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Dogasu's Backpack | Episode Comparisons | Kanto Region

Japanese Episode 053
Episode Stats:

Japanese Episode 053:  "It's Children's Day! Everyone Gather Around!"
American Episode 202:  "The Purr-fect Hero"
Pokemon Dare Da?  Nyarth (Japanese), Wartortle (English)
Japanese Air Date:  July 9th, 1998
American Air Date:  September 11th, 1999
Important Characters:  Manabu (Timmy), Reiko (Preschool Teacher)
Important Places:  Sakura Preschool (Little Kiddle Preschool)

It's Children's Day and the Sakura Nursery is inviting a Pokemon Trainer to come by and show off his pokemon!  Satoshi and his friends happen to pass by the nursery on their way to Guren Island and are convinced to fill in for the missing Trainer. As the children play with our heroes' pokemon, they find out that a young boy named Manabu is waiting for the return of a wild Nyarth who once saved him from a Spear. Later, the Rocket-Dan appear, disguised as magicians, and attempt to kidnap Pikachu! Once the trio makes their getaway, however, they notice that they accidentally grabbed Manabu instead! They find out about the Nyarth who saved him and decide to have their Nyarth pretend to be the Nyarth he was looking for in order to lure Pikachu and the others out of the nursery. Their plan works and before long Satoshi and the others are led to a canyon where a pokemon battle ensues. During the attack a boulder is knocked loose and starts rolling downwards, threatening to crush our heroes! Luckily, the wild Nyarthu who helped Manabu before appears and uses its amazing kicking powers to destroy the boulder in one hit! Now that Manabu has been reunited with his hero our heroes resume their journey to Guren Island and Satoshi's next Gym Battle.

It's Another Japan-Only Holiday Day!

Unlike the Hinamatsuri episode, which relied heavily on the audience's knowledge of the holiday, this Children's Day episode merely used the holiday as a backdrop for what is otherwise a fairly generic plot. I will say, though, that at least this episode manages to be a bit more original than the usual "heroes visit preschool, finds kid who doesn't like pokemon for some reason, everyone drops everything they're doing to help what is obviously someone with a crippling disability I mean HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE POKEMON WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!?!?!?!?" story.

Unfortunately, the episode kind of falls apart by the time it's decided to have Nyarth pretend to be the wild Nyarth who helped Manabu out. Like, what is the plan here, exactly? Trick this kid into thinking that their Nyarth is the same wild Nyarth so that they can then...um...fill a 22 minute show? I mean, if the plan was to get Pikachu, couldn't the Rocket trio have just gone back to the preschool and try again instead of luring everyone out to some rocky canyon? The scenes where Nyarth fantasizes about being a hero and pretending to be a regular ol' Nyarth were fun, don't get me wrong, but even a hardcore Rocket-Dan fan like myself has to admit that their scheme in this one didn't make a whole lot of sense.

Also, how sad is Musashi in this one? Her Bruce Lee doll got stolen on Christmas, she hates Hinamatsuri because she never got any hina dolls, and now we find out that she doesn't like Children's Day either? Is there a holiday that hasn't been ruined for her by some terrible memory? I know the whole "Musashi had a shitty childhood" thing is a running gag and that we're not supposed to take it so seriously but it's still hard not to feel sorry for her.

The Japanese version of this episode didn't have nearly as many cultural references in it as the Hinamatsuri episode did so I imagine 4Kids had a much easier time adapting this one. This episode also continues the trend started by the previous episode of replacing more and more music and it's starting to get ridiculous. Doesn't the dub have enough to worry about as it is without needlessly changing the soundtrack?

Side Note 1 - Children's Day
So what is this Japanese holiday I'm translating as "Children's Day," anyway?

Kodomo no Hi (こどもの日), or "Children's Day," is a national holiday that takes place every year on May 5th. It was originally set up to be a boy's day called
Tangu no Sekku (端午の節句) and was to be the compliment of Hinamatsuri but was eventually changed to the more gender-neutral "Children's Day" back in 1948. The holiday is to pray for the health and well-being of our children.

The day is usually represented by banners depicting carp known as koinobori (こいのぼり). Carp are used because their tendency to overcome obstacles and swim upstream is a trait that parents want their young children to have (this swimming upstream thing is revisited in the Orange Islands episode
"Koiking! The Secret of its Evolution!!" ("The Wacky Watcher")). "May Dolls" (五月人形) not unlike the hina-ningyo displayed during Hinamatsuri and samurai helmets (兜) are displayed in households as well.

Koi Nobori
Takeshi as a samurai

Holiday-specific treats include kashiwa-mochi (柏餅), mochi balls wrapped in kashiwa ("oak") leaves. Both Musashi and Kojirou reminisce about eating this treat on Children's Day.

