In perhaps one of the best practical jokes ever, Omocoro‘s Editor-in-Chief Tetsuya Shimoda and his co-workers decided to give their friend Mr. Yamaguchi a rather unique gift upon hearing the news of his marriage.

Always taking pride in their presents and already with a reputation for planning great practical jokes, Shimoda and friends hatched a diabolical scheme to send their newly-wedded pal something very special: a life-size model of a zebra, big enough to take up most of the space in any room of their unwitting friend’s house.

And, luckily for us, they documented the entire plan from its conception to glorious finale…

Regular RocketNews24 readers may recall the Omocoro boys’ fashion experiment in which three members of the team took it in turns to wear staff writer Ueda’s hideous clothes in an effort to guage whether they really were as bad as everyone suspected. Those guys over at Omocoro certainly put their hearts and souls into their work in the name of entertainment, and this stunt is no exception.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that the model zebra editor Shimoda discovered– and simply couldn’t not gift to his poor friend– cost an incredible 240,000 yen (US$3,000).

But the price-tag didn’t dissuade fun-loving Shimoda:

“When I spotted the zebra, I knew it was perfect, but I knew I couldn’t possibly afford to buy it by myself. I sent a quick email to two of my manga artist friends asking them to buy it with me. Unbelievably, they replied straight away with a resounding ‘yes’.”

But let’s not write Mr Shimoda off as some kind of mean-spirited prankster or a bully- he has feelings, too!

Since the zebra would, after all, become a wedding present for his pal, Shimoda got in touch with Yamaguchi’s newly wedded wife, letting her in on the secret idea and ensuring that she wouldn’t be too upset if the enormous animal turned up at their home. Outlining the basic plan in an email and stating that the zebra was “destined” to be sent to her husband, Shimoda waited for the green light from Yamaguchi’s wife. Rather than getting angry or flat-out refusing, she quickly responded not only with her consent, but also provided a floor plan of their apartment along with detailed notes regarding any narrow areas that might be difficult to maneuver the giant beast through.

The wife was in on it; the funds were there; everything was falling into place.

With the life-size zebra paid for, the next stage in the plot was to secretly get Yamaguchi’s own voice on tape “agreeing” to the idea of having a zebra as a present- a conversation that Shimoda provided online at Burg Hamburg Burg for us all to bear witness to. It’s during their conversation, however, that we learn that poor old Yamaguchi has been the victim of more than one of Shimoda’s pranks before.

Discussing wedding gifts, we learn a little more about the pair’s past:

Shimoda: You’re talking about when I sent you those ‘unusual’ gifts in the past?
Yamaguchi: Yes, of course that’s what I’m talking about! Seriously, give me a break this time.
Shimoda: Hey, come on, I’ve been really restrained lately. It’s been months since I sent you anything. How long has it been now?
Yamaguchi: It was March. March two years ago…
Shimoda: Since I sent you the pig’s head?
Yamaguchi: Yes.
Shimoda: See? It’s been a long time since I sent you anything silly. I’ve been so restrainted. I have to get you something big…

You read that right; poor old Yamaguchi once received a pig’s head from his office pal as a gift, and once even shipped at 50kg (110lbs) pumpkin to his house. It’s no wonder that he was so wary of what might happen this time…

Incredibly, after a long conversation about black and white animals, Shimoda actually manages to get a soundbite of his pal Yamaguchi uttering the phrase “it has to be a zebra”.

You said it, buddy! A zebra is it!

With everything ready to roll, the prankster squad needed to get Yamaguchi out of his apartment for the evening. In Shimoda’s position, what would you do? Invite him for a drink? Find an excuse to have him work late at the office?

How about… staging an entire fake birthday party for a colleague?

“We created a fake birthday party for one of our friends, getting nine people together in all, including artists from Jump Comics, all for the sake of installing a zebra in a guy’s house,” Yamaguchi chuckles. “It kinda makes you wonder how much free time these guys have!”

With the unsuspecting Yamaguchi enjoying the completely fake birthday party and the only one not in on the act, Shimoda had the zebra delivered into his apartment and arranged for a couple of co-workers to take a few pictures of its arrival.

Lugged up the stairs, uwrapped and placed square in the middle of their victim’s living room, the installation team sent a photo of their finished work over to Shimoda’s mobile phone.

“With the zebra in the apartment it looked even better than we’d ever imagined- absolutely ridiculous.”

After receiving the message to say that the plan had been a success and that the enormous model was in place, the plotters and zebra installation team arranged to meet up after the fake birthday party had been disbanded.

Sitting in a Denny’s restaurant, all they had to do was wait for the call from bewildered Yamaguchi once he’d returned home an discovered his fantastic new wedding present…

They received just one email from Yamaguchi, containing this photo:

▼Congratulations on your wedding, Yamaguchi! How do you like the present?

▼Ah, not so much?

▼Perhaps it would look better on the- oh…

Our hats go off to Shimoda and his pals on this one.

A job well done, guys. A job very well done.

Source / images: Burg Hamburg Burg