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INTEREST: Yo-kai Watch Screenwriter Reacts to Series Trending in America




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CastMember1991



Joined: 06 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 4:06 pm Reply with quote
I remember Yo-kai Watch quite well. It was a hit with gamers and otaku, but unfortunately wasn't commercially viable for any of the parties that tried to make it popular (Nintendo, Hasbro, and Disney). It came at sort of an awkward time, right before the one-two punch of Pokémon GO and Pokémon Sun and Moon. So, it never really built the sort of fanbase it could've had. It's a shame, because it had a lot of potential to be huge. And I say this as a Pokémon fan myself.
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ranran-001



Joined: 25 Oct 2018
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 5:44 pm Reply with quote
CastMember1991 wrote:
I remember Yo-kai Watch quite well. It was a hit with gamers and otaku, but unfortunately wasn't commercially viable for any of the parties that tried to make it popular (Nintendo, Hasbro, and Disney). It came at sort of an awkward time, right before the one-two punch of Pokémon GO and Pokémon Sun and Moon. So, it never really built the sort of fanbase it could've had. It's a shame, because it had a lot of potential to be huge. And I say this as a Pokémon fan myself.


I think there are two things that should have been handled better. First when releasing it in the west, they over marketed. The thinking was that since it was a success in Japan, it should have instantly been one in America. There was a ton of discount merchandise in the bargain bins six months later when none of the toys and plushies sold.

Second, was the dubbing for the cartoon, which I thought was poorly done. In Japan, the show was super critical to the Yokai Watch franchise's success. Yes I get that it is intended for very young kids, but sheesh don't put out a below average dub if you want it to go up against the pokemon juggernaut.

In addition there is the inexcusable localization of the Yokai Watch universe, which was for all intents and purposes set in a fictional Japan. If Miraculous Lady Bug is able to stay set in France, then keeping the location in Japan should have been done for Yokai Watch.
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CastMember1991



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 6:03 pm Reply with quote
Everything you said was spot on. I believe, however, that if we take a closer look at Yo-kai Watch, it was a franchise that shouldn’t have launched in North America. Americans have seen this kind of humor before in many Nickelodeon shows, and the concept of Japanese culture and mythology doesn’t really appeal to those who aren’t as interested in it as I am as an anime fan. Not to mention, the games weren't appealing to mainstream tastes. Therefore, the universal appeal wasn’t there. This is not about branding, this is about content. Content has always driven the brand. If you don’t have the content, the brand will fail.
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AmpersandsUnited



Joined: 22 Mar 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 7:53 pm Reply with quote
It's not really limited to Yokai Watch. It's just a thing that Americans seem to only care about one brand at a time. Tons of Pokemon clones can exist in Japan and do fine enough to keep going. But in America if it's not Pokemon then it dies out pretty quick. Same thing with how every attempt at bringing over a new card game anime after Yu-Gi-Oh has met with failure: In Japan there's tons of anime-based card game franchises, and some of them have even gone on to surpass Yu-Gi-Oh in Japan like Duel Masters, but that was a colossal flop in America. Twice. Or for a live-action example, look at how Power Rangers did well, but every other toku that gets brought over flops. Even Kamen Rider, a franchise that completely dwarfs Super Sentai in Japan and is way more popular and profitable lost out and failed in America. It's basically a game of 'first come, first serve' for the American market.
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Punch Drunk Marc



Joined: 04 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 8:20 pm Reply with quote
AmpersandsUnited wrote:
Even Kamen Rider, a franchise that completely dwarfs Super Sentai in Japan and is way more popular and profitable lost out and failed in America. It's basically a game of 'first come, first serve' for the American market.


I'd heavily argue that Kamen Riders failure over here was due to Saban's mismanaging of Black RX into Masked Rider. That show was even horrible by old PR standards and was a SUPER flop. So much so that they waited YEARS to try again with Dragon Knight, which also flopped despite critics saying it was fairly good and even winning a daytime emmy.
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Kicksville



Joined: 20 Nov 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 8:27 pm Reply with quote
I think it's pretty apparent from this it definitely built an audience, just maybe not one of the Pokemon-crushing magnitude that was hoped for. I don't really buy cultural differences or the dub were the deciding factor - I'd say Pokemon Go electrifying interest in Pokemon yet again and the Yokai Watch anime airing on Disney XD (where cartoons go to die) were bigger factors.

