Image: amaiTapioca on DeviantArt.
Welcome once again to the bloggish musings of a gamer in Japan.
The end of the year is upon us. We had some great holidays, but like Spider Man taught us: “With great holidays come great protests.” I think I got that quote right?
The War on Christmas: Single Dudes Lead the Charge
Apparently some single men in Japan are upset by Christmas. Their main reasons for protest are the hyper-commercialization that goes along with it, and the traditional notion that Christmas is a holiday for couples. So… wait a minute. They dislike commercialization… but they only hate it because they can’t be a part of it… because they’re single? Aren’t those kind of self-contradictory stances?
Moreover, I have to say that the latter is outdated. Sure, you’ll read around blogs and Japan info websites about how Christmas is a couples thing in Japan, but that’s not the reality anymore. Wanna know why a shit ton of video games are sold at the end of the year? It’s not just people buying them for their wives or husbands, it’s people also buying them for kids and grandkids. Every kid I know had a thing or two they were really hoping to get for Christmas. I suppose the logical clash is why the protest group being discussed here is — thankfully– pretty small.
Speaking of Japanese game sales in Winter…
It’s All Relative
The PS4 finally crossed the 2-million mark for sold consoles in Japan. That sounds like a lot, “TWO MILLION,” but it’s important to note that it has taken longer to reach that mark than the PS3. Not much longer, but longer nonetheless; let’s not forget how mocked and ridiculed PS3 was for its low sales during the first part of the generation. Remember that? Those sales numbers — the butt of so many jokes as they were — still pushed the PS2 across two million a few months ahead of PS4, despite PS3’s higher price. The former hit two million after about 15 months, the latter is reaching after about 19 months.
All of the above is to say that while PS4 is the hottest TV console on the Japanese market right now, hottest doesn’t necessarily mean hot. As it’s only competition is flailing around on the floor, it can appear that the machine has a little more fire than it actually does. In a historical perspective, the PS4 is keeping its head above water, but is so far another figure on a chart of downward trends.
Before any fanboys freak out, that’s not to say it’s “dead” either. There’s a disturbing trend of human though, exposed and perhaps encouraged by the internet, that everything must be one extreme or the other. Something is either a raging success or a complete failure; a record-breaking fan favorite or an utter disgrace liked by literally no one. This simply isn’t true. In the case of PS4, it’s a success, but a modest one, and it doesn’t do anyone any good to fool ourselves into thinking otherwise.
Back to Grillin Village!
The Japanese PSN has some gems that the North American store lacks, and I’ve been re-experiencing on in Brave Fencer Musashi. I held a little Twitter poll to see if I should replay that or ICO, because I like letting other people control my life and shit. Back when I was an even worse writer than I am now, I wrote a little review of it, but I suppose a replay over a decade later might justify a newer version on a newer site? I don’t know why I’m saying any of this out loud.
After getting used to the controls, I’ve been having a lot of fun. I don’t find it to shine in any many specific areas, but I do enjoy Musashi overall. Actually, scratch that, the music is pretty endearing and I love the heck out of the root town. But please, devs, can we please never again ever have an escape sequence in which the player has to run toward the camera? Holy crap is that annoying.
Did you play Brave Fencer way back when? How’d you like it?
With 10 million games now sold, Pokemon‘s successor is truly Yo-kai Watch. That’s not to say Pokemon is gone from the public mind or heart, but it’s hardly even a contest anymore as to which is more omnipresent among the Japanese public. The traditional McDonald’s Pokemon calendar is now the Yo-Kai watch calendar in back-to-back years, showing that this was no fluke. If it’s only a temporary blip in Pokemon’s Japanese popularity, it’s proving to be a lengthy one. With the next big Pokemon games being for Wii-U — a system nobody has — and nearly super outdated ports, I don’t see Pokemon mounting much of a comeback in Japan any time soon.
On the other end, whenever Yo-Kai Watch 3 comes out this summer, expect retailers putting strict limits on reservations, lines stretched onto sidewalks, and six-figure, if not seven-figure first week sales.
Globally, however, Pokemon isn’t in much trouble. I doubt that Yo-Kai has the power to grip the globe the way it has seized Japan, because of just how super Japanese it is. Nintendo is hesitant to bring Yo-Kai Watch over in its pure Japanese form, localizing it in ways that remove original stories and cultural references. While those decisions are understandable, it confirms a certain level of cultural connection that won’t be possible outside of Japan. Whether it’s not possible because foreign people didn’t grow up with the myths and stories in question or because localization prevents them from even trying to connect is anyone’s guess, but the point is, it’s impossible.
Or am I wrong? Have you played Yo-Kai Watch and found yourself so enthralled you’ve forgotten all about Pokemon? Is the global revolution afoot and I’m just too blind to notice?
Flashback …flashback flashback… (imagine it echoing and fading out)
Remember a couple of columns ago when we looked at an example of the Japanese public having a reaction to a “sexy” character that you wouldn’t normally think would cause a fuss? Go back and see how fairly harmless that girl looks and read the reaction if you missed that. That sounds like something you might more likely expect from the western public instead, right? Well, we recently got another example of just how unexpectedly similar we can be, all over the globe.
The below-shown poster of this girl (Kocho from the anime No-Rin, which takes place in Gifu prefecture) were removed from Gifu’s Minokamo train stations, after several complaints that the sexy character was getting people too excited. The anecdotal connection seemed to be that people would see it, get their loins in a bunch, and act upon their feelings with train groping, something of a problem in Japan.
This bit isn’t directly tied to gaming itself, but it’s another example that I feel is necessary to share in this ongoing misconception that Japan is a land of unending and infinitely tolerated anime porn. It’s not. There’s undoubtedly more of a foothold for that kind of stuff here than in a lot of other countries, but the prevailing thought I see in comments and blogs seems to assume that the country is of a singular mind — a mind that never objects to some good old fashioned sexualized anime characters.
Just some food for thought as we strive to better understand a culture that is constantly under the world’s microscopes.
Alright, I’m out for now. Till next