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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region

Japanese Episode 033

Episode Stats:

Japanese Episode 033:  "The Big Race of Blazing Pokemon"
American Episode 132:  "The Flame Pokémon-athon!"
Pokemon Dare Da?  Ponyta
Japanese Air Date:  November 11th, 1997
American Air Date:  October 21st, 1998
Important Characters:  Fuuko (Lara Laramie), Dorio (Dario)
Important Places:  Safari Land (Safari Zone), Safari Zone (Safari Zone)

Now that Satoshi has finished his errand in Sekichiku City, he finds himself going through the nearby Safari Land.  He attempts to capture a herd of Kentauros there before he is stopped by Fuuko, a Ponyta trainer.  She explains that the pokemon in the Safari Land are off-limits, stating that they're currently being raised for other trainers.  During the course of conversation, she piques our heroes' interest when she brings up an event known as the pokemon race taking place the following day.  That night, one of the other contestants in the race, a Dodrio trainer named Dario, informs Fuuko that the Kentauros are acting spooked.  When she goes to calm them down, she falls off her Ponyta, injuring her arm.  Unable to ride her pokemon, she asks Satoshi to fill in for her in the next day's race.  Satoshi reluctantly agrees.  The next day, Satoshi-tachi enter the race along with Dario.  A number of accidents picks off the other racers, one by one, until only Satoshi, Kasumi, and Dario remain.  Before long, it is revealed that the Rocket-Dan, having been employed by Dario, are the cause of the "accidents" and are quickly sent blasting off.  In the final stretch of the race, Fuuko's Ponyta evolves into Gallop, giving it the extra power needed to finish in first place.  Fuuko thanks Satoshi for all his hard work and tells him that he should head for the nearby Safari Zone if he wants to capture more pokemon.

This was a fun little episode.  The idea of having pokemon race each other seems like a no-brainer, and I'm honestly surprised that they've never really gone back and recycled this plotline a few dozen times by now.  Surely they've debuted a pokemon or twelve that would be fascinating to watch in a race-like event since this episode, right? 

While there are a few things that stood out to me, plot hole-wise (When did Takeshi and Kasumi find the time to register for the race?  Why did Kasumi stay behind after the Rocket-Dan were defeated despite the fact that there was nothing requiring her to do so?), the episode - as a whole - is strong enough to overcome that.  It's just a fun filler - nothing more, nothing less.

This episode is also as good a time as any to bring up the Kanto region's pacing.  Just look at the rate at which Satoshi gets his badges in this horribly uneven region:

Beginning to Nibi Gym:  Five episodes
Nibi Gym to Hanada Gym:  Two episodes
Hanada Gym to Kuchiba Gym:  Seven episodes
Kuchiba Gym to Yamabuki Gym:  Eight episodes
Yamabuki Gym to Tamamushi Gym:  Two episodes
Tamamushi Gym to Sekichiku Gym:  Six episodes
Sekichiku Gym to Guren Gym:  Twenty-six episodes
Guren Gym to Tokiwa Gym:  Four episodes

The show was originally planned to last about a year and a half (the length of the Kanto saga, assuming that the show wouldn't have gone on hiatus), so they knew how much they had to work with from the get-go.  So why the huge gap between the previous Gym battle and the next one?  Why not shift the fillers around a bit instead of giving us this looooong stretch of filler?  Get your stuff together, guys.

The episode also foreshadows Satoshi's eventual capture of the Kentauros.  I think it's really great to see our hero come across pokemon and actually not succeed capturing it because it's something that happens to us in the games all the time.  Sure, we sorta-kinda had a little bit of this going on with the starter pokemon (we saw his desire to catch them before he actually did it), but this is the first time he's actually tried and failed onscreen.  The TV show will do this more often throughout the course of the franchise, and I'm all for it.

