Dragon Ball AF The Story: Article 2

History

 

 

The infamous “Super Saiyan 5″ fan art.

The Dragon Ball AF myth (in addition to many other, similar rumors with varying letter-combinations) seems to have begun in 1997, shortly after Dragon Ball GT ended in Japan. At the time, the supposed “GT sequel” was nameless, and the rumors relatively localized and short-lived. However, a piece of fan art began circulating around the Internet in 2000, bearing a logo reading “Dragon Ball AF“, and promoting the supposedly new Super Saiyan 5 form (see the image at right). It was the inclusion of this logo that appeared to give it credence among some fans. In October of the same year, a lengthy article appeared on the now-defunct fansite Majin.com, which raised the image’s profile even further. This article purported to have “information” on the “new series” from a “source in Japan,” though it was largely self-contradictory; it is not entirely clear, however, whether the article’s author was being serious or tongue-in-cheek. Although the webmaster later recanted his claims, the rumors had already grown beyond his control, and the site ceased to be updated a short time later.

Thus, at the end of 2000, there began a new flurry of speculation and hearsay that grew over time into the rumors that exist now. Interestingly, despite the dramatic changes the rumors have undergone since the original Majin.com article (not to mention the obvious lack of a new Dragon Ball series since 1997), the myth of Dragon Ball AF has endured to the present day among many non-Japanese fans, a fact which baffles those who are more knowledgeable. However, the reason for the rumor’s popularity most likely stems from a more-or-less constant influx of new fans, who are unaware that there is no new Dragon Ball in production.

 

 

The Daizenshuu EX Dragon Ball AF “April Fools’” print advertisement.

In 2004, the noted Dragon Ball fansite Daizenshuu EX played upon the long-standing rumors in an April Fools’ prank.[1] While not the first time that a fansite has “announced” the series as a joke (it is a tradition that goes back to April 2001), their version was certainly the most elaborate: both a printed flyer and a commercial were made using existing artwork, and a new logo was created in Adobe Photoshop. The prank, from its conception to its execution, is documented as an in-depth feature on Daizenshuu EX. Both the “flyer” and “commercial” were full of hints (in Japanese) that they were not genuine, though many fans who did not know Japanese were quick to believe them wholeheartedly, in spite of the date. Although well-intended and well-done, this hoax caused quite a bit of confusion, helping to increase (at least temporarily) the already-rampant amount of fan speculation. Both the logo and flyer created by the webmasters of Daizenshuu EX have since appeared, bereft of their original context, on other websites. Those who are unaware of this prank may then be even more likely to believe in the rumors, an unintended consequence of the ease with which information is disseminated over the Internet. The flyer turned out to be rather self-referential in its humour, e.g. under the logo it reads “It’s true! I heard it from a friend!”.

Perpetuation and Contribution

Rumors about Dragon Ball AF are chiefly spread through Internet forums and IRC, as well as Usenet and ordinary word-of-mouth. Those who read or hear these rumors may then set up web pages that serve to further propagate the myth. There are many supposed bits of “information” about the series, most of which stem from fans believing that fan art or fan fiction is from an official source. Fans have also embroidered upon the legend themselves, by adding new plot points and characters as they see fit. They likely mean such ideas to be speculation only, but nevertheless have their comments taken at face-value by others. Dragon Ball AF has been claimed, at various times by various individuals, to be a new or upcoming anime in Japan, a new manga series by Akira Toriyama himself, or a fan-made dōjinshi. The latter is probably the closest to the truth, but whether such fan-comics are the cause of the rumors or a product thereof is unknown.

Lack of Validity

Within the realm of officially-licensed properties (those which are produced by or with the approval of Bird Studio, Shueisha, and Toei Animation), Dragon Ball AF simply does not exist. Any DBAF dojinshi, should they even exist, occupy the same legal status as fan fiction and fan art. There has been no new Dragon Ball material from Japan since 1997, other than the perfect edition manga (released 2002-2004) and the Dragon Box DVD boxed sets (released 2003-2006), which collect previously-existing material with some new artwork, but no new story arcs. Toriyama has publicly stated that he has no intentions of continuing the series (which he finished in 1995), though he has drawn a parody series, Neko Majin, in which several Dragon Ball characters appear, as well as a one shot Dragon Ball/One Piece crossover manga collaboration with One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda entitled ‘Cross Epoch’, which came out in December of 2006. The potential exists, however minute, for a theatrical Dragon Ball movie release during the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the anime in Japan (in 2011), though nothing to that effect has been announced at this time.

The Dragon Ball fansite Daizenshuu EX has created a specifically-designed list[2] of the features of AF that should disprove its existence to the especially obstinate. These are:

  1. Lack of advertising in Japanese media.
    • This point includes print sources (such as the Japanese Shonen Jump), TV ads, and official Japanese websites. Since Dragon Ball is well-known throughout Japan, a sequel series would not be released unpromoted, nor would it go unnoticed by the Japanese population. Daizenshuu EX took advantage of this fact, however, as part of its 2004 April Fool’s joke, creating both a “print ad” and a “TV commercial” from other sources. This material, bereft of its context, has since been cited as “evidence” for the existence of AF.
  2. Lack of official announcements by Toriyama, Shueisha, or Toei Animation.
    • Tying in to the idea of “advertising” above, none of the official Japanese sources of Dragon Ball material have come forward with any news on the scale of AF. Such a series would warrant at least a comment, if not an elaborately-staged introduction, from one or more of these entities. Of course, this has not stopped fans from claiming that such an announcement has already taken place (though there is no record of one ever occurring).
  3. Lack of articles, previews, or reviews of the series, in Japanese magazines or online blogs.
    • Note, however, that some Japanese fans have taken to commenting on the AF phenomenon outside of Japan, and this may be regarded as commentary on the “series” itself by those who do not speak Japanese. Indeed, the language barrier has often been a source of obfuscation, both for those who would believe the rumors, and those whose goal is to spread them further.
  4. Lack of scans from manga releases or screen captures / movie clips from new episodes.
    • While many “faked” images (generally produced as humorous commentary on the rumors, or outside of AF but incorporated into it accidentally) do exist, there are no raw manga scans or unaltered screenshots available, anywhere. Particularly good artwork may be mistakenly viewed as “promotional art,” but no media from within the manga/anime exists. Therefore, the burden of proof is on those who claim they own the series to put forth something they cannot possibly have (calls for such individuals to show whatever material they have are usually met by excuses or ad-hominem attacks).
  5. Lack of scanlations or fansubs.
    • Ethical and legal issues aside, a series as popular as Dragon Ball would not long remain without a fan-translated version. The methods of digital distribution are such that it would be virtually impossible not to find such materials, even in a casual search. Neither of these two things exists, however.
  6. Lack of official merchandise.
    • Dragon Ball is, and always has been, heavily marketed commercially. In Japan, a multitude of items, from action figures, to snacks, CDs, stationery, desks, and even children’s eyedrops, have been sold as Dragon Ball products or endorsed by characters from the series. The lack of official AF merchandise, then, is a strong indicator that such a series does not in fact exist.
  7. Official denial by both VIZ Media and FUNimation.
    • Such denials would run counter to the financial interests of both of these companies (the distributors of Dragon Ball manga and anime in the US) were the rumors to be true. It is highly unlikely that they would categorically dismiss a property that could make them millions of dollars.
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