody later on, OK?"

Originally Nyarth only makes cat noises when he's being picked up here.

Meowth starts speaking human language, officially:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ミケネス 「これはこれはおニャース様!ようこそオ ウゴンカン島へ!どうぞごちそうをお召し上がりください!」 Mikeosu:  "Oh my goodness, it's Lord Nyarth! Welcome to Ougonkan Island! Please help yourself to the food before you!"
Acolyte:  "You honor us with your presence. Words cannot express our gratitude. Please partake of our humble offering."
ニャース 「ニャ⁉このごちそう本当にニャ―が食べていいのニャ?」
Nyarth:  "Nya!? Is it really OK for me to eat all this Nya?"
Meowth:  "I'm a little short on cash but I can pay you for the food on Tuesday."

Meowth is quoting Wimpy, a character from the Popeye the Sailor franchise whose catchphrase was "I'll have a hamburger, for which I will gladly pay you Tuesday."

The reason I'm spelling this all out for you is because I'm not sure anyone born from, say, the mid 1990s onward would have any reason to know what this is a reference to. I mean, this was a super dated reference, even for the time! The most recent Popeye the Sailor related show to come out before the release of this episode of Pokémon was Popeye and Son, a show that came out more than a decade before and was canceled after only 13 episodes. A random Wimpy reference here, in an animated cartoon released in the year 2000, seems a little late to the party to me.

The islanders have their doubts:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ミケネス 「あのおニャース様はしゃべるぞ。本当に幸福のニャース様なのか?」
Mikeosu:  "That Lord Nyarth over there just talked! Is that really the Great Nyarth of Happiness?"
Acolyte:  "The prophecy doesn't mention talking. Are you sure this is the Meowth of Bounty?"
シマジオ 「もちろんでございます。おしゃべりになることはまさにその証、間違 いございません。」
Shimajio:  "Of course it is. The fact that it can talk is proof enough that it is, I'm sure of it."
Druid:  "There's no doubt about it. The Meowth of Bounty is a special creature so it must have special powers."

Shimajio believes the fact that Nyarth can talk is just proof enough that he is who he says he is while his equivalent in the English dub will seemingly take any superpower he witnesses as proof of the same.

Nyarth starts to cook up a plan:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「ニャンか人違いされてるようだニャ。でも猫かぶってればごちそう食 べ放題ニャ」
Nyarth:  "Seems like they've got me mixed up with someone else Nya. If I don't let the cat out of the bag I can get all the free food I could ever want."
Meowth:  "They got me mixed up with some other Meowth. If I don't let the cat out of the bag I could have a good thing going here."

The Japanese phrase used by Nyarth here is neko o kaburu (猫をかぶる), which  literally translates to "put on a cat" and is used to indicate when someone is putting on an act. The idea plays with cats and their two-faced nature, where they can be cute and cuddly furballs one minute and then ferocious jungle beasts the next. An equivalent would be something like "hide one's true colors."

The 4Kids dub replaces this with "don't let the cat out of the bag" which is actually very, very close to the original intention! It's a pretty nice change of pace after all the rewrites we've gotten so far (and will get later in the episode) and so I wanted to be sure to give credit where credit's due.

Meowth starts to stuff his face:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ミケネス 「幸福のニャース様!何かのご不満でも?」 Mikeosu:  "O Great Nyarth of Happiness! Is there something not to your liking?"
Acolyte:  "Are you in any way displeased, O Great Meowth?"
ニャース 「ニャ―が大好物のがんもがないニャ!」
Nyarth:  "I don't have any of my favorite ganmo up in here!"
Meowth:  "How come I ain't got any meatballs up here!
ミケオス 「は、はぁ!がんもを持って!」
Mikeosu:  "Ye...yes sir! Bring over some ganmo!"
Acolyte:  "Oh forgive me. Bring some meatballs!"
ニャース 「猫舌だから冷やしてニャ~!」
Nyarth:  "Remember, I have a cat's tongue so serve them to me cold Nya~"
Meowth:  "I only need about a hundred!"

