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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Jouto Region

Japanese Episode 250

Episode Stats:

Japanese Episode 250: "The Ice Cave!"
Pokemon Dare Da?   Rougela (Japanese)
Dr. Ookido's Pokémon Lecture: Granbulu
Japanese Air Date:  May 30th, 2002
American Air Date:  Never aired

Satoshi and his friends decide to cut through a mountain path on their way to Fusube City. Inside the ice-filled cavern, the Rocket-Dan attack, making sure to spray cold water on our heroes before being sent packing. Satoshi and Kasumi are fine but the combination of the cold water and the cave's chilly temperatures causes Takeshi to come down with a fever. He's rushed to a Pokémon Center there inside the cave where he's taken care of by a Rougela who performs the same duties that a Lucky would in any other Pokémon Center. As Takeshi recovers, the Center's Joy learns of a problem in the cave; the Rocket-Dan has tampered with the weather control system that keeps everything nice and cold! While Satoshi and Kasumi are busy trying to fix the device, the Rocket trio uses the time they've bought to set up heaters in front of the Pokémon Center and weaken its Ice-Type Pokémon. Both Takeshi and the Center's Rougela try to stand in their way but they're not able to stand up to the trio. Luckily, Satoshi, Kasumi, and Joy arrive on the scene. The Trainers' Pokémon combine their power to destroy the heaters and send the Pokémon thieves packing. Later, Takeshi is able to travel again so the trio says goodbye and makes its way out of the cave and toward Fusube City, the site of Satoshi's final Jouto League Gym Battle. Does Satoshi have what it takes to earn his eighth badge!? To be continued!

We're almost at the city where Satoshi will get his final Jouto League badge! But before we do that the show decides to take a quick little detour to a place that seems to be based on the Ice Path location from the games, only this time it's being called the Ice Cave, because reasons. It's a better than usual adventure. We get a unique location, the team being split up, a random call back to the Orange Islands of all things, a clever Rocket trio scheme, and an episode where pretty much everyone has something to contribute! It's a good one, and that makes the episode's eventual omission by the English dub (more on that later) that much more unfortunate.

The icy cavern this episode takes place in deserves a special shout-out. Putting a Pokémon Center as a kind of rest area in the middle of any icy cavern makes sense; I mean, not economically, of course, since Pokémon Centers in and of themselves seem like financial black holes and all. But more in a "I can see why Trainers would like to have one of these in this location" type of way. The show also made sure to populate the episode with Rougela and Urimoo, two Pokémon who appear in the similar Ice Path location from the games, so you can't accuse the show of not doing its homework this time around.

The episode also furthers this weird relationship the show's been trying to establish between Takeshi and Rougela. It happened in "Rougela's Christmas," where the Pokémon kept trying to kiss Takeshi (and only Takeshi), and the ending theme Takeshi's Paradise where, again, Rougela is trying to kiss him, and it continues here as well. Why this particular pairing? Is there something inherently funny about the show's womanizer getting unwanted attention from a woman-like Pokémon? The show's definitely trying to make this a thing, and I'm not entirely sure why.

Let's also talk about the Rocket trio for a second. Their plan of getting the children sick and then, later, distracting the healthier ones with all that reversed heater business so they can storm the Pokémon Center uninterrupted is actually pretty clever when you think about it. But on the other hand, the stuff with the trio just up and attacking a sick child, slamming him to the ground and having a giant rock thrown at him, was a bit darker than we're used. The episode was written by Yukiyoshi Ohashi, a writer who's kind of infamous among fans for writing the trio a lot nastier than the other writers dare to, and this episode right here is a great example. The trio is straight up evil in this, and to be honest the tonal whiplash between the comic relief goofballs and the sadistic villains who tries to just straight up murder a child is a bit rough.

An English dub of this episode, as I'm sure you know, just doesn't exist. Let's talk about that some more.

The English Dub
During the later part of the Jouto League, the United Kingdom would get episodes about a month or so before the U.S. did. One week, S05E40 "I Politoed Ya So!" showed up, and then the week after that S05E41 "Beauty is Only Skin Deep" aired. The episode that should have aired in between the two, known in Japan as "The Ice Cave!," was nowhere to be found. When it was eventually skipped over by Kids' WB! over in the U.S. about a month later it became clear that this wasn't simply a one-off programming error. This episode wasn't being aired on purpose.

People speculated for months as to the cause of the episode's omission (the SARS "connection" was a particularly popular fan theory) but most people these days understand that we have the black faced Rougela to thank for it not airing in the West. The Pokémon, deemed a "controversial character" because of accusations that it's a negative stereotype of African Americans, was too deeply imbedded in the plot of the episode to erase and so 4Kids just didn't even bother. The episode was skipped and 4Kids moved on with their lives.

While "The Ice Cave!" was aired in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea, the rest of the world simply never got it.

Purple Version Edit
So I'm not sure when this happened - it was at least as early as 2017, judging by a tweet I made about it back then - but a purple edit similar to the one made of the Kanto episode "Rougela's Christmas" was also made for "The Ice Cave!." Animators went in, scene by scene, and recolored Rougela's face from black to purple, her hands from dark gray to purple, and her forearms from red to white. This version of the episode is currently streaming on the Japanese Amazon Prime service.

A gallery of all 46 shots that were edited for this version can be accessed via the links below:


While we do have a "safe" version of the episode available it may be tempting to start hoping that an English dub can finally come out. But, well, sorry to be a wet blanket but that just ain't gonna happen. There's no evidence 4Kids ever dubbed the episode and it's fairly obvious that The Pokémon Company International doesn't like touching anything more than a year old. And even if they did, they'd be using their own cast, their own replacement music, their own theme song, etc. A 2020s dub of the episode would stick out like a sore thumb.

So then why even bother? My guess is for consistency's sake. The Pokémon Company is, very slowly, trying to retroactively convert all the black faced Rougela stuff to the more modern purple design, and providing an updated
version of Rougela's second episode as a main character is a great place to start. Now that the two most Rougela-heavy episodes have been done it should be a cinch to do the rest.

There are of course artistic dilemmas with trying to erase a part of the franchise's animated history, for sure, and a lot of fans are going to feel a certain way about the very existence of this "replacement" version in and of itself. But the thing to remember is that the original version isn't actually going anywhere. The Pokémon Company can't very well go through everyone's hard drives and delete the original, and if they get the black version pulled from one streaming site then someone else will just upload it to another.

The option of being able to watch a purple version of the episode
- an option that we should all welcome, I'd say - isn't going to change any of that.

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This page was last updated on April 1st, 2020




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