News Article

Pokémon Almost Brought a "Seizure Gun" to the World

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

From the U.S. military, of course

At times we mock video games, particularly those based around war, for their ludicrous ideas and unrealistic scenarios. There's nothing as strange as real life, however, as a report on wired.com has uncovered a U.S. military project from 1998, which was to develop an electromagnetic weapon that would induce seizures in its victims.

The source of this idea came from a broadcast in Japan of a Pokémon cartoon in 1997, where flashing images prompted hundreds of viewers to suffer seizures. The declassified document from the U.S. Army's National Ground Intelligence Center said the following in relation to the incident.

The photic-induced seizure phenomenon was borne out demonstrably on December 16, 1997 on Japanese television when hundreds of viewers of a popular cartoon were treated, inadvertently, to photic seizure induction.

We assume that steps were subsequently taken in Japan to avoid a repeat of the incident, and as far as we know the U.S. Army hasn't been deploying a seizure gun in the real world. Still, with this sort of well-known incident you can guarantee that The Simpsons would use it for a sketch, so you can see their take on it below; if you enjoy Pokémon shows today, fear not, this is unlikely to happen on that scale ever again.

[via wired.com, eurogamer.net]

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User Comments (35)

JohnPhilipSousa

#1

JohnPhilipSousa said:

I find that video offensive. I have had seizures before, and they are no laughing matter... but, I still laughed like a Siberian walrus.

WanderFan91

#3

WanderFan91 said:

That's still a memorably funny The Simpsons moment, lol! But yeah, seizures are a very serious issue.
I knew about that seizure-related Pokémon moment in Japan.

Marakuto

#4

Marakuto said:

Porygon made another appearance afterwards but not as an actual physical Pokemon.

hamispink

#5

hamispink said:

Everything is funny when timed correctly, and everything is offensive when timed correctly.

Kyloctopus

#6

Kyloctopus said:

One time I decided to watch the scene think "Could I get a seizure despite never showing a trace of epilepsy?" I watched it and my eyes were fine.

EvisceratorX

#7

EvisceratorX said:

The thing is, Porygon was thus unofficially banned from the anime, yet it was Pikachu who actually did the attack...

sillygostly

#8

sillygostly said:

I remember that I had anticipated Porygon's appearance in the anime as it was always one of my favourite Pokemon, but I had never known the circumstances behind its absence as I assumed that the anime would at least showcase every Pokemon at least once.

Damn censorship.

LittleKing

#11

LittleKing said:

Hundreds of people had seizures, but many more watched the scene with no problems whatsoever. I wonder what the success rate would've been for this weapon had it been made.

FluttershyGuy

#13

FluttershyGuy said:

Forget stupid things like finding a cure for cancer, improving education, infrastructure, etc... Nations must spend all rupees designing weapons/vehicles/apparatuses from video games and film. :p

All I know is I want to wield a lightsaber and learn the ways of The Force before I die! Blasters are so uncivilized, so I don't care about them! ;)

At any rate, good to know Lucius Fox is still hard at work on tomorrow's technology!!!

KingDunsparce

#15

KingDunsparce said:

I still haven't seen those canceled-soon-after-air episodes. My sister has though. The safari zone one seems hilarious

KromCompany

#16

KromCompany said:

(I hadnt been on here due to internet problems) I watched the scene. I got a massive headache, which ruined my day. But still pretty funny and offensive.

Kawaiipikachu

#20

Kawaiipikachu said:

@Klyo well I myself let to see any un-edited copies of the scenes & what's online is a scan from a VHS copy that sold Briefly in Japan where the offiding scenes not only been darkened down but also where the frequency of the flashing reduced so you should not have been affected from what is essentially an edited copy.

TwilightV

#21

TwilightV said:

I remember seeing a clip from the Porygon episode used in a report on the supposed effects that violent television programs have on children. I think it was part of the seizure scene too. XD

GamerZack87

#26

GamerZack87 said:

Pokemon isn't a cartoon. It's anime. :3

Cue Penny's ramblings about Anna-May Fletcher with one nostril

The broadcasting of Dettou Senshi Porygon has meant that neither it nor both of its evolved forms have never appeared in the show since. :|

Robo-goose

#27

Robo-goose said:

Seizure gun, eh? Less harmful than a well-placed bullet, and much more range than a tazer. Sounds good on paper.
Lol! U.S. Army inspired by Pokemon!

StarDust4Ever

#29

StarDust4Ever said:

Even with EMP pulses rather than light or sound techniques, only a tiny percentage of people will be affected. IMO, a weapon that temporarily disables 1-2% of enemy soldiers while most leaving others unscathed, or just mildly annoyed, is not an effective tactical weapon. BTW, the "golden" seizure ratio is roughly 15-18 Hz strobe light. Every third frame PAL (50/3=18.83Hz) or every third or fourth frame NTSC (60/3=20Hz; 60/4=15Hz) flashing visual patterns have been banned in public media for most jurisdictions because of this effect.
Untitled
Does anyone have the episode number (or production code) for this Simpsons episode? Thanks...

Marioman64

#31

Marioman64 said:

i loved the densetsu no porygon episode, i wish they would remake it without the flashy explosion scene and release it as a lost episode (although everyone would have the wrong voice acting but... meh)

MrMario02

#32

MrMario02 said:

episode 38. people say it was the porygon that caused the seizures but it was when pikachu BLEW UP A MISSLE! the episode never came to america and Japenese people hate porygons now.

StarDust4Ever

#34

StarDust4Ever said:

Thanks Retrobrony. I've got season 10 on DVD, I think. It's been a while since I've watched them, LOL!

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