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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Orange Islands
Japanese Episode 098: "It's the Southern Islands! Everyone Gather Around!!"
American Episode 243: "A Way Off Day Off"
Pokémon Dare Da? Kamonegi (Japan), Porygon (English)
Dr. Ookido's Pokémon Course: Metamon
Japanese Air Date: May 27th, 1999
American Air Date: April 8th, 2000
Our heroes are
sailing around aimlessly one day when they decide to stop at a nearby
island for a
little R&R. Satoshi, Kasumi, and Kenji all let their Pokémon
out to play, giving Kenji's Strike a chance to introduce itself to the
rest of the group. The scary-looking Bug-Type intimidates the rest of
the team at first, but Kasumi's Togepy steps up and helps prove to the
others that Strike is actually quite friendly. Satoshi's Lizardon,
meanwhile, is still reserving judgment on this newest addition to the
team. Our heroes' day
off continues as they gather fruit, fall asleep thanks to Purin's
lullaby, and struggle to deal with Kabigon's insatiable appetite. That
night, Satoshi has trouble sleeping and so
he wanders over to a nearby coast where he thinks back on his
adventures in the Orange Islands so far. Meanwhile, the
Rocket trio shows up at our heroes' camp and uses Kojirou's Utsubot to
cast Sleep Powder on the unsuspecting group, hoping to nab our heroes'
Pokémon while they're knocked unconscious. Lizardon and Strike
happened to be out of Sleep Powder's range at that time, however, and
so they work together to wake everyone else up and then send the Rocket
trio blasting off. After the battle, Lizardon and Strike appear to have
gained a mutual respect for one another, though they're not the best of
friends just yet. The next morning, Satoshi and his friends leave the
island fully recharged,
ready to continue their journey through the Orange Islands.
The whole Orange Islands arc is set up like a "vacation" series, a laid back reprieve from all the high stakes (for the time, anyway) action and adventure on the land-locked region we were on before (Kanto) and the action and adventure on the one we'll be going to soon (Johto). It's a "break" region, for all intents and purposes. And so it's interesting that we're now at "It's the Southern Islands! Everyone Gather Around!", an episode positioned exactly at the saga's halfway point that feels like a vacation in the middle of a vacation.
I can appreciate this episode for what it's trying to do, but I've gotta be honest; I found this one to be a bit of a chore to sit through. The parts with Strike meeting the rest of the team were great, and seeing the show attempt to explain away Kabigon's massive appetite provides us with some neat little character beats. And the Rocket trio's plan to use Utsubot's Sleep Powder to knock everyone out and then drag them away while they're still unconscious was legitimately good, so good in fact that it's hard to believe the show rarely ever revisits this strategy.
But other than that this episode is just plain dull. The parts where our heroes were picking fruit were not interesting. The part where Purin puts everyone asleep for the millionth time was not interesting. The part where Kabigon eats everyone's food was not interesting. The flashback to the last two Gym Battle episodes was not interesting. "It's the Southern Islands! Everyone Gather Around!" is just one tedious scene after another and is, to me, probably the worst episode out of the whole Orange Islands arc.
A part of me wonders if this episode was, in a weird sort of way, meant to serve as a vacation for the show's production team as much as it was for Satoshi and his friends. The animation team would have been waist deep in Pocket Monsters The Movie "Revelation Lugia" by this point and so that would certainly explain why everything about this episode just felt so phoned in. The almost full minute montage of older footage, especially, reeks of "we just don't have the manpower needed to finish this episode," doesn't it? It feels like the show just kind of went hey, let's just fart out this completely inconsequential episode so we can go back to working on the big exciting movie we actually care about?
When it came time for 4Kids to make the end credits for their version of the show they opted to only make one set generic credits for an entire batch of episodes instead of writing up personalized credits for each and every episode. So instead of listing out the writer for this episode, for example, we get a list of every single writer who could have possibly worked on any of the episodes in the batch that use this version of the end credits. So if it's a Season 2 episode, for example, it would have been written by one of these seven men:
I can understand why
4Kids would want to do this (making personalized credits for each and
every episode is more time consuming, especially
when you think about how they'd be unreadable anyway thanks to the way Kids' WB!
distorted their shows' credit sequences)
but an unfortunate downside to this is that we don't ever know who
actually wrote any one specific episode of Pokémon.
Who wrote the script for "A Way Off Day Off," an episode that is
actually, by 4Kids standards, quite faithful to the Japanese original?
And who wrote the
script for the following episode "The Mandarin
every single line of dialogue is a complete rewrite? We have no way of
knowing, and that's a real shame because it makes it harder to know
work to praise whenever we get to an episode like this.
The show was produced by
the Japanese rock and roll band slash comedy group The
Drifters. Content-wise this episode of Pocket Monsters doesn't have much
in common with the show it borrowed its title from; I think it's
literally just a case of someone liking this show and throwing in an
homage, just because.
This isn't the first time Pocket Monsters has referenced this show, by the way; Episode 053, "It's Children's Day! Everyone Gather Around!" (こどものひだよぜんいんしゅうごう), also takes after The Drifters' comedy show.
As you can see, the
English dub makes Ash a little more of a daydreamer than Satoshi was
After the episode's title
screen we get a flock of Kamonegi which prompts Kenji to utter his
catchphrase kansatsu sasete moraimasu
for the first time this episode.
