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Japanese Episode 209:
"Tanba Gym! The Head-to-Head Fighting Showdown!!"
after arriving in Tanba City, Satoshi and his friends head directly to
the pharmacy to pick up Akari-chan's medicine. Once their errand is
finished Konatsu gets on a ferry back to Asagi City while our heroes
stay behind to seek out the city's Gym Leader, Shijima. Once they find
the combination Pokémon Gym / dojo, Satoshi convinces Shijima to
accept his challenge of a two-on-two battle. The first match sees
Satoshi's Pikachu go up against Shijima's Nyorobon. Pikachu's able to
get in a few good hits but Nyorobon's incredible strength and stamina
end up overwhelming the Mouse Pokémon. Next up is Bayleaf, who
uses a combination of Vine Whip and Body Slam to finally bring
Shijima's Water-Type down for the count. The Gym Leader responds by
calling on his Goriky to finish out the battle. The two Trainers decide
to make the match all about pure strength and so the two Pokémon
launch into an intense face-to-face showdown. Eventually, Bayleaf uses
the inertia generated from one of Goriky's Jigoku Guruma attacks to
power up its Body Slam, knocking out its opponent and earning its
Trainer a Shock Badge! That night, Satoshi receives news that his
battle with Mikan is going to have to wait just a little bit longer and
so Shijima suggests they head to the Whirl Islands, a nearby
archipelago where a legendary Pokémon is said to live. Satoshi
falls in love with the idea and so the young Trainers leave Tanba City
behind for their next adventure.
For the Gym
Leaders you'd think it'd be super easy; just take their teams from the
and use those as-is. But the show likes to switch things up every now
and then and so sometimes they swap one Pokémon out for another.
Which, OK, fine. But in this episode's case, why go to
the trouble of replacing Shijima's Okorizaru with an old Generation 1
Pokémon (Goriky) instead of something more current and exciting?
I mean, he has a Kapoerer right
freaking there! The Pocket
Monsters Gold &
Silver video games were pretty shit when it came to promoting
its 100 new Pokémon
(half the Gym Leaders don't have a single Generation 2 Pokémon
on their teams, for crying out loud!) so this is an area the show could
have improved upon. But it just...chooses not to.
is also a bit of a head scratcher. Shijima is a Fighting-Type Gym
Leader and so,
looking at the Pokémon Satoshi had at the time, the obvious
choice is for him to
use the Generation 2 Flying-Type he has who also happens to know
moves. Just call up the professor and get him to take your
Kabigon back! But, the show already featured Yorunozuku in the previous
Gym Battle, and I guess they probably didn't want to use it two times
in a row (nevermind the fact that Pikachu battles in literally every
Gym Battle in Johto) and so they thought they couldn't use it again, maybe?
I guess the show
was like "well, we haven't featured Satoshi's Bayleaf yet" and saw that
one of Shijima's Pokémon is part Water-Type and so voila!
Bayleaf gets the starring role in a Fighting-Type Gym.
This episode also
marks one of the last times the show will try to cram both a Gym
introduction and their Gym Battle into a single episode. From
onward every Gym Leader will get at least two episodes per series, a
change that I think we can all agree was the right one.
The Gym Leaders act as sort of goal posts for this franchise, after
all, and so they deserve more than one single episode! This episode also wraps up the "Akari-chan is
sick" storyline and sets up
the upcoming Whirlpool Islands arc and yet
somehow nothing about these 22 minutes seem rushed. Screenplay writer
Shinzo Fujita did a fantastic job of jam packing this episode with a
million events and I think he should get major props for that.
version's fourth season, "Johto League Champions," ends with this
actually works out to be a perfect season finale, if you think about
it; you get the wrap up of the whole "Amphy Sparkle is sick"
storyline, a battle in which Ash earns his fifth Johto League badge,
and a tease for
the little mini arc that's about to come up. The Season 5 premiere
up airing on Kids' WB! the very next weekend so it wasn't really much
of a cliffhanger at all, but still!
Anyway, the dub
script and amount
of editing in this episode is absolutely horrible, LOL
In this week's episode, only 28% of the background music (5 out of 18 pieces) from the Japanese version was kept. The entire second half of the episode - from the Bayleaf vs. Goriky battle onwards - is all 4Kids replacement music.
