Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A brief history of Yo-kai Watch

Level 5's supernatural role-playing franchise, Yo-Kai Watch, is now officially five years old and for half a decade, we had fun befriending different sorts of Yo-Kais such as Jibanyan, Komasan, USApyon, and others, while travelling places, dimensions, timelines, and the supernatural realm, meeting memorable cast of characters, defeat nefarious bosses, and save the day. While it maybe a young jumpstart in the monster genre dominated by big names like Pokemon, but the franchise keeps growing by the likes of the TV show, toys, and dance moves that became a trending topic in the Japanese household. In honor of the Yo-Kai Watch franchise's 5th anniversary, let's have time stone rewind through five years of Yo-Kai Watch.

Yo-Kai Watch World
We began in the year 2013 with a company called Level 5, makers of the Inazuma Eleven and Layton franchise, wanted to expand their cross-media project portfolio by borrowing the pages of Pokemon's success story, whatever that means, and with that, Yo-Kai Watch is born. Launched in the Nintendo 3DS since July 11, 2013, Yo-Kai Watch pits players to a quiet neighborhood of Sakura New Town (Springdale) as their lives have changed with the encounter of the self-claimed Yo-Kai butler, Whisper. Donning the mysterious object called the Yo-Kai Watch, it allows them to see Yo-Kai that are invisible to the human eye, causing trouble to those who inspirit them. In this game, players can befriend different kinds of Yo-Kai, solve puzzles, meet new characters, travel different places, and defeat nefarious bosses to save the day. The gameplay was rather simple but rather unique and its signature sense of humor won't go unnoticed.

Thanks to Yo-Kai Watch's popularity that raked a million copies sold, the Yo-Kai boom was born with the advent of the 2014 TV series and toys from Bandai which lets kids relive their Yo-Kai Watch adventure with their very own Yo-Kai Watch toy and collect Yo-Kai medals. Also, the theme songs titled "Gera Gera Po" and "Youkai Taisou Daiichi" became the hit songs for Japanese families, so popular, they've recreated the dance steps over and over again.

The Yo-Kai Watch TV series was proven to be downright hilarious and very related to what the world moves right now and such popularity allowed Level 5 to make a sequel game with three different versions (the latter being the definitive one). Yo-Kai Watch 2 introduces players the new Yo-Kai Watch Model Zero and the new classic Yo-Kais as the game lets players travel to the past to see how it all began. Also, the first Yo-Kai Watch movie shown in theaters in December 2014, which became a staple that a Yo-Kai Watch film will shown every holiday season. In this film, the Wicked changed the timeline, making the Yo-Kai Watch ceased to exist at the hands of the show's main character, Keita Amano (Nate Adams). However, the appearance of the giant cat Yo-Kai made the main character remembered and later, he, Whisper, and Jibanyan, teams up with Fuyunyan (Hovernyan) to travel to the past to  meet his grandfather Keizou (Nathaniel), and stop the Wicked once and for all.

Thanks to the spike in popularity, the folks at Level 5 wanted to make a big spin on pointless puzzle games with Yo-Kai Watch Puni Puni and thanks to this addicting puzzle game, more and more people are playing this puzzle game more than jamming themselves to the real deal with frequent updates and new Yo-Kai that will make their experience more enjoyable than ever. What is Puni Puni? Simple, really. You just slide the puni punis to make it bigger and then pop it to inflict damage on foes. You can keep doing this until you defeated it and by chance, you can score items or a new Yo-Kai to your collection. You can even score new Yo-Kai by its gacha system as well. You get the idea but thanks to Puni Puni, many people are becoming self-starters to the Yo-Kai Watch franchise.

Come 2015, the Yo-Kai Watch TV series is renewed for a new season with the addition of a new female protagonist named Inaho Misora (Hailey Anne), new 'Merican Yo-Kais like USApyon, and the new Yo-Kai Watch Model U, among many other hilarious segments along the way. Remember Yo-Kai Watch's spoof on Fist of the North Star with Komasan on it? Well, you get the idea anyway but even with those fancy new additions, the games are never forgotten and they've launched a new Busters installment where players play the role of their favorite Yo-Kais as they venture through different areas alone or online co-op, defeat bosses, and recruit new Yo-Kais. Did you know that there was a Wii U game where players dance to the tune of the greatest hits from the Yo-Kai Watch playlist? Back on that year, a second Yo-Kai Watch film emerges and it features five stories such as what if Keita turned into a Yo-Kai, Jibanyan reunites with his old owner Amy, Komasan and Komajiro returns home to visit their mama when suddenly, a human baby turned up at her household, Inaho and USApyon save Christmas, and the Yo-Kais team up to battle their most feared adversary yet in the finale.

