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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region
049: "Kamonegi's Sitting Ducks"
One day, while
Satoshi and Takeshi are away gathering water, Kasumi spots the rarely
seen pokemon Kamonegi! She chases after it in hopes of catching one for
herself but she ends up losing track of it after bumping into a boy
named Keita. Later, Kasumi returns to camp only to discover that all
the pokemon in her bag are missing! She reports the incident to a
nearby Junsar who tells her that there have been reports of a boy
and his Kamonegi who have been tricking Trainers out of their pokemon.
Kasumi guesses that when she bumped into Keita earlier he must have
used that opportunity to swap her bag out with an identical fake. But
how can they track him down? Back at Keita’s camp, Kasumi’s Koduck lets
itself out of its Monster Ball and manages to wander its way back to
its Trainer without Keita noticing! The ditzy duck pokemon then somehow
manages to lead our heroes to Keita’s camp where they get the young
thief to come clean about what he’s done. He explains that he used his
Kamonegi to trick people because he doesn’t believe his pokemon is
capable of anything else and so our heroes initiate a pokemon battle to
convince him otherwise. Much to Keita’s surprise, his Kamonegi is
actually a lot stronger than he had realized! After the eye-opening
battle the young Trainer returns all the pokemon he had stolen and vows
to embark on a new journey to become a real Trainer.
In my opinion, Atsuhiro Tomioka is one of the most talented writers this show's got. He knows the pokemon world like the back of his hand and how to use characters effectively to tell a compelling story. Whenever I see that he's been put in charge of an important episode - which is often, thankfully - I breathe a sigh of relief because he rarely ever turns in a dud of a script.
And then there's this episode.
"Kamonegi's Sitting Ducks" is an insane episode filled with a shocking number of plot holes, luck-based bullshit, and one of the most ridiculous "morals" in this franchise's history. It's about this little thief kid named Keita who uses his Kamonegi to steal pokemon from others for reasons that are never really adequately explained. Did he have aspirations of traveling around to various Gyms but couldn’t because he’s a shit Trainer? Or is there some other reason he needs to be strong? And was his big plan to fix whatever issue he has was to go around and trick a bunch of people out of their pokemon and then never use them, ever?
Regardless, he carries out his cons several different ways. One is to fill a bunch of backpacks with rocks and then hope that a Trainer carrying a bag exactly like it (same color, same markings, same weight, same everything) just happens to walk by so he can swap it out. Another scheme of his is to drill a hole into the bottom of a boat and then lure people out into a river so it'll capsize, knocking the Trainers' pokemon off of their persons and right into Kamonegi's clutches. Oh, and the current that gently floats the Monster Balls toward Keita's pokemon is also somehow strong enough to carry their rightful owners away.
Amazingly, Keita's implausible schemes all work and he manages to con multiple Trainers out of their pokemon over the course of about a week or so. But no worries! After Satoshi engages him in a non-consensual pokemon battle, Keita decides he's sorry and decides to give all the pokemon back. Somehow, nobody presses charges, and Keita is allowed to just walk away from an officer of the law to start a new pokemon journey. The moral of the episode, kids, is that you can screw people over and over without any consequences whatsoever!
The fact that this insane nonsense was written by someone as talented as Atsuhiro Tomioka is just mind-blowing to me.
There's still some good in here though. Koduck is pretty amazing and the episode's decision to make this a Kasumi episode for some reason (I mean, Kamonegi isn't actually a Water-Type...?) actually kind of works. Still, whenever I think of this one the thing I remember the most is how it's just one ridiculous piece of nonsense after the other.
Something I've been noticing about the English dub for a while is that the music from the Japanese version, whenever 4Kids bothers to leave it intact, is played at a noticeably lower volume than the stuff 4Kids produces. Like, it seems like the sound editors are purposefully making it harder to hear Shinji Miyazaki's music, y'know? On the plus side, 4Kids actually gives us a few scenes without any background music playing whatsoever instead of making this episode the wall-to-wall music fest it usually is so I guess that's progress...?
Let's talk about this episode's titular pokemon.
Kamonegi is a pokemon who’s based on a Japanese idiom kamo ga negi o seotte yatte kuru (カモがネギを背負ってやって来る), or “a duck comes carrying a leek on its back.” The English equivalent of this phrase would be something like “along comes a sucker just begging to be parted with his money.” The idea is that a duck who walks around carrying its own side dish is just begging to be eaten; the phrase is used to refer to someone who makes themselves an easy target.
The TV series choosing the pokemon whose very name indicates that it’s easily scammed to be the one going around tricking people is no accident. While the name that Nintendo of America came up with for the pokemon sorta-kinda works here (the idea of this Pokémon being the one to trick people is a bit farfetched), the episode using this pokemon to trick people makes way more sense in Japanese than it does in pretty much any other language.
Misty asks her friends to get her some water:
Misty: "Will you get some for me? Pretty please, Brock?"
Originally Kasumi tells Takeshi that she's tired and so that's why she'd like to stay behind. Misty doesn't give any sort of reason in the English dub.
The next few dialogue changes are based around a bunch of Japanese proverbs. The first one shows up when Farfetch'd walks right up to the Rocket trio:
Jessie: "What amazing luck. We come to look for it and it comes to us!"
James: "It tastes good...and has good taste!"
