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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region

Episode Stats:

Japanese Episode 011:  "The Stray Pokemon, Hitokage"
American Episode 111:  "Charmander - The Stray Pokémon"
Pokemon Dare Da?  Hitokage
Japanese Air Date:  June 10th, 1997
American Air Date:  September 22nd, 1998
Important Characters:  Daisuke (Damien)

As our heroes try to find their way to Kuchiba City, they encounter a Hitokage sitting on top of a cliff.  After a few unsuccessful attempts at capturing the pokemon, Satoshi's able to figure out that Hitokage already has a trainer and is just waiting for him to return.  The trio decide to leave it be, and head to a nearby Pokemon Center to rest for the night.  While there, a trainer named Daisuke brags about how he left a weak Hitokage behind and calls it stupid for actually believing that he'd come back for it.  Shocked by Daisuke’s insensitivity, Satoshi and his friends go out into the rain to retrieve the weakened pokemon so they can bring it back to the Pokemon Center.  After the pokemon regains its strength, it leaves the Pokemon Center in order to continue waiting for its trainer.  Disappointed by the pokemon's inability to see its trainer for the heartless monster he is, Satoshi and the others decide to just continue on their journey.  They don't get far before they fall into one of the Rocket-Dan’s traps while the Rocket trio makes off with Satoshi's Pikachu.  However, Hitokage steps in and saves the day by using its Flamethrower to send the Rocket-Dan packing.  Daisuke, upon witnessing this display of strength, changes his mind about abandoning Hitokage and asks to take him back.  Eventually, Hitokage refuses and attacks its former trainer until he runs away.  Now that Hitokage has rejected its former trainer, Satoshi decides to take the starter pokemon along with him.  Hitokage agrees, giving Satoshi yet another new traveling companion as he makes his way to his third Gym Battle.


So it's time for Satoshi to catch his second Kanto pokemon!  This one kind of irks me a bit since, throughout the whole episode, Takeshi is the one who's worrying about the pokemon.  The way the episode's set up, it really looks like he'll be the one to catch the fire-type whose life he helped save.  But no....Hitokage has to randomly choose Satoshi instead. 

Can you imagine how different the series would be if  the Nibi City Gym Leader had gotten Hitokage instead? 

This episode also has one of my favoritist scenes ever; the part when Musashi’s behind a bush with her remote control as the little morse code-like noise beeps.  Just the way Musashi is drawn, the way the giant robot clumsily hides behind a tree, the way the music plays...it all comes together to one of my favorite scenes in the whole series.  It makes me laugh every time I watch it, both in Japanese and in English.

Also of note is the Rocket-Dan's rubber anti-Pikachu suits.  A contributor to PokeAni reckons that the suits in this episode were modeled after the suits worn by the aliens in 1990's Doraemon - Nobita and the Animal Planet, but they just look like generic body suits to me.  I've got the Pocket Monsters version on the left and the Doraemon version on the right; what do you guys think?

<>The dubbed version was actually pretty faithful...I'm probably the most impressed with the way 4Kids didn't shy away from using the word "die" so often in reference to Charmander.  Yeah, there were a few music replacements that irked me (particularly the scene where Hitokage leaves the Pokemon Center...the music used in the Japanese version is waaaay more dramatic than the several pieces 4Kids replaces it with), but overall it was alright.

What I'm not impressed with, however, is the dub's approach to Charmander.  Here's a transcript I did for the part of the Pokémon 4Ever DVD commentary where they start talking about this very episode:

Michael Haigney:  "In an early episode, there was a new...new character, and it was Charmander.  So, at the end of the session, all the major a-actors were done, and Charmander had to make some kind of a sound.  So I thought "well...OK here's...here's one Pokémon, there are a hundred and fifty.  We have fifty-two more episodes.  Charmander's probably in this one episode and we'll never see Charmander again.  [the other actors laugh]  So I say...y'know, we had like a little time...so y'know what?  I'm just gonna jump in, and I'll do a sound.  And it was like [in Charmander's voice] "Char! Char! Char!" like that.  And...'cuz he was a little character.  And [in Charmander's voice] "Chaaaaar!" like that.  [the other actors laugh] OK, so I thought I was done."
Norman Grossfeld: 
"Wait...a little...one more time." [the other actors laugh]
Veronica Taylor:
  "How's it go again?"
Michael Haigney:  "So then... [in Charmander's voice] Char!  Char!"
Maddie Blaustein:  [in Damien's voice]  "It's Charminder!" [the other actors laugh]
Michael Haigney:  "Right...it was early.  Right, a-a-a-a-and Maddie was in it that episode I think.  So...then like we got a script..."OK...now Ash, Ch-...and here's Charmander again.  And I thought "Oh maybe Charmander's in a two-parter."  And then it was Charmander for..."
Veronica Taylor (?):  "A long time."
Michael Haigney:  "...like...seventy-seven episodes, it seems like.  And that started happening...and so...y'know we never really knew when a...when a...when a Pokémon was gonna be in a lot of episodes..."


Now I don't expect the people who work on this show to be the biggest superfans ever.  And it is unrealistic to expect these grown-ass men and women to play the games and read the comics and collect the trading cards and all that.  These people do have lives and all.

But...come on.  When you see the main character of the series throw catch this new Charmander character, y'know what?  That character is going to effing appear again.  Mr. Haigney would have had to watch the footage of the scene in order for him to dub it, so there's no way that he wouldn't know.

I'm so glad the people who dub this show pay so much attention to what happens in it.

If it makes you feel any better...Michael Haigney seems to be equally clueless about Sonic X.  So at least he's consistent in his not knowing squat about the shows he works on. 

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