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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region

Japanese Episode 039
Episode Stats:

Japanese Episode 039:  "Pikachu's Forest"
American Episode 136:  "Pikachu's Goodbye"
Pokemon Dare Da?  Pikachu
Japanese Air Date:  April 16th, 1998
American Air Date:  November 20th, 1998

Satoshi and his friends are resting inside a forest one day when Satoshi's Pikachu spots something and runs off.  Its trainer wonders what it saw, so he follows it deeper into the forest until he spots an entire pack of Pikachu!  Satoshi's pokemon has no trouble fitting in with the others and genuinely appears to be enjoying itself.  Later, one of the wild Pikachu falls into a river, so Satoshi's Pikachu jumps in after it.  The pokemon's brave act impresses the others, and before long Satoshi's Pikachu is the most popular Pikachu in the pack.  Later that night, Kasumi and Takeshi notice that Satoshi seems to be lost in thought.  Before they can find out what's bothering him, they hear the scream of the wild Pikachu in the distance.  When they catch up to the pokemon, they see them all in a trap set up by the Rocket-Dan!  Satoshi's Pikachu is able to escape and distract the Rocket trio long enough for the rest of the Pikachu to make their escape.  Once the Rocket-Dan is sent blasting off, the wild Pikachu celebrate Satoshi's Pikachu's latest act of bravery.  Morning comes, and Satoshi announces that he's decided to leave Pikachu behind.  Kasumi and Takeshi step forward to protest, but Satoshi indicates that his mind is made up.  As he prepares to leave, his Pikachu appears before him and chooses to go with him rather than stay behind with its new friends.  Satoshi is touched by Pikachu's actions and happily welcomes it back to the team. 

After having a few great episodes in a row, it's a shame to see an episode as uninteresting as this one.

There wasn't a whole lot in this one to keep me interested.  Other than the stuff at the end with Satoshi deciding to leave his pokemon behind, the only thing that remotely interested me about this one was how old the animators made Kasumi look.  Not in that gross "I find ten year olds hot" type of thing, but more of the "did they remember that she's supposed to be the same age as Satoshi?" kind of way.

There doesn't seem to be any evidence that this episode was in production before the Pokemon Shock incident, leading many to believe - myself included - that this episode was thrown together during the show's four month hiatus.  I imagine the production crew had a number of nearly finished scripts at their disposal, so they likely dusted one of them off, polished it up a little, and then went to work.  The fact that this episode only features two pokemon species (Pikachu and Nyasu) means the animators had a lot less work to do than usual, and I'm sure the minute and a half montage at the end helped them out a lot as well.

I also get the feeling that OLM chose a Pikachu-centric episode as their first post-Pokemon Shock episode to show viewers that it's safe to watch the show again.  Hey, remember that pokemon whose attack gave your kids seizures?  Well, look!  The little bastard's all over the place in this one!  Yet nobody's getting sick!  It's safe to watch Pocket Monsters again!  The fact that Pikachu launches all of one electric attack throughout this entire thing (no big group super attack this time) leads me to believe that they wanted to have a nice, mellow episode before starting up again.

This episode was also the first episode to air as part of an hour-long special, as well as the first one to air on the show's new Thursday night time slot.

The dubbed version was actually skipped over during the series' first run-through, making it look like we had yet another banned episode on our hands.  Bulbapedia says the episode debuted on November 20th, less than three weeks after "March of the Exeggutor Squad" premiered, but that doesn't really match up with what I remember happening.  I could be mis-remembering things here, but I recall that this episode didn't premiere until the series' second run-through, putting its premiere date at December 21st, 1998.

Dialogue Edit
The very first line of the Japanese version of the episode is a very straightforward introduction to the characters.  The narrator tells us that Satoshi is trying to become a Pokemon Master and that he's on a journey with his friends Kasumi and Takeshi (ポケモンマスターを目指す、サトシ。そうして、サトシとともに旅を続けるカスミとタケシ。).  I'm assuming this was used at the beginning to remind viewers of who these characters were after the show had been off the air for four months.  The dubbed version has an accurate translation, but loses that awkward sense of "hey guys, remember us?" that the Japanese version had going on.

