In the spring of 2011, Japanese broadcasters declined to air two episodes from the Pokémon anime due to a catastrophic earthquake. While the networks originally promised to air them at a later date, these episodes never materialized. Now, thanks to the efforts of a fan who tracked down a copy of the script, we’re finally able to see how the Team Rocket arc would have concluded in Pokémon the Series: Black & White.
The Pokémon anime was building up a dramatic arc in the spring of 2011, which involved Team Rocket trying to use meteorite technology to take over Unova. Unfortunately, a major earthquake and tsunami hit the east coast of Japan the very next day, resulting in widespread devastation and a tragic loss of life. Understandably, this upheaval also had the side effect of causing two episodes of the Black & White anime to be postponed. That postponement turned into a cancellation, and Pokémon fans were left wondering how the arc concluded for over a decade.
Recently, a fan found someone who owned copies of the episode scripts, and they were willing to sell them for $4,000. The Pokémon community raised the full amount, but then the owner decided to donate the scripts free of charge. The organizers refunded the contributors and even translated the scripts from Japanese, so you can finally see what happened in the episodes “Team Rocket Vs. Team Plasma Part 1” and “Team Rocket Vs. Team Plasma Part 2.”
If you skim the contents of the scripts, you’ll see why Japanese broadcasters felt the need to take it off the air. Team Rocket’s leader Giovanni secured a mysterious and powerful rock called a Meteonite, and he intended to use its power to take over the Unova region. Team Plasma stole the Meteonite, but they quickly lost control of it. The space rock started reacting with a meteorite from a nearby museum, and the resulting heat waves started destroying entire buildings. Fans have long suspected that perhaps the episodes contained imagery that was too similar to the destruction caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and this was why they never aired. Now it seems that their guesses may have been accurate. An association with a real-life tragedy wouldn’t have been a great look for goofy antagonists who are mostly intended for comedic relief.
Some fans mourned how Pokémon history was changed because of the earthquake. “They definitely planned on having Team Plasma play a bigger role in the Black & White anime before the episode cut,” speculated one fan. We may never be able to see the episodes, but it’s still neat to learn what Pokémon anime history could have been.