I really think there's clearly enough to work with here to at least continue to publish the games over here, but I assume that's been complicated by the fallout of not becoming a market juggernaut (Level 5's American branch closed not that long ago) and the dramatic sink in popularity in Japan.
Punch Drunk Marc wrote:
So much so that they waited YEARS to try again with Dragon Knight, which also flopped despite critics saying it was fairly good and even winning a daytime emmy.

That's another one where I feel like airing in the wrong place killed it - it was on CW4Kids, right at the end of Saturday/Sunday morning cartoons having any relevance.
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CastMember1991



Joined: 06 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 9:17 pm Reply with quote
Kicksville wrote:
I think it's pretty apparent from this it definitely built an audience, just maybe not one of the Pokemon-crushing magnitude that was hoped for. I don't really buy cultural differences or the dub were the deciding factor - I'd say Pokemon Go electrifying interest in Pokemon yet again and the Yokai Watch anime airing on Disney XD (where cartoons go to die) were bigger factors.


Exactly. That, and the first game launching on the same day as Call of Duty: Black Ops III in the Fall of 2015, which was the wrong time to launch a new IP. On a side note, the new anime - oddly enough - airs after Pokémon in Japan when it premieres. It would be interesting to see OLM animate some promos with Jibanyan and Pikachu together to promote that fact, not to mention hilarious seeing them eat chocobars together.
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BadNewsBlues



Joined: 21 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 8:26 pm Reply with quote
ranran-001 wrote:
Yes I get that it is intended for very young kids, but sheesh don't put out a below average dub if you want it to go up against the pokemon juggernaut.


Which depending on who you ask either had a below average dub to start or happened after they got rid of the original voice actors around Ruby & Sapphire.
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Primus



Joined: 01 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 8:50 pm Reply with quote
CastMember1991 wrote:
Kicksville wrote:
I think it's pretty apparent from this it definitely built an audience, just maybe not one of the Pokemon-crushing magnitude that was hoped for. I don't really buy cultural differences or the dub were the deciding factor - I'd say Pokemon Go electrifying interest in Pokemon yet again and the Yokai Watch anime airing on Disney Anime hyper (where cartoons go to die) were bigger factors.


Exactly. That, and the first game launching on the same day as Call of Duty: Black Ops III in the Fall of 2015, which was the wrong time to launch a new IP. On a side note, the new anime - oddly enough - airs after Pokémon in Japan when it premieres. It would be interesting to see OLM animate some promos with Jibanyan and Pikachu together to promote that fact, not to mention hilarious seeing them eat chocobars together.


If there was any major audience overlap between a children's monster RPG and Call of Duty, all that says is that the powers that be completely failed in marketing Yo-Kai Watch. This is a property for elementary schoolers. While I'm sure there are plenty of COD preteens, I can't imagine they're the biggest demo on day-1.

While this hashtag was focused on America, the truth is that Yo-Kai Watch is dead pretty much everywhere outside of Asia. It's not as though Shadowside and the followups have been dubbed into French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, etc. The Hong Kong English dub seems to have also gotten the axe. This doesn't appear to be a situation unique to the western English world. Even in Japan, the fad is clearly long over.
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harminia



Joined: 24 Aug 2015
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 4:31 pm Reply with quote
I understand the goal was to aim it at kids but I really would've appreciated subbed releases that didn't localise it. I really enjoyed the anime (though I didn't get super far into it and the ep count is intimidating now), and bought quite a bit of merch a little bit before it was picked up for localisation.
I think I would've bought DVD/BRs of the show with non localised subs, and I believe a lot of other adult fans would've too.
I have the first game but I haven't finished it... I don't know if that's because of the gameplay, the localisation or just me being lazy/distracted (or all of the above).

