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Yo-kai Watch (Japanese: 妖怪ウォッチ Yōkai Wotchi) is a multimedia franchise by Level-5, consisting of a series of role-playing games, animated adaptations and a manga series. The series officially debuted in late 2012, with the manga coming first before the video game was released in 2013.

In Japan, it was once one of the most popular monster-catching franchises during the peak of its popularity.

Overview

History

Initial Creation and Concepts

An exhibition of early Yo-kai designs at the Edo-Tokyo Museum in 2016.

With the success of Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, and Little Battlers Experience, Level-5 decided to create a new IP that would last for a very long time. They used Doraemon as their inspiration[1], resulting in the creation of Yo-kai Watch.

Planning and development started in 2010[2]. One of their first steps were to make the player explore freely and walk around in an open-world environment.

The franchise was announced at Electronic Gaming Expo at Los Angeles in 2011, where the game was shown running on the PlayStation 3. The game ended up being re-purposed for the Nintendo 3DS. The manga adaption of Yo-kai Watch was first released in Japan on December 15, 2012, seven months before the game's release.

Rise to popularity in Japan

When Yo-kai Watch came out in Japan, it sold 53,000 copies in its first week, and eventually rose to a total of 1.29 million copies in 2014, becoming one of the best-selling games on the Nintendo 3DS..

Popularity of the franchise started to skyrocket with rising viewership of the Yo-kai Watch anime series in March 2014, [3] and eventually increase even more when Yo-kai Watch 2 came out in Japan during the summer. The game made the franchise popular among many demographics, and the Yo-kai Watch anime series became one of the most-watched animated shows in Japan alongside other popular anime like Doraemon and Detective Conan.

Its popularity in Japan led to Yo-kai Watch becoming a phenomenal creation, dubbing it as the Yo-kai Watch Boom (Japanese: 妖怪ウォッチ ブーム Yōkai Wotchi Buumu) by fans and media outlets around the time.

As a result of the massive boom of popularity, the franchise has made many crossovers in Japan with popular characters from other franchises.

As of July 2016, the franchise has sold 10,438,903 copies in Japan alone. This amount excludes digital sales.[4]

Release in the West

On February 18, 2014, Level-5's international Twitter account posted a Tweet if the western audience were interested in seeing the Yo-kai Watch franchise outside of Japan after the mild success of the video game, with a positive response in return from other users,[5] and further piqued interest from the massive success of Yo-kai Watch 2 in Japan.

Plans for localization were considered when the franchise was at the peak of it's popularity in July-August 2014[6], along with the tentative title originally being called "YO-Kai Watch"[7]. It was further confirmed in December 2014 during the Japanese release of Yo-kai Watch: The Movie, when Hino said that they would be bringing the anime series overseas.[8]

The demonstration of the video game at the Yo-kai Watch panel in New York Comic Con 2015.

The western localization of Yo-kai Watch franchise would later be announced in April 2015, with Hasbro confirming to produce the toys, and the anime series being dubbed into English. More details on the games and anime were revealed at Electronic Gaming Expo 2015, where they announced a fall release in the North American market, alongside the merchandise and the anime series.

When the games and anime were released in North America, several elements had to be modified due to many of the cultural elements not transitioning well to a western audience. The most notable example is changing the location of Springdale from Japan to an unspecified location in the United States, even though a lot of the Japanese aesthetics remain. The localization changes are notably present in the English dub of the anime series, which includes renaming certain foods and painting over Japanese text.

After the video game, anime series and manga was released in Europe in Spring 2016, it received better sales in that territory, especially in France, Spain and Italy to an extent. The video game sold 650,000 copies compared to 360,000 sales, which is almost twice the amount of the sales in North America.

The initial success in both of those territories warranted a localization for several future games in the series, along with dubbing for future seasons.

Games

Main Series

Spin-off Series

Mobile applications

Arcade Games

  • Yo-kai Watch Tomodachi Ukiukipedia
    • Yo-kai Watch: Ukiukipedia Dream
    • Yo-kai Watch: Ukiukipedia Shadowside
    • Yo-kai Watch: Ukiukipedia Kiwami
    • Yo-kai Watch: Ukiukipedia Gakuen Y

Total Sales

Review Scores

Famitsu

Game Score
Yo-kai Watch 36/40 (9, 9, 9, 9,)
Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits & Fleshy Souls 36/40 (9, 9, 9, 9,)
Yo-kai Watch Blasters: Red Cat Corps & White Dog Squad 33/40 (8, 8, 9, 8,)
Yo-kai Sangokushi 35/40 (9, 9, 9, 8,)
Yo-kai Watch 3: Sushi & Tempura 37/40 (9, 10, 9, 9,)
Yo-kai Watch 3: Sukiyaki 37/40 (10, 9, 9, 9,)
Yo-kai Watch Busters 2 34/40 (9, 8, 9, 8,)
Yo-kai Watch 4 37/40 (9, 10, 9, 9,)
Yo-kai Watch 4++ 36/40 (9, 9, 9, 9,)

Spin-off franchises

Y School Heroes

YokaiWatchJamYAcademyLogo.png

Y School Heroes (Japanese: 妖怪ウォッチJam 妖怪学園Y Yōkai Wotchi Jyamu Yōkai Gakuen Wai, Yo-kai Watch Jam: Yo-kai Academy Y) is the first spin-off franchise in the Yo-kai Watch Jam series, initially released with the sixth movie and anime series in 2019. It is focused in a boarding school where most in-universe human counterparts of Yo-kai attend and have the ability to transform into Yo-kai Heroes via usage of the YSP Watch.

A video game called Y School Heroes: Bustlin' School Life was released on August 13, 2020 in Japan.

References

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