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…

[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!

[Photo: Level-5]

[Photo: Level-5]

Top GIF: 映画『妖怪ウォッチ』


  • Understandable, I guess.
    As an adult, I only go to the cinema for massive films where I cant wait (ie SW:TFA). But I know people with kids who go all the time for a night out.

    Also, Japan is crazy.

  • Probably also worth mentioning that Star Wars is in English so a lot of Japanese people don’t understand what’s being said so they don’t go to the movie.

  • Maybe its just because im getting old, but i just cant get into yokai. But then i also asked a younger relative (who is still batshit crazy about pokemon) and she also gave it a big “Meh.” Just feels like a poor imitation. Each to their own i guess

    • I’ve watched a dozen episodes or so of Yokai Watch and am liking it. It’s got that absurd sense of humour that I love. The characters are pretty funny as well. The concept of spirits being responsible for making people feel or behave in a certain way is cool: way different to pokemon.

      My daughter’s playing the game on 2DS and she’s liking it as well.

  • I actually watched a couple of eps this week, and expected it to be Pokemon. It isn’t from the show’s perspective. I lol’d a few times, and they were actually quite clever stories! Almost like pokemon with a dash of naruto. It’s not watching structured battles every ep like pokemon gym fights or even yugio style garbage. Enjoyed it much more than I expected!

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