Dogasu's Backpack

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Welcome to Dogasu's Backpack, a fansite for the Japanese franchise Pocket Monsters!  For fifteen years this website has been your guide for the Japanese version of Pokémon and contains content you can't find anywhere else.  Stuff like detailed comparisons between the Japanese version and the English version of the animated series, English-Japanese lists for all pokemon, information on the various manga, a lyrics database, a DVD Guide, and much more!  So whether you're a seasoned veteran or a newbie just getting into Pocket Monsters, this site has something for every fan to enjoy.

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The Archdjinn of the Rings, Hoopa
February 25th, 2015

Dogasu @ 23:38 JST -- This update's a few weeks late but anyway here's everything we know about this summer's movie, The Archdjinn of the Rings, Hoopa and Pikachu and the Pokemon Band.

The Archdjinn of the Rings, Hoopa Pikachu and the Pokemon Band

For first of all, the title.  The original Japanese title (光輪の超魔神フーパ) contains two made-up words, something for which the movie titles in this franchise are well-known. 
光輪, which is being read as リング, is an example of jukujikun, the practice of assigning a word with a pronunciation related more to the meaning than the sounds of each individual kanji.  超魔神 is also a made-up word; the kanji by themselves mean "super," "magic," and "deity" but together they create a new word.  There was a Yu-Gi-Oh! card 超魔神イド that was officially translated as "Ido the Supreme Magical Force" but other than that I couldn't find any examples of 超魔神 being given any sort of official translation.  Other Pokemon fansites decided to go with "Archdjinn" and it fits well enough, I suppose, so that's the translation I'll settle on as well.

As for the movie itself, I've posted my translation of the synopsis posted on the movie's official site

There's also a Pikachu short, "Pikachu and the Pokemon Band," but all we know about it so far is that Sonansu's still around so obviously it's not actually leaving in the XY episode that airs next week.  It's also depressing when you realize that a short in which music is going to play a big role is probably going to be completely rescored for the English dub.


I've also added a page for the various pre-order bonuses.  It's crazy to think that the advanced tickets go on sale next week (pre-order tickets for the Diancie movie didn't go on sale until April last year) but I guess they think giving fans an extra month to buy their tickets will increase ticket sales?  Arceus can be downloaded over Wi-fi while the other legendary pokemon will actually require you to physically go to one of the stores that sells advanced tickets to claim your prize, so there's that.

Finally, Hoopa's also been added to the Character Bios page.

Spinning Discs
February 22nd, 2015

Dogasu @ 21:40 JST -- Tonight I play catch up on all the CD / DVD releases that have come out / are set to come out soon.

DreaDrea (Pokemon Version)
DreaDrea (Limited Edition + DVD)
DreaDrea (Regular Edition)

First, I've added information on the four CDs that have been released in 2015 so far - the Smash Bros soundtrack and the three releases for Nakagawa Shouko's DreaDrea.  The latter is particularly evil because the DVDs on both the Pokemon Version and the Limited Edition + DVD Version have different videos, meaning you'll have to double dip in order to get everything you might want.  It's the 2010 release of Saikou Everyday all over again. 

You might also notice that I've changed the way I'm presenting the information about each CD.  What do you guys think?  Any feedback would be welcome.

Adventures in the Orange Islands Complete Collection
BW Adventures in Unova - And Beyond - 2
Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction

In DVD news, I've added a listing for the new Adventures in the Orange Islands "Complete Collection" DVD box set.  I'm assuming that this "Complete Collection" will remove the other two blackface Jynx episodes left - "Stage Fight!" and "The Mandarin Island Miss-Match" - though we won't actually know for sure until after the set's released.  I also noticed that this new DVD boxset is titled "Adventures in the Orange Islands" as opposed to "Adventures on the Orange Islands," for what that's worth.

I've also added a listing for the Pokémon BW Adventures in Unova and Beyond DVD box set.

Finally, I've added a listing for the Region 1 Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction DVD that only just came out this past week.  A review over on Amazon states that the DVD actually isn't uncut and that it's the same chopped-up version that aired on Cartoon Network back in November but other reports online indicate that this isn't the case.  Can anyone confirm this one way or the other?

