The Pokémon Seizure Incident
(December 16, 1997 in Japan)
This page focuses on
the day when 700+ Japanese TV veiwers experienced a phenominal and
horrifying experience 20 minutes into the hit anime series "Pocket
Monsters" (aka Pokemon). First I will give details on
what happened, and what caused it to happen. Then I will
explain what the US Pokemon production team (4 Kids Entertainment) has
done from what I have seen of the series. Finally, links to articles
about the incident, the controversy of anime, and the type of seizure that
fell upon these viewers are posted at the bottom of the page.
The date is December
16, 1997, just a few days before Christmas was to be celebrated in the
USA. The usual routine was played out. The show began,
and it seemed all was well until the symptoms came around about 20 minutes
into the show. (symptoms such as convulsions, sickness, ect.)
Hundereds of worried parents rushed their kids to the hospitals.
Then when the news came on soon after, even more people complained of
feeling sick. In all, 700 + people, ranging from 3 to a 58
year old were sickened by what was, sadly, one of the most popular animes
TV Tokyo (the Japanese
TV station who ran the show) soon found out and went nuts, trying to
figure out what happened to cause this phenomenon. It was soon
discovered that an 8 second segment of the episode had a "wee
bit" too much special FX done to it. (actually it was
repetitious strobe light effects from Pikachu's eyes, that was to
blame). Anyways, it was soon found out and fixed.......but not
before cancelling the series for a good 4 months during
The news spread quickly worldwide of
this problem. As we anime fans know, critics already weren't fond of
"anime" in the US and Canada, and this seizure episode gave them more of a
reason not to be.
The problem was
eventually found and future episodes would not have that effect
anymore. Thus the series returned in April of 1998 to
Japan. It was soon learned that the series was to be renamed "Pokemon"
and brought over to the U.S. for syndication. This REALLY got some
people worried here. As I said before, anime, as a whole, recieves a
bad rap from its critics here in America and Canada. It is
seen as "violent" "dangerous" and the list goes
on. So when "Pokemon" was announced, many questions about
it, as well as anime, were asked of many people.
What have the US
Pokemon production team has done?
Here's what 4Kids
Entertainment has done to make Pokemon safe for the WB Network to run, and
for veiwers to watch without much worry. This is from what I've
picked up by watching the show, and some sources from the 'net.
-- Any and ALL flashing/lighting
effects were dimmed to about 1/2 the brightness of whatever your TV's brightness level is
at. Plus any scenes that contain strobe light effects were cut out of all episodes.
-- Any scenes deemed
inappropriate or too violent have been cut out totally (for example, in
the first episode "Pokemon, I choose You" Misty slaps Ash after
she asks if he's alright and he replies that he is. You may wanna go
to my Episode List, because some entire episodes
will be cut out because of certain scenes that were too large to cut out
of the original tapes. (nooo they dont actually CUT the tape, they
just edit it out with fancy technical stuff I don't wanna waist discussing
on this page)
-- Any episodes that contain seriously
huge cultural gaps have been deleted from the catalogue of shows. (which of course,
means some will purposely be skipped) Go to the Episodes list
to see what will be cut out.
-- To make the show's story make more
sense (since the show is particularly aimed at 6-12 yr. olds, some of the script was
re-done. (however, most of the musical score has been kept intact)
Here are some links to
articles from major Internet/TV news networks that deal with Pokemon's
seizure incident and/or anime in general.
-- What England reported when the Pokemon incident occurred.
-- CNN did this report on that tragic day
-- Want the in-depth story on Pokemon and anime? Here's the most
informative of the links. Very good articles and its all explained
in detail. It even gives a brief history of anime in America.
Done by ABC News
If you find any other good articles on
this incident or anime controversy, let me know and I will post it here. I will
always be surfing the 'Net for informative articles on this topic
Although we all hate
to remember this tragic moment in anime history, I really do appreciate
you taking the time to read this page. I also hope it gives
you, the fan, a better understanding of why some anime doesnt make it to