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NEWS: Yo-kai Watch Franchise's Last Retail Store Closes on February 24




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CatSword



Joined: 01 Jul 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:35 pm Reply with quote
I remember a few years ago Yokai Watch was predicted to be the next Pokemon. Things didn't quite go as planned, but at least the games are still going with an active fanbase.
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CastMember1991



Joined: 06 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:37 pm Reply with quote
It's still a pretty big franchise in Japan, despite its popularity declining (hence the store closures). In fact, the TV show is still airing new episodes on TV Tokyo through its Shadowside season. The US and Canada however? Boy did it flop hard in North America. Nintendo tried its hardest to make it as popular as Pokémon, but the way Disney handled the TV show and Hasbro handled the toy line assured that would never happen.

One of the reasons why Yo-kai Watch never caught on outside of Japan (and France and Italy to some extent) was the way the toy line was handled. Hasbro had the most abysmal marketing I have ever seen for any non-American toy line. I've seen plenty of commercials for the games on the internet, movie screen, and TV. But, I didn't see a single commercial for the toy line. At all! (PLEASE let me know, otherwise.) As a result, the line was quickly eclipsed by the likes of PAW Patrol and Frozen in toy isles.

Another reason it did so poorly in North America is because of how Disney handled the dub. They tried so hard to please hardcore Otaku and execs at Level-5 that it suffered an identity crisis. Was it a 4Kids-style dub, or was it faithful to the original Japanese version? It wasn't clear. The biggest nail in the coffin was that it aired on Disney XD, a station that not a lot of people have or watch. Had the Yo-kai Watch TV series aired on the regular Disney Channel, it might have had a chance.
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:55 pm Reply with quote
CastMember1991 wrote:
One of the reasons why Yo-kai Watch never caught on outside of Japan (and France and Italy to some extent) was the way the toy line was handled. Hasbro had the most abysmal marketing I have ever seen for any non-American toy line. I've seen plenty of commercials for the games on the internet, movie screen, and TV. But, I didn't see a single commercial for the toy line. At all! (PLEASE let me know, otherwise.) As a result, the line was quickly eclipsed by the likes of PAW Patrol and Frozen in toy isles.

Another reason it did so poorly in North America is because of how Disney handled the dub. They tried so hard to please hardcore Otaku and execs at Level-5 that it suffered an identity crisis. Was it a 4Kids-style dub, or was it faithful to the original Japanese version? It wasn't clear. The biggest nail in the coffin was that it aired on Disney Anime hyper, a station that not a lot of people have or watch. Had the Yo-kai Watch TV series aired on the regular Disney Channel, it might have had a chance.


It also streamed on Netflix, where it was...pretty darn confusing. Confused
Maybe I'll get around to streaming a second episode sometime.

The licensors looked at the marketing and said "It's already the Next Pokemon over there, and WE'VE got it!" and thought lightning would immediately strike twice for them with no other necessary expenditure of effort on their part...Much like Disney thought would happen for Princess Mononoke.
But Pokemon had a simple non-cultural concept that already had a clear definition of what goal our hero was after, what game he had to play, and how his cute franchise-sidekick could help. And Pikachu was a much easier character to explain than trying to fit the Japanese concept of yokai into a cute Japan-free Western idiom, especially on kids-TV that doesn't like mention of even non-scary ghosts.
Not to mention, American kids were already familiar with Ash and Pikachu's storyline from the Nintendo game, and thought they were watching a Nintendo series, not a Japanese-marketing series.

And that's not assuming that the Pokemon-clone game series hadn't already been Western-marketed into the ground by the time Yu-Gi-Oh faded.
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CastMember1991



Joined: 06 Feb 2012
Posts: 416
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:39 pm Reply with quote
EricJ2 wrote:
It also streamed on Netflix, where it was...pretty darn confusing. Confused
Maybe I'll get around to streaming a second episode sometime.

The licensors looked at the marketing and said "It's already the Next Pokemon over there, and WE'VE got it!" and thought lightning would immediately strike twice for them with no other necessary expenditure of effort on their part...Much like Disney thought would happen for Princess Mononoke.
But Pokemon had a simple non-cultural concept that already had a clear definition of what goal our hero was after, what game he had to play, and how his cute franchise-sidekick could help. And Pikachu was a much easier character to explain than trying to fit the Japanese concept of yokai into a cute Japan-free Western idiom, especially on kids-TV that doesn't like mention of even non-scary ghosts.
Not to mention, American kids were already familiar with Ash and Pikachu's storyline from the Nintendo game, and thought they were watching a Nintendo series, not a Japanese-marketing series.

And that's not assuming that the Pokemon-clone game series hadn't already been Western-marketed into the ground by the time Yu-Gi-Oh faded.


But if you ask me, Nintendo did the best job at marketing the games. The huge marketing push they had at least made it a hit with gamers and otaku.

Unfortunately, it wasn't really commercially viable to have mainstream appeal. The most obvious case being that it had too much of a cultural concept, but it also came at an awkward time (right before the release of the Pokémon Go smartphone app). So, it never really built the sort of fanbase it could've had.
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