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Dogasu's Backpack | Features | April Fools Archive
April 1st. April Fools. Poisson d'avil. No matter how you say it, the first day of April is a day in which many websites will pull some sort of prank on its unsuspecting visitors. This website is no exception. Since 2002, I usually try to do something weird or funky to celebrate this day, and below is a sort of archive of all the pranks I've pulled over the years.
Backpack, 1997 style
That's right; on April
1st, 1997, the first episode of Pocket
Monsters, "Pokemon I Choose You!" premiered on TV-Tokyo. I
already missed the show's 10th anniversary and have no idea if this
site will still be around for its 20th (who knows what I'll be doing in
20 years?), so I thought now's the time to do the "rewind the site to the
early days" gag.
The premise was simple;
pretend like I was in the year 1997 and act like my website is
dedicated to this brand new franchise that hadn't even left Japan
yet. Basically, how would I cover the start of the Pocket Monsters TV series if my
website existed back then? What existed back then for me to do
news posts on? There are a few things in there that kind of ruin
the illusion, like the links to sites like YouTube and Twitter.
And as ugly as my site is, I still think my Dogasu's Backpack 1997
layout was better than anything anyone was doing back then. But
for the most part, I think I did a fairly convincing job.
I'm sure some of you know
that I moved to Tokyo in March of last year. My relocation was
one of the reasons I wasn't able to do an April Fool's prank in 2011
(the whole earthquake / tsunami / nuclear thing was the other), but now
that I'm here, I'm able to take advantage of resources I didn't have
access to back in my other city. For example, I now live fairly
close to Akihabara, the geek district whose Mandarake
store sells old issues of CoroCoro
Comics. Like, 1996 / 1997 old. Being able to take
them home and scan them really helped give the gag site that little something that any other site doing
the same gag wouldn't have.
Happily, I was able to
find a few things that I don't think anybody in the English speaking
fandom had ever known before. Pre-release episode titles, for
one. Apparently, either CoroCoro
was constantly being fed the wrong information back then
just made shit up. Or maybe the episode titles were all changed
at the last minute back in those days? *shrugs* I picked up
1997 issue of CoroCoro Comics
and found that the episode titles listed there were still all wrong, so
I'm wondering how long it took for the magazine to become a reliable
source. I'm also fascinated by all the Pocket Monsters 2 pre-release stuff
(Summer 1997 release date? Denryuu is the evolved form of
Raichu? LOL) and how
the magazine claimed that the animated
series was going to have all this CG animation. Learning that
Matsumoto Rika's favorite pokemon (at least at the time) is Rokon was
also pretty fascinating.
There are a few other
minor things I hope you guys picked up on as well. One, the fact
that I spelled "pokemon" with a c. It's hard to remember this
now, but for the year and a half / two years before the franchise left
Japan, everything that spelled the word out in our alphabet used the
The "pokemon" (and later,
"Pokémon") spelling didn't come about until after the franchise
had made its way to the English speaking world. I also hope you
guys enjoyed the aforementioned pre-release episode titles and the
interesting tidbit I found about Anakubo Kousaku's Pocket Monsters manga. I'll
try to grab one of the issues where that series is known as "The
Mysterious Pokemon Pippi" one of these days and post a scan of the
title page or something.
I wish I could have
completed the List of Techniques page and done the List of Items and Pocket Monsters Special page, but
overall I'm pretty happy with the way things turned out.
The feedback I got from
this was great and makes me think that you guys had as much fun looking
through this as I had researching / compiling everything.
Digimon is one of those series that everyone associates with Pokémon because they ignorantly believe that the former is a cheap imitation of the latter. Of course, those of us who have actually watched both shows know that the similarities the two series have can be counted on one hand, but that apparently doesn't matter. The two series have "-mon" in the title and they both feature evolution, so, y'know, OMG R1P0FF!!!!1!1!1!
Anyway, the idea of
turning my site into a Digimon
version of itself - just like I had done with Bleach
and Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger
before - was something that I had been planning for a while. And,
well, I figured it would be a great "prank" (if one can even call it
that) for my site's tenth anniversary. So, Numemon's
Backpack was born.