"Ganmo" (がんも), which is the shortened form of ganmodoki (雁擬き), is a deep-fried tofu mixed with thinly sliced vegetables. You hear that kids? Meowth isn't really eating the "meat" balls made out of your favorite Pokémon pal!

The "cat's tongue" line is a Japanese idiom that means "someone who doesn't like to eat hot foods." If you feel like you've seen this phrase before that may be because it was also used in the second Orange Islands episode "The Miserable Dirigible!?" 4Kids decides to change this to Meowth requiring his subjects to kill multiple animals to satisfy his voracious appetite.

Meowth "sings":

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「幸せだニャー。ニャーはこの島にいる時が一番幸せなんだニャー」
Nyarth:  "I'm so happy Nya. I'm the happiest when I'm on this island Nya~"
Meowth:  "Landing here was such a blessing. Now all day long I'm happiness-ing."

Nyarth is just kind of talking to himself while he strums the strings on his guitar while Meowth is just full on singing, making up new words (I feel bad for the localizers who had to deal with "happiness-ing") while also being horribly, horribly off-key.

Meowth thinks about his teammates:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「でも‥‥ニャーだけこんニャに幸せでいいのかニャ‥‥」
Nyarth:  "But...is it really OK for me to have all this happiness to myself?"
Meowth:  "But still...I wish I could share my happiness with somebody."

The difference here is subtle; in the Japanese version Nyarth seems to almost feel guilty about being so happy and carefree while in the English version Meowth seems to be feeling more lonely than anything else. The quote they gave Meowth in the English dub does flow a little bit better into the next shot of Jessie and James blasting off and so I'm guessing that's why 4Kids used the line they did.

The twerps are about to land on the island:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
島人 「ミケオス様!」
Islander:  "Mikeosu-sama!"
Islander:  "Brother!"
ミケオス 「何事だ?」
Mikeosu:  "What is it?"
Acolyte:  "What is it?"

4Kids never bothers to give Mikeosu (the younger islander) or Shimajio (the older islander) new names for the English version; they just have this one islander here refer to Mikeosu as "brother" instead. Did they just not care enough to even bother?

The closed captions on the Amazon Prime release of the episode apparently refers to Mikeosu as "acolyte" and Shimajio as "druid" and so that's what I'll be using throughout this comparison.

Side Note
What is this outfit that Meowth appears in out of nowhere?

Nyarth is dressed up like a Shinto priest, wearing the traditional white robe tucked into scarlet hakama pants. The belt you can see over the hakama pants (see the screenshot on the right) is usually supposed to be white so I'm guessing the red used in this shot is just a simple coloring mistake.

The stick he's waving around is a gohei (御幣), a bamboo wand decorated with two zigzagging paper streamers known as shide (紙垂). It's used primarily in Shinto purification rituals to bless people, items, or newly bought property. It's kind of similar to how Westerners will sometimes have a priest come by to sprinkle holy water on a newly bought house.

The overall image being conveyed in this little five second scene here is that Nyarth is trying to show the villagers that Satoshi and his friends are evil spirits who need to be exorcised from the island right away. It's not something your average Westerner would pick up on, especially at the time this episode aired, but at the same time it's such an insignificant throwaway scene that 4Kids probably thought they didn't even have to bother coming up with any alternate explanations for this.

Dialogue Edit
Our heroes see the golden Meowth headed their way:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
サトシ 「ン…ニャース⁉」
Satoshi:  "Ny...Nyarth!?"
Ash:  "A Meowth!?"
ケンジ 「全長6.5メートル⁉ちょっとデカすぎやしないか?」
Kenji:  "It's six and a half meters tall!? Isn't that way too huge?"
Tracey:  "It's over twenty feet tall! That's too big to be a real Meowth!"

These changes from the metric system to the imperial system are never all that huge (6.5 meters = around 21 feet) but I still like documenting them anyway.

The eyecatch Pokémon this time around is Nyarth eating ganmo:


The eyecatch Pokémon being completely randomized for the English dub may be done to make this little "game" a bit more challenging but I would also argue the unique silhouettes made by the original artwork used in the Japanese version manages to keep it fresh in its own way.

