The 2004 “Dragon Ball AF” Prank
Daizenshuu EX is well-known for its April Fool’s pranks. We have been doing it for several years, now! Generally, the result is just the main page edited with my now-infamous SD Super Saiyan Vegeta eraser top saying “The syrup has been secured; all your IHOP are belong to us.” No, I have absolutely no idea where I came up with that random nonsense, but I think I made it even more crazy one year with a random speech… something about tuxedos… err… anyway…
The two of us decided to do something different this year. Rather than just be absolutely obscure and insane, we wanted to pull a genuine prank. Two years ago the dual-prank with Temple O’ Trunks concerning Pilaf and Gotenks being playable characters in Final Bout got an amazing response. What pre-existing “rumor” could we exploit, this time?
The one, the only.
What We Planned To Do
If we were going to do this, it had to be insane. Everything had to scream of quality, and above all else, it had to be in Japanese and both look and sound authentic. We decided there had to be two aspects: a print-ad and an actual commercial. The print-ad came first. Julian began work on it, typing up some of the text using a pre-existing “Dragon Box” Japanese ad as a template.
Soon Mike began work on the video commercial. We knew that the Dragon Ball characters had to speak to each other during the commercial, but if they were to do so, we would not be able to use any actual scenes from Dragon Ball; it would be too obvious. Luckily, One Piece and Shōjo Kakumei Utena proved to be two of the most useful shows — both had great sounding stereo Japanese soundtracks, and just enough talking with no background music to rip the voices from.
Kyōichi Saionji in Utena, played by Takeshi Kusao (Trunks), would be the central focus. As Saionji tends to go a little crazy at times, his voice wavers and he gets upset. Hmm… what to do, what to do… OK, great! Future Trunks returns, and he is evil now! We start developing a potential plot in which Trunks has, once again, returned from his future. While he has destroyed the Artificial humans, it makes no difference; the horrors they have brought upon his future have finally caught up to him. Trunks has been driven insane (which is perhaps hinted at during the course of DBZ; he is not the most mentally stable character in the world, and that is shown as much as it can be in a show like this).
From there, the characters of Luffy (Mayumi Tanaka; Kuririn) and Dr. Kureha / “Doctorine” (Masako Nozawa; Goku) were taken from the Drum Island arc in One Piece. Luffy is always sounding a little wacky, so we took a light-hearted line and made Kuririn say that Trunks must be joking around. On the other hand, Dr. Kureha says some pretty serious things, and sounds almost “evil” (well, perhaps “serious” is more appropriate). If anyone asks… it is just Goku in Super Saiyan 3 or 4, when he speaks slightly differently!
The voices were mixed together over “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA,” and Mike began ripping scenes to place over the audio. Since the show is “not ready yet” (it not being real, and all), we opted to go with a “highlight reel” of DBZ, instead. Take some of the most important scenes in DBZ, mix in some actual Japanese voices talking to each other, throw in some extremely convincing Japanese title cards… you have got yourself a commercial!
Of course, we also need a Japanese “source”; someone must have sent us the commercial! We eventually decided on the name “Mei Yamadori” for this apocryphal helper; “Mei” is an alternate reading of the kanji for “Akira,” and “Yamadori” is the surname “Toriyama” in reverse order. Our sources were set.
The only thing left was a suitable logo; to botch this would be to expose the entire prank. So, Mike whipped up a little something in PhotoShop, Julian added kana, and voilà! Instant new series!
Of course, if you want to look behind the scenes as to how we pulled this off, read on…
The Print Ad: In-Depth
For the print ad, I started out with the notion that I should make something that looked real at a glance, but was obviously fake under close scrutiny. The language barrier here helped immensely. Since most American anime fans can not actually read Japanese, why not just keep the most important elements “real”-sounding, and have some fun with the rest? I took that concept and ran with it.
Of course, since I am no good at creating things from scratch in PhotoShop, I needed a graphical base. I had assumed that finding the right ad to alter would be a challenge, but with the kanzenban volumes released in January, the answer was staring me right in the face. I opened the books to discover the perfect candidate: an ad for the upcoming Dragon Ball series DVD box set. What first got me was the simple and straightforward look: it had a classic Dragon Ball style, clearly-defined borders, and only a few images (with the majority of the ad being text). The aspect that sold me on it was the large, yellow blurb in the upper left-hand corner (which you will notice I retained from the original in the gag version). It reads, “Doragonbōru densetsu wa tomaranai!” (roughly translated, “The Dragon Ball legend’s not gonna stop!”). Bingo.