Ash:  "Kanga-Kangaskhan~!"

Originally, Satoshi didn't make a reference to Tarsan; he simply lets out a Tarzan-like yell.

Music Edit
This episode doesn't use the regular title screen music in Japan; instead, the music that was playing before continues through the title screen and goes on for the first part of the episode.  The dubbed version awkwardly cuts this song in the middle with the regular title screen music and then cuts back, creating this really noticeable skip in the music.

The image of Pikachu used for the eyecatch is different for both versions.

Japanese English

I'm guessing the fact that the Pikachu's ears and tails are cut off by the rectangular borders posed too much of an issue for 4Kids, so they just reused their eyecatch from the first episode instead. 

Side Note
Does anyone else find it funny that Kasumi and Takeshi have that whole conversation about how good a cook Takeshi is when they're clearly eating store-bought canned food?  Does using a can opener count as "cooking" in the pokemon world?

Dialogue Edit
When the Rocket-Dan finish their motto,

James:  "We'd like to thank all of our fans for their loyalty and support.  This victory is for them!"
Jessie:  "And now you're about to witness Team Rocket's finest performance."

James' dialogue has the same feel as Kojirou's dialogue, but it omits some details.  In the Japanese version, Kojirou thanks the 395 million fans across the country for their support.

I'm not quite sure what the significance of 395 million is and am guessing that 4Kids didn't either, which is why they chose to ignore it.  I also think it's interesting that Kojirou refers to the heretofore unmentioned Kanto Region as "the country" because it makes me wonder if he's unaware that the area is called the Kanto Region

James:  "They're no match for our new Pikachu insulated seizure net.  You might as well just give up!"

The net in the original version is called the "Newly Designed Pikachu Capture Net (Patent Pending)" (実用新案特許出願中のピカチュウ捕獲ネット).  I wonder if the Japanese producers are aware that the dub slipped in this reference to the verboten Pokemon Shock incident?

James:  "Why don't you check out our website?"

Wouldn't a web-based pun have worked better in "The Ninja Poké-Showdown," when webbing was actually used?

Meowth:  "It's a Pika-palooza!"
Jessie:  "We're at the Pika our powers."
James:  "'Chu can say that again, Jess."

I appreciate a good pun as much as the next guy, but this one kind of made me wish I was deaf. 

Originally, Musashi and Kojirou were happy because it seems like evil is finally winning.

Video Edit / Music Edit / Dialogue Edit
The big edit of this episode occurs to the montage at the end of the episode.  We saw a glimpse of this type of edit during Butterfree's farewell montage, but in this episode, 4Kids establishes that they have absolutely no problem completely redoing a clip montage.

Before I start, I think it's important to note that before I started working on this comparison, I hadn't seen the dubbed version of this episode in over ten years.  The few times I've watched this episode between now and then have always been in Japanese, so I'm definitely more familiar with that version.  I really have neither an attachment or any sense of nostalgia for the way the dub presents things here.

I guess I should start with describing everything leading up to the montage.  In the Japanese version, there's no music playing from the moment Satoshi puts out the campfire until he starts running away.  All we hear, and all we need to hear, really, is Satoshi's conversation with his friends and the chirps of the forest.  The dub decides to "fix" this by having its music drone on in the background the entire time, doing its best to ensure that this scene doesn't stand out in any way from every other serious scene.

The acting is notably different, too.  Satoshi lashes out angrily at his friends, yelling at them to "be quiet" when Kasumi asks him why he's leaving his friend behind.  Later, when he's talking to Pikachu, you can hear his voice tremble as he tries to hold back the tears.  Ash, on the other hand, doesn't yell at his friends at all.  Instead, he tells Misty that his "mind's made up" in the same tone of voice that he uses when he's deciding what gym to go to next.  He also sounds rather normal throughout his conversation with Pikachu, as if leaving his friend behind isn't really causing him that much grief.