Dialogue Edit
The islanders find out Meowth can't use Pay Day:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ミケオス 「シマジオ!これは一体どういうことだ⁉」
Mikeosu:  "Shimajio! What in the world is going on here!?"
Acolyte:  "You told me the Meowth of Bounty used Pay Day!"
シマジオ 「ミケオス様、落ち着いてください」
Shimajio:  "Please calm yourself, Mikeosu-sama."
Druid:  "There's no need for alarm, young one."

We get another instance of the islanders' names being used in the Japanese dialogue but omitted from the English dub for some reason.

It's also interesting to note that both the lookout from the first half of the episode and Shimajio here in the second half both use the suffix -sama to refer to Mikeosu. This indicates that he ranks above them in whatever hierarchy this weird cult has set up for itself despite the fact that he's still fairly young.

A plan is hatched:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
シマジオ 「経験値さえお積みになればもとのように調子が戻り、『ネコにこば ん』が使えるようになります」
Shimajio:  "If it can just get enough experience points it'll get back to its old self and will be able to use Neko ni Koban again."
Druid:  "All the Great One needs is a bit of battling experience and I'm sure it will recall how to perform Pay Day once again."

The word the dub's decided to render as "battling experience" is keikenchi (経験 値), the actual video game term for experience points. The Japanese version will use this term keikenchi consistently throughout the rest of the episode but the English dub simplifies it to "experience."

The very next exchange:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
シマジオ 「経験値を上がれば大丈夫!」
Shimajio:  "If it can gain experience points it'll be OK!"
Shimajio: "All you need is some experience, you...!"
ニャース 「大丈夫かニャ~」
Nyarth:  "Will it really be OK Nya~?"
Meowth:  "Don't be so sure."
シマジオ 「ほら、幸福のニャース様も大丈夫だと仰ってます」
Shimajio:  "Oh lookee here, the Great Nyarth of Happiness is saying it'll be OK."
Shimajio:  "This must be part of the Great Meowth of Bounty's plan to test our trust."

That little sideways glance Shimajio's shooting toward Nyarth tells us he's purposefully misconstruing Nyarth's ”OK" in order to get to the result he's looking for. The way his voice actor delivers the line also makes it clear that Shimajio wants Nyarth to overhear him in this moment.

None of this is really present in the dub, which makes the decision to instead have the druid here headcanon some kind of "plan to test our trust" thing.

Meowth is thrown into the ring:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「ニャ⁉ニャーに何をさせる気ニャ?」
Nyarth:  "Nya!? What do they have in store for me Nya?"
Meowth:  "Wow, I got a lot of people to disappoint."

The English dub line would go on to become a meme years and years later but the Japanese original is just a rather ordinary line about Nyarth wondering what the islanders are going to make him do in this big stadium.

Sound Effects Edit
During the little flashback montage that takes place during Nyarth's battles a bunch of scenes from older episodes are played without any sound effects. The English dub decides to "fix" this by adding them back in for these two shots (and these two shots only):

Adding these sound effects back in probably would've been a significant amount of work (4Kids would've had to track down the original episodes these clips were taken from and pulled the sound effects track from them) for...absolutely no benefit whatsoever...? Wouldn't that time and effort have been better spent doing literally anything else?

Dialogue Edit
Jessie and James help out a friend:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ムサシ 「もしもの時のために取ってやってへそくりだったんだけどね~」
Musashi:  "I guess this money I had stowed away for a rainy day is better used for this, huh?"
Jessie:  "I never would've imagined that I'd be down to my last nickel and spending it on Meowth."

They don't use nickels south of Japan!

Also, I have to point out how freaking fantastic Megumi Hayashibara and Shin-ichiro Miki are throughout this second half of the episode. We know they're veteran voice actors, sure, but the work they do in this episode in particular is just so, so great. Every single line they deliver is done with dignity and quiet respect as they realize their friend is maybe better off without them, and it's great to see Musashi and Kojirou being fleshed out as actual people with real, human emotions like this every now and then.

