- “I felt tension in my body,” said a 15-year-old girl from Nagoya, quoted by The Guardian. “I don’t remember what happened next.”
- Symptoms appeared while watching episode 38 of the first season of the anime series “Pokemon” – “Denno Senshi Porygon” (“Electric Soldier Porygon”)
- In some children, symptoms only appeared in the following days. Years later, scientists realized that it “represents a much more collective social disease than photic epilepsy.”
- The “Pokémon” series has been on hiatus for about four months. The episode never made it to television again
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Some children lost consciousness or had blurred vision, while others felt dizzy or nauseous. Seizures and temporary blindness also occurred. On December 16, 1997, at 6:51 p.m., hundreds of children in Japan had an epileptic seizure. A total of 685 children were transferred to hospitals. Over the next two days, 12,000 children reported their illnesses. It all started with an episode of the cartoon “Pokemon”.
“I felt tension in my body. I don’t remember what happened next.”
This is episode 38 of the first season of the anime series “Pokemon” – “Denno Senshi Porygon” (“Electric Soldier Porygon”). At some point, a computer virus attacks and an explosion occurs, with alternating red and blue flashing lights at a frequency of 12 Hz. It lasted for six seconds and immediately caused seizures in several hundred children.
“At the end of the program there was an explosion and I had to close my eyes because of the yellow light that looked like a camera flash,” 10-year-old Takuya Sato told The Guardian. A 15-year-old girl from Nagoya (a Japanese city located in the southern part of Honshu Island) said: “I felt tension in my body. I don’t remember what happened next.”
Japanese media have dubbed this phenomenon “Pokemon shock.” The caricature producers were interrogated by the agencies, and the ministries held an extraordinary meeting.
This was the end of Porregon
For four years, it remained a mystery to doctors what really happened. Benjamin Radford of the United States Skeptical Inquiry, in collaboration with medical sociologist Robert Bartholomew, discovered that hundreds of children did indeed have a seizure on December 16, but that most of them became ill only after hearing about the effects and witnessing the incident. These patients suffered from headache, dizziness, and vomiting, and, according to Radford, were “more a feature of a disease of social origin than photic epilepsy.”
He was referring to MSI, otherwise known as mass hysteria: “MSI is complex and often misunderstood, but the basic idea is that anxiety manifests itself in physical symptoms that can spread through social contact. […] Radford explained that the symptoms are real, and victims are not faking or making them up.
The “Pokémon” series has been on hiatus for about four months. The Porygon character did not appear in production again, and the episode was never broadcast again.
In 2020, a post was shared on the official Pokémon Twitter site saying that “Porygon did nothing”, and the post quickly disappeared.
Source: The Guardian, Kotaku
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