Team Rocket in Japan!

Everyone knows that Team Rocket is the coolest...

James: Hear that? We're COOOOOOOOOOOL!
Jessie: (smacks him) James! Don't be such an ignoramus!

Ok... anyway, as I was saying, we know all about how cool Team Rocket is in the English dub of Pokemon, but their antics and sayings are slightly different in the Japanese version of the anime. In fact, Japanese TR fans have access to additional episodes and "CD Dramas" that we've never seen over here. There are even extra Team Rocket characters that we've never heard of in the US!

Be sure to check out the Japanese Exclusives, but before you go, here's a quick reference list of some differences between the English and Japanese Team Rockets!

English Name/Phrase Japanese Equivalent Direct Translation/Origin
Team Rocket Rocket-Dan Rocket Gang, Rocket Troop
("Dan" means something like "group" or "political party"... or "team" as in a baseball team)
Jessie Musashi Musashi Miyamoto was one of the most famous samurai in Japanese history. He was never defeated in battle, and wrote a famous treatise on swordplay/strategy called "The Book of Five Rings". In the CD Drama, "Birth of Mewtwo", Musashi's mother's name is Miyamoto.
James Kojiro Kojiro Sasaki was also a Japanese samurai. Musashi defeated Kojiro in a very famous samurai battle to the death.
Meowth Nyaasu/Nyarth Like "Meowth", "Nyarth" is a combination of a cat's sound ("nya" in Japanese) with "mouth", which suits both versions of the character very well!
Ash Ketchum Satoshi Named for Satoshi Tajiri, creator of Pokemon!
Misty Kasumi "Kasumi" means "mist".
Brock Takeshi Some guy named Takeshi is the story writer for the Pokemon anime, but I don't know if there's a connection. A very popular Japanese male name.
Gary Oak Shigeru Okaido Possibly named after Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of series like Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Pikmin, and more. Perhaps Satoshi Tajiri viewed him as a personal "rival" in the gaming world.
Tracey Sketchit Kenji ???
Cassidy Yamato During WWII, Yamato and Musashi were the names of sister Warships for Japan.
Butch Kosaburo ???
"We're Blasting Off Again!" "Yana Kanji!" "This feels bad!"
"Twerp" "Jari-Boy" "Annoying Boy"
"Gotta catch 'em all!" "Pokemon, Getto Daze!" "Catch Pokemon!"
The Masked Marauder Bishasu (Vicious) ???
Dr. Sebastian Shiranui-Hakase ???
Tyson Tatsumi "Tatsu" is Japanese for "Dragon", "Tatsumaki" means "Tornado"

Miscellaneous Japanese Info:

  • Team Rocket often says "Ii Kanji" whenever they get a good idea or plan... this translates to "This feels good!" or more loosely, "We're going to win!"

  • The twerps are often referred to as "Satoshi-tachi" which loosely means "Satoshi and his friends". Interestingly enough, Team Rocket is occasionally referred to as "Musashi-tachi" meaning "Musashi and her friends". Wonder why she gets top billing over in Japan?

  • Nyarth is much more philosophical and intelligent than Meowth; "Meowth's Song" in Japanese is about the cat Pokemon philosophizing in a blue, blue quiet night. The English equivalent is about Meowth's love for Meowsy.

  • Kojiro has a much deeper voice than James, and doesn't seem to whine nearly as much. He seems to get angry more often than James does. He also has his own song, "Lucky Lucky".

  • Musashi screams and yells much more than Jessie.

  • There is evidence of original Japanese Pokemon songs that appears in the dubbed version of the anime. While many instances of the Japanese songs has been covered over (by instrumental versions of "My Best Friends", "Viridian City", etc.) there are a few remnants of the originals:
    • The original song from "Pikachu's Summer Vacation" was called "Summer Vacation Fan Club", and instrumental versions of this appear in the following episodes:
      "The Pokemon Water War" - while Squirtle and Wartortle are racing each other
      "Pallet Party Panic" - when Ash yells, "Let's go eat so we can eat again!"