I actually didn't know
that much about Digimon until
about two or three weeks ago. I had seen a few
random dubbed episodes on Fox Kids back in the day and had rented Digimon World for a weekend, but
that was really it. So basically, for the past few weeks, I went
into exam cram mode. I watched a bunch of raw Digimon Adventure episodes, picked
up the CD Dramas (I was able to find a three-pack of the three CD
Dramas, used, for less than $10 at a local shop), and signed up over at
the Will to get a sense of what the fandom's like. I worked
on updating the site a little bit at a time in order to prevent myself
from getting burnt out on it (also, because I had other stuff going on)
and was pretty much able to do everything the way I had wanted to.
The only thing I really
wish I could have done, other than the DVD Guide and the Voice Actor
page, was a podcast episode. The podcast - which would have been
called "Unchi Nageru" - would have me talking with a veteran Digimon fan or two to discuss why
so many people are convinced that Digimon
is a knock-off of Pokémon.
I might still do that someday (or, you know, a second podcast episode period), but at the time, I wasn't
able to arrange everything in time for the April 1st deadline.
Random things I hope you
all noticed: a) I chose Numemon because of its similarities
to Dogas, such as being known as a "dirty" creature and because of how
it's not generally people's first choice in the games, b) the fact that
all the dates in the front page had a "04" and a "01" in them somewhere
(fourth month, first day), and c) I actually translated all the episode
A lot of you guys really
seemed to like it, which made me smile. A fair number of you even
said that you wish it wasn't just an April Fool's thing and that I
would continue updating it even after the first. I certainly
appreciate that and even share that sentiment in a lot of ways but, as
is the case with the other "___ Backpack" sites I make for this
holiday, I simply don't have the time.
This little notice on my
page also deserves a mention:
2009: Dora Buugaranan's Belly
I remember coming home from school one day, opening up the issue of Fox Kids Magazine that had just come in the mail and reading the comic inside that took screenshots from "Day of the Dumpster" (the first episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and added word balloons to them to make a comic. And, like every other kid in middle school at the time, I would watch the show and absolutely love it. Yes, even back then I thought the show was cheesy, but it still managed to entertain me.
I wouldn't call myself a huge fan - I never bought the toys
or the VHS tapes or any of the games - but I would sit down and watch
it if I wasn' t doing anything else. I didn't watch every episode
and bowed out fairly early into the series (I think I stopped watching
right around the time Kimberly got replaced - and no, that wasn't the
reason I stopped), but I still have nostalgic memories of it.
Fast forward to December
2008. During that time, I managed to track down the original
Japanese show, Kyouryuu Sentai
Zyuranger. And suddenly, my love for the series was
reinvigorated. I loved how this "new-to-me" show didn't have as
much of that 90s cheese oozing off of it as Power Rangers did, didn't have Bulk
and, through it all, managed to have a coherent plot that flowed from
episode. I saw the first nine episodes fansubbed and then a few
other episodes raw and have loved everything I've seen.
With my fandom of the
franchise being reinvigorated again, I decided to incorporate that into
next April Fool's Prank: Dora
was a site set up exactly like Dogasu's Backpack, but instead of being
a Pocket Monsters fansite, it
was a Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger
site. Kind of like my "Mod
Soul" Kon's Backpack thing back in 2005. I worked on it, off
and on, for about a week or so (taking a break during the weekend) and
actually managed to do almost everything I had wanted to do. I
still wish I had been able to make updates to the Movies, CD Guide, and
Video Games section, I'm still happy with what I did manage to accomplish.
About the "this week"
image...I agree that it's kind of tacky to have a Shikenger thing up on a site
dedicated to a series that's over 15 years old, but I was kind of
forced to since *that* series is still going on in Japan and Zyurangers is not.
And in case any of you
were wondering...I chose Dora Buugaranan (the frog monster "Terror
Toad" in "Power Punks") because he's a character who's just as obscure
and unloved as Dogas from Pocket
Monsters is. Plus, I really love the Japanese version of
that episode because Dan and Mei get to do all these parodies of mafia
movies / Japanese yakuza flicks. I mean, they even gun down a
bunch of gangsters with machine guns! Can't get much more badass
Also, I had to fly to
America to attend a wedding at around this time.
But if I had done an update, I would have
faked a news story stating that a group of fans in Japan had created a Gyakuten Saiban ("Phoenix Wright")
game with Pocket Monsters
characters. Y'know, like a fan game thing. I had it all
figured out, too - Kojirou would be Phoenix, Miyamoto would be Mia,
Musashi (and Nyasu) would be Maya, Kosaburou would be Edgeworth, and
Sakaki would be the judge. But, unfortunately, that never came to
The 2007 prank was replacing the main page with "Satoshi's MySpace." I had
the idea some months ago, but, like every other April Fool's update, I
waited until the last minute for some uknown reason. I had
initially planned to do all eight characters you see on the Top 8 and then some, but I was actually
only able to finish three pages; Satoshi, Takeshi, and Harley.