Prepping the ad to put in my own material was probably the toughest part; I spent a good day or two on it! I managed, however, mostly thanks to the “clone stamp” PhotoShop feature, and the color uniformity of the ad’s background. The next step was to add images and text. Text was straightforward, but the images I wanted to work into the ad’s design, so I “borrowed” the white borders around the screen caps, and used them to those ends. The Tori-Bot and Trunks images came from Jumpland.com (Trunks oversees the “DB Quiz” game, while Toriyama’s doppelganger is in charge of the desktops the visitor has won). I recolored Trunks’ eyes and skin to go along with the “crazy” theme (figuring Mike meant that he had been possessed by someone or something, à la Baby), but only later found out that, no, Mike meant he was just plain crazy. Oh well… I guess it does make him look sinister. The other two images are the same fan-images we have been seeing for years; here, I was just counting on people to suspend their disbelief (after all, this was an official-looking ad).
That was it, really; once I had the logo in place, I was ready to go with an ad that had “authentic” images, a “message from the author,” and even an air date!
Of course, you are probably wondering by now what the ad actually says. As you can see, although the large title blurbs, broadcast info, and “DB Dragon Box DVD Bonus” information say more or less what we claimed them to, the rest is one big gag. The series description is a newbie-ish fan rant that also incorporates both the “Toriyama is dead” rumor, and the belief among so many new fans that their friends have “connections” in Japan. Akira Toriyama’s “wonderful news” is actually a tirade about how he is going to kill us for what we have done. The text towards the bottom is an open letter to Bird Studio, Shueisha, and Toei Animation, kindly asking them not to sue us, should they happen upon these ads… y’know, just in case things got out of hand, and we needed to save our own skin.
So, that is that! On to the commercial!
The Video Commercial: In-Depth
Commercial as it appeared on April Fool’s Day (via YouTube)
As noted, the following characters and voices were selected for the commercial:
- Masako Nozawa (Goku, Dragon Ball / Doctorine, One Piece)
- Mayumi Tanaka (Kuririn, Dragon Ball / Luffy, One Piece)
- Takeshi Kusao (Trunks, Dragon Ball / Saionji, Utena)
All voice samples were taken from scenes with no background music and little-to-no sound effects. This way, we would be able to mix them together more effectively and convincingly; if you heard background music from another series while we’re trying to play “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA” at the same time, it is not going to be very convincing, right? Right!
Putting the commercial together was actually both tough and extremely easy. For one thing, slapping together random “highlight” clips was no problem. If you have seen Japanese commercials, you know they are generally of similar quality; there is no timing, no real attempt at keeping things clean, etc. That is part of the problem, though! With my background in video editing now coming into play, it was difficult not to time things up to the song, such as title cards, screaming, etc. We think it is a little more convincing this way, though!
The text cards that appeared every so often were created by Julian, using a variety of phrases to stress the “fake-ness” of the ad. In order from start to finish, they were:
- “What the hell is this crap!?” – Akira Toriyama
- Dragon Ball is over!
- Don’t believe it!!
- Julian and Mike are gods!!!!
- Toriyama-sensei is very angry!!
- If you believe this, you’re an absolute moron!!
- AF is completely fake!!
- April Fool’s!!
- “Don’t sue us!!!,” and “Please!!!.”
Last but not least, the card after the date and time of the show’s airing says, “This commercial is a joke.” For the sake of the gag, we let people speculate on what these cards said, saying we would update with their translations on the next day.
Here is the “script” we came up with for the characters. Some of the things we have them “saying” in our own script is actually pretty close to what is really being said. Many of the more “basic” words in Japanese were matched up, so as to try and fool those who might be on the lookout and hear things specifically in the dialogue that might not match up:
- GOKU: “They thought our show was over!”
- TRUNKS: “They did, huh? Hmpf! Shows what they know!”
- GOKU: “What’s this…? You’re different…”
- TRUNKS: “You all… I can’t let you live…”
- KURIRIN: “But you’re our friend! You’re just kidding around!”
- TRUNKS: “Who are you calling a friend…?!”
- GOKU: “You’re not yourself. What do you want?”
- TRUNKS: “You’ll never understand…”
- GOKU: “I see…”
- TRUNKS: “What do you know?! I’ll never lose to you!”
- GOKU: “Hehehehe… you don’t know of my new transformation…!”
- TRUNKS: “TAAAAHHH~!”
- GOKU: “DON’T YOU DARE THINK YOU’RE GOING TO DEFEAT US!!”
Here is what they’re actually saying… totally out of context of each other, of course.
- DR. KUREHA: “Did you just call me ‘Grandma’?”
- SAIONJI: “You saw that? Hmph! We’ve faced each other hundreds of times in the last 10 years.”
- DR. KUREHA : “What’s this dirt?”
- SAIONJI: “Why… Why do you always…?”
- LUFFY: “That’s why you should be in my group! Being a pirate is fun!”
- SAIONJI: “Who’s your ‘old friend’?!”
- DR. KUREHA: “You should watch what you say.”
