This Year's Banned Pokémon Anime Episode

Screenshot: Bulbapedia

Earlier this year, the 64th episode of the Sun & Moon anime aired in Japan. Since then, the episode’s English dub has not been broadcast in the U.S. Rather, it was skipped entirely.

As Bulbapedia and Gamerant (via Yurukuyaru) explain, Ash dresses up like a Passimian in the episode.

However, it’s not merely that he dresses up like a Passimian that appears to have caused the ban, but his face is painted as can see in these screenshots from website Shinobu.

Screenshot: Shinobu

According to Bulbapedia, it seems as though the English-language dub of this episode wasn’t released in order to avoid possible blackface comparisons and criticism.

Screenshot: Bulbapedia

There is a precedent. During the 2000s, the character Jynx had to be redesigned after the character’s appearance was criticised as negative racial stereotypes.


    what a complete joke the world has become

      Keep in mind nobody has said 'hey! Change that!'. There is no ban and the only backlash is from the fans who want to see the episode in English. It's just been decided, either by the Japanese side or the American side, that this episode won't be dubbed. In all likelihood because of the comparison to blackface. Ash is after all painting his face to blend in with monkey-like Pokemon.
      Japan has a lot of trouble with racial sensitivity and blackface specifically. Thinking this is blackface is a mistake, but exercising caution when it comes to what's shown in a kids show is perfectly reasonable.

        i get that, but that's my point, companies, people or entities all have to walk on eggshells these day in the off chance that something completely innocent is taken out of context and as offensive by someone.
        Its unfair that human stupidity has become the measuring stick for offence.

          Or maybe it's not because "the off chance that someone will get offended" but rather, that the horrible people (who very much exist) that compare black people to apes would have a party with this. Sometimes is not about preventing offence but about not enabling the offenders.

          If you feel the need to be angry about this, please direct it to the racists. They are the reason why we can't have nice things.

            100% agree that its the fault of racists we cant have some nice things, thats not even arguable.
            BUT these days its less about their messed up points of view, these companies arent trying to protect themselves against racists, there protecting themselves against professional victims and people who will get offended on behalf of other people for likes/views on social media.

            Last edited 13/07/18 7:17 am

              Even if something as "professional victims" existed, they are able to do their thing because racism is real, as you have agreed. So why is your complaint that some victims of racism are louder than others? Why would you put yourself in the awkward position of qualifying the legitimacy of their victimhood when you have agreed that there are victimisers, thus victims must exist?

        There was a recent example where Qantas tweeted a photo of a black rugby player posing with a couple of kids who were dressed up like him - which included blackface. Now he didn't care, and the Qantas social media didn't care because blackface isn't a thing in Australia because it doesn't carry the same connotations. But holy crap lots of people on Twitter cared.

        So a pre-emptive self-censoring move is sad but not at all surprising, because holy crap you just never know.

          Blackface is a 'thing' in Australia. It seems we have inherited the hysteria from the US. Usually by 'brave warriors' like Waleed on The Project or similar arbitrators of what is acceptable and with a platform to spread it.

        Obviously it was 4Kids (Do they even dub the show anymore?) that decided they wouldn't do it. Japan couldn't care less, as they air some crazy shit already lol

    According to Bulbapedia, it seems as though the English-language dub of this episode wasn’t released in order to avoid possible blackface comparisons and criticism.

    OK, first and foremost, blackface is indeed wrong. I shouldn't even have to open with this but so many these days fail to consider context and scope these days, it has to be written to pre-emptively stop any false ideas.

    Again, blackface is wrong.

    That being said, let me make on thing very clear: what Ash is doing is not blackface in even the remotest definition of the term.

    He's masquerading as a Pokemon. Period.

    Blackface is wrong. But what is worse is how people throw that term around without context and even water it down to the point where one only has to try and change ones own skin tone to be "guilt" of that offence.

    WTF people........

    We are all equal, but some are more equal than others.

    Instead of the mild risk of offending anyone, everyone misses out, and all were left with are the people who are offended that the public weren’t trusted with this episode

    Ok I'll bite. If you are constantly seeing racism in things that aren't there then perhaps you are the racist. The fact old mate dressed up as a Pokemon clearly shows it wasn't about offending some group of people in another country.

    In universe, this would probably more akin to facepainting/bodypainting than blackface (assuming blackface is also a thing in the pokemon universe, for some reason).

    I would like to hear the opinions of black people on this topic. Do they agree? Do they disagree? Probably both, because large groups of people tend to have diverse ranges of opinions.

