Episode featuring Ash disguising himself as a Passimian is missing from Disney broadcast lineup.

These days, thanks to online streaming services and improved translation coordination, it’s not unusual for new anime episodes to stream internationally on the same day they air in Japan. An exception to this trend, however, is the Pokémon franchise, for which U.S. TV broadcasts of the show’s current arc, Sun and Moon, lag about four months behind their Japanese dates.

That gap is about to get just a little shorter, though. Polygon reports that the episode Satoshi and Nagetsukesaru! Touchdown of Friendship!! (or Ash and Passimian! Touchdown of Friendship!!, if you’re going by the characters’ English-version names) will be skipped over in the U.S. TV broadcast. The episode, the 1005th for the Japanese series, was shown in Japan back in March, and would have appeared in the U.S. in early August.

The reason for its U.S. omission appears to be linked to the Pokémon Nagetsukesaru/Passimian, a Pocket Monster with a monkey-like design (aside from the obvious “simian” portion of Passimian, saru is the Japanese word for “monkey”).

The episode centers on Ash befriending a Passimian and assisting it in a contest to determine the leader of a Passimian pack. As part of the process, Ash dresses up like one of the creatures, including painting his face to match their black/dark gray facial coloring.

While no official statement has been put out from the U.S. broadcaster, the assumption is that concerns that Ash’s face-painting could be construed as a form of blackface, and thus offensive to viewers of African heritage, is the reason why the episode is being withheld from American television.


Pokémon Sun and Moon is broadcast on Disney XD, and it’s not surprising that the decidedly family-oriented organization would by extremely averse to anything that could be construed as remotely offensive or controversial.

At the same time, a number of vocal fans were quick to criticize the decision, calling it ridiculous to equate someone painting their face to resemble a Pokémon and someone painting their face to caricaturize a human ethnic group.

It’s currently unknown whether the episode will be scrubbed from Pokémon’s English continuity entirely, or whether it will be included at a later date in a visually edited form.

Sources: Polygon, Bulbapedia via Yuruku Yaru via Jin