This Week In Imports: Jibanyan Is Fired Up For More Yo-kai Watch

By Spencer . July 7, 2014 . 4:00pm

image Yo-kai Watch is one of the big success stories from Japan. The Nintendo 3DS game sold over one million copies and launched a media franchise. Since Yo-kai Watch is a hit Level-5 is going with their usual strategy of making a sequel with two versions.


Level-5 has been quite successful spreading out their series like Inazuma Eleven and LBX into anime, manga, and toys. This isn’t as easy as it sounds! Capcom is struggling to do the same with Gaist Crusher and Square Enix gave up on Gyrozetter.


Nintendo 3DS
Yo-kai Watch 2: Founder
Yo-kai Watch 2: Head


PlayStation 3
Saikyo Shogi Gekisashi 13


Key European Releases
Wii Sports Club (Wii U)


Key Domestic Releases
Another World 20th Anniversary Edition (PS3, Vita, PS4)
One Piece Unlimited World Red (PS3, Nintendo 3DS, Vita, Wii U via eShop)
Sacra Terra: Kiss of Death (PS3)

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  • Shippoyasha

    Dang it Level 5. I’ll probably die of old age when you guys finally decide to localize Youkai Watch.

    • Juan Pablo Fernandez

      better start learning moonrunes at this rate…

  • Slickyslacker

    One Piece, here I come.

  • Ethan_Twain

    The question is if Yo-kai watch will fizzle out the way other hit Level 5 IP have. Each of their four large scale franchises this past decade (Professor Layton, Little Battlers, Inazuma Eleven, and now Yo-kai Watch) have peaked within the first few installments before trailing away out of mainstream relevance.

    Though Little Battlers was never that big of a hit to begin with, but I digress.

    So Yo-kai Watch 2 will probably do super well, just like Inazuma Eleven 2 did. Success for this year is assured. In fact, unless the game is a real bummer I think it will probably eclipse the sales of the original. The challenge will be trying to keep You-kai Watch important over five or ten years.

    Because let’s be real, Level-5 has been absolutely incredible about their new IP. All their games play differently, all their games are high quality, and all their games target a larger audience than just the otaku crowd. Over a decade when the rest of Japan’s industry has fizzled in many ways, Level-5 is cooking up hit after hit.

    But you don’t want to count on being able to create a new hit every 3-4 years, you want to be able to nurture your hits so that they do more than flash in the metaphorical pan. That’s what Level-5 hasn’t done yet.

    • Shippoyasha

      I don’t know about that with Inazuma Eleven. That series has consistently did about half a million sales in Japan. Same with some other franchises. Some sales for latest Professor Layton games did dip later though. Even if one game came out at an unfortunate time when 3DS was heavily underperforming. Even then, it was likely a very lucrative series for the company.

      I think the bigger deal is Level 5 taking way too long to localize some games. They aren’t hitting while the iron’s hot so to speak. The shame is that a lot of anime tie-ins with Level 5 games aren’t being localized fast enough, or at all, considering the anime tieins for Level 5 titles are pretty high in quality.

      • Ethan_Twain

        Meh, who are they really gonna hook with localization? Professor Layton made sense to localize, those games were designed to be enjoyed by anybody. But Inazuma Eleven, Little Battlers, and now You-kai Watch are really specifically targeted at children. From the art to the anime/manga/toy tie ins to just the subject matter (school soccer teams, exploring contemporary Japanese suburbs) these games are laser focused at Japanese children ages… 7-13 or so.

        But when these properties leave Japan, who’s the market? Yo-kai watch is pretty closely tied into Japanese conception of ghosts, which is pretty different over here. Soccer in America is just not a thing. Little battlers was just fighting robots, right? That’s just straight normal anime – and most kids aren’t so into anime right now. It was definitely a bigger deal ten years ago.

        So who then is the western audience? Answer: hardcore Japanese game enthusiasts. People who will see it on the shelf and already know what the game is. That is a niche audience there. It’s worth noting that the Japanese game enthusiast audience overlaps with the otaku crowd quite a bit.