Meowth runs away, causing the rest of the islanders to follow:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
シマジオ 「幸福のニャース様、どうなさったのです?」
Shimajio:  "Great Nyarth of Happiness, is something wrong?"
Druid:  "Please, Great One. We need you to stay and rule us."
ミケオス 「歓迎のごちそうや踊りが気に入らなかったのですか?」
Mikeosu:  "Was the feast or dancing we prepared for your welcome not to your liking?"
Acolyte:  "The happiness of all our people depends on the Great Meowth of Bounty."
ニャース 「ニャーは幸福のニャース何かじゃニャい」
Nyarth:  "I'm no Nyarth of Happiness Nya..."
Meowth:  "I don't bring anybody happiness."
ミケオス 「え⁉」
Mikeosu:  "Eh!?"
Acolyte:  "Huh?"
シマジオ 「な…何を仰るのです?」
Shimajio:  "Wh...What are you saying?"
Druid:  "Please make your meaning clear, Great One!"

So this whole final speech here gets completely rewritten. For starters, Nyarth very plainly says that he's not the Great Nyarth of Happiness that they all believe him to be, something he never quite gets around to saying in the English dub.

But that's not all:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「ニャーはみんなに幸せを運んでやることニャんて出来ないニャ…。そ れに、ニャーには一緒に幸せを探している仲間がいたのニャ。」
Nyarth:  "I can't provide you all with happiness Nya. And besides, I already have friends I'm searching for happiness with Nya."
Meowth:  "You think I'm supposed to be this great cat but I'm just a big rat. There's only two people in the whole world who ever really cared about me."
ムサシとコジロウ 「ん?」
Musashi and Kojirou:  "Hmm?"
Jessie and James:  "Ah..."
ニャース 「いつもドジばかり踏んでるどうしようもない仲間だけど、一生懸命幸 せを見つけてるニャ。ニャーも自分で幸せを見つけるから…!みんニャも自分たちで見つけてほしいニャ!!」
Nyarth:  "They're friends who're always bumbling about and getting walked all over on but they're still giving it their all to find happiness Nya. And that's because they're putting themselves out there to look for it Nya. So I want you all to also go out there and find happiness on your own, just like they are Nya!"
Meowth:  "We messed up a lot and we used to fight with each other a lot, too. But no matter how bad things got, we always had each other. I thought I was happy here without 'em but now I know that having them was my real happiness!"
ムサシとコジロウ 「…」 Musashi and Kojirou:  "..."
Jessie and James:  "Oh."
シマジオ 「そんな。なんだかんだと言わずに…」
Shimajio:  "But we could never...if you're going to go so far as to say this and that..."
Druid:  "Great One, our people need you here."

Nyarth is trying to release his subjects here by telling them they have the power to find happiness on their own, without waiting for an outsider like him to just deliver it to them. Meowth, meanwhile, makes the whole thing about himself.

The Team Rocket motto:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ムサシ 「なんだかんだと言っちゃったら」
Musashi:  "If you go ahead and say this and that..."
Jessie:  "I'm the one who needs you too!"
コジロウ 「答えてあげるが世の情け!」
Kojirou:  "It's up to the world whether or not we answer."
James:  "Make it double, we both need you!"
ニャース 「ニャ!」
Nyarth:  "Nya!"
Meowth:  "Ah~!"
ミケオス 「お前たち!」
Mikeosu:  "It's you!"
Acolyte:  "You two!"
ムサシ 「不幸な昨日を忘れるため!」
Musashi:  "To forget yesterday's unhappiness"
Jessie:  "You protect us both from desperation!"
コジロウ 「幸福な明日をさがすため!」
Kojirou:  "To search for tomorrow's happiness!"
James:  "You unite us all in jubilation!"
ムサシ 「愛と幸福の悪を貫く!」
Musashi:  "To carry out the evils of happiness and love!!"
Jessie:  "You help chase away our loneliness!"
コジロウ 「ラブリーハッピーな敵役!」
Kojirou:  "We, the lovely and happy villains!"
James:  "You're a mess, but we love you nevertheless!"
ムサシ 「ムサシ!」
Musashi:  "Musashi!"
Jessie:  "Jessie!"
コジロウ 「コジロウ!」
Kojirou:  "Kojirou!"
James:  "James!"
ムサシ 「幸せさがすロケット団のふたりには!」
Musashi:  "The Rocket-Dan who searches for happiness are the two of us!"
Jessie:  "Team Rocket's friendship never ends!"
コジロウ 「ホワイトホール!幸せ未来が待ってるぜ!」
Kojirou:  "A white hole - a happy future is waiting for us!"
James:  "So let's set sail on our ship of friends!"

