Thursday, September 18, 2014

Youkai Watch

Kids have been going crazy for the new TV cartoon Youkai Watch, and the creators are hoping it will become a global phenomenon like Pokemon or Dragon Ball. Well I don't think it will happen, mostly for linguistic and cultural reasons. I have watched a few episodes (if you know me you know I like Japanese mythology and my girlfriend thinks the various incarnations of the main character Jibanyan are super kawaii) but I didn't think much of it, as it is clearly an extended toy commercial designed to get kids to annoy their parents to by them the stupid watch toy. (Why are the spirits controlled by a watch of all things? Why not just a book of names or something like Natsume Yujincho? That would make a lot more sense, anyway...) Unlike Pokemon or Dragon Ball, which were set in fantasy worlds, Youkai watch is clearly set in Japan and the youkai are uniquely Japanese with strong ties to Japanese history and culture. This will be a big problem for kids from other countries who have no idea what mythological stories are being referred to in the cartoon. It wont make much sense to foreign kids. For example, on of the youkai was "hikkikoumori" a combination of  hikkikomori and koumori. How will this me translated into English? "Stays in his room all the time bat"?!?! That doesn't make any sense in English, kids won't get it.

1 comment:

  1. I partially agree with you. The story and characters are based on Japanese history, mythology and old culture. I'm sure you know one Japanese famous anime isn't popular in Western countries. It's Doraemon. Doraemon is very close to Japanese and most of them enjoy watching it. But it hasn't accepeted by foreign countries, specially Western, because it is too Japanese-ish. Youkai Watch is worse than Draemon as you mentioned. But there are still two hopes for that anime. One is who watch it and play with it is kids. They wouldn't care Japanese culture very much. The other is what Jibanyan is incredibly cute. I have to confess that I like him here. Pokemon is similar, isn't it? Only Pikachu grabs 80% of kids's money. I wish Youkai Watch gets popular in the world.