Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Yo-kai Watch Fades to Black in Darker and Edgier Incarnation

Yesterday, Bandai unveiled a commercial for the upcoming Black Yo-kai Watch, as well as a webpage.  While it's always been a practice of the series to release new watches with new medals to go along with them (because money, basically), this latest took people by surprise, to say the very least, by appearing a great deal more macabre than the series' more mainstream, popular appearance.  This watch is said to have a mind of its own, as well as an agenda; apparently something to do with spitting out a green ghost that swallows people and then hawks them up transformed into loogie-covered arthropod yo-kai (Yes; really), and Bandai has announced that the anime will elaborate on all this.

This move will likely be controversial, and its effects on sales remain to be seen, but it is nonetheless interesting on many levels.  First, it's not without precedent; it being no secret to many who have looked into Yo-kai folklore that much of it started out rather dark.  Accordingly, the new medals have a new art style reminiscent of classic Japanese illustrats of Yo-kai; including the design of Jibanyan shown above, with sharper teeth and more realistic cat-like features.  While you shouldn't expect him to be pouncing upon any human prey, there's a good chance that this moment in Yo-kai Watch lore will provide a more adventurous vibe than the episodic comedy we've seen so far.  Perhaps this will also be linked to the upcoming crossover announced earlier with Gegege no Kitarou; a series related to Yo-kai that has been going on for half a century, and plays them closer to their horror story roots.

Perhaps the most potentially exciting revelation about this new development, though, is that it will introduce new Yo-kai that seem to be the human protagonists of the series fused with--and named after--various arthropods.  Nate Adams becomes "Caterpillar Man", and thus far is the only one whose transformation has been detailed, but a closer look at the gallery of medals (directly translated) reveals that Barnaby "Bear" Bernstein becomes "Centipede Man", Eddie Archer becomes "Fly-Man", and Katie Forester, in probably the coolest transformation, becomes "Mantis Woman".
A zoom in of the medal for Mantis Woman, or "Kamakiri Onna".  By the way, don't search for that Japanese text unless you like viewing mantis cannibalism.
There may, of course, be more humans-turned-Yo-kai yet to be revealed.  In the meantime, though, the presence of these transformations could mean a major plot development will take place in this series, in the form of many more humans learning about Yo-kai--this, again, would make sense with the Kitarou crossover.  While, such a revelation occurred in the Halloween special, Horrors of Dracunyan, that episode turned out to be a dream--or was it?!  A few signs point to it having been an alternate world; such as has also been described as the setting for the Black Yo-kai Watch stories, so who knows?  Could we be getting a whole story arc about our protagonists fighting against tough opponents in this Dark World?  Expect to learn the answer come February, when the event begins.

In the meantime, draw me some Mantis Woman fanart.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Yo-kai Watch Blantantly Plagiarized By Taiwanese Developer

Ever since Yo-kai Watch dawned on the world, it's been dogged of accusations of being a ripoff of Pokemon (Although back in the latter series' heyday, there was a Yo-kai-based game that ripped it off far worse.); a reputation it still hasn't shaken off in the West, where it hasn't supplanted Pokemon in pop-culture the way it had in Japan.  This makes it rather ironic that now Yo-kai Watch, itself, has been ripped off by Taiwanese developer Werold, in a little Android app called Mokai Adventure--which some would argue means it's also ripping off Pokemon by extension.
Like, I totally believe you pulled that number out of thin air!

So how much more is this ripping off Yo-kai Watch?  We'll start that examination by reading its "Story Plot":
Granted; phones are more relevant than watches these days.

The redundancy doesn't end at that header; look at that cumbersome mess of a a third paragraph!  Still, I'd say Taiwanese plagiarists have somewhat better grasp of English grammar than mainland China's plagiarists.  Moving along, here's your handy assistant, Mokaipedia, which assuming it's sentient, presumably checks itself when it forgets the name of a Mokai:
It seems to me that taping a paper encyclopedia to a tablet screen defeats the purpose of carrying a tablet.
So what exactly are Mokai; assuming they're anything but a legally distinct ripoff of "Yokai"?  When doing research for this article, I learned that the game's mascot mon is named "Gremlin", which makes me wonder if it's some variant of "Mogwai".
Although I personally would have guessed "Pikachu-Daruma-Mike Wazowski Fusion".
A quick consultation of the iTranslate app confirms "Mogwai" is Mandarin for "monster" (so is "Yao Guai", the Mandarin reading of "Yo-kai"), so it's hardly unfeasible that "Mokai" is an actual variant of this word, but as my knowlege of Chinese languages is basically limited to knowing that yes; there are more than one, I'll need someone else to answer that one.  Meanwhile, though, don't expect these Mokai corresponding to actual monster legends to be a trend, and even when they are, some are handled rather oddly.

So, a Yeti, basically?  Because it would be simpler to call it Yeti.  Note also, I have no idea why it has horns, nor why a creature supposedly living in cold climates has hairless hands and feet.
The Banshee is a rare Mokai whose design I think is great, who has a sensible and recognizable name, and who actually looks like what she's supposed to be.
 Now let's resume examining how obvious a ripoff this is of Yo-kai Watch.  Just as in that game, you can modify your creatures' attitudes with books.
Although to its credit, I don't remember whatever the Hell "Pudding Gems" are being in Yo-kai Watch.
It plays an important role in battles arranged like this:

Three active, three benched.
Here's a rather familiar-looking school hall:
Here's a rotund cat with a bell:
Using Payday?

Not convinced yet?  Just watch footage of it in action! 

Or alternately, you can download the app for free, if you own an Android.  It also offers in-app purchases, or it will until the lawsuits start!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Yo-kai Watch Plushies Inspirit Dollar Tree in Bittersweet News for Fans

It's raining cats and dogs and ghosts!
Reports of Yo-kai Watch's death in its native Japan were greatly exaggerated.  The series has declined, but it's still raking in cash and beating Star Wars in ticket sales.  As a series that taps into Japan's preexisting Yo-kai or (or Yokai, or Youkai, or Yookai, or...) legends going back centuries, as well as the unique gimmick of designing many characters based on puns of the Japanese language in itself, it's fine-tuned to be marketable to there.  In other countries, which aren't familiar with Yo-kai, to which the visual puns often are lost in translation?  Not so much.  Though it seems like only yesterday we were seeing it pushed heavily in all its forms at Gamestops and other major chains, its small plushies going for $10, more recently news has broken of these plushies finding their way into various bargain bins--most notably, at Dollar Tree stores all across America

This is potentially troubling news for American fans who want to keep getting this series here; not to mention for series creators Level 5, who obviously had high hopes for it here.  Whether these boxes upon boxes of Yo-kai plushies spent some time at Targets that eventually dumped them off at Dollar Tree, or warehouses unloaded them at Dollar Tree because those more upscale chains didn't need to replace the items they still hadn't sold, this points heavily in the direction of the series failing to catch on here.

However, while the American fans may not be numerous enough to generate the sorts of sales the series needs, they're certainly abuzz about the silver lining to it all.  Since the news broke on Reddit a little over a week ago, loads of new posts and several new threads have emerged dedicated to promoting excursions to one's local Dollar Tree and snagging up what might be the entire first line of plushies for about the price major retailers would charge for just one of them.  It's a good time to be a Yo-kai collector.