        But Level 5 games aren’t great otaku games. There are dozens of games every year that specifically tailor their every trait to pander to that audience, and Level 5 doesn’t. They can’t compete with the android waifus in Freedom Wars or Senran Kagura X Cooking Mama or “this is literally just an adolescent male fantasy” Island Days.

        So the western audience for a lot of Level 5 games is “Very informed gamers who know the developer’s pedigree, already know about the game before it releases, and will choose a Level 5 with kiddie aesthetics game over a less well designed Japanese game designed to pander to… older tastes.”

        Honestly I feel lucky that we get as many Level 5 games as we do. I would never have greenlit Weapon Shop De Omasse for Western release (even though I love that game) and it looks like Ace Attorney X Professor Layton wouldn’t have ever happened without a third party (Nintendo) stepping in.

        • Shippoyasha

          I think soccer can take off at least as a cartoon/game franchise. The anime actually manages to outshine the game even. It’s one of the most solid and marketable kids anime I have ever watched and it’s sad they aren’t at least giving it a chance. Little Battlers actually could do well if they went all in with support I feel, if all the other combat competition anime has done decently well with localization. I do see your point with Youkai Watch though.

          Just a shame really. Level 5 has something really special where their anime adaptations could stand on their own two feet. Very good game franchises too.

          • Ethan_Twain

            I suspect that the anime adaptations of Level 5’s franchises are above average, because just about everything that company does is above average (even White Knight Chronicles had potential to be better than anything Square Enix first party development put on a console this past gen, even though it didn’t pan out).

            The problem is just that I don’t think kids anime is popular outside Japan. The foreign anime market is all about fancy boxed special editions and there’s a lot of really violent or sexual stuff. Anime tends to be a really expensive thing to be into.

            There was definitely a time when kids anime was big. Dragon Ball made a splash. I remember, like, Digimon and that one ghost show and other things cycled in and out. But what’s left now? Pokemon survives and… maybe Yugioh? Kids programming has taken a different turn by and large. There isn’t as much out there.

            So that’s another problem. Their games are more than games, they’re multimedia phenominons (or at least attempts at phenominons). In a place where there’s no Manga or Coro Coro magazine and kids anime isn’t popular… I mean, You-kai Watch wasn’t even a hit in Japan when it came out without the anime. How can it or games like it be expected to perform well without the cross marketing AND in a foreign market?

            This is a lot of me being negative, but lemme just be clear. Level 5 is my favorite. They’re so cool. Level 5 and Nintendo are the two Japanese game companies that I would actually invest in, nobody else has shown any ability to consistently make quality games that appeal to a wide audience. I’m not too positive about their products’ chances overseas, but I love them.

          • Shippoyasha

            Well, stuff like Beyblade is doing decently well. I do agree that it’s an uphill battle to make them more popular though. But not playing ball is even worse in my opinion. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy at some point as well.

          • Ethan_Twain

            I think that’s a common misconception of how companies work. Just because Level 5 CAN localize their games and anime and manga and release them internationally with a big marketing push to probably make a little money profit… not every profit is worth chasing. You’ve gotta balance (Risk. Time and effort expended. Opportunity Cost of not working on other projects) versus (Probable profits. Best Case Scenario Profits.)

            In the case of something like Little Battlers (which was mostly PSP I think?) I feel like no localization at all was an easy call. For Inazuma Eleven they’re doing super low cost eShop release using the European localization. So minimal risk, minimal return. Probably appropriate. For You-kai Watch we’ll see one of those two options. No localization, or super cheap (slow) localization. And I think that’s appropriate.

          • British_Otaku

            I guess you guys don’t live in Europe, but the English dub of Inazuma Eleven really took off even if I think it is pretty awful just like the games. >_>

          • Shippoyasha

            It is a pretty wacky show for sure. I think it loses a lot of personality when it doesn’t have that original all star voice acting of the Japanese broadcast though.

  • Tonton Ramos

    I wonder if the sequel will surpass the original… *shudders*

    • Skyer Ist

      Of course… New game will sell 1 million in first week…

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