16.12.

1997: Pokémon Episode Causes Seizures among 685 Children

1997: Pokémon Episode Causes Seizures among 685 Children

Stroboscopic blinks at a rate of about 12 Hz caused dizziness and loss of consciousness, and in some cases even seizures among some children. A total of 685 children were transported to hospitals by ambulance.

The 38th episode of the first season of the Pokémon cartoon series was broadcast in Japan on this day in 1997. It became infamous for having visual effects that were so intense that they caused photosensitive epileptic seizures in a number of children. Namely, at around 20 minutes into the episode, there was a scene with explosions, which were shown with flashes of red and blue light. These stroboscopic blinks at a rate of about 12 Hz caused dizziness and loss of consciousness, and in some cases even seizures among some children. A total of 685 children were transported to hospitals by ambulance. Most recovered during transport, but more than 150 were detained in hospital. Two remained hospitalized for two weeks. It is estimated that these types of light effects can cause an epileptic reaction in about 1 in 4,000 people. However, since this episode was viewed in approximately 26.9 million homes, the number of seizures was great indeed. This episode was never again aired either in Japan or abroad. Unfortunately, the television news that accompanied the event broadcast the parts of the episode with flashes, and caused some further attacks. Further Pokémon broadcasting was canceled, but it was nevertheless continued four months later.

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