If you haven’t heard of Yo-Kai Watch yet, it is the latest monster collecting game from Nintendo. Yo-Kai Watch has yet to make the U.S. toy industry go haywire but it’s already making an unbelievable ruckus in its native Japan, where copies of the anime, manga, video game, and other Yo-KaiWatch merchandise are flying off the shelves. This crazy phenomenon has landed on U.S. shores.
The Yo-Kai Watch craze in the U.S. started when Dentsu Entertainment USA and LEVEL-5 Inc. announced that the Yo-Kai Watch television series would start airing on Disney XD before the end of the year. Indeed, Yo-Kai Watch started airing on Disney XD in October, and shortly after, was followed by the North American version of the Yo-Kai Watch 3DS game on November 6. In time for the festive winter shopping season, Hasbro announced that Yo-Kai Watch toys have landed in the U.S. and the roll-out of the merchandise will continue until Spring 2016.
To understand the Yo-KaiWatch toys, one must first understand Yo-Kai Watch. To explain the franchise in simple terms, it’s a concept featuring the familiar capture and collect aspect of Pokémon but with a more Japanese twist. Yo-Kai watch unearths elements of Japanese culture and works them into the anime and the game, making the franchise a huge success in its native land.
Beth Kawasaki, editor of the Yo-Kai Watch manga version at Viz Media, shares that Viz believes the concept will be a little more universal despite its Japanese roots.
“Some of the content is very Japan-oriented, but what we’ve learned from previous experience is that instead of trying to heavily culturalize it… it’s more successful if we can bring the Japanese culture directly to the different market, and let people accept it as a fantasy world. We want to maintain that the Yo-Kai Watch world is in Japan, the buildings people live in, and how they act.”
Wired spoke to the president of Yo-Kai Watch’s development studio, Level-5, Akihiro Hino, and he explained how the company envisioned Yo-Kai watch to be Japan’s new Doraemon, a phenomenon that would overcome time and enjoy long-lived success.
“The concept was created to be something that would stay a long time in [Japan’s] culture…Kids are really passionate about monster-like creatures. In Japan, when new games or franchises come out, whenever they have ‘monster’ in the title, kids get really excited about it.”
Yo-KaiWatch basically follows the story of a young boy who discovers the presence of Yo-Kai creatures in his world and he goes forth and hunts down Yo-Kai to befriend them. Once he befriends a Yo-Kai, the monster gives him a medal that he can then insert in his watch to call the monster in times of need. This, essentially, led to a seemingly perfect formula that will spawn dozens of games and merchandise over time; a perfect formula patterned after Pokémon‘s success, it seems.
What kinds of Yo-Kai Watch merch is available in the U.S. market right now? As of this writing, there are a couple of toys already available via Hasbro and of course, the Yo-Kai Watch toy watch is first on the list. Hasbro plans to have more than 100 medals to become available for purchase across America in early 2016.
Regarding the Yo-Kai Watch toy watch, buyers beware as it is not exactly a watch and does not tell time. It works just like the watch of the protagonist in the Yo-KaiWatch game and anime, in which the boy inserts medals into the watch to call upon his Yo-Kai friends. Consumers will be able to collect medals from various Yo-Kai Watch merchandise such as the Yo-Kai Watch Monopoly and collection books, and more commonly on Moments figures, which are Yo-Kai monster figures, and medal mystery bags. If you feed a medal to the watch, the watch then says the name of the Yo-Kai whose medal has been inserted, and plays a unique song or tune.
Other Yo-Kai Watch merchandise already available via Hasbro are the medallion collection book, mood reveal figures, the medal-carrying moments figures, and plush toys. You can buy the products online at the Hasbro Toy Shop or check out local retailers from Hasbro.
Mothers and fathers, prepare yourself for the endless cries of your children, clamoring to look for medals he or she has yet to find, and for endless hours of repetitive singing courtesy of the Yo-Kai Watch toy watch.
Kids, and kids at heart, are you excited for more Yo-Kai Watch medals to land on U.S. shores come 2016?
[Image via Hasbro]