Animation-wise, I found this episode to be a mixed bag.  I thought the stuff at the beginning, where Satoshi's trying to catch all those Kentauros, looked awful and off-model.  Yet the Rocket-Dan battle in the second half of the episode looks great, featuring a number of great poses and some fluid (well, for this show) animation.  Another thing that caught my eye was how it seems like the animators didn't have any concept of light sources.  Take Ponyta, for example; large portions of this creature's body is made out of fire, yet you wouldn't know it because the shadows on its body are in the same places as every other character.  I realize that budget and time issues prevented the team from portraying accurate shadows and all, but it's still very distracting to me.

Oh, and here's some random trivia for you.  This episode, in Japan, earned the series its highest TV ratings ever at 18.6%.  As in, no other episode of any of the various TV series was watched by as many people as this one.  I don't know why, but I find it extremely interesting that a throwaway episode about pokemon running somehow became the franchise's top-rated show ever.

The dub, like the animation, is a mixed bag.  I like 4Kids keeping the vocal theme in the middle of the episode, but I hate Lara's and Dario's voices.  While they're not the worst voices the English version will produce, I still really really dislike them
because a) I can't stand anything that Lisa Ortiz does, ever, and b) they're both voiced by New Yorkers trying to put on western accents.  And it shows.  I seriously haven't heard accents this bad since that The Simpsons episode where the family went to Australia.

Kentauros keeps its Japanese voice.

Side Note
This episode is another case where 4Kids got a copy of the pre-seizure episode.

One notable difference between the two versions can be seen when Fuuko falls off her Ponyta.  In the pre-seizure version, the shot of her arm actually hitting the ground flashes for a very brief moment before vanishing.  The post-seizure version (i.e. the one that would be rerun), on the other hand, freezes that impact shot for a little bit longer in order to reduce the "flashy" effect of the shot.

There's only a few episodes left until this pre-seizure / post-seizure stuff is even an issue anymore, so these weird inconsistencies will be going away very soon.

Dialogue Edit
Well hello, random rewrite:

Narrator:  "After earning a Soul Badge at the Fuschia Gym, our friends arrive at the Safari Zone, where they're sure to discover some new and unusual Pokémon."

They're actually in Safari Land, an area outside the Safari Zone that's exclusive to the TV series.

What makes this change even more ridiculous is that if you fast forward to the end of the episode, 4Kids had both Lara Laramie and the narrator talk about how Ash is heading to the Safari Zone.  Even though he's supposedly already there.  And then, at the beginning of the next episode, the narrator refers to the location of this episode as "the grassland."


Lara:  "Have you ever heard of the Big P Pokémon Ranch that's owned by the Laramie family?"

And then,

Lara:  "This is the Laramie Big P Ranch, and I'm Lara Laramie."

The dub sort of creates this whole relationship between Fuuko and the Laramii family that doesn't exist in the original.  That's because in the Japanese version, she never directly states that she's a part of the family; she always talks about the Laramii family as if she has no connection to them.  The dub, on the other hand, gives Lara the same surname (Fuuko was simply known as Fuuko in the original) and acts more like she's a part of said family.

Lara:  "Well, we're having a big party here tonight.  Why don't you all come as my guests?"
Ash:  "A party!?  That sounds great!"

Originally, Fuuko invites everyone to a festival, not a party.  That's why Pikachu - wearing Japanese clothes while holding a pair of fans against a Japanese-y wave pattern - pops up in the very next scene.  That's also why this "party" has vendors trying to sell stuff and big ol' stone towers.

4Kids had no problem using the word "festival" in "The Ghost of Maiden's Peak," so why change it now?

the place where they have the festival is Larami Village (ララミー村), but for some reason, the dub doesn't really carry that over.

Side Note
Something unprecedented happens in this episode that I don't think is ever repeated again; 4Kids keeps a Japanese lyric song in an episode of the TV series.

During the festival (sorry..."party"), we get to hear Pokemon Ondo, Japanese lyrics and all.  Pokemon Ondo is the song that would eventually become the series' fourth ending theme and holds a special place in my heart because it features Dogas singing.  The rest of the song is kind of boring, but...come on!  Singing Dogas!

I'm absolutely flabbergasted that 4Kids didn't replace this with some other music.  I mean...4Kids, keeping a Japanese song?  Whaaaaaaat?