Kojirou's line in the original is a reworking of an old Japanese proverb. The original is "summertime insects who head straight for the fire" (飛んで火に入る夏の虫) and is a phrase used to talk about someone who has self-destructive tendencies. There's a Dutch phrase, "He that bringeth himself into needless dangers, dieth the devil's martyr," that's more or less an English equivalent. Kojirou's version replaces the "summertime insects" part with Kamonegi's name to create "A Kamonegi who's heading straight for the fire" (飛んで火に入るカモネギとはまさにこのことで).
After Keith leaves his Pokémon with Team Rocket:
Meowth: "That sucker just lost one Farfetch'd."
This time, the proverb being used is the "the duck has even come carrying its own onion" (鴨が葱を背負って来る) one that I mentioned earlier. Nyarth's version is almost identical; "This time it's like that story of the duck who's come carrying its own onion nyarth" (これこそカモがネギしょってやって来たような話だニャース).
A little later:
Meowth: "Lettin' Team Rocket guard your Pokémon is like lettin' your cat guard your canary."
Here, the proverb Nyarth reworks is neko ni katsu obushi (猫に鰹節), or "(letting your) cat (look after) bonito flakes," which are a type of dried fish flakes used as a garnish in Japanese cooking. Nyarth's version is "Leaving your pokemon with the Rocket-Dan is like having a Nyarth look after bonito flakes" (ロケット団の前にポケモン置いてくなんて、ニャースにかつお節だニャ). An English equivalent would be "He sets the wolf to guard the sheep," though the cat and the canary bit 4Kids comes up with works as well.
After Keith leaves:
Jessie: "He's done all the work for us."
Meowth: "Too bad he didn't leave his recipe for Farfetch'd flambé."
Nyarth's line in the original is "Not only did the duck bring its own onion, it brought a sauce pot with it as well" (カモがネギしょって、鍋まで用意してくれたニャ～).
You may also notice that there have been a lot of references to real world animals during all this (insects, ducks, cats, canaries (in the dub)). I guess neither version of the show had added the whole "pokemon have essentially replaced real world animals" part into the show's bible yet...?
Something a bit odd happens after the Rocket trio's boat sinks:
James: "My Weezing!"
Jessie: "Arbok and Lickitung are floating away!"
You can also see three Monster Balls in this scene when, at this point in the series, the Rocket duo is only supposed to have Arbok and Matadogas.
So what's going on here? Why does Musashi already seem to have her Beroringa here when she won't actually catch it for another three episodes? Did someone screw up?
I'll go into more detail in a later comparison, but long story short; the Pokemon Shock incident, in which approximately 700 kids were sent to the hospital after exhibiting seizure-like symptoms due to a scene featuring strobe light-like effects, threw the episode orders for the latter part of Kanto all out of whack. Production-wise, this episode was most likely meant to air after "Fierce Fighting! Pokemon Hinamatsuri" but because of the way the schedule got messed up it ended up getting pushed up.
To 4Kids' credit, the English version leaves the dialogue intact. I'm sure this confused many a dub viewer back in the 90s who didn't have the resources available to explain what's really going on here but what else could they have done? I suppose 4Kids could have aired the show in its production order instead of the order in which it aired in Japan but I strongly suspect that "Princess vs. Princess" was delayed for budgetary reasons and therefore couldn't have aired any earlier than it did. 4Kids could have also digitally erased the third Monster Ball in this episode and rewritten the dialogue but that seems like a lot of work for such a small pay-off...? It's much simpler to just leave things as-is.
Gee, thanks a lot, Porygon.
The note inside Keita's bag used to say baaka (バーカ), or "you dummy!" before 4Kids got their hands on it:
Curiously the beh (べー) to the right of the face at the bottom there, which is kind of like the Japanese equivalent of the Nelson Muntz laugh, is left intact.
Click on each image to view a larger version.
The image used of Kamonegi for the eyecatch is different depending on which version you're watching.
Click on each image to view a larger version.
The sign at Junsar's police box gets edited.
Originally it says Kono pokemon ni chuui (このポケモンに注意！), or "Beware of this Pokemon!" The English version replaces it with a translation.
It's also super interesting how 4Kids also went and swapped out the image of Kamonegi used on the sign in the first shot there with a different, higher quality version of the same image. I guess whatever paint editor worked on this scene decided to swap it out while he or she was already working on the text edit?
Misty worries about her missing Pokémon:
Misty: "Oh I can't believe he stole all my Pokémon. Staryu, Starmie, Goldeen, and Horsea."
Ash: "Misty, you forgot Psyduck."
Misty: "Oh I wish I could forget Psyduck."
The animation not matching Misty's second line there should be a pretty decent indicator that this was a rewrite, right?
Originally Kasumi tries to laugh off the fact that she "forgot" about Koduck by saying "Yeah, that's right...and also Koduck...!" (あぁそうそう、コダックもね~).
Bulbasaur starts to whip Farfetch'd around:
Keith: "Farfetch'd, no~!"
Misty: "At least now you can see the right way to capture Pokémon in the wild."
Originally Kasumi tells Keita to look carefully because this is what a pokemon battle really looks like. I'm only really bringing this up because the dub makes it sound like Misty's saying that Ash is trying to catch Keith's Pokémon, which is some Team Rocket-level kidnapping shit when you stop to think about it.
Finally, the Rocket trio's tricked again:
James: "All of them are Voltorb!"
Jessie: "That two-timer!"
Meowth: "He tricked us two times in one episode!"
There's no fourth wall broken in the Japanese version; instead, Nyarth simply wonders how many times they're going to fall for the same trick.
This page was last updated on May 14th, 2017
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