If you look at them line by line the two mottos share very little in common but the overall theme is the same in both of them so I guess that's what counts.

Unfortunately I'm not able to say the same about what comes next:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「ムサシ!コジロウ!」
Nyarth:  "Musashi! Kojirou!"
Meowth:  "A-Aren't you mad at me?"
ムサシ 「ぐずぐずしてないで。さっそと乗んな!」
Musashi:  "What are you still waiting around here for? Hurry up and get in."
Jessie:  "Of course we're mad at you, but you're still our friend."
ニャース 「ニャ―も乗っていいのかニャ」
Nyarth:  "You'd let me back in Nya?"
Meowth:  "You think you can ever forgive me?"
ムサシ 「当たり前じゃん、仲間だし。その代わり、さっきまいたお金の分、きっ ちりと働いてもらうよ」
Musashi:  "Of course. We're still friends after all. But in return we're going to have you work your butt off to pay us back for all that money we threw away back there."
Jessie:  "I suppose we have to forgive you. Otherwise you'd never pay us back for all those coins and bottlecaps we threw."
ニャース 「ムサシ…」
Nyarth:  "Musashi..."
Meowth:  "Ah...thank you."
コジロウ 「さっ、行こうぜニャース!」
Kojirou:  "Hey, let's go Nyarth."
James:  "Hey, let's go pal."
ニャース 「コジロウ…」
Nyarth:  "Kojirou..."
Meowth:  "My friends..."

Is it me or does Musashi seem a lot more gentle here than Jessie does? Jessie is giving her friend some really tough love while Musashi's decidedly more friendly here.

Meowth says goodbye:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
ニャース 「みんなもがんばって幸せさがすニャ!」
Nyarth:  "And good look to you all in your search for happiness!"
Meowth:  "Never forget the things that really make ya happy!"
ミケオスとシ マジオ 「幸福のニャース様!」
Mikeosu and Shimajio:  "Great Nyarth of Happiness!"
Acolyte and druid:  "Please don't go!"

So I guess in the English dub canon, Meowth finds happiness with his two friends and figures that his followers, who are watching all this unfold, are meant to just sort of follow his example...? Even though "I'm lonely and don't have any friends" doesn't seem to be a problem with anyone on the island?

In the original Nyarth's message here is consistent with what he told his followers earlier; to find happiness on their own instead of waiting around for someone to come along and drop it in their laps.

Oh yeah, Ash and his friends are in this episode:

Japanese (original)
Japanese (translated)
English Dub
サトシ 「それにしても、先の島は何だったんだろ?」
Satoshi:  "...but what was up with that island back there?"
Ash:  "I still can't figure out why that giant Meowth thing chased us off that island."
カスミ 「招き猫の島だけど、電気ネズミは立ち入り禁止だったとかね」
Kasumi:  "Well even though it was a beckoning cat island electric mice aren't allowed in...maybe something like that?"
Misty:  "Maybe that island was just for cat-type Pokémon; when it spotted Pikachu it had to chase us."
ピカチュウ 「ピカ?」
Pikachu:  "Pika?"
Pikachu:  "Pika?"
ケンジ 「ま、たまにはこういこともあるさ」
Kenji:  "Yeah, sometimes things like that happen."
Tracey:  "Or maybe it was guarding an ancient civilization."
サトシ 「そんなもんかな?」
Satoshi:  "Sure, I guess..."
Ash:  "Yeah, like that could happen."

I didn't really get a vibe that Mikeosu and Shimajio and all the others are part of some "ancient civilization" or anything like that. I mean, they're all wearing Halloween store cat ears and clown noses and have a giant golden Nyarth robot and a stadium with automatic doors and access to items like "tofu" so I don't really feel like "ancient" is the right word for them.

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