Paint Edit
Various signs throughout the festival get the Japanese text painted away.  Despite the fact that a Japanese song can be heard playing in the background.

Japanese English

Oh yeah.  That makes perfect sense.

Click here to view more pictures from the scene.

Dialogue Edit
Dorio calls the Rocket-Dan "sensei" in the Japanese version.  Dario, on the other hand, seems to be on a first name basis with the trio.


Lara:  "Ash!  You could ride Ponyta for me!"
Everyone:  "Huh!?"
Ash:  "I can't do it!  Ponyta'll burn any rider except you!"
Lara:  "I'm sure you could do it.  When I saw you tryin' so hard to pet Ponyta, I knew you could, Ash.  Please give it a try."

The reason Fuuko thinks Satoshi can ride Ponyta is because of the way he tried to calm it down in the previous scene, not because of his attempt to pet it during the day.

Paint Edit
The banner at the starting line of the race has its text removed.  Originally, it said ポケモンレースSTART ("Pokemon Race Start").

Japanese English

Click on each image for a larger version.

Dare Da?
The image of Ponyta used for this episode's eyecatch is a little different in the dub.  The one used in the English version has black eyes while the one in the Japanese version does not.

Japanese English

The eyes in the Japanese version actually look a little soulless and creepy to me, so I don't mind this change at all.

Paint Edit
The race has begun, so that means that all the banners in the background get their text erased.

Japanese English

Click here to view more pictures from the scene.

Dialogue Edit
That sensei stuff comes back:

Dario:  "Alright, Team Rocket, time to go to work!"

Originally, Dario calls the Rocket-Dan sensei, just like he did earlier.

The reason I'm bringing this up here is because in the dub, Dario shouting out Team Rocket's name like that pretty much lets everyone know that he's working with them while in the original, nobody would know that until a little later.

Paint Edit
This blue banner behind Fuuko?  And the pink one behind open-mouthed guy?  ERAZORED!

Japanese English

Click on each image for a larger version.

Dialogue Edit
This one's weird because 4Kids usually does the opposite of what they do here:

Meowth:  "Then I can mess ya up again!"
Ash:  "'Mess ya up again?'  So it was Team Rocket!"
Misty:  "It was you who broke Lara's arm"

In the Japanese version, Kasumi simply states that the Rocket-Dan hurt Fuuko's arm.  Not that they broke it.

Like I said...weird.  It's like Bizarro 4Kids was dubbing the show this day, leaving in Japanese songs and making things more severe than they originally were and all that.

Paint Edit
Some more banner paint edits.  The first one show some banners cheering for Ponyta:

Japanese English

Those of you who know basic Japanese will probably question - the way I did - why 4Kids erased parts of some of the symbols but left other parts intact.  What are the banners in the English version trying to say here?  "Go Ponyt?"

Next up are the banners on the stands there right as Ponyta begins its final stretch of the race.


It kind of makes you wonder what kind of people would go to the trouble of putting up blank banners, doesn't it?

Click on each image for a larger version.

Dialogue Edit
The announcer makes this goof in converting Rapidash's speed from metric units to the English system:

Announcer:  "Here comes Rapidash, who has a top speed of over one hundred miles an hour!"

The Japanese announcer states that the pokemon can run 240 km/hr, which is actually closer to 150 mph. 

True, 150 mph is "over a hundred miles an hour" and so the meaning is close enough.  But why do we have to settle for "close enough" when it comes to something as straightforward as translating numbers?  Especially when there are no mouth flaps to worry about?

It's totally not a big deal, but it's still an odd thing to change.

Paint Edit
Just two more to go.

This shot of the banners gets recycled, more or less, so the paint edit gets recycled as well.

Japanese English

The starting line banner gets erased one last time as well.

Japanese English

Click on each image for a larger version.

Dialogue Edit
So how did 4Kids translate the Rocket-Dan's famous Ya na kanji line this time?

Meowth:  "James!  Stop this crazy thing!"

You know what would have made this The Jetsons reference even funnier?  If it had anything to do with anything happening in this episode.  At all.


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