Hasbro to Launch Level-5's Yo-kai Watch Toy Line in 2016
Dentsu Entertainment USA and TV Tokyo announced on Friday that they are partnering with Hasbro to launch a toy line based on the Yo-kai Watch game and anime franchise next year. They added, "The Yo-kai Watch cross-platform experience will also include additional broadcasting, video game and merchandising relationships to be announced later this year."
The story of the games and anime begins when Keita discovers an old capsule toy vending machine in the forest. Keita receives a mysterious watch and meets a ghost named Whisper. Whisper tells Keita that the watch allows him to see supernatural creatures — both good and evil — that he could not see before in everyday life. With Whisper and the feline companion Jibanyan, Keita explores his town for other ghosts to battle or befriend.
Game developer Level-5 announced the Yo-kai Watch franchise in 2011 with a game, manga, and anime already planned. The franchise's first game for the Nintendo 3DS debuted in Japan in July 2013, and the anime premiered in January 2014. The latest game in the franchise, a third version of Yo-kai Watch 2, shipped in December. Bandai sells Yo-kai Watch toys and game tie-in medals in Japan.
Dentsu Entertainment USA began looking for broadcast and merchandise partners for the franchise in the Americas last year. Level-5 president Akihiro Hino previously confirmed that the franchise found an overseas toymaker, but did not specify at the time whether the franchise would get a Western release.
Hino announced at the December event for the franchise's first movie, Eiga Yo-kai Watch: Tanjō no Himitsu da Nyan!, that the television anime will be broadcast overseas. Hino specifically mentioned America and Europe, but said there would be other regions. Hino stated that, although many of the Yo-kai's names will be changed, Jibanyan and Whisper's will remain the same. He asked the characters' respective voice actors, Etsuko Kozakura and Tomokazu Seki, to "study English."