Making things worse is that annoying thing the English dub does where it replaces one longer piece of music from the Japanese version with a bunch of different, shorter pieces of music for the English dub. In this episode, for example, this unreleased track from Revelation Lugia gets replaced by three shorter pieces of 4Kids dub music; I Got a Victory Badge! (1997 ~ 1998-M62) gets replaced by five shorter pieces of 4Kids music; and ...Such Sweet Sorrow (1999~2001-M27) gets replaced by a whopping seven pieces of 4Kids dub music. I guess the dubbers think kids will get bored if the background music doesn't change every 10 seconds or so?
This "replace one longer piece of music with a bunch of short little ditties" thing is a problem the dub's had since forever but it was really pronounced in this particular episode.
Cut - 2 seconds
The very first shot of the episode lasts about 6 seconds in the Japanese version but only 4 seconds in the English version.
This, like all the other cuts in this episode, were probably done to make more room for Kids' WB!'s commercials.
Our heroes bid farewell to Janina:
This isn't a huge change or anything, but Brock's line in the English dub is putting it on a little thick, no? Like, you don't know her like that, Brock! Cool your jets there buddy!
4Kids decided to name this episode, which is called "Tanba Gym! The Head-to-Head Fighting Showdown!!" in Japan, after the chorus of the Village People's 1978 song "Macho Man."
Which like, sure, whatever. It's an episode starring Machoke and so 4Kids saw the chance to use a dumb "Macho Man" pun and just went for it. It's eye-rollingly bad, but it did get me to look up the original music video for Macho Man for the first time ever. And it's actually kind of amazing...?
The "head-to-head" part of the Japanese title, meanwhile, is something that will be brought up by both Satoshi and Shijima over and over again and so it's a least a bit more relevant to the content of the episode than a song with lyrics like "I've got to be a macho! (dig the hair on my chest)" and "Work outs in the health spa, muscles glow."
For some reason, the Japanese staff of Pocket Monsters decided to throw a bunch of money at this episode to get a celebrity come in and voice the fifth Johto Gym Leader!
The Fighting-Type Gym Leader Shijima is voiced by martial artist, MMA fighter, kickboxer and just overall badass Nobuaki Kakuda (角田伸朗). Mr. Kakuda was a big deal back when this episode came out; he represented Japan in multiple international competitions, often beating opponents much larger than he is with a fighting style that focused on high defense and surprise counterattacks. I encourage you to read through his Wikipedia entry whenever you have the chance; he's a pretty fascinating guy!
I mean, just look at him! He could play Shijima in a live action Pocket Monsters movie easy.
I suppose you can consider casting a real life martial artist as a Fighting-Type Gym Leader a bit of stunt casting, and, well, maybe it is. Mr. Kakuda's not a voice actor, after all. But despite that lack of experience I think Mr. Kakuda did a fantastic job of taking what could have been a forgettable throwaway character into someone truly memorable. What I love about the voice is that it has the power and authority to convey to us that yes, this man is the sensei of a fighting dojo, but then also when it's time for his character to be a complete goofball that same voice somehow doesn't seem out-of-place. It's not deadpan comedy; it's more like "I believe 100% in everything I say, no matter how absurd it is." That level of commitment to a role is not something you see everyday, even among professional voice actors.
Shijima will get recast when he returns in Pocket Monsters (2019) a good two decades later which is a shame because he gave such a solid performance this first time around. If you have the means to watch this episode in Japanese then I highly recommend you look it up; Shijima's voice acting alone is worth it.
Let's talk about the move the English version refers to as "Submission."
So a submission, in wresting or other combat sports, is a type of grappling hold aimed at making an opponent submit and / or tap out of the match. Y'know, choke holds, suffocation locks, joint locks...things like that. But if you look at the animation in this episode the attack they keep calling "Submission" isn't really anything like that at all. They're just kind of...rolling around on the floor. What gives?
Well, the reason for the mismatch is because the attack is actually based on a (made-up) judo move, not a wrestling move. In Japan the attack is known as Jigoku Guruma (じごくぐるま), or "Hell Car," and it's an attack that was lifted straight from the late-1960s martial arts manga Judo Icchokusen (柔道一直線). The series was about a judo practitioner named Naoya Ichijou who develops a bunch of original moves - with a technique called Jigoku Guruma being one of them - to defeat the rivals that keep popping up. In-series, Jigoku Guruma is described as such:
An animated series was never made but a 92-episode live action series produced by Toei did air from 1969 - 1971. Filming the scenes where the actors had to perform the Jigoku Guruma technique was apparently very difficult; according to the series' Wikipedia entry, the actors had to climb up to the top of a ramp, get in position, and then use the power of gravity to help propel them across the stage. The camera was titled at the exact same angle as the ramp to make it look like the characters are rolling around on a flat surface in the finished product.