Harley's was definitely the easiest because all I had to do was swipe
content from some of my real-life gay friends' MySpace pages, but
Takeshi's wasn't that difficult either.
If I had finished them,
Musashi would have had one of those obnoxious pages with half a million
images and songs competing with each other for your attention, Kojirou
would have had one of those "I'm gay but I'm subtle about it" pages,
and Hikari would have had the girliest page you've ever seen in your
life. Unfortunately, none of that came to pass.
It's also unfortunate that
beat me to the punch. *shakes first in the air*
I didn't get that much
feedback about the prank, but then again, I wasn't able to post it
until the middle of the day due to the hangover I had that morning, so
I can't be upset about that. It was fun, and hopefully I'll be a
lot more prepared for next year's prank.
with Envy" Fake Comparison
Now the dubbed version of the episode had already aired in the UK and Canada and had been available on the Internet for quite a while. In fact, I had even done a legit comparison between the Japanese version and the version that aired in the UK some months before. So the premise behind this new comparison was that Kids' WB! forced 4Kids to edit Jynx out of the episode due to the controversy it's caused in the past. The idea was that Jynx's replacement would be a Kids' WB!-only edit, similar to Ash's badge case in the early AG episodes or Harley's skull and crossbones becoming a frowny face.
So by faking screenshots of new paint edits and reworking some dialogue, I "reported" on how 4Kids used a number of editing tricks to remove Jynx from the episode.
The first thing I had to
do was decide what pokemon Jynx would be replaced with. Jynx is
kind of a special case because it has a set of moves that no other
pokemon really has, so I had to settle with a pokemon who had a similar moveset. Of course, I
immediately thought of all the ice-types out there. I also
couldn't use any footage from before the show went to digital animation
(anything before "Here's Lookin' At You, Elekid!") because the quality
of the animation would clash too much. So that left out pokemon
like Piloswine, who hasn't apppeared since Johto. After thinking
about it for a while, I ultimately decided to use
Glalie. It was an ice-type and also had the advantage of
appearing in more than just one random filler episode, giving me plenty
of images to work with. The pokemon also floats,
making it easier to just plop it into a scene without worrying about it
being too high up or too low to the ground. I mean, the image of
Erika hugging Jynx wouldn't have worked with most other pokemon because
they would be either too short or too tall for the shot
to be feasible.
Next, I went through every
episode that featured Glalie, from "Rhapsody in Drew" to "The Right Place and
the Right Mime," and took screenshots of every shot the character
appeared in. I think I ended up with about 60+ images which
shots from every conceivable angle.
that, I went through and started Photoshopping Jynx out of the pictures
and putting Glalie in its place. I had to use every editing trick
book - copy/paste, the clone brush, mirror images, resizing, adjusting
the sharpness, etc. - to get an image that looked somewhat believable.
the dummy that I am, I didn't start on this project until Friday
night. As a result, I didn't have time to edit EVERY
picture, nor did I have time to fix a number of problems I knew would
give the joke away. I wish I could have taken the time to
slightly crop each image, adjust the contrast/sharpness, and add a
Kids' WB! logo in the new shots, but the necessity to be elsewhere
that Saturday afternoon prevented me from getting this done.
the record, the image I'm most proud of is the Pokédex image,
and the one I like the least is the one with Erika hugging
Glalie. That particular image has a number of issues, including
an overabundance of fence posts and a funky looking right horn that
bugs the crap out of me even today.
I also had a number of people suggest that there are actually two versions of the episode available. Their theory was that my local Kids' WB! must have aired a different version from the one they saw, because their version still had Jynx in it. Theories about how smaller, more conservative markets were given a newly-edited version of the episode began to pop up, and I got a few e-mails from people determined to figure out which markets were airing this new version.
I remember that as I was editing the images, I kept thinking, "What if 4Kids actually does this and all this time I'm spending editing these images is for nothing?" The idea that the company would actually do something like this made the prank work that much better, but it also speaks worlds about the kind of companies that control the franchise in the U.S.
