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| Features | Pokémon Shock
Below is an English
translation of How to Craft
a Story: Takeshi Shudo, How Anyone Can Become a Screenplay Writer (シナリオえーだば創作術 だれでもできる脚本家 首藤剛志), a blog written by former Pocket Monsters series organizer
and head writer Mr. Takeshi Shudo. The following are excerpts taken
from Blog Post No. 161 "The Pokémon Incident: Day Two," a blog
entry related to the Pokémon
Notes about the translation below
I have two notes
about the translations you're about to read.
One, the Japanese version of the blog is written the way a lot of
are written in that the author only types out (roughly) one sentence
one line. To a native English speaker like me this makes the blogs seem
weird and choppy but that's just the way a lot of Japanese blogs are
written, for some reason. For simplicity's sake I've replicated this
style in my English translation.
Two, the following translation is a truncated version of a much, much
longer blog entry. Mr. Shudo is
an absolute treasure trove of behind-the-scenes
information you can't get anywhere else but his blogs are, as far as
average Pokémon fan is
concerned, about 80% filler. The writer had a tendency to trail off
some very off-topic tangents in his blog and so what I've decided to do
is to pick out the parts
that actually discuss the Pokémon Shock incident and present that
to you on the page below. I hope you
will find this abridged presentation a bit easier to read that it would
have been otherwise. If you're someone who would prefer to read an
unabridged translation, however, I've also got you covered; you can
check those out here.
|Blog Post No. 161 "The Pokémon
Incident: Day Two"
A little over a month
later Mr. Shudo resumes his blogs about the incident. He says he had
some health issues and spent some time in the hospital but that he's
better now so he's ready to pick up where he left off:
was I? On December 16th, 1997 people from all over Japan (mostly
children) watched an episode of Pokémon that caused some of them
to feel bad, with more than 700 of them going to the hospital and a few
hundred of those even staying overnight.
Some people had serious symptoms but thankfully nobody died.
It was also reported that there were an additional 10,000 people who
watched Pokémon who didn't go to the hospital but who
nevertheless felt sick.
Children who watched a cartoon made for children collapsed.
The whole country was shaken.
The mainstream media was having a field day.
The sight of the mainstream media jumping on this story was like seeing
a bunch of pirahna swarming a prey, leaving nothing behind.
There were a lot of victims of this incident but, somehow, I didn't
hear about any of them myself.
The place where I do my writing is in this rural area by the sea and so
this incident wasn't really talked about by the people around me. And
as someone who could have possibly be seen as one of the people
responsible I was scared to turn on the news. I didn't read the
newspapers that were delivered to my house either.
This might sound like a pitiful thing to say but I had no idea what to
do and so I just buried my head in the sand.
As a result, I don't have any knowledge of the full picture of the
incident or what really happened outside of what had been reported to
But now here I was, a year and a half later. I found myself admitted to
the exact same hospital where a girl who was one of the victims of the
Pokémon Incident had been taken. A sudden feeling of being
chased by these very vivid memories started to wash over me.
Before I was admitted to that hospital I could have found out what had
been reported to the public about this incident by doing an Internet
search -- of course, you can search for that even now -- but other than
what had been written I don't have anything to add.
I didn't want to even know the details.
It feels just like if I were to be in a car wreck, where even if it
wasn't caused by me being careless because of traffic violations or
drunk driving or anything like that I'd still feel really bad for the
The victim was unlucky, but the perpretrator was unlucky too. That's
what I wanted to tell myself.
But…is that really the way it was?
This might just be me, but I make sure to remember whenever I feel any
sort of vague uneasiness about the work I do.
And it's now been over ten years since the incident known as the
Pokémon Incident or the Pokémon Shock.
If I'm being honest, just thinking about that incident for the sake of
this blog makes me feel really depressed and unable to write.
And since I was in the middle of writing about this incident when the
blog went on break some of my readers apparently thought that was
suspicious, assuming I'd been getting pressure from the Pokémon
staff or whatever. Readers thought they were saying things like "Don't
be drudging up these old things after all these years!" And so to all
you out there I want to say, as plainly as I can, that I have not
gotten a single complaint about this blog from anyone involved with
On the contrary, one of the producers actually thanked me, saying that
it was thanks to this column he was able to figure out how I, the first
series organizer for the Pokémon animated series, got involved
with the show. He also told me he's waiting for each new update with
baited breath, and that he wanted me to know he thought my blog was
interesting and to keep up the good work.
Personally, I've made it a rule not to write a script that I felt
guilty about, regardless if that script ever sees the light of day or
So I don't feel even a little bit bad about the work I'd done before.
He spends the next half of the blog talking about what it's like to be
a writer before going back to Pokémon:
TV series go, Pokémon is heads and shoulders above other series
in terms of how good production goes.
The show's TV ratings aren't bad, either.
Kids seem to like it.
The games sell well.
The animated verison of the Pokémon video games was a success.
Anyone would think that, right?
So then why did something like this have to happen?
It's like we were running ahead, full sprint, and then suddenly trippe
and fell into a pit…that's how it felt.
Two days after the incident the network decided to stop all broadcasts
of anything and everything Pokémon.
They couldn't air the show until the cause of so many viewers falling
ill was made clear and they could guarantee the safety of its viewers,
and as a network that was probably the appropriate response.
And then came the day of the weekly writers' meeting.
Of course any and all work on any of our unfinished scripts was
stopped. But we met anyway, face to face for the first time since the
Nobody smiled and nobody cracked any jokes.