Now we've arrived at the montage.  For whatever reason, 4Kids pretty much threw out the Japanese footage and recreated the montage using different clips.  Some of the same clips are used (just rearranged), but for the most part, the entire thing was redone.  The clips in the Japanese montage were pretty much shown in chronological order, from the first episode onward, while the order used in the dub seems pretty random.

There are some noticeable patterns with the 4Kids version, though.  There are more clips used, and they tend to be shorter.  The clips in the Japanese version where characters are talking for any extended period of time are removed.  Clips featuring characters other than Ash and Pikachu are kept to a bare minimum in the English version.  More "sad" scenes are shown.

One thing I found amusing about the 4Kids montage is that, toward the end, they use one of the clips from Mezase Pokemon Master that they didn't bother to use for their opening.  Like, you're watching this montage of TV clips and then BAM - high quality opening animation.  I also find it funny that one of the clips used in the middle of the montage is from this very episode, as if Satoshi is reminiscing about an event that happened like twenty minutes earlier. 

I went and took screenshots of both versions of the montage.  There are 90 screenshots altogether, so I decided to break them up into three pages.  They can be found here, here, and here.

4Kids tries to mimic the border used in the original montage, but as you can see, their version is a little more opaque than the one used in Japan.

Japanese English

The music used is different, too.  In the Japanese version, a shortened version of Oyasumi Boku no Pikachuu, a song present on the TV Animation "Pocket Monsters" Theme Songs CD single, is used.  In the dub, it's The Time Has Come (Pikachu's Goodbye).  Let's look at the lyrics to the two songs, side by side, for a moment:

"Oyasumi Boku no Pikachuu"
"The Time Has Come (Pikachu's Goodbye)"
Your Monster Ball is your bed
Curl up and close your eyes
And when morning comes, you can tell me about your troubles.

I want to ask you about
If we'd never met, but...

The thought's only crossed my mind.

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
A twinkling star is shining.

Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
I close my eyes
And I can see the day we met
Just one moment and I knew,
You're my best friend
Do anything for you.

We've gone so far and done so much
And I feel like we've always been together
Right by my side
Through thick and thin
You're the part of my life, I'll always remember

The time has come
It's for the best, I know it
Who could have guessed that you and I
Somehow someday we had to say goodbye

The time has come
It's for the best, I know it
Who could have guessed that you and I
Somehow someway we had to say goodbye

As you can probably tell, The Time Has Come (Pikachu's Goodbye) is a faster song than Oyasumi Boku no Pikachuu.  The Japanese song is also sung by a woman (Matsumoto Rika, as Satoshi) while the English song is done by a man (John Loeffler, as "the guy who sings Pokémon Theme").  The Japanese version uses guitars and a harmonica, while the English version has this rad 80s synthesizer feel to it.

When I think about it, I can't really think of a good reason why this montage was redone.  The first thing I thought was that maybe 4Kids thought the original video didn't fit with their new song, and therefore felt compelled to make a new one.  I played the Japanese video with the English song in the background and thought it fit pretty well; in fact, I feel like the Japanese video complimented the song better, at some points.  If the dub had used Mr. Loeffler's song with the Japanese footage, the lyric "Do anything for you" would have been accompanied by a clip of Ash pushing Pikachu on a stretcher, an image I feel is much stronger than a shot of Pikachu licking Ash's face.  There's also a moment in the English montage where the lyrics "The time has come" is accompanied with an image of Ash and Pikachu cheering, hilariously indicating that they can't wait to get the hell away from each other.  Most of the clips, in both versions, aren't trying to match up with the words being sung, so I wonder what replacing one series of random clips with another really accomplishes.

Whatever the reason, this is a grim sign of the types of edits 4Kids will continue to do to the series throughout their tenure with it.  How fun for me!

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