In its early days, a number of episodes of the Pokemon anime’s English dub were banned for a number of reasons. Episode bans have occurred rarely since then, but now an episode of the Pokemon Sun and Moon English dub has been banned, with it originally set to air at the end of July or early August.
The episode in question is episode 64 of the Sun and Moon anime, and the 1,003rd episode of the series in general. It has no English title, and originally aired in Japan this past March. The episode revolves around the Pokemon called Passimian, and during the course of the plot, Ash wears face paint to disguise himself as one of the creatures in a manner that somewhat resembles the racist practice of blackface.
This isn’t the first time an episode of the Pokemon English dub was banned because of blackface. In fact, the first-generation Pokemon Jynx is infamous for how it resembles an actor wearing blackface, and many English dub episodes featuring the creature, even ones where it makes a very brief cameo, have been banned. This includes the episodes Holiday Hi-Jynx, Stage Fight!, The Mandarian Island Miss March, and episode 250, which lacks an English title.
Episodes of the Pokemon English dub have been banned for other reasons as well. This includes the episode Beauty and the Beach, which was banned for its sexual content, and episode 35, which was banned for featuring handguns, with one character even pointing a gun right at Ash’s head.
Episode 35 is the only banned episode that seems to have caused some serious continuity issues in the long-running and still popular anime series, as it shows how Ash caught 30 Tauros in the Safari Zone. Other unaired, pulled, or otherwise banned episodes of the English dub don’t appear to have had major ramifications on the overall plot of the series, and that appears to be the case with the most recently banned episode as well.
The Pokemon anime stands as one of the longest-running series in television history, and it shows no signs of slowing down. As long as Nintendo and Game Freak keep pumping out new games, one has to imagine that the anime will continue releasing new episodes to match them. And if the series keeps making popular decisions like bringing back fan-favorite characters Brock and Misty, one has to imagine that it will maintain its popularity moving forward.