It would've been nice if the series had gotten more traction in the west but I can see why it didn't. Poor timing, not as accessible as Pokemon... If it had come out like 10 years earlier maybe it'd have had more sticking power lol
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CastMember1991



Joined: 06 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:39 am Reply with quote
harminia wrote:
It would've been nice if the series had gotten more traction in the west but I can see why it didn't. Poor timing, not as accessible as Pokemon... If it had come out like 10 years earlier maybe it'd have had more sticking power lol


That's a good point. Funny story, I actually played a demo of the original Yo-kai Watch at GameStop when I was in college, and I thought to myself, "there's no way this will be a success in the US. And boy was I right. Comedy anime and games coming from Japan usually don't do well as a general rule. For that and other factors, I don't know that Level-5 could really do anything to save Yo-kai Watch. But as one user in this thread correctly pointed out, the biggest nail in the coffin was Pokémon GO.
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Cardcaptor Takato



Joined: 27 Jan 2018
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:12 pm Reply with quote
I don’t really buy that other clone shows can’t succeed in the US. Digimon was massively popular for years and is still relative and an active fandom now even if the reboot and Tri weren’t perfect. Monster Rancher was more niche but still dubbed all the episodes and released a couple of games. Card game anime besides Yugioh do seem to be a harder sell and I don’t know how well it does financially but they still keep bringing over the various Cardfight Vanguard anime so someone must be watching it. I think there’s quite a bit of interest in the new Vanguard series with CLAMP’s involvement in it. As for toku shows, Beatleborgs seemed to do decently enough for Fox Kids that they ran both series for it. The Ultraman sets seem to be selling well for Mill Creek. The fanbase for Kamen Rider was clearly there as there was a lot of hype for the original series and Kuuga when they were brought over but for whatever reason Shout Factory keeps sitting on the license. I think the failure of Yokai Watch to catch on in the West is a combination of the poor timing with Pokémon Go, the lack of marketing by Disney and Nintendo, and also that most young people don’t really watch cable TV that much anymore and everything has moved to streaming nowadays, including Pokémon. I think it might have helped the show more if it was directly to streaming either on Netflix or Crunchyroll. There’s just not the same market for kids anime on network TV anymore and even Yugioh Vrains is on Pluto TV now.
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CastMember1991



Joined: 06 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2021 8:33 am Reply with quote
Cardcaptor Takato wrote:
I don’t really buy that other clone shows can’t succeed in the US. Digimon was massively popular for years and is still relative and an active fandom now even if the reboot and Tri weren’t perfect. Monster Rancher was more niche but still dubbed all the episodes and released a couple of games. Card game anime besides Yugioh do seem to be a harder sell and I don’t know how well it does financially but they still keep bringing over the various Cardfight Vanguard anime so someone must be watching it. I think there’s quite a bit of interest in the new Vanguard series with CLAMP’s involvement in it. As for toku shows, Beatleborgs seemed to do decently enough for Fox Kids that they ran both series for it. The Ultraman sets seem to be selling well for Mill Creek. The fanbase for Kamen Rider was clearly there as there was a lot of hype for the original series and Kuuga when they were brought over but for whatever reason Shout Factory keeps sitting on the license. I think the failure of Yokai Watch to catch on in the West is a combination of the poor timing with Pokémon Go, the lack of marketing by Disney and Nintendo, and also that most young people don’t really watch cable TV that much anymore and everything has moved to streaming nowadays, including Pokémon. I think it might have helped the show more if it was directly to streaming either on Netflix or Crunchyroll. There’s just not the same market for kids anime on network TV anymore and even Yugioh Vrains is on Pluto TV now.


Yep. And it seems that when it comes to cable, the only cartoons that are popular on cable channels like Nick and Disney happen to be Western cartoons like Disney's Amphibia, Nick's The Loud House and PAW Patrol, and Cartoon Network's Steven Universe. And of all those shows, only one is based on a toy line. With production done in-house, many cable channels aimed at kids and young adults think they can make more money and cut costs by investing more on original animated and live-action programming.
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