- SAIONJI: “I see… it’s about me!”
- DR. KUREHA : “I see…”
- SAIONJI: “Shut up! You’re the one person I absolutely won’t lose to!”
- DR. KUREHA : “Hehehehe… … is when they’ve recovered or died. There’s no escape.”
- SAIONJI: “TAAAAHHH~!”
- DR. KUREHA : “YOU SHOULD WATCH YOUR MOUTH!”
Just for the Hell of it, here is the video commercial with the original scenes from the other shows, just to show how utterly absurd is all really is:
Commercial as it really is, with scenes out of context with each other (via YouTube)
Now how ridiculous was that? It was a blast to put together, though… probably even more fun than the fake commercial! It is extremely silly, but really drives the point home — none of that dialogue has anything to do with what is supposed to be going on!
The Site: Pranked-Up Pages
In addition to the main page, we figured we could make the prank a little bit more believable by “updating” some of the other sections to go along with it. So, we AF-ified both the “Rumor Guide” and the “Newbie Guide” so that they agreed with the new “info” we were handing out. The “Newbie Guide” AF-edition was more subtle, but on the AF-enhanced “Rumors” page, we really went all-out: the first rumor explanation (the one about AF, naturally) became completely the opposite of what it had been, and several of the others were modified in less-noticeable ways.
Of course, neither of those things can compete with Mike eating his boxers. Absolutely priceless.
The Aftermath: E-mails, Message Boards, Etc.
It would not be an April Fool’s Day prank if we did not cause havoc across the Internet. We knew we would end up fooling some people, and we knew that people would be talking about it. We stalked our link referrals all day long to see what people would be saying about the whole ordeal. Here are some of our favorite quotes we received via e-mail, or saw on some other message boards:
(Sandbelt, Madman Forums)
This was one of the earliest ones we found. People were so confused and shocked they did not know what to say!
“That’s one of the worst lies I’ve ever witnessed! I’m not even into DBZ and I know that’s fake! They made it way toooo obvious…”
(Duke, Animal Crossing Forums)
Well, if you say it was way too obvious… I guess it was! Fooled quite a few people, though, my friend!
“I’ve just been made aware of today’s date……. 1st of April. April’s fool. I’ve been done.”
(Jodaku, DBZOA Forums)
This seemed to be a common response among many people!
“I’M STILL TAKING IT ALL IN!!!!!!!!!!!!”
(ssj trungeta, MyFavoriteGames Forums)
Very similar to the first one on the page. We threw so much information at people, they did not quite know what to do with it all!
“Ah Crap, I totally forgot about the date. Hook. Line. And Sinker.”
(Mystic Gohan, DBZUK Forums)
Yep, you have to remember what day it is! Do not feel bad, though — you were not the only one who got sunk!
“Fantastic work, you two. Absolutely top drawer. Particularly the part about heads being mounted over fireplaces. Toriyama’s “What is the crap?” line was nice, too. My hat is off to you.”
(Steve “Daimao” Simmons, personal e-mail)
Bah, you do not count! We knew YOU would be able to read the text!
“I hope you realise that because of this little stunt there’s going to be an outpouring of kids freaking out all over the net and it will almost certainly be seen as proof of the existence of AF.”
(José González, personal e-mail)
This was another common response we have been getting. People are almost half-mad (or fully mad!)… they know that, sure, this will blow over real soon, but those commercials and ads are going to linger for YEARS now, further perpetuating the rumor… the rumor that will never die… and we are helping it, now!
“Dragon Ball AF Confirmed! (2004-04-01 12:53:51)
Big news from Daizenshuu EX today: Akira Toriyama is making a new Dragon Ball TV series! Dragon Ball AF, once only the stuff of rumors, has been confirmed for a late 2004 release. Daizenshuu EX has posted a flyer and a commercial captured from TV. DBAF is scheduled to air on September 8th at 7:30, with a preview on August 25th.”
(news post, AnimeNewsNetwork.com)
Yes, we realize that they posted this as a joke. I actually e-mailed them about this weeks ago without telling Julian, sorta as a surprise to make his day as a reward for all the hard work he put into it. It definitely helped our hits for the day!
“Holy fucking shit this is just… what!?!?! HOW!? Although I’m hoping for One Piece crossovers.
Edit: REALISED THE DATE, THANKS AMERICA YOU FUCKERS THANKS FOR BEING ONE DAY BEHIND”
(tablet the eunuch, Daizenshuu EX Forum)
Hehehe… those out of the country were definitely confused the most!
“kind of cool, but I wonder where the story will develop from this? I never watched GT, as it looked uninteresting and I’m totally burned out on dbz since it’s been airing here on various channels since I was a sophomore in HS. The original Dragonball is still one of my favorite manga/animes though, so I’m helplessly interested at least a tad about this. I just hope it’s not 13 episode fights followed by 13 episodes of training, rinse and repeat like most of dbz was.”
