As a result of Pokémon English Dub’s changes to the original anime’s dialogue, a major inconsistency emerges regarding Brock’s mother.
Given how long the Pokemon anime series has aired, there are bound to be inconsistencies here and there in its continuity. Some of them are in the lore of the series like the Arceus-or-Mew dilemma. Others think about anime continuity, like how Ash always checks his Pokédex even for Pokemon he’s already encountered. However, a rare type of inconsistency arises when the English dub has the characters say things that aren’t present in the original anime.
One such plot hole involves Brock’s mother, Lola. In the first English dub, it is stated that she is deceased. However, the audience is later shown that she is alive and well. It sounds strange, but maybe there is an explanation for it. Finding justification for claiming that Brock’s mother is dead requires looking at the situation, what spurred the false comment, and how her existence may still function in the continuity of the rest of the series.
The claim arose in the episode “Showdown in Pewter City”. At the time, Flint found Ash disheartened by his loss to Brock. He gave Ash a glimpse into Brock’s home life, where they saw him taking care of his ten younger siblings on his own. Brock’s dad went on a Pokemon trip and never came back, and while his heartbroken mom tried to keep the family together, she sadly passed away – or so Flint would have you believe. Ash. Meanwhile, the claim that Brock’s mother died does not appear in the original Japanese version of the anime. Instead, Lola is said to have left home after getting tired of arguing with Brock’s father. As such, his status remains unknown for much of the original series.
Another version of Lola’s fate is given by Pocket Monster: The Animation, a novel series written by original series head writer Takeshi Shudo. In these books, Lola tried to run the Pewter Gym in Flint’s absence, but she couldn’t handle the pressure and left. These books, despite the author behind them, have several plot points that are contradicted by later seasons, so anything written here should be taken with a grain of salt. In any case, the intention to kill Brock’s mother was clearly never in the original plans for the series.
Flint’s claim in the Dub was further contradicted by an episode special titled “A Family That Fights Together Stays Together!” Brock returned home from his trip with Ash through Johto to find that his mother had renovated the Pewter Gym. When he went to confront his mother about it, he found her hanging on a painting in the house, saying she was becoming an art connoisseur. This was apparently one of many phases, along with the study of astrological signs and yodelling. In other words, not only is she not dead but she leads an active life rich in new experiences.
As for why Flint told Ash what he did in the English dub, there could be several explanations. It could be that Flint, having not been home for ages, only knows his family by hearsay and distant sightings and thus is spreading false information. It could be that when Lola left him, he considered her dead to him and acted as such. He might even have intentionally avoided telling Ash truths about his family that the boy didn’t need to know; this would also explain why he never revealed he was Brock’s father until the end of the episode. Since Lola’s “death” never returns, the reasoning behind Flint’s statement is left open to interpretation.
Either way, it’s nice to see that Brock’s mom is actually alive and well. As interesting as it may be for a series like Pokemon tackling a theme as mature as that of dead parents, it would clash greatly with the lighthearted vibe of the rest of the series. Having her alive not only avoids this problem, but also allows for more opportunities for fun stories with the character. It’s ironic that in one of the few times the English dub tried to take the lead with more mature themes, it ended up backfiring.
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