Kashiwa Mochi

Other than that this episode is pretty light on references to the holiday. It doesn't mention the May 5th date the way the Hinamatsuri episode mentions March 3rd and pretty much none of the cultural-specific stuff is ever dwelled on. The English version names the holiday "Kids' Day" (which is just as fine a translation of Kodomo no Hi as "Children's Day" is) and awkwardly refers to kashiwa-mochi as "ice cream sandwiches" but other than that 4Kids more or less leaves everything alone.
Side Note 2 - Airing Out-Of-Order
This is one of the episodes that was all messed up because of the Pokemon Shock incident.

The original plan, as I've gone over several times before, appears to have been to air this episode on May 5th, 1998. Pocket Monsters used to air on Tuesday nights in the late 90s and May 5th just happened to fall on a Tuesday back when this episode was originally scheduled to air. Of course I have no way of knowing any of this for sure, but there's no way the whole May 5th happening to fall on a Tuesday thing was just a coincidence; the Children's Day episode was supposed to air on Children's Day.

Those plans fell apart, however, due to the four month hiatus the show went on because of the
Pokemon Shock incident. "It's Children's Day, Everyone Gather!" didn't end up debuting until July 9th, 1998 during a one-hour special with "Fierce Fighting! Pokemon Hinamatsuri." This put these episodes between Episode 051, "Fushigidane's Mysterious Flower Garden," and what is now Episode 054, "Gardie the Police Dog." Unlike the Hinamatsuri episode, the airing of which caused a weird plot hiccup in the form of Togepi, this Children's Day episode airing late didn't really affect much of anything.

Pokemon Encore
, the show that used to rerun old episodes on Tuesday nights in the early 2000s, put the Children's Day episode in between
"The Daycare's Secret!" and "Get Fired Up! The Guren Gym!," leading a reasonable person to believe that this is where it was originally meant to air. The English dub ended up doing the same.

This episode, along with
"Fierce Fighting! Pokemon Hinamatsuri," "Rougela's Christmas," and "Iwark the Bivouac," is labeled as a bangaihen (番 外編), or "extra episode," on its title screen, presumably because of it airing so out-of-order.

Dialogue Edit
Our heroes' first dialogue exchange of the episode:
Japanese Version  English Version 
Kasumi: "Look at that!"  Misty: "Look over there!"
Satoshi: "Wow! A Tosakinto and Koiking!"  Ash: "Oh! Look at all the Pokémon banners!"
Takeshi: "And a Gyarados too! That means..."  Brock: "Y'know what that means, don't ya?"
Satoshi: "...That's right! It completely slipped my mind but today is..."  Ash: "Alright. It's my favorite day of the year."
Satoshi, Kasumi, & Takeshi: "Children's Day!"  Ash, Misty, & Brock: "It's Kids' Day!"
Pikachu: "Pika Pika Pi!" Pikachu: "Pika Pika Pi!"

4Kids decides to identify the koinobori as "Pokémon banners" and gives the pokemon identifying task to Misty a few lines later (see below). They also have Ash say that Kids' Day is his favorite day of the year when Satoshi makes no such claim.

Right after the episode's title screen:

Japanese Version  English Version 
Kasumi: "Wow, they look even more intimidating close up."  Misty: "Oh...There's a Magikarp, and a Goldeen, and a Gyarados." 
Satoshi: "They're really cool."  Ash: "They look really cool."
Kasumi: "I wonder if there's anywhere nearby doing something like all-you-can-eat kashiwa mochi."  Misty: "What would be really cool is if we could just play all day like we used to on Kids' Day." 
Satoshi: "Hello, Earth to Kasumi: Children's Day was originally known as Boys' Day (Tangu no Sekku) and is therefore a boys' holiday."  Ash: "Misty, you know we can't just take the whole day off to play around while I still have that Volcano Badge to win." 
Takeshi: "That's right. Since Hinamatsuri was a girls' festival then Children's Day is a boy's festival."  Brock: "And anyway you've already had your Princess Festival. Kids' Day should be a boys' holiday only!" 
Takeshi: "Boys!"  Brock: "For men." 
Satoshi: "Boys!"  Ash: "Real men." 
Takeshi (in a really funny sumo wrestler voice): "Boys!"  Brock: "Real tough men!" 
Kasumi: "It's not just for boys! Anyone can celebrate it, you know!"  Misty: "I'm just as tough as you two now are we gonna play or are we gonna play?" 
Satoshi & Takeshi: "Okay~!"  Ash & Brock: "Play!" 

