Yo-Kai Watch Arrives Westward in 2016 via Hasbro Deal

Yo-Kai Watch 2

Yo-kai Watch has been a phenomenal success for developer Level-5 since its 2013 launch in Japan. What started as a 3DS game has exploded into an anime, toys, lunch boxes (or more accurately, bento boxes), and more. We in the west have been wondring when the franchise would head on over. For a while, it was estimated that Yo-Kai Watch would launch sometime in 2015, but now it looks like we’ll have a longer wait than expected. A press release from Level-5 announced a partnership with toy company Hasbro, indicating that we won’t see the series here until 2016.

In 2016, Hasbro will introduce an innovative toy line for the franchise. The YO-KAI WATCH cross-platform experience will also include additional broadcasting, video game and merchandising relationships to be announced later this year.

It’s good to hear further confirmation of Yo-Kai Watch‘s eventual western launch, despite having to wait another year. The extra-long wait may have something to do with localization. More so with the comparable franchise Pokémon, Yo-kai Watch is an especially Japanese series, with many monsters directly referencing Japanese mythology (the word ‘Yo-kai’ is a Japanese word). Not to mention, Yo-Kai Watch takes place in Japan, with characters often wearing Japanese garb and partaking in Japanese customs. Pokémon got through to the west unscathed by comparison because its world is very much fictional.

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Consider the western launch of another very Japanese franchise, Doraemon. Having debuted in Japan in 1969, it took until 2014 for it to launch in the west, under heavy localization. Despite the efforts of the localization team, Doraemon barely made a dent here, bombing hard before it could get off the ground. Despite the attempt to disguise Doraemon’s Japanese origins, all the changes made to “Americanize” it didn’t matter to its target audience. Instead of embracing Doraemon‘s Japanese style, the American producers were ashamed of it, and altered part of the soul that makes Doraemon unique. Will the same thing happen to Yo-Kai Watch?

So far, Level-5’s western partners have a lot to work with. The series already has two games out in Japan on 3DS, and the sequel alone has three versions. But as Hasbro Brands president John Frascotti says, he’s not afraid to bring the property here and give the west a try. “We have seen the massive success of the YO-KAI WATCH franchise in Japan and are thrilled to be chosen to help expand the property to new markets.” For now, we will have to wait until later in 2015 for more news on the arrival of Yo-Kai Watch. What do you think of the inevitable launch of this very popular franchise?

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Editor-in-Chief (Former)

A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.