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Pokemon Twitter deletes Porygon Tweet: Controversy and History

The official Pokemon Twitter fell under scrutiny earlier this week after making a tweet regarding Porygon. This Porygon Tweet.pngwas in reference to the banned episode "Dennō Senshi Porygon", often referred to as "Electric Soldier Porygon", which notoriously caused thousands of seizures. Soon after deleting the tweet, a joke response regarding the event was put out.

Some believe the tweet was made in bad faith, as the "___ did nothing wrong" joke has often been used in objectionable contexts on websites such as 4Chan. One very notable use is the popular "Hitler did nothing wrong" joke, which dates back to 2012 and is frequently used in Nazi rhetoric. This has led to allegations of antisemitism. However, it is sometimes used in reference to franchises such as Star Wars and has largely evolved since its inception, becoming a popular joke in many contexts. As such, whether or not the tweet could be considered such is largely debatable.

Dennō Senshi Porygon was the 38th episode in the original season of the Pokemon anime, released in December of 1997. It was the first episode of the anime to cause major controversy, being referred to as "Pokemon Shock!" by news outlets. A 6-second clip of strobe lighting flashed at a rate of 12Hz - higher than 24 frames per second - causing children to experience nausea, headaches and even epileptic seizures. Over 12,000 children reported feelings of illness. In addition, over 600 children were taken to hospital during its initial airing, with some being hospitalized for more than 2 weeks. News coverage sometimes showed the scene, causing repeat seizures. However, contrary to popular belief, only a few of the affected children were diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy. The clip came from Pikachu using an Electric-type attack on missiles to allow Ash and co. to escape cyberspace, which is partly where the joke came from.

As a result of the massive damage the episode caused, police got involved to investigate the animation process, and many video retailers pulled Pokemon merchandise from their shelves. Nintendo's shares also took a swift hit on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Eventually, TV Tokyo came out with guidelines on flashing images, with the intention of preventing a repeat of Pokemon Shock. This is partly why TV programmes today give warnings on flashing images. Hiroshi Yamauchi, the president of Nintendo at the time, did not claim responsibility for the episode's damage, rightfully claiming it to be the fault of the animation company. Furthermore, during the initial airing of Pikachu's Goodbye, the next episode, Miyuki Yadama released a statement explaining that the rapid alternation of blue and red lights, particularly the latter, caused the problem. This was a particularly devastating PR nightmare for the Pokemon franchise and is often said to have nearly killed it. It should be noted that the first presentation of Pokemon Gold and Silver at Spaceworld 1997 had happened just a month earlier.

The program was suspended and banned after its initial airing and has never been seen again in any capacity. This is unlike Holiday Hi-Jynx, which fell under controversy due to racial stereotypes, as stated by Carole Boston Weatherford. After being pulled from rotation, Holiday Hi-Jynx was eventually re-released in Japan on its 15th anniversary in 2012 with a censored version of Jynx, donning the purple colour we see today. However, it still remains banned in the United States. Porygon and its evolutions have never been given major roles in the anime since. Porygon2 has only been shown in the Johto Pokerap, though it and Porygon-Z have been shown in the opening of Kyurem and the Swords of Justice. The only member of the Porygon family to be seen in the anime outside of movies, ironically, is Porygon itself: it actually appeared in A Chansey Operation 9 episodes later.

Due to the nature of Dennō Senshi Porygon, some have claimed that the Pokemon Twitter's joke was in poor taste, and it can certainly be seen as such. The sheer level of controversy the episode caused could well have been a fatal blow to the franchise, and it's lucky to have recovered from such a PR nightmare. Some children even experienced minor issues even 3 years after the episode's airing, and those hurt by it certainly would not have forgotten.
 
Sources
Television Tokyo Animated Program Image Effect Production Guidelines
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Comments

Even though it may never appear again, I would like it if the Pokedex entry for it would appear in the anime, because recently in Journeys episode 24, the anime finally gave us a Goldeen Pokedex entry, after many years, so maybe there will be some more Pokedex entries we never saw before in the anime, I hope Porygon is one of them.
 
Even though it may never appear again, I would like it if the Pokedex entry for it would appear in the anime, because recently in Journeys episode 24, the anime finally gave us a Goldeen Pokedex entry, after many years, so maybe there will be some more Pokedex entries we never saw before in the anime, I hope Porygon is one of them.
The difference is that Goldeen was not the star of an episode that was banned by the government...
 
This is one of several reasons why Goh will never finish his goal of catching all Pokémon.

I can confirm the tweet happened right before the Porygon Community Day in Pokémon GO. No major problems were reported for that day among GO players.
 
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