    • In the episode with the singer and her Igglybuffs, she sings a version of "Summer Vacation Fan Club". When TR attacks and steals her Igglybuffs, Brock takes the stage... singing a version of "Takeshi's Paradise".

    • Team Rocket's song in "The Song of Jigglypuff" was actually part of a much longer Japanese song. The Japanese version ("Rocket-Dan Yo Eien Ni") has an extra verse, a little part in the middle, and even a version of the motto. In "A Scare in the Air", listen while Meowth is climbing across the inside of the blimp's roof, as he talks about his 'feline agility'. This is the music from the section right before the motto.

    • The only other song (besides "Rocket-Dan Yo Eien Ni") ever actually dubbed for the show was "Nyasu no Uta", Meowth's Song. A little portion of this song appeared in "Go West, Young Meowth", while Meowth is learning how to speak human.

    • In "Pikachu and Pichu", the 3rd mini-movie, listen to the background music right when the Pichu brothers appear. This is an instrumental version of a Japanese ending song about Pichu.

  • There is a lot of swearing in the original Japanese Pokemon anime. From the few subtitled episodes I've seen, Satoshi swears quite a bit (calling TR and Gary some choice names), Kojiro and Musashi swear a little, and Nyarth has sworn several times (at Satoshi!). Hard to believe, isn't it?

    • HOWEVER! In the episode, "Hassle in the Castle" (stupid title, I know) the Team Rocket motto breaks a conventional rule of the show... it doesn't rhyme! Why is this? Either an example of censorship OR a joke for the older fans. Let me explain...
      The motto goes something like this:

      Jessie: "To protect us from all that chafing and itching!"
      James: "It might finally stop all of Jessie's... complaining!"


  • Speaking of censorship, La rita88 says: "The Pokemon Comic Book series by Toshiro Ono had a great deal of girls in rather slutty outfitts, which were airbrused out for US release. (They looked like something Cher would wear)"

  • Sometimes, Misty says "Cutie!" about some new Pokemon (like Marill or Togepi). I think it's because the Japanese word for "cute" is "kawaii", so the dub had to have Misty say something that 'looked' similar.

  • Similarly, Satoshi never gives out his full name in the Japanese version. Ash always says, "I'm Ash Ketchum." I think this is to compensate for the two extra syllables that "Satoshi" has over "Ash".

  • Gary's Japanese name is Shigeru, possibly named after Shigeru Miyamoto, one of the greatest video game designers of all time (the guy who created Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, etc.). Maybe Satoshi Tajiri (the creator of Pokemon) named the "rival" Shigeru because he felt, with the Pokemon GB game, he was competing with Shigeru Miyamoto (after all, Gary is ALWAYS way ahead of Ash... maybe the real Satoshi felt the same way about the real Shigeru!)

  • From La rita88: "Yamato(Cassidy) and Musashi (Jessie) were sister Warships for Japan during WWII. Perhaps there might be some strange conection with this fact as to the former friendship of the two."

  • While Musashi and Kojiro yell "Yana Kanji!" ("This feels bad!") when they blast off, Yamato and Kosanburo yell "Yana Kimochi!". It means basically the same thing, just another example of a slight variation between the 2 Rocket factions.

  • In the Japanese version of "Ditto's Mysterious Mansion", when Ash-tachi are imitating the Team Rocket motto, they call themselves "Poketto-Dan", or "Team Pocket" instead of "Rocketto-Dan". (In Japanese, the show is called "Poketto-Monsuta" - Pocket Monsters). Perhaps this is what made J&J so angry, not the "to ignite all peoples" part.

  • From Silver11016: Junichi (from the Raikou special) is possibly named after Junichi Masuda. He was a Sub-director, Designer, and US coordinator, plus he was on the Music and Sound Effects crews, for Pokemon G/S/C.
Pokemon Cities (from ESPEON)
English Name Japanese Name
Saffron Yamabuki
Pallet Masara
Viridian Takiwa
Pewter Nivi
Cerulean Hanada
Cinnabar Guren
Celadon Tamamushi
Vermillion Ikuchiba
Fuschia Sekichiku

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