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A Pokémon ring that causes epilepsy.  What does the science say?

A Pokémon ring that causes epilepsy. What does the science say?

episode ofPokemonIt caused a huge commotion Japan, prompting many children to go to the hospital for epileptic seizures. This is the thirty-eighth episode of the first season, which was broadcast by 37 national channels, on December 16, 1997.

The name of the episode in question is Dino Senshi Borgon, in which the protagonist Ash and his group of friends went to a digital world. It turns out that for about 20 minutes into the episode, Pokémon Pikachu is trying to defeat the antivirus using its wattage.

On this occasion, the designers found it interesting to experiment with different looks. For this, the technology of rapid switching of two colors through stroboscopic flashes, known as Baka Baka. The colors chosen by the designers were blue and red, using 12 flashes (or frames) per second.

According to Executive Producer Takemoto Mori, this technique had already been used several times before, on the same program, and he also noted that there was a test screening before the episode was broadcast nationwide.

Effects of the episode “Pokemon”

It turns out that 4 million people were watching the episode when the scene was shown using the technology used. Of these onlookers, 685 children were taken to hospital by ambulances, and there are others who developed symptoms and were not rescued.

The total officially announced number was 12,000 children with celiac disease Blurred visionDizziness, headache and even seizures on the first day. Still others experience vomiting, eye irritation, temporary blindness, nausea, and fainting spells.

The next day, he replayed the scene with a news program that discussed the case. Another 600 children suffered from headaches, epileptic seizures and breathing problems. Finally, according to NHK, on ​​the 17th – the day after the episode aired – there were still 111 children in the hospitals.

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the scientific explanation

Author Benjamin Radford, in a study for the Journal of Medicine of Vice, stated that what occurred at the time was a combination of mass hysteria and photosensitive epilepsy. This is because only one out of every four thousand people is susceptible to this condition.

Thus, after showing the problematic episode, the news spread quickly, causing a sense of panic that contributed to the emergence of negative symptoms in a larger number of children. This panic is compounded by the time the episode aired, which coincides with exam week in Japan.

As a result of this episode, the series was suspended for four months and was almost cancelled. Episode 38 was banned from broadcasting worldwide and Porygon, the character, never appeared on the show again. However, Nintendo shares fell 5% on the stock exchange.