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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 in Japan.

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 investigations. 

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.

http://news1.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_40000/40269.stm
-- What England reported when the Pokemon incident occurred. 
http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9712/17/japan.cartoon/index.html
-- CNN did this report on that tragic day
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/flicker_splash.html
-- 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 US shores. 

 

 

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