This gets changed to "Cool. I gotta make a sketch of this!" in the
In the English version,
however, we only hear Squirtle and Psyduck; it seems like 4Kids forgot
to add Bulbasaur's voice! This goof up doesn't occur in the Japanese
Again, the overall message of this scene is the same (this little boy's trying to get his giant dragon to listen to him) and yet if you look at this dialogue, line by line, almost nothing actually matches up.
It is interesting to see
the English dub sneak in the word "kill," though!
Team Rocket scopes out
its potential targets:
Is...is this the closet the dub's ever gotten to saying "Pocket Monsters?" Is this the "opportunity" Jessie's talking about?
The Rockets continue:
When you live in a world where literally every aspect of your life revolves around Pokémon -- work, play, family, friends, everything -- the idea of being able to "forget all about Pokémon for a change" doesn't really seem like a thing that can actually happen...? "Hey, we're on a tropical island...let's just forget about animals for a change, alright? Like, nobody talk to me about creatures, OK?" It's just such a weird word choice on the part of the English dub when "work" or "our job" would've made so much more sense.
Our heroes get ready to each fruit sandwiches:
The English dub changing Kasumi's final line isn't too surprising (can't have anyone upsetting the patriarchy on Kids' WB!) but the whole rest of this is just...change for the sake of change?
Kasumi's line about cooking, by the way, may be a reference to a character Mayumi Iizuka, Kasumi's voice actor, played in the 1998 Sorceress Stabber Orphen animated series. Her character, Claiomh Everlasting, has issues with cooking, something we'll also eventually find out is true about Kasumi as well.
And also, which Generation I Pokémon would you make bologna from? There weren't any pig Pokémon back then so...Tauros, maybe...? Does Misty want to eat Tauros flesh or something?
This episode's eyecatch Pokémon swaps out one duck for another.
4Kids never aired "Cyber Soldier Porygon," of course, and so if they were ever going to get around to featuring Porygon in "Who's That Pokémon?" then it'd have to be in a random episode like this one. Farfetch'd already got to be the eyecatch Pokémon once before so it can go ahead and sit this one out, 4Kids was probably thinking.
The only other thing I think that's really noteworthy about this is that Porygon is given brand a new voice for the English dub. It's unlikely 4Kids would have replaced Porygon's voice in a hypothetical dub of Episode 38 -- the Pokémon has the same name in both Japanese and English, after all -- so why'd it get a new voice here? Is it just a random change, a throwaway voice based on whoever happened to be in the studio that particular day? Or is this a sign that 4Kids was never actually sent a tape with "Cyber Soldier Porygon" on it in the first place, meaning they wouldn't have had any audio recordings of Porygon's original voice and therefore had no choice but to go with a replacement? Who knows!
Ash looks up at the stars:
Throughout this entire arc the English dub consistently removes any and all mention of the Orange Islands being "southern islands," and I really have no idea why. Does 4Kids want to keep the location of the Orange Islands ambiguous, for some reason? What's the point?
Throughout the montage of the first two Gym Leader battles, we hear the show's current opening theme, The Rivals, played in the background of the Japanese version.
This gets replaced in the English dub not by The Rivals! 4Kids' equivalent, Pokémon World, but by the song My Best Friend from 4Kids' Pokémon 2.B.A. Master CD instead.
We get a second instance of Kenji using his catchphrase (kansatsu sasete moraimasu) when he's sleep talking. This time the dub has him say "Oh, boy. I better make a sketch of these before they..." instead.
James' Victreebel uses Sleep Powder to put our heroes to sleep:
Kojirou's line here (and the long nose, which can either be interpreted as a tengu nose, a visual cue indicating that he's being overly boastful, or a Pinnochio nose, indicating that he's actually lying) is a callback to what Satoshi said about his Kabigon earlier about how his supposed great training methods are what's keeping Kabigon from being so gluttonous. 4Kids actually did keep Satoshi's line intact, so why change the callback here?
Scyther and Charizard to the rescue:
So I think the line 4Kids gave James here is meant to be a response to Meowth's line, maybe? "Why are they awake?" "Because my Pokémon who used Sleep Powder needs more training" ...Something like that?
In the Japanese version, Kojirou's line here is not really connected to anything any of his other teammates said; he's simply commenting on how this time he was in Utsubot's mouth (about 50 seconds!) a lot longer than usual.
The narrator attempts to close out this light-on-rewrites episode:
The Japanese version gives more of a general rundown of the episode we just watched while the English dub is a little more forward thinking.
The Rocket trio are stuck on an island:
A conversation that gets completely rewritten!? What, is 4Kids warming up for the next episode or something...?
The Rocket trio "blasts off":
So why isn't the Rocket trio saying their usual ya na kanji catchphrase here? It has to do with that "It's 8:00! Everyone Gather Around!" (8時だョ!全員集合) show I introduced earlier in this comparison. Dame da korya~! is Chosuke Ikariya's catchphrase from the show and so Pocket Monsters decided, as one last homage to the show, to have the Rocket trio say Ikariya's catchphrase here rather than their own.
None of this would make even the tiniest bit of sense to your average Westerner and so 4Kids had the trio simply yell out "Help!" instead.
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