By Sato . April 11, 2014 . 5:31pm
Earlier this year, Level 5 revealed that they had already shipped over 500,000 copies of Yo-kai Watch in Japan, but who would’ve expected it to become popular enough that it would be compared to Pokémon? Nikkan Sports, an affiliate newspaper of Asahi Shimbun, tells us more about its growing popularity.
Level 5 originally created Yo-kai watch with a cross-media approach, consisting of a game, manga and anime, all which are currently big hits with the younger audience in Japan. To get you up to speed, the story of Yo-kai Watch is about a young fifth-grader boy named Keita Amano who gets a mysterious watch from a youkai (Japanese folklore monsters) called Whisper that he met in the forest. Using this watch, he is able to see all kinds of youkai in town.
At times he works with them, and sometimes he has to persuade them toward different causes. Other times he fights with them, but he also befriends them. There are already over 200 different youkai in the game, with Jibanyan, the ghost of a cat who died being hit by a car, being the fan favorite.
Yo-kai Watch debuted as a manga on CoroCoro Comics, followed by the game that was released last year in July, and an anime series that started earlier this year. Thus far, Level 5 have sold over 700,000 copies of the game in Japan.
As far as toy watches and other Yo-kai Watch goodies go, they’ve been flying off the shelves at stores, according to Nikkan Sports. They actually opened a Yo-kai Watch specialty store in the middle of March at a shopping area by a station in Tokyo, but they had to temporarily close the store down after two days of business due to the unexpected amount of customers.
According to the Nikkan Sports report, Yo-kai Watch is comical for the kids, but it also throws in a lot of Showa Era (1926 – 1989) jokes, so even older folks can enjoy it, which is believed to be another reason for its success. In terms of success as a social phenomenon in Japan, they even compare it to Sailor Moon and Pokémon. Of course, the Yo-kai Watch game isn’t selling nearly as much as Pokémon games do—they’re typically multi-million sellers—but the merchandising machine certainly appears to be on the warpath.
To give you another idea of how popular it is, a special dance exercise video for children, featuring characters of Yo-kai Watch, currently has 3.3 million views on Youtube.
If you’re wondering whether we’ll ever see Yo-kai Watch in the west, Level 5 International America recently asked western fans about it, and a trademark was also filed in the USA, so it seems likely to happen sometime in the near future. Additionally, Level 5 recently announced Yo-kai Watch 2 in Japan.