The Anime That's Beating Star Wars: The Force Awakens In Japan

The Anime That's Beating Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Japan

Star Wars is very, very popular in Japan. Guess this means that Yo-Kai Watch is more popular.

For the second weekend in a row, the new Yo-Kai Watch animated feature film, Yo-Kai Watch the Movie 2: King Enma and the 5 Stories, has topped Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the Japanese box office.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Yo-Kai Watch the Movie 2 raked in $US4.1 million on 450,000 tickets in Japan during the December 26 to December 27 weekend. According to Variety, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, coming in the number two slot, earned $US5.8 million on 440,000 admissions during the same period in Japan. Wait a second…

The Anime That's Beating Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Japan

[Image: Cinema Pia]

Variety explains the box office winners are ranked by admissions instead of earnings (probably due to the different ticket costs, such as IMAX versus Standard Definition or adult prices versus child tickets). Variety reports that to date, Yo-Kai Watch the Movie 2 has earned $US19 million in Japan, selling 2.15 million admissions.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that kids who go see the movie get a special Yo-Kai Watch medal for free!

Well, Yo-Kai Watch is incredibly popular in Japan, you say. Sure, but over the past year, things appeared to have cooled off — or so people thought. It’s now easy to get the Yo-Kai Watches (before, in Japan, you’d have to wait in line for a chance to buy one). For the past several months, many net users have tried to claim that Yo-Kai Watch was “over” in Japan by showing piles of unsold Yo-Kai Watch toys or discount watches in Japan (here, here, and here).

So much of those claims were anecdotal. I mean, there are currently piles of unsold Star Wars toys in Australia.

This is less a matter of Yo-Kai Watch’s popularity simply cooling in Japan (OK, yes, things have cooled off from the insane popularity of 2014), but more a part of the “mania” ending and Yo-Kai Watch becoming a part of Japan’s established toy and anime milieu.

There were hints that Yo-Kai Watch was still going incredibly strong this past spring: At Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, for example, one of the most popular attractions has been a Yo-Kai Watch one, which is running for a limited time only.

But still! Beating The Force Awakens! That’s impressive. It’s even more impressive when you consider the following:

Yo-Kai Watch the Movie 2 opened on December 19, while The Force Awakens opened a day earlier on December 18. Yet, Yo-Kai Watch the Movie 2 still beat The Force Awakens during that first weekend.

Yo-Kai Watch the Movie 2 is playing at 358 cinemas, while Star Wars The Force Awakens is playing at 370. That’s according to Cinema Pia.

Seeing how Level-5’s offices have a Yoda statue, how Level-5 founder Akihiro Hino is a huge Star Wars nerd, and how Yo-Kai Watch sometimes riffs on the iconic space sage, the folks behind the Yo-Kai Watch movie must be pretty pleased!

The Anime That's Beating Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Japan

[Photo: Level-5]

The Anime That's Beating Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Japan

[Photo: Level-5]

Top GIF: 映画『妖怪ウォッチ』

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