      It probably doesn't matter what black people think in this regard, as I could almost guarantee that it was a group of white people making that decision for them. (I say this as a white man, who agrees with you)

      I mean, the fact that there is a Simian-esque Pokemon that has a "black" face, is surely enough to have Pokemon banned from the Western World for its racial connotations itself. But that's just me pointing out the utter absurdity of this whole thing in the first place.

      I mean, sure, Jynx I can kind of understand, she's based on a voodoo priestess.

      I don't see this as blackface it's Pokéface...

      I'll show myself out, but despite the pun, I think I'm being accurate here.

    Going against the grain a little bit, I can see why this episode was flagged, blackface is taken much more seriously as an offensive act in America than over here (see acts like King Billy Cokebottle), while the episode seems pretty harmless, Disney XD might be trying to avoid kids dressing up like Ash, running around in blackface and screaming "I saw this on Disney".

    My question is, wouldn't it have been easy enough to recolour his face when they translated all the written language for the episode? I know back in the days of hand drawn animation, it would have been a nightmare, but surely using a computer to fix it up would have been more cost effective than not showing an episode. Makes me think there might be a little more than just Ash's appearance was the problem.

      Because the pokemon in the game wouldnt have been recoloured, the whole reason the show exists is to give life to the pokemon from the game and share the related merch with it

      So if monkey pokemon was suddenly say orange instead itd be incongrous with the rest of pokemon media, easier just to skip it its not like it was important to the story or anything

        I was talking about Ash's face, not the Pokemon

        Also, sorry if that sounded short. I was at work when I wrote that reply, so I had to write quick. I meant that they could have recoloured Ash's face back to his normal flesh colour and used the outfit as enough of a costume.

    To all the wankers complaining about how everyone is too sensitive and too poltically correct and how america ruins everything by having people sensitive to racism

    Jynx WAS based on a racial stereotype, she was as blackface as mr popo was from dragon ball, jynx is not an arguable offence

    So it makes sense for fucking pokemon the most kid friendly brand out there to not risk it because its pokemon and it has an image it wants to keep

    Its not like its a major piece of art that got censored by the state, its a company deciding not to release an episode because of its own past

    If anyone is too sensitive its you wankers

      Jynx WAS based on a racial stereotype
      All the reliable sources I've read say her origins aren't confirmed, but a racial stereotype is considered very unlikely. So much so that they changed her to purple skin to avoid any accusations. It's suggested the origins are more likely to the Japanese version of black-face, ganguro, which is a mid 90s fashion created by Japanese women and has no racial connections. Guess what else was popular in the mid nineties?

      The other popular theory is based around a Japanese folklore of Yama-uba, due to the eerie vibe and similar features. Both of these theories consider women with long blonde hair, the typical western blackface image does not.

      Maybe fact check your info before you go calling everyone a wanker.

        Gaijin Goomba said the same thing a while back.

        As for the gunguro, I don't think it had anything to do with race, more that young women decided to say 'no' to Japanese idea of beauty, mainly the gaisha which have red lips and white skin.

    My question is, wouldn't it have been easy enough to recolour his face when they translated all the written language for the episode?

    It's all within context so no. No change is required or should be carried out.

    Disney XD might be trying to avoid kids dressing up like Ash, running around in blackface and screaming "I saw this on Disney".

    As I pointed out, this isn't blackface. At all.

    The problem is many are too lax when it comes to labelling something as blackface. There was even an incident a year or ago where a kid tried to change his skin colour so he could dress up and better resembled his favourite football player when he went to see him at a game.

    And yes, the "white knights" (pun not intended) came out in force on the behalf of the "unrepresented minority" to fight this "racism".

    At the end of the, does the content need to change? No.

    Is this blackface? No.

    Do people need a wake up call and re-evaluate the scope and context of the term? Definitely so.

      Gah, reply didn't work. This is in response to @snoweee.

        I understand your points, I agree that those still don't imply blackface. My main point is I could see Disney covering themselves from the potential backlash that would occur is a kid dressed up in a brown shirt and pants, then covered their face in brown paint and when asked why, they said "I saw it on Pokemon on Disney XD".

        There's obviously a reasonable explanation that shows that neither Disney nor Pokemon are racist, but a lot of people only read headlines and a lot of news outlets don't follow up stories like this with an "It's okay, it was a false alarm.

        It's less about being right or wrong and more being about brand management.

    Cancelling Pokémon is stupid

    Holy cow, this has got to be the dumbest thing I've heard in a while. This is the world we live in now....What a pathetic shame.

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