SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time in 16 years, “Pokemon” will skip its U.S. airing of a new episode.
Disney XD, the cartoon network that airs the “Pokemon” cartoons, will skip an upcoming episode of the “Sun and Moon” show, according to the company’s programming schedule. The episode was set to air Monday.
The network will jump to the next episode in the season.
As Polygon reported, Disney XD’s decision to skip “makes sense” since it features the show’s main character dressing in what appears to be blackface.
In Episode 64, which is called “Touchdown of Friends!” in Japanese, Ash develops sympathy for a tribe of Pokemon called Passimian, which are similar to lemurs. He tries to protect the race of Pokemon by acting like them.
However, Ash’s desire to help, which happens a lot in the series, goes a little too far.
“What’s most troubling is where Ash’s Passimian passion leads him: He ends up wearing a costume that resembles the Pokémon, which includes painting his entire face black,” Polygon reported.
The Pokemon Company hasn’t directly stated the reason the show won’t be aired in the U.S.
“It's possible it's just not going to be airing in the normal order it would be seen in, or it could be planned for another time,” according to Shack News. “Most likely, however, the case is that everyone wants to avoid any kind of controversy that could come along with airing Ash's actions. It's easy to understand why.”5 comments on this story
The episode is "not only one of the few episodes to never leave Asia, but also part of a small group of Pokemon cartoons that have been banned from re-airing,” according to Polygon.
The last episode that “Pokemon” did not air in the U.S. included the Pokemon character Jynx, who originally had a black-colored face and reminded many of African-American caricatures. The character has since been updated to have a purple face instead.
In fact, plenty of episodes in the “Pokemon” anime never made it out of Asia because of Jynx’s previous design, according to Mashable.