‘Pokémon’ Episode Won’t Air in the U.S. Because Ash Ketchum Does ‘Blackface’

An episode of Pokémon’s current anime series “Sun and Moon” will not be making it to U.S. shores due to some of its scenes allegedly featuring “blackface.”

Episodes of “Pokémon the Series: Sun and Moon’s” current arc are broadcast in the U.S. about four months behind their Japanese releases, unlike other anime titles which are streamed internationally on the same day as they air in Japan, according to SoraNews24.

“Episode 1005: Satoshi and Nagetsukesaru! Touchdown of Friendship!! (Ash and Passimian! Touchdown of Friendship!!)” aired in Japan back in March and should be making its appearance on Disney’s American broadcast lineup in early August.

However, reports have surfaced that the episode will be skipped over in the U.S. TV broadcast allegedly due to its handling of the Pokémon Nagetsukesaru/Passimian, a Pocket Monster with a monkey-like design.

In the episode, Ash befriends a Passimian and helped it in a contest to determine the leader of a Passimian pack. During the competition, Ash is seen dressed up like one of the creatures, complete with some dark paint covering his face and skin.

While Disney has yet to confirm the reason for the episode’s omission from the broadcast lineup, fans have hypothesized that the company is avoiding potential backlash due to Ash’s face painting being construed as a form of blackface.

An entry on the Pokémon wiki Bulbapedia noted that the episode was not localized because Ash wears dark face paint resembling blackface.

Meanwhile, Pokémon community Serebii webmaster Joe Merrick pointed out that it may also be possible that the Passimian-focused episode will not be banned altogether and is merely being aired out of order.

It should be noted that several Pokémon episodes in the past have been altered or banned from being broadcast in certain countries for similar reasons.

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