2016 became a big year for Yo-Kai Watch. Wintertime, the world of Yo-Kai Watch gets mashed up with the Three Kingdoms era with the Yo-Kai Sangokushi. Made in collaboration with Koei Tecmo, our favorite Yo-Kai characters became the stars in the Three Kingdoms era and because it's a strategy game, every move matters. After the Yo-Kais embracing the romance of the Three Kingdoms in a hilarious way, a new Yo-Kai Watch is born with the series renewed for another season, introducing new 'Merican Yo-Kais such as Tomnyan and the K.K. Brothers, and the advent of the new Yo-Kai Watch Dream model and the new Dream medals. Also, Yo-Kai Watch 3 went out, not only allowing players to collect normal and classic Yo-Kais, but also 'Merican Yo-Kais as well. As fans are getting used to this new kind of Yo-Kai experience, a third film popped up and this film combines anime and live-action, a way unprecedented for a kids anime film. In that film, a mysterious giant whale Yo-Kai distorts dimensions and the only key to stop this new kind of trouble rests in the answers of a new Yo-Kai named Koalanyan and a mysterious young girl.

2017 is a pivotal year for Yo-Kai Watch and upon the series got renewed for their final season, they're entering the Busters Treasure arc, as seen on the YW3 update. The new segment of that season features a treasure hunter named Indy J as he gets teamed up unexpectedly with Jibanyan and Komasan, among others, traveling through different dungeons in search of the mightiest Treasure Emblems and Medals, which holds the key to unlock the might of Yodelsen in the hopes of bringing his sister back to normal. As fans getting hooked to this Busters Treasure gig, the new Busters 2 game went out, featuring a new storyline where the Busters team, facing financial troubles, team up with Indy J and search for treasure while fending off new foes getting their way. Another pivot in the franchise is the fourth film, titled Yo-Kai Watch Shadowside: Oni-ō no Fukkatsu. 30 years into the future, a mysterious asteroid crashed into earth and then later, a malevolent virus spreading around the world, turning humans into monsters. As the world's population plagued into a malevolent force, these mysterious viruses tempted Touma to become one with the plot orchestrated by the powerful demon king. That's when Natsume comes in and upon the sudden encounter with Whisper, fate throws a bone, knowing that she's the last hope to save the world from a malevolent force. This film introduces two Yo-Kai Watches such as the Yo-Kai Watch Elder, the one Natsume wore in the film, which can summon Yo-Kai using a key-like Ark, and the Yo-Kai Watch Ogre, the one Touma wore, that can turn into powerful Yo-kai warriors. It also features a terrifying form unheard from Yo-Kai Watch fans everywhere. Called Shadowside, it turns our favorite Yo-Kais such as Jibanyan and Komasan into grizzly and grotesque beasts.

And now, here we are on 2018. A landmark year of Yo-Kai Watch and with the original Yo-Kai Watch anime ended late March, the Yo-Kai Watch Shadowside series steps in the Spring 2018 anime lineup. Set after the events of the film, the gang ventured across the town, battling shadows and befriend new Yo-Kai. The series introduces Natsume's little brother Keisuke as well as a new villain named Haruya, among many others, while some of the things unexplained from the film were now answered in this TV show such as the existence of other swords rather than the fabled Fudou Lightning Sword. As the new TV show continues to pick some steam, there's still more love to the original Yo-Kai Watch as they've launched a smartphone app game based on the Yo-Kai Sangokushi and a Gerapo Rhythm app game where players tap into the tune of their favorite Yo-Kai Watch songs. Ringing out Yo-Kai Watch's 5th anniversary is a new AR smartphone game titled Yo-Kai Watch World. Made in collaboration with GungHo, players can travel in real time, battle and befriend different Yo-Kais. Also, there's going to be a fifth Yo-Kai Watch film coming this Christmas season. Titled Yo-Kai Watch Forever Friends, the film is set in the 1960's and it's about an orphaned little boy joined alongside with his new friends and set out on a journey that will discover them what it means to be a family. The new film showcases new Yo-Kai characters such as Nekomata, among many others in this film. Lastly, Yo-Kai Watch is finally heading to Switch with the upcoming Yo-Kai Watch 4 game. Not much info is given but as seen on the visual, the protagonists from the original, Shadowside, and Forever Friends will be joining forces for this new adventure. It will also take advantage of the brand new Yo-Kai Ark collection as well.

After five years, the future of the Yo-Kai Watch franchise never been brighter than it was first launched and no matter which timeline you're on, you are going to be fascinated by the good, the bad, and the ugly supernatural beings as seen in the world of Yo-Kai Watch. Like they said, when a Yo-Kai enters your life, things will never be the same.

Happy 5th anniversary to the Yo-Kai Watch franchise and here's for more supernatural fun with our Yo-Kai friends!

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