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JAGMO ~ The Legend of RPG Collection ~
February 8th, 2015

Dogasu @ 23:55 JST -- I just got back from a video game music concert held here in Tokyo over the weekend called JAGMO ~ The Legend of RPG Collection ~

JAGMO ~ The Legend of RPG ~

JAGMO - the Japan Game Music Orchestra - holds a concert several times a year where they play arrangements of music from various role-playing video games.  I had wanted to go to the concert last year but wasn't able to attend so when I found out that they were doing it again this month I made sure to get tickets.  The concert I went to today, which took place at the U-Port Hall in the Gotanda area of Tokyo, featured music from Pocket Monsters, Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, Kingdom Hearts II, Romancing Saga 3, and Final Fantasy.  The Pocket Monsters section of the concert, which was actually quite long, featured these songs:

Pocket Monsters Red & Green Adventure Song Medley
"Masara Town Theme," "The Road to Tokiwa ~ from Masara"
"Cycling," "The St. Anne"
"Tamamushi City Theme," "Casino"
"The Rocket-Dan's Hideout," "Gym Leader Battle"
"The Final Road," "Last Battle Against Your Rival"

Pocket Monsters Series Medley
"Zekrom and Reshiram Battle!" (Pocket Monsters Black & White)
"Plasma-Dan Battle!" (Pocket Monsters Black & White)
"Champion Battle!" (Pocket Monsters Diamond & Pearl)
"Aqua-Dan & Magma-Dan Battle!" (Pocket Monsters Ruby & Sapphire)
"Friend Battle!" (Pocket Monsters X & Y)
"Champion Battle!" (Pocket Monsters Gold & Silver)

It's no Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions (something that has not made its way to Japan, by the way) but it's not too bad, either.

The special guest at today's show was Masuda Junichi.  He got up on stage during the intermission to talk a little bit about what it was like to work on the music in the first generation games and how the Game Boy's limitations affected the way they had to approach the music.  He talked about how they only made about 30 or so original pokemon cries in the first generation games and that they created the rest by taking those 30 cries and playing around with the pitch and / or speed.  He told the audience that this was something that they're revealing there for the first time but when I got home I was able to find that same information on Bulbapedia so I guess the story's not all that exclusive after all.  Mr. Masuda also talked about how they tried to be conscious of what the player would do in certain situations and used the Title Screen as an example.  He realized that most players would just press the Start button as soon as they saw the Title Screen so they decided to have the pokemon cry play when the button's pressed rather than have it play at a pre-determined time.  He only spoke for about five minutes before the orchestra returned to do their Final Fantasy medley but it was still really cool.

At the end of the show the orchestra was called back out to do an encore so they ended up playing "Opening" from Pocket Monsters Red & Green one more time. 

It was a fun event and I really had a good time.  Hopefully something like this will make it outside Japan before too long...?

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Dogasu's Backpack 15th Anniversary
February 1st, 2015

Dogasu @ 13:49 JST -- Fifteen years, y'all!  Holy crap.  I've finished my write-up celebrating this insane milestone and wanted to share it with you guys.

Fifteen Years!

(Also, yes, I am absolutely using the loophole that it's still technically January 31st in the country where this website first started)

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"The power of science is amazing!"
January 14th, 2015

Dogasu @ 17:48 JST -- Earlier today it was announced that there will be a Pokemon exhibit at the Mirakian, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in the Odaiba area of Tokyo, Japan.  The exhibit will be called Pokemon Laboratory ~ Even You Can Do It!  A New Discovery ~ (ポケモン研究所~キミにもできる!新たな発見~).

Pokemon Laboratory ~ Even You Can Do It!  A New Discovery ~

The exhibit will feature a "Pokemon Laboratory" where visitors will take on various missions to learn about the scientific process.  These missions are divided into various difficulty levels so that customers of all ages will have something to enjoy.  There will also be a section of the exhibit dedicated to how communication between the various Pokemon games has evolved throughout the years.

The exhibit will open from July 8th, 2015 until October 12th, 2015.  The museum is open from 10:00am until 5:00pm and customers are allowed to enter the building up until 4:30pm.  Admission is 1,500 yen for adults and 1,300 yen for children under 18 years old.

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January 7th, 2015

Dogasu @ 11:56 JST -- Today I want to talk about something that I've been meaning to bring up on this site for a while:  Yokai Watch.

Yokai Watch

What is Yokai Watch?
Yokai Watch (妖怪ウォッチ) started off as a Nintendo 3DS game back in July 2013.  It's produced by Level-5, the same people behind the Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, and Ni no Kuni games.  In the first Yokai Watch game you play as either a boy named Keita or a girl named Fumika who rescues a yokai (supernatural monsters from Japanese folklore) named Whisper.  As a reward, Whisper gives you a Yokai Watch, a device that enables its user to sniff out other yokai hiding around town.  You spend the rest of the game finding these other yokai, helping the humans being terrorized by them, and collecting their yokai coins so you can summon them in battle. 
There are about 245 yokai at the moment.  Kotaku has a pretty good summary of the whole thing here.