As I mentioned earlier, Misty gets the task of identifying the pokemon on the koinobori flags. She then makes the first of several references to kashiwa-mochi.

Finally, Takeshi puts on this great "sumo voice" when he's in his sumo outfit but Brock doesn't do the same.

Paint Edit
A paint edit to go with the above dialogue exchange:


This is yet another "missing the forest for the trees" edit. Like, even after 4Kids goes to the trouble of erasing this kanji we're still left with a picture of Satoshi dressed up in a martial arts gi and sporting a shaved head. Shouldn't the company have put Satoshi into an American football uniform (Minnesota Vikings, obviously) or something to complete the illusion?

Click on each image for a larger version.

Dialogue Edit

The preschool teacher talks to our heroes.

Ash: "What's the matter, Miss?"
Reiko: "Some Pokémon Trainers were supposed to visit today and let the children play with their Pokémon. They're so excited about playing with the Pokémon now they're going to be so disappointed."
Ash: "We're Pokémon Trainers."
Reiko: "You are? Oh, but you don't have time to let the children play with your Pokémon."
Brock: "Yes we do. We have all the time in the world. We have tons of time. The kids can play with all of our Pokémon. Those other Trainers must be heartless! You can count on us Miss. RIght, Ash?"
Ash: "Right, no problem."
OK, three things:

One, did Reiko's voice actress get some sort of commission based on the number of times she says the word "
Pokémon" because holy crap she uses the word an absurd number of times.

Two, Brock's final line. Originally Takeshi says that they wouldn't be able to call themselves Pokemon Trainers if they left and allowed the children's dreams to be crushed like that but in the dub he decides to randomly insult them instead. But what if, for example, the other Trainers only canceled because they stopped to help a bunch of people / pokemon in need? Ever think of that, Brock?

Three, 4Kids, didn't you just have Ash say
"Misty, you know we can't just take the whole day off to play around while I still have that Volcano Badge to win" not two minutes ago? So why is he suddenly so nonchalant about helping out here? Shouldn't you have just translated that earlier dialogue accurately to keep this from happening?

Team Rocket talks about Kids' Day:
Japanese Version  English Version 
Kojirou: "That's right...today is Children's Day. When I think of Children's Day, I think of swimming in a pool with calamus leaves floating in them and then after that eating tons of my favorite kashiwa mochi."  James: "Kids Day...that used to be the day I waited for all year long. Hee hee hee. They used to give us the day off from school and I'd swim in our Olympic swimming pool and eat nothing but ice cream sandwiches."
Musashi: "Eh!? When you say "kashiwa mochi" you don't mean just eating the kashiwa leaf by itself, right?"  Jessie: "You had off from school!? And you had a pool and ice cream sandwiches?" 
Kojirou: "What? Of course not! There's no such thing!"  James: "Of course I did. Didn't everybody?" 
Musashi: "What!? I was tricked! And on top of that, I have a memory of having to eat chopped up calamus leaves in my fried rice because it's supposed to be good for you."  Jessie: "Not me! Grr...I didn't have the day off from school or a swimming pool in the backyard, and the only sandwiches I ever got were baloney with one slice!" 
Kojirou: "That's so sad! It's way too sad!"
James: "Oh...that's so sad!" 
Nyarth: "Mmm...but thanks to that, you've been raised as a strong man."  Meowth: "Mmm...A pathetic childhood can create a pathetic person." 
(Musashi stomps on Nyarth's head) 
Musashi: "I'M. A. WOMAN."  Jessie: "Shut your Meowth" 

You can thank kashiwa mochi for the various script rewrites up there. Musashi's whole story about eating the treat with only the leaves is also the reason why there are all these leaves in the background during this reaction shot:

Kojirou swimming in a pool of calamus leaves is a reference to a custom of taking a special bath on Tangu no Sekku known as Shobuyu (菖蒲湯). The idea is that soaking in hot bath water with these leaves is supposed to help protect the body's immune system from the temperature changes that occur between spring and summer. Swimming in pools with these leaves, which is what Kojirou does in this episode, is also common.

Kojirou swimming

4Kids changes this to James swimming in an Olympic-sized pool, which actually kind of fits with James being a rich boy and all that.

Also, you don't usually eat calamus leaves, which is probably why Kojirou finds Musashi being forced to eat it in her fried rice (菖蒲ってのも体が丈夫になるからって刻んでチャーハンに入れて食べた記憶がぁ) so sad.

This is also the part where the English dub tries to convince us that those things Kojirou is eating are ice cream sandwiches which is quite frankly a rather sad attempt on their part. I know that just saying kashiwa-mochi wouldn't have worked for an English-speaking audience but saying something like "Kids' Day treats" would have worked without making everyone involved look ridiculous.

