This is definitely not the time for America to see Ash Ketchum in blackface. Unfortunately, Japan didn't consider the United States' history of racial prejudice when they produced the 64th episode of Pokémon Sun and Moon.
In the episode, Ash is making an effort to grow closer to a group of Passimian, a pokemon that resembles a muscular lemur. They also happen to have black faces. To blend in with the Pokémon, Ash paints his face black and dons a Passimian costume.
Of course, there was no malicious intention to the Japanese cartoon, but the image of a character donning blackface holds a far different connotation here in the U.S.
Okay. This is literally just a white dude dressed to look like a POKÉMON. Blackface is terrible, but this ain’t it https://t.co/2TKvdOfVz5— 🅱️en (@🅱️en)1531266272.0
Past episodes of Pokémon have been held back from the U.S. airwaves before. Most notably, an episode starring the controversial pokémon Jynx, whose black skin was changed to purple after poor reception in the U.S.
A new Pokemon episode just got banned in the west due to ‘blackface’: https://t.co/wjNAUntSIF #Pokemon #Banned… https://t.co/mwl0L5CBjT— The BRAG (@The BRAG)1531362617.0
The last episode to get full-out banned was Original Series Episode 250. The last episode skipped in the English du… https://t.co/0Giglrbfno— Skul (@Skul)1531095818.0
Most of Twitter was pretty on board with the episode's suspension:
@imranzomg Hmm Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Can't possibly see anything wrong with the image of Ash dressed up in blackface sp… https://t.co/A2GaP9v0tQ— 「Ｂｅｈｅｍｏｔｈ」 (@「Ｂｅｈｅｍｏｔｈ」)1531201042.0
@AztechDan @lisamotorola @Polygon @Pokemon Yeah I know how bad Japan is about blackface, they do it every year in o… https://t.co/DMnBXCtp7U— Marin (@Marin)1531320567.0
Others didn't think Ash's getup was such a big deal.
@Hypable He's dressed as a Pokemon! How is that blackface?— Peggy Ruiz (@Peggy Ruiz)1531349378.0
@HYPEBEAST What, that’s not blackface.— Julian Ortega (@Julian Ortega)1531334933.0
Perhaps in the far future, once America has dealt with its intense tensions regarding race, we'll be able to enjoy episode 64 in its true, innocent context.