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Dogasu's Backpack | Rants | Happy Anniversary! (Year Twenty)
Posted January 31st, 2020
My website is now twice as old as the target audience for the franchise on which it's based.
It's ridiculous, right? Two decades ago I had no idea that I'd still be working on the website based on Pocket Monsters, or that I'd still be having so much fun doing it. I don't want to spend too much time patting myself on the back for all that I've been able to do these last two decades so I instead want to use this space to talk about the origins of this site.
Let me set the stage. Getting your hands on the Japanese version of the Pocket Monsters TV show in the late 1990s was a journey in and of itself. Nobody was capping the newest episodes as they were airing on TV-Tokyo week after week and the companies that had the rights to the show in the US certainly had no interest in ever bringing them over. So the only option left were left with was to find somebody who knew somebody else - an uncle's co-worker's friend's niece - who had managed to go to Japan over summer break or whatever and taped the show off TV. Most people couldn't get past this first hurdle; Google as we know it didn't exist back in those days and so finding these heroes was nearly impossible.
If you were lucky enough to find someone then you'd send that person an e-mail from your Hotmail account or whatever to discuss getting a copy for yourself. Sometimes you'd have a say in what episodes you'd get, sometimes you wouldn't. A single tape with four episodes - say, Episode 26, 27, 29, and 32 - was not unusual. The episodes were almost never subbed. Once you decided on what you wanted to get you'd send a check or money order (Paypal and Venmo didn't exist back then) to cover the amount of a blank VHS tape + shipping and then you'd wait. And wait. And wait some more. When the tapes finally arrived in the mail they were fourth generation (as in, a copy of a copy of a copy) at best. But hey, it was the Japanese version of Pocket Monsters! We couldn't afford to be picky.
As mentioned before, Google wasn't a thing back then. If you wanted to find a webpage based on your favorite Japanimation show - that's what we called "anime" back in the day - you'd have to go to a link aggregator like Anipike and scroll through alphabetical lists of every series until you found the one you wanted. Click on "P" and then keep scrolling and scrolling until you got to the section labeled "Pokémon." Getting on those lists required you to submit your page to the site's administration - usually the URL and a brief description of what the site's about - and then an actual human would manually add it to a list.
There were tons of Pokémon pages back in those days. It was the hottest new show on Kids' WB!, after all. And the overwhelming majority of fansites - the general purpose ones, the character shrines, the large amount of Ash x Misty pages - treated it as such. Most Americans had no idea that Pokémon originally came from another country, or that a vastly different version of the show aired in its country of origin. And, as I outlined earlier, even those of us who ere actively hunting for the original version had a tough time getting our hands on it. The average person had no hope of ever coming across the Japanese version.
So on January 31st, 2000 - that's 20 years ago - I aimed to change that. I launched a website that I (embarrassingly) called Dogasu no Eigo-Nihongo POKETTO MONSUTAA PEEJI and started talking about this unknown version of the franchise. The site was never meant to be one of those "your one stop for all things Pokémon!" thing that so many others try to do, nor was it ever meant to be a news site. No, my goal has always been much simpler; to clear the fog surrounding the Japanese version of Pocket Monsters. I want to give people the tools they need to enjoy the franchise as it's presented in Japan and to help them appreciate the artists and other really cool people who work so hard to create it. In the beginning that was done mostly through my site's Episode Comparisons section and by highlighting Japan-only manga, while these days I've been adding interview translations and event reports to the tool box.
I guess it's sorta-kinda working? Ten years ago if you had dared to use terms like "Satoshi" or "Lizardon" you'd be booed or called derogatory names. These days things are a lot better. And hey, artists like Rica Matsumoto and Masa'aki Iwane are getting more acknowledgment than ever before. I'm not anywhere near narcissistic enough to try to take credit for this shift or anything but also maybe I helped some...?
The goals for the site moving forward will remain the same as they've always been. I definitely want to do more translations, and more Episode Comparisons (here's a peak behind the curtain: about half the Orange Islands episodes' comparisons are just sitting on my computer hard drive in various stages of completion), and more features on some Japan-only stuff that most people have never even heard about, even in Japan. And I want to highlight parts of the franchise that everyone else ignores. I don't have as much free time these days as I used to so I have to be picky when it comes to choosing what I spend my time working on. But I'll always be working on something, even if I go weeks and weeks without updating.
To everyone who's supported me in the past - thank you so much. I hope you've enjoyed what I've been putting out into the universe so far and can't wait to show you what I've got cooking behind the scenes. It's super clichéd to say this, I know, but believe me when I say the best is yet to come.
I always end these site anniversary write-ups with a set of predictions for the coming year. And so, without further ado, here's what I think will happen in the year 2020 when it comes to Pokémon:
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