Soul" Kon's Backpack
The whole idea of "Mod Soul" Kon's Backpack was
born while I was studying abroad in Japan. I was bummed out at
the fact that I wasn't able to do a prank for 2004, so I figured that I
had to do a really big one the following year to make up for it.
I felt that reporting a fake news story would be too little
(unless I pulled a Daizenshuu EX and backed it up with
and video), and I wasn't about to do anything as lame as create a new
pokemon. I had already done the "some ten year old must have
hacked my website" update in 2002, and I wasn't about to pull that
again. Coming to
a brick wall, I went to other websites who archived this sort of thing
and looked at what they had done in the past.
In the end, I decided to
replace my website with another; I would turn "Dogasu's Backpack" from
a fansite about Pocket Monsters into a fansite for some other
what anime would I use? I decided that I wanted something that
still airing on Japanese TV, so that I could emulate the style of the
site, with the Episode List and preview image in the upper left-hand
and all. I also didn't want it to be a huge series, because
a website based on a huge series would be way too time-consuming.
Well, my answer came in
October, when I caught my first glimpse of the Bleach anime.
I had read the first two graphic novels that had been released in
English at that point, so when I started watching the series I already
had a general idea of what the show was about. As soon as I
finished the first episode, I knew that I had found my anime. I
watched the TV series every week on Japanese TV, bought the one CD that
was out at the time, and stocked up on all the manga that was printed
at that time. I was properly equipped when it was time for me to
return to the United States, so as soon as I got back on American soil,
I started to get to work.
the layout back in early January or so, I
kind of got lazy and just let the project sit there for a while.
didn't mean to just leave it sitting there for so long, but it seemed
every time I got in the mood to work on it, I had some school
or something preventing me from getting it done. I had typed up
lyrics to be used in the Lyrics Archive toward the end of January, but
pretty much every other section was created during the week leading up
April Fool's Day. I created the new e-mail address and AIM screen
and added those into the layout on Monday, worked on the Lyrics section
Episode Comparisons section on Tuesday, did Video Game stuff on
Wednesday, and more or less did everything else on Thursday. My
eyes hurt like hell from staring at the computer screen so long when it
was time to upload the site on Thursday night / Friday morning, but I
think it was worth it.
Despite the stress I was
under to finish the project by the approaching deadline, I had a lot of
fun. I was amused at what I found out during my search for the
seiyuu section (Sasuke and Uryuu are played by the same person!?), and
my work on the page for the PSP game made me want the system even more
than I do now. And then there's
the Anime-Manga Comparisons, which actually didn't take as long as my Pocket
Monsters comparisons do. They were fun to work on, and I wish
had had the time to get more finished.
That would have to be my major regret here--the time issue. Since I just let the project sit there for the better part of three months, I didn't leave myself enough time to finish everything like I had wanted to. When you click on the site, you'll notice that the Links page isn't really different at all from the one I have here. Also, I didn't have time to do a single Character Bio, which is a shame considering that I could have just copied them straight from the graphic novels. I had also planned to do more anime-manga comparisons, but as you can see, I was only able to get two of them completed. There are other sections that had a few glitches here and there, and I wish I had been able to fix those before uploading the site. Despite my regrets, though, I had a ton of fun working on this project.
Of course, half the fun of
doing these April Fools updates is the reaction I receive from them.
Here is just a sample of the various e-mails I got:
However, out of all the responses I got, this one was my favorite:
wrong link trick
Pokemon is stupid page!!!!!
So my April Fool's prank for 2002 was
basically an homage to these pointless wastes of bandwidth. I
replaced my main page with a page filled with intentional grammatical
and spelling errors, as well as a few poorly-made images. It was
actually a challenge to forget everything my English teachers had
taught me over the years, and I must have edited that page 20 times to
get the "ignorant wanker"
vibe that these other sites deliver. Hopefully, I succeeded.
My website had already
for two Aprils before this without a prank like this, so when I threw
at website visitors in my site's third April, a lot of them weren't
it. Here are some of the responses I got:
| Dogasu's Backpack is a
fan-created website Pocket Monsters (Pokémon) is ©
1995-2012 Nintendo / Creatures Inc. /
GAME FREAK, Inc. / Pokémon USA / 4Kids Entertainment
infringement of copyrights is meant by the creation of the web site.
Found an error? Spot an omission? Please help me keep this page current and error-free by e-mailing me with a description of the error or omission.