On December 16, 1997, an episode of the then-unstoppable Pokémon animated series was broadcast in Japan. thirty minutes later, nearly 700 children were on their way to hospital.
The episode, called “Electric Soldier Porygon”, is now part of Pokémon folklore. Centring around the adventures of Ash and his friends as they travel inside a Pokéball transmitter machine, the story and premise are innocent enough. The machine is broken, and the kids embark on an adorable little cyberspace adventure to fix it.
The problem that caused this was the animation technique used in the episode; there comes a point where Pikachu uses his lighting attack to blow up some missiles. The animators used a rapidly-strobing technique that flashed red and blue lights on the screen to make the explosion look “virtual.”
Children across Japan were struck down with various ailments. Some kids passed out or experienced blurred vision. Others felt dizzy, or nauseous. In extreme cases, some even experienced seizures and cases of temporary blindness.