Jigoku Guruma would go on to appear in other popular Japanese series like Kamen Rider X, Kunio-kun, - and this will be the one you all are probably most familiar with - the Street Fighter series.
The English version localized the attack name as "Submission" probably because 1) Western kids wouldn't get the reference to a 40-year-old manga so who cares, right? 2) you can't have an attack with the word "Hell" in it in a kids' video game, in the West, in the late 1990s, and 3) the animations in the Game Boy games didn't really give NOA much to work in the first place so why not go with a wrestling motif instead? The name change was understandable, I guess, but it does have the unfortunate side effect of causing a bit of a mismatch whenever the move shows up in the animated series.
After Chuck and his Machoke hug it out:
The English dub tries to do this little skit where Chuck calls Ash "sport" (y'know, for the laffs!) but then drop it right away.
Also, Shijima guesses that Satoshi is a Pokémon Trainer thanks to Pikachu's presence but we don't really get that same information in the dub.
Brock and Misty join in:
Kasumi's not as cynical about all this as Misty is, I guess?
Our heroes arrive at the Cianwood Gym:
So in the Japanese version Satoshi's all like "Why did you make us run?" and Shijima answers that they did it for his students. Which...is kind of vague and not at all clear? I imagine he's saying that he made them run because he didn't want to keep his pupils waiting, or maybe he did it because he wanted to show off his physical prowess, but the dialogue makes it hard for me to be 100% sure.
4Kids probably felt the same way and so to get around that they just changed the question. Which, sure, I get it. But at the same time the dub never gets around to addressing why this Gym Leader made these children run in the first place so it just becomes this random, unexplained part of the episode *shrugs*.
Chuck introduces himself:
The part that sticks out to me is Chuck's "Fighting Pokémon master" (I'm guessing it's lowercase?). Like, this is Pokémon, you can't just put the words "Pokémon" and "Master" together all haphazardly like that! Think of all the pedants out there!
Dan Green gives us his best Cookie Monster impersonation:
4Kids adds a ton of filler dialogue here, so much so that they have Chuck's babbling spill over into the next shot!
We meet Chuck's nameless wife:
Chuck's wife will get a chance to call her husband "flabby" at the end of the episode but I guess 4Kids wanted to sneak in another jab at him here, for some reason?
Team Rocket appears:
The dub loses Musashi's "we lost sight of the twerps" line which kind of helps explains why the Rocket trio doesn't even try to go after Ash and his Pikachu in this episode; they have no idea where they are!
There's also a "sea/see food" joke that the dub forces in there for some reason.
Brock talks food:
I kind of the love Eric Stuart's delivery of "And so much more" here. Why does he make it sound so life-or-death? He's just supposed to be talking about food!
The 4Kids dub also has this thing against mentioning the word "protein," apparently, and so Takeshi's explanation of the nutritional benefits of the Tanba Gym's meal also gets replaced with some nonsense about "Pokémon Power Food."
The scroll behind Chuck gets its "text" (it's just scribbles, really) erased.
Click on each image to view a larger version.
Curiously, this scroll shows up later in the episode (here) without a drop of digital paint. Only this shot was singled out, for some reason!
The sound of Nyorobon using Double Slap is all but muted from the English dub. It's still there but it's so faint that you'd think it was muted altogether.
The sound is much easier to hear in the Japanese version.
After Poliwrath slaps the shit out of Pikachu:
Kasumi's line is a nice little reference to how, in the video games, Double Slap has a chance of hitting its target between two and five times. If you look at the animation of Pikachu being slapped you'll see that they do indeed show it getting hit five times.
It's a cool little detail that the English dub could have very easily left in if they had simply translated the scripts instead of rewriting everything.
In the original version of the scene where Satoshi's thinking about which Pokémon to use next, we can hear a bunch of birds chirping away in the background. Thanks to the lack of background music here we're able to hear them loud and clear.