Kashiwa mochi

 Dubs can be funny sometimes.

Side Note
The preschool teacher's name is never said aloud in either the Japanese version or the English version, but the end credits in the Japanese version identify her as Reiko (麗子).

In the Japanese version she adopts a very yakuza way of talking whenever she blows up at the kids. I'm sure this is a reference to something but I unfortunately have not been able to figure out what.

Dialogue Edit

After Timmy tells our heroes about the Meowth he saw:
Brock: "Maybe it was a wild Meowth that fought off that Beedrill and saved Timmy. Still it's very unusual for a Meowth to take on a Beedrill like that."
Misty: "I guess there are all kinds of Meowth."
What's so unusual about that, Brock? Pokémon fighting other Pokémon is one of the central themes on which the world you live in is built, isn't it?

Originally Takeshi says that it's amazing that the wild Nyarth was able to do a spinning kick (回転してキック) the way Manabu described it.

Nyarth's spinning kick

This "spinning kick" thing comes up a few more times in the Japanese version but the dub, for whatever reasons, decides not to draw any attention to it.

Paint Edit

The truck that the Rocket-Dan drives has Japanese on it:


The text here says "The World's Number One Geniuses" (世界一天才).


On the side of the truck, Pokemon Magic Dorothy & Drone (ポケモンマジックドロシー&ドローン) gets replaced with clip art of playing cards and a rabbit in a hat.

I unfortunately have no idea what "Dorothy" & "Drone" are supposed to be references to or if "Drone" is even the way ドローン is supposed to be romanized (it could also be "Drawn," among other things). The dialogue in the Japanese version does make it clear, however, that Musashi is "Dorothy" and Kojirou is "Drone," for what that's worth.

A total of six shots were edited during this sequence. Go here to see more pictures from the scene.

Dialogue Edit

The Rocket trio finishes introducing themselves:
Jessie: "First, we'll make a certain Pokémon disappear."
James: "Pikachu~!"
Meowth: "You think we can really pull this off?"
James: "Don't make me saw you in half!"

Musashi doesn't give us a taste of their scheme originally; she instead says that the Mago Jari-tachi (孫ジャリたち), or "little twerps," are really tame.

Musashi will use Mago Jari-tachi to refer to the preschoolers a few more times in the episode but Jessie doesn't give the children a similar nickname in the dub.

Paint Edit
The banner that says "Pokemon Magic" (ポケモンマジック) gets its text erased:


Would it have killed 4Kids to write "Pokémon Magic" up there so that the Rocket trio wasn't standing under the world's most boring banner?

A total of seven shots were edited during this sequence. Go here to see more pictures from the scene.

Dialogue Edit
Team Rocket attempts to make off with Pikachu:
Ash: "Wait a minute!"
Brock: "What did you do with Pikachu?"
Ash: "You look very familiar to me."
Satoshi doesn't recognize the Rocket trio in the Japanese version; instead he demands that they give back his Pikachu.

After the failed attempt at the motto:
James: "That's mine! No fair!"
(Weezing gets bounced around by the kids)
Jessie: "Weezing makes a nice volleyball."
Originally Kojirou is ordering his pokemon to attack, hence the determined look on his face and the non-descript background.

Go Matadogas!

Musashi also doesn't mention volleyball here; she just says that Matadogas seems to be popular with the children.
Reiko: "Children! Please stop before someone gets hurt. GET INSIDE THIS INSTANT!"

Originally Reiko tells the children to run away and then, when they fail to listen to her, she repeats it again in her yakuza voice.

Meowth vs. Wartortle!


Thanks, Season 2.

Paint Edit
The Rocket-Dan's truck gets its text painted away as it leaves the preschool.


Later, when it's parked in the woods, the text gets painted away again.


A total of nine shots were edited during this sequence. Go here to see more pictures from the scene.

Dialogue Edit
Team Rocket explains why they want Meowth to pretend to be the wild Meowth:
James: "Team Rocket may be rotten cheaters but we're not in the business of destroying children's dreams. At least, not yet."
Jessie: "And Team Rocket may be liars but one lie can make one of us the hero in the eyes of one little boy on Kids' Day."

Kojirou's line is translated somewhat faithfully (the "at least not yet" is a dub addition, though), but Musashi's line is a little more different. Originally she says that she doesn't want to give children any bad memories of Children's Day like she had with the whole "kashiwa mochi with just the kashiwa leaves" thing.

Side Note / NOT a Paint Edit
Want me to tell you something somewhat unbelievable? These shots here - the ones with "Meowth" plastered all over them - were like that in the original Japanese version!!

