Recently, we’ve brought you several articles detailing the meteoric rise of new franchise Youkai Watch as it continues to steal fans and attention away from the much-loved institution that is Pokémon. Die-hard Pokémon fans out there may feel safe in the assumption that Youkai Watch, being more traditionally “Japanese” in feel, will never match the success of Pokémon in the West. Be that as it may, we now have conclusive evidence that Pikachu’s time in the Japanese sun is well and truly over as new champion Jibanyan ascends his throne. Join us after the jump for proof!

The evidence in question comes courtesy of these posters for the yearly Next Generation World Hobby Fair. By comparing the posters chronologically, you can literally see Pikachu’s devolution from top mascot to mere filler material as Jibanyan and his Youkai Watch pals muscle their way to center stage.

▼ 2012 : Pikachu is battling it out with Japan’s beloved robot-cat, Doraemon, for poster supremacy.

▼ 2013: Pikachu is definitely the star of this year’s event, and isn’t that MewTwo in the background?

▼ 2014: Pikachu is squeezed out by Doraemon again (2014 saw the release of the animated Doraemon Movie “Stand by Me Doraemon” after all, so that makes sense. But who is that new orange contender down in the bottom right-hand corner? It’s JIBANYAN!

▼ 2015: With the release of the Youkai Watch movie set for December 20, everything’s coming up Jibanyan! Here he is taking his rightful place as the roly-poly central figure of the Winter 2015 Next Generation World Hobby Fair poster. Fellow kitty pal Doraemon is also featured, as well as Youkai Watch regulars Whisper and Fumi-chan (holding a second, tiny Jibanyan in her arms!)

▼ In case you’re having trouble locating everyone’s favorite Pokémon pal in the above picture, here it is again with a giant arrow drawn on it to help you out.

So there you have it! Pictorial proof that the kids love Youkai Watch (and what the kids say, goes!)

Netizens’ reactions to the changing poster line-up were mixed:

“Pokémon is more popular with people who grew up with it, that is to say, adults. It’s the kids who are buying Youkai Watch.”

“Isn’t there a new Pokémon game coming out? Pokémon’s still on top, isn’t it?”

Youkai Watch‘s main mascot Jibanyan has a tragic past, so that draws people’s sympathies.”

“I feel like Youkai Watch parodying Pokemon has made Pokémon less appealing.”

Youkai Watch isn’t really known in the West. Internationally speaking, Pokémon is still the most popular.”

“News of Youkai Watch’s popularity and the huge lines of people queuing up for the watches is surely generating a lot of buzz in the west. It’s only a matter of time.”

One twitter user managed to document another sign of the changing times:

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▲ ”Marked- down Pokémon bread at the convenience store next to full-price Youkai Watch bread…”

Now, we understand that some of you western readers might be starting to feel pretty sorry for Pikachu at this point. After all, we’ve grown up with his adorable “Pikapika!” and cuddly softness, so it’s only natural to be in his corner (“Just who is this orange usurper, anyway?” I hear you cry.) However, you may start to change your minds once you get to know Jibanyan as the kids in Japan have. Here’s his backstory: Jibanyan was once the devoted kitty pet of a little girl called Emi. Jibanyan loved Emi very much and wanted nothing more than to make her happy. But then, one day, poor Jibanyan was hit and killed by a car. And what did little Emi-chan say upon discovering the mangled corpse of her eternally devoted pet? Did she clutch his tiny body and weep? Well, no, she didn’t. Her exact words were: “Pathetic loser cat, dying from a little hit by a car”. But Jibanyan still loved his Emi-chan, and was resurrected as a Jibakurei (residual haunting) to haunt the crossroads where he was killed to wait for her forevermore (or at least until the protagonist of Youkai Watch saves him and gives him a home). Isn’t that the saddest thing you’ve ever heard? And doesn’t Jeeby deserve a little more love? We think so!

Incidentally, if you still can’t decide between them, why not have both?

Source:Hachima Kikou, Naver Matome
Images: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/thenational.aeHachima Kikou