(sgdaigoro, Kung Fu Cult Cinema Message Board)
Here we go! Someone who was honestly fooled into believing it! Give them a hand!
“First, if this WAS real, there would be no way in Hell they would post it on April 1st. Second, why would they make it called DBAF if that specific name has been totally dismissed. They would call t something else. Third, Vegetto EX is one hell of a joker sometimes. Trust me, by tomorrow he’ll deny it, laugh about it, then regret doing it because of all the hate mail he’ll get. I’m sure he has been working on this for awhile, it’s very good looking too.”
(Super Saiyan Style webmaster, Dragonballtoys.com Forums)
I am not going to regret it, and there is no hate mail to speak of! It has been a blast, and it is awesome to see that people are enjoying it and getting a kick outta it.
“If you could read Japanese, you could see that it’s fake. Since it is. And that SSJ5 Goku picture was fan made, if they ever made a sequel to Dragonball he wouldnt be in it.”
(Icer, Kaizoku-Fansubs Forums)
That is part of what we were hoping; those who actually KNOW Japanese would certainly get a kick out of the text we actually wrote.
“you know what got me the damn video audio”
(XZaradisX, TeamXbox Forums)
It was a blast to put together! While it is not perfect (the audio levels could be mixed a little better), I think I did a pretty damn good job of making it seem like a natural conversation taking place.
“sorry to post it in such big letters, but I hate it when people think that all the news they read on april fool’s day is real. First off, Akira Toriyama would -never- let another Dragonball series be born (he _HATED_ DBGT, I can’t stress that enough! Every interview ever conducted with him says he HATES it. He REFUSED to have part with it, so WHY would they make another series if the creator despises it?) Second off, the “DB:AF” rumor has been around since when GT was still in mid-run. It’s old, it’s stupid, and it needs to be put to rest.”
(iyouboushi, Adult Swim Forums)
I think you need to take a look at this thread on our forum; Akira Toriyama did not “hate” Dragon Ball GT. He loved the direction GT was going in, and in fact said that he wished he had come up with the idea! Sorry to hear you thought it was “stupid”…!
“It’s not a joke. During the final episode of One Piece, in Japan, They aired a commercial for it. It is coming out end summer to late this year”
(Milarkie, Adult Swim Forums)
I think it is pretty amazing how it is the same day as the prank, and it is already been elaborated on! It is hardly the final episode of One Piece that is airing in Japan — the show is still going strong! Funny to see that you were tricked, though!
“well i just looked over there site and i saw a rumor guide so i went in and they said…”
(NaOta_BeBop, PlayStation.com Forums)
We were hoping people would refer to the other sections, as well! That is why we took it to the extent we did, and updated the “Newbie Guide” and “Rumor Guide” to go along with the prank.
“Of course its not true, why would a commercial advertising a new series be a bunch of clips from the previous series with character voices over it?”
(Charred Knight, AnimeNation Forums)
You have not seen many Japanese commercials! I actually based the idea off of the commercial for Dragon Ball Z Movie 7 — it is a collection of clips from the first 6 DBZ movies with Goku talking about the new movie (which was coming out that summer) over top the old footage.
“Crap, for years we’ve been trying to all those stupid newbs that there would never been another DB and they were ignorant for thinking so and should be tossed into the flaming caverns of hell. Now we gotta fess up.”
(Zechs, Miguzi Waterpark Forums)
Imagine if it were actually true – if DBAF actually existed, we really WOULD have to all eat our shorts!
“if anyone could translate what there actually saying that would be magic..^_^”
(SaTaNiCuS, Anime Zen Forums)
Sure, we will translate it for you…!
“Don’t you think its somewhat of a coincidence that you unveil the news of DragonBall “AF” on the first of April… (AF – April Fool’s)… Either way, I’ll download your file…”
(Sleepy, personal e-mail)
Whether or not you want to take “AF” to mean “April Fool’s” or “After Future” is your own deal. We purposefully did not say what it meant; we do not know, ourselves!
*sighs* I guess I’ll just have to wait til Sept, the commercial was the biggest thing that convinced me, but the fact that today’s April 1st proves otherwise. Maybe I’ll go back to Daizenshuu Ex tommorow to see if they reveal it to be a hoax or not in their next update.”
(Chuquita, personal blog)
Hopefully you found us today (April 2nd) and are getting a kick out of everything we’ve got to share with you!
Let Us Know What You Thought!
We would love to hear what you thought about our prank. Did you go trying to translate some of the text in the print-ad, only to find out it was completely different? Did you pick out some of the words in the video commercial and go, “Hey… wait a sec…!!” Did you completely fall for it, yourself? Let us know! Come join in on the message board conversation!