So, how about that banned Pokemon episode with guns?

What’s wrong with you? They are literal 10 year olds!

I found the episode like I do so many anime —  through a meme:

Yikes! I watched Pokemon growing up, but I don’t remember this scene… Drop the meme text and just think about the image: Ash is 10 years old. They’ve set a firing squad around a child in a television show for children! Did this actually air in America?

It turns out, yes. Episode 12, “Here Comes the Squirtle Squad” reached American audiences in 1998 with only minor localization edits from the English dubbing company 4Kidz Entertainment. Ah, but for the sake of childhood, the issue required further investigation. What other Poke-nonsense have I forgotten since wearing out my old original series VHS tapes every night before bed-time?

Instead, with a cursory google for “pokemon gun episode,” I found something much more interesting, something I hadn’t seen as a child: “Season 1, Episode 35 – The Legend Of Dratini (Banned Episode),” an illicit upload of the Japanese original with uncredited subtitles hosted on Facebook of all places. Facebook has the worst video player, but that “Banned” promised me a novel experience better than anything forgotten memories could conceal — no longer for the sake of childhood, but for completion. This wasn’t on the VHS!

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