The English dub adds in filler music to this scene, unfortunately, effectively drowning out the sounds the birds are making. Like with the Pikachu slapping scene from earlier, the sound is still there, technically, but you wouldn't know it if you weren't listening for it.
Ash reveals his choice:
Satoshi's line about not being able to win the Gym Match if he can't even beat Nyorobon is given to Brock, for some reason. Ash also has a bit there about Machoke that's not in the original script.
Also, Shijima's line is a neat little reference to the episode's Japanese title, "Tanba Gym! The Head-to-Head Fighting Showdown!!" Can you imagine how absurd it'd sound if the dub tried to do the same thing? "Ha ha ha I like the way ya think, Ash! You're a real Machoke, Machoke Man!"
Team Rocket finishes eating:
We get the standard "4Kids rewrites the Rocket trio's dialogue but what they're saying sorta-kinda has a similar taste to the original" here, so that's nothing new, but dub viewers also miss out on Musashi imitating Shijima's wife.
It's snack time:
The English dub usually has a pretty tricky relationship with the Japanese food in this show but this time 4Kids actually did a pretty good job...? Omanjuu (おまんじゅう) is the word for buns stuffed with a bean-jam filling and while the dumplings 4Kids replaced them with tend to be stuffed with meat and vegetables it's still kind of close-ish? It's a lot better than if they had just said, I dunno, chili fries or whatever.
Shijima's wife also refers to the omanjuu as the "famous Tanba City steamed buns," which doesn't seem to be based on any in-game items (Chouji Town has the Ikari Manjuu (いかりまんじゅう) but nothing for Tanba City) so I'm thinking this is mean to be a more real-world reference. Tanba City is assumed to be modeled after Naruto City in Tokushima, and one of the treats they're famous for is their Kincho Manjuu (金長まんじゅう).
So maybe whatever Shijima's wife is talking about here is like the Pokémon World equivalent of these Kincho Manjuu?
Cut - 22 seconds
The commercial break in the English version occurs right before the scene where the Rocket trio meets Chuck's wife. In the Japanese version, however, it doesn't happen until after this set of scenes:
The Japanese version plays the shots screenshotted above, goes to commercial break, and then plays (a slightly shorter version of) those same scenes a second time around. It'd be redundant for the English dub to do the same thing, especially without a commercial break in the middle there to break things up, and so 4Kids just cut out the first instance.
That last image, by the way, is the only shot to not get replayed after the commercial break and so it ends up not appearing in the English dub at all.
The final Johto League Champions eyectach is...Ampharos?
Goriky is the more obvious choice but I suppose you could make the argument that the episode is bookended by the whole Akari-chan storyline and so using the Electric-Type here at least makes some amount of sense.
The battle between Machoke and Bayleef begins:
Normally I wouldn't bother commenting on such petty changes like these but I'm only bothering to do so now because I know a lot of fans get super hyper-focused on documenting whenever characters call out attack names in this show.
Misty and Brock comment on the way the battle's going:
Machoke's Cross Chop is stronger, according to the games (Cross Chop's Base Power is 100 while Submissions's is only at 80) so what Brock's saying here isn't actually true...? Takeshi's line is more game-accurate.
Brock and Misty offer Ash some advice:
The dub was actually really, really close until we get to Ash's line at the end there! Originally Satoshi wants to honor the head-to-head battle that Shijima challenged him to while dub Ash thinks taking his friends' advice will make him lose, somehow?
Chuck's wife talks about the battle Ash just had:
The change I want to highlight here is with the Gym Leader's wife; in the original she's basically saying that Satoshi beating her husband will motivate him to start training again while in the dub she's more or less undercutting Ash's victory by pointing out that that the guy he just beat isn't even in his prime right now. The dub's just a little more shady, but it's not really that big a difference at the end of the day.
Chuck wishes our heroes good luck:
The big difference here is that Shijima's farewell includes both Kasumi and Takeshi while in the English dub Chuck only has eyes for Ash.
Cut - 2 seconds
About two seconds are trimmed from this shot of the liner headed for the Whirl Islands right after the commercial break.
After that the only other real change left is that "Road to Johto" line of the narrator's that we see in just about every episode.
And that's a wrap on Season Four! Season Five has a lot of rewrites, cut footage, paint edits, music changes, and just overall tomfoolery going on so there will be plenty to talk about on the site!
This page was last updated on September 27th, 2020
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