Yokai Watch has spawned a popular television series, video game sequels, an insanely popular line of toys, a movie, and more.  But why am I bringing it up here, on a Pocket Monsters site?  Because people are saying that Yokai Watch is the franchise that will finally knock Pocket Monsters off its throne.

Just how popular is it?
It's kind of unbelievable how much Yokai Watch has exploded in its first two years.

Yokai Watch 2 Ganso
Yokai Watch 2 Honke
Yokai Watch 2 Shin'uchi
Yokai Watch 2 Ganso
Yokai Watch 2 Honke
Yokai Watch 2 Shin'uchi

The sequel to 2013's Yokai Watch game pulled a Pocket Monsters and got released in three versions: Ganso (元祖, an old word meaning "original") and Honke (本家, a more modern word meaning "original") were released on July 10th, 2014 while Shin'uchi (真打, "star performer") was released on December 13th, 2014.  The two games released in July sold more than 1.3 million copies in its first week.  Fast forward to December where the official Yokai Watch website announced that all three games have sold a combined 5 million copies.  Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, meanwhile, sold 1.5 million copies in Japan in its first week.  The comparison isn't perfect since Yokai Watch 2 has technically been out for six months while ORAS has only been around for about a month and a half, but still. 

A TV series started airing in January 2014 on TV-Tokyo.  It airs Friday nights at 6:30pm.  Ratings-wise, both Yokai Watch and Pocket Monsters XY are having a back and forth; some weeks Yokai Watch has better ratings, while other weeks Pocket Monsters XY will do better.  It's also worth noting that the Japanese Hulu website has 50 episodes of Yokai Watch up (1-50) but only 25 episodes of Pocket Monsters XY (32-56).

Yokai Watch the Movie The Secret Of Its Birth Nyan

The franchise's first movie, Yokai Watch the Movie The Secret Of Its Birth Nyan, was released on December 20th, 2014.  It made more than 1.6 billion yen in its first two days, giving it the highest grossing opening of a Japanese in nearly fifteen yearsPokémon the Movie XY The Cocoon of Destruction and Diancie, by comparison, took about two months to reach that same figure.  Both movies were released during school holidays - Pokemon during summer vacation and Yokai Watch during winter vacation - so the comparison here is easier to make than the video game one.  Yokai Watch kicked Pokemon's butt.

And then there's the other stuff
It's hard to overstate just how popular Yokai Watch is in Japan.  You can't go to a single store here without seeing some Yokai Watch merchandise, whether it's a Jibanyan figurine at a convenience store or a yokai coin at a toy shop or a Yokai Watch backpack at a department store.  Everywhere you go the show's theme songs - GeraGeraPo no Uta and Yokai Taisou Dai-Ichi - are sung and/or played constantly.  I work at a preschool here in Tokyo and it's very hard to find a child who's not obsessed with Yokai Watch.  Pokemon is still popular, sure, but Yokai Watch is the shiny new kid in town.

We can compare sales data all day, but another way to gauge how popular these franchises are is to look at how they're being used in promotional materials.  If you pay attention to the covers of kids' magazines lately you'll see that Jibanyan, the sorta-kinda Pikachu-type character of the franchise, has taken Pikachu's place in the center.  The implication here is clear: Pikachu doesn't sell magazines anymore.  Jibanyan does.

CoroCoro Comics - September 2014
Coro Coro Comics - October 2014 Coro Coro Comics - November 2014 Coro Coro Comics - December 2014
The covers of the last four months' issues of CoroCoro Comics.

There are other things too.  McDonald's stores in Japan have been selling Pokemon calendars ever year since at least 2010 but this year they decided to go with Yokai Watch calendars instead.  Those calendars, by the way, are on track to receive the Guinness World Record for "Most Calendars Sold In One Year," a title that had, up until this year, been held by Pokemon.  Now 2015 Pokemon calendars do exist elsewhere, but seeing McDonald's give up Pokemon for Yokai Watch is telling.

There's also the World Hobby Fair, a semi-annual event held in Japan where companies show off their latest video games and toys aimed at the elementary school crowd.  Check out how the size and position of Pikachu's placement has changed in just one year.

