On 13 February, American toymaker Hasbro announced they will begin shipping merchandise based on the anime