Super Meowth
Super Meowth

Crazy, right? The English dub of Pok
émon debuted on September 7th, 1998 nearly two months after this episode debuted (the video games Pokémon Red & Blue, by the way, wouldn't be released in the U.S. until September 28th, 1998). But if this episode had aired when it was supposed to - May 5th, 1998 - then this would have predated the English dub by like four months.

Nyarth's English name would have been finalized by this point in development so the team over in Japan most likely felt safe about adding this in. But why reference a foreign version of the show that doesn't even exist yet? Is it because English is "cool"? Is it because they wanted to make the show look more international, nevermind the fact that this is all happening in an episode titled "It's Kodomo no Hi"?

Dialogue Edit
What do you wanna bet this was ad-libbed by Maddie Blaustein?
Meowth: "Oh, my public adores me. You like me. You really, really like me."
Originally Nyarth just laughs and tells the children not to push. None of this stereotypical Hollywood star humor sort of thing.

Team Rocket threatens Timmy:
Jessie: "Sorry to keep you waiting, crybaby."
James: "Even tough guys are scared of Team Rocket."
Jessie: "Now we'll show you why."

Musashi and Kojirou are a little bit scarier in the Japanese version. Originally Kojirou says that they're the Rocket-Dan that deceives even crying children. Musashi then tells Manabu that he'd better get ready. The joke here, obviously, is that the Rocket-Dan, who generally suck at being any sort of legitimate threat, can actually be genuinely scary so long as it's only an act. The dub softens this a bit.

Meowth steps in to save the day:
Timmy: "Meowth, just use your Fury Swipes like you did on that Beedrill."
Meowth: "Huh?"
Originally Manabu tells Nyarth to do the spinning kick thing it used earlier, not Fury Swipes. Where would Manabu have picked up on the fact that the scratching attack was called "Fury Swipes" in the first place, anyway?


Nyarth's look of confusion after Manabu's line makes sense in the Japanese version because Nyarth has no idea what this "spinning kick" thing is; Meowth's look of confusion, on the other hand, makes absolutely no sense.

Meowth shows up back at the preschool:
Brock: "This wild Meowth looks just like the Meowth from Team Rocket."
Misty: "It sure does."
Actually, Takeshi says that this Nyarth looks more ririshii (凛々しい), or "handsome" than the Nyarth from the Rocket-Dan. Kasumi responds with a "You really think so?" (そうかな?).

Meowth returns to his teammates:
Jessie: "What happened?"
Meowth: "I think I might have slipped."
Jessie: "What a relief!"
James: "The hero show is over!"

Musashi and Kojirou don't say they're happy that Nyarth's cover story - y'know, the one that they convinced him to take up in the first damn place - has been blown. They instead say that it's their turn and that they'll take it from here.

The battle between our heroes and Team Rocket doesn't really have any changes worth mentioning, so let's jump ahead to the end. Back at the preschool:
Timmy: "You know what, Ash? When I get big, I'm gonna be a Pokémon Trainer just like you and Brock and Misty. Then me and my Meowth can get into the Pokémon League."
1) Manabu doesn't actually know Satoshi's and the other's names since they never bothered to tell him, and also he's like four years old and would have probably forgotten them by now anyway. He simply refers to Satoshi as oniichan.

2) Manabu doesn't refer to the wild Nyarth as "my Nyarth" - instead, he refers to it as "that Nyarth."

Finally, Team Rocket:

Japanese Version
English Version
Musashi: "Nyarth, you wanted to stay back there and keep being the hero, didn't you?"  Jessie: "Too bad, Meowth. If you had kept your mouth shut you could've made everyone think you were the hero." 
Nyarth: "What are you talking about Nya? You two would be helpless without me! Now let's put our chins up and get going."  Meowth: "Nah, that helpless bunch of sticky little brats woulda driven me nuts. Besides, you two need more more than they do." 
Musashi & Kojirou: "Alright, alright."  James: "Dream on, Meowth. By the way, what do we do now?" 

(no dialogue)
Jessie: "Meowth, we've got to get that Pikachu!" 
James: "Don't worry Jessie, Meowth always has a plan. Don't you, Meowth?" 
Meowth: "Mmm hmm hmm hmm hmm" 

The dub is way more talky (surprise surprise!) but the filler dialogue 4Kids adds in also manages to contradict itself. "Dream on, Meowth, we don't really need you and also we need you to give us a plan to catch Pikachu okthanxbye."

The Japanese version is obviously going for the "Nyarth entertains the thought of staying behind" ending but I guess 4Kids thought that was too cerebral for their audience?
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