World Hobby Fair Winter 2014
World Hobby Fair Winter 2015
Left:  2014's banner  Right:  2015's banner
Click on each image to view a larger version

And then there's the Pikachu vs. Jibanyan showdown at this shopping mall in Japan (it's kind of sad, really).  Stores selling out of Yokai Watch merchandise but not Pokemon stuff.  The whole thing with the yokai watches the show's named after being impossible to find.  I could go on and on.

Every time there's a new story about how well Yokai Watch is doing in Japan you're bound to see Japanese commenters talking about the fact that "Pokemon is done."  "Pokemon is yesterday's news."  "I guess a mouse (Pikachu) can't win against a cat (Jibanyan), can it?"  etc.

But why is it so popular?
It's tempting to write Yokai Watch off as just another Pokemon clone.  What makes Yokai Watch different from other monster catching series that have come and gone before?

A lot of what made Pokemon so popular is what's working for Yokai Watch.  There are hundreds of colorful characters with punny names who have outrageous personalities.  They all have various powers, strengths, and weaknesses.  There are cute yokai, scary yokai, and cool yokai.  There's also been a bigger merchandising push with Yokai Watch; in addition to the toys based on the creatures themselves is the titular yokai watch, a real life (toy) watch you can buy.  And then there are the yokai coins.  Hundreds and hundreds of yokai coins.

The Yokai Watch video games also get very good reviews, something that the other "clone" series don't usually get.

There's also the perceived age of the Pokemon franchise.  This article on RocketNews24 looks at the differences between the two franchise and produces what I think is a rather interesting quote:

The Pokémon franchise is so old it started out in black and white, with a pair of video games released in 1996 for the original Game Boy. That means even though it was initially aimed squarely at kids, the fanbase now includes long-time followers in their 20s and 30s.

Adult fans of Pokémon and other ostensible “for kids” series have adult money, with Mom and Dad no longer in a position to impose limits on how much time or cash they can pump into their hobby. This sometimes leads to grownups snatching up all the latest toy models, or hogging arcade machines that, from their small-scale cabinets, are clearly meant for younger gamers. Some have even taken to calling these senior fans otomo, an abbreviated form of okii na tomodachi, meaning “grownup friends” or “big buddies.”

Pokemon is so old that some of the kids who grew up watching it now have kids of their own.  Pokemon isn't the cool, hip thing anymore.  Pokemon's that thing that my mom and dad used to play.

So this means Pokemon's dead, right? All hail our new Yokai Watch overlords?
With all this said, it's a bit early to mourn Pocket Monsters' death. 

For starters, Yokai Watch hasn't left Japan yet, giving Pokemon a huge, huge advantage.  An international release is on the way, but there's no guarantee that it'll do well; Doraemon flopped, after all, and One Piece isn't nearly as popular in the U.S. as it is in Japan.  For all we know Yokai Watch could completely bomb in the West.

Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo

There are other advantages that Pokemon has over Yokai Watch.  There are currently eight Pokemon Center stores across Japan while there are, to my knowledge, zero Yokai Watch stores.  I went to the Pokemon Center that just opened up in Tokyo last month on a Monday and the place was packed.  It's hard to go there, surrounded by what must have been literally hundreds of people (on a school day!) and feel like Pokemon is in any danger whatsoever.  The number of people who lined up to pre-order ORAS was also encouraging.

More importantly than any of this, I think, is the fact that Pokemon has already proven itself time and time again.  It has longevity, something we can't say about Yokai WatchPokemon will still be around five, ten years from now.  But what about Yokai Watch?  Will it be here for the long haul or is it just a flash in a pan?  It's far too early to tell.

So what now?
It's entirely possible for Pokemon and Yokai Watch to co-exist peacefully.  It doesn't necessarily have to be an "us or them" type of thing.  At the same time, however, seeing Yokai Watch break records that Pokemon used to hold does raise some concerns.  Pokemon's absolutely in no danger of ever going away, but it might not be the dominant force it used to be.

I think 2015 will be an interesting year for both franchises.  Yokai Watch had an incredible 2014 and I'm confident that the powers that be are doing everything they can to make 2015 even bigger.  And Pokemon knows this.  I can't imagine Game Freak would dare to let 2015 come and go without releasing a new game, especially if Level-5 plans to release a Yokai Watch 3 at any point this year.  I can also see Pokemon making use of its fans' nostalgia, something Yokai Watch is too young to have in its arsenal.

Competition can be a good thing.  Is Pokemon agile enough to adapt keep up with Yokai Watch?

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