|| "Cyber Soldier Porygon"
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Dogasu's Backpack | Features | Pokémon Shock
When you have an event as huge as Pokémon Shock was there are bound to be rumors that pop up from time to time. On this page I'll take a look at the more popular claims made about the incident and figure out if there's really any evidence to back any of these up.
| The Japanese government banned the episode |
| A second wave of victims was caused by news reports' coverage of the incident |
| 4Kids dubbed the episode |
We all know that TV-Tokyo pulled "Cyber Soldier Porygon" off the air and hasn't aired it since, but rumor has it things were taken even further when the Japanese government actually stepped in and banned the episode altogether. Other claims state copies of the episode were seized by the Japanese government and then destroyed altogether in order to prevent anyone from ever releasing it to the public.
The thing is there doesn't seem to be any evidence to support this. While various government agencies did indeed get themselves involved with this incident -- the Diet, the Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, and even Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto himself -- I haven't been able to find a single shred of evidence that anyone actually moved to have the episode officially banned on a national level.
And if the episode had been banned then they did a really lousy job of enforcing it. After the episode initially aired on December 16th we know it was getting freely passed around from TV station to TV station in Japan.
...and was even shipped overseas where people like Professor Graham Harding could review it.
For an episode supposedly "banned by the government," it sure did get passed around a lot.
Similarly, claims that the episode was ever destroyed seem to be without merit either. It would also be wholly ineffective as the episode would still remain freely available online regardless of what happened to the original film.
So there's really no evidence the episode was actually banned or destroyed on a government level. But at the same time does such a ban even need to be in place? We can be pretty sure neither OLM nor TV-Tokyo has absolutely zero interest in ever trying to air the episode ever again, and even if they did I doubt there's any TV network or streaming service willing to take the risk to do so. A government ban doesn't need to exist for the episode to never see the light of day; it's staying off the air regardless.
After the December 16th broadcast of "Cyber Soldier Porygon," all anyone on Japanese TV wanted to talk about was Pokémon. The show was plastered all over TV news shows over the next few weeks and quickly became a major international news story.
But rumor has it that some news stations actually aired an unedited version of the scene in question, and that these re-broadcasts triggered a second wave of seizures among children. The idea is that children who maybe missed the initial broadcast were exposed to the unedited footage in the days that followed, triggering seizures in those who didn't necessarily have a chance to catch the episode "live."
The source of this rumor seems to stem from this Reuters piece from December 1997 entitled "Monster" TV cartoon illness mystifies Japan.
CNN repeats the claim in their "Japanese cartoon triggers seizures in hundreds of children" piece. The article has a publication date of December 17th at 4:15 am EST, or 6:15 pm JST, roughly 24 hours after the episode aired. It cites Reuters as a contributor.
The BBC also made this claim on a news report that same day, December 17th. It's at the 44 second mark:
All of these reports, and then the ones that would follow for years and years later, make a single sentence statement about reruns triggering a second wave but then don't bother to elaborate any further. Because of this some very key pieces of information are missing:
A few years later the book Pokémon Story (ポケモンス トーリー) came out in Japan and provided a timeline of how reporting on the incident went down in Japan. From Page 7 of my translation:
Is it possible that maybe one of these broadcasts were the ones that allegedly reran the footage? As far as I know none of these TV news reports (the 8:00 pm NHK broadcast, the TV Asahi broadcast, the 11:00 pm TV-Tokyo broadcast) have ever been archived online so we can't really say for sure. But the very next sentence in the book makes it seem like no, no they weren't:
While TV networks did indeed have access to footage from the episode in question, literally every single Japanese TV news broadcast I've been able to find from this time period refrain from showing the seizure-inducing scene as-is. Instead, they opted to depict the footage as a series of still images.
If news reports from this early in this incident's news cycle were able to determine that re-showing potentially dangerous footage is maybe not the best idea ever then it's highly unlikely any other network would have either.
At this point, anyone who wants to claim that Japanese news reports caused a second wave then they're going to need to provide some details and/or the actual news report itself. Otherwise I think it's safe to go ahead and mark this rumor as "false."
Perhaps the most widespread rumor of them all; did 4Kids actually dub "Cyber Soldier Porygon."
The background / timeline explanation of this rumor gets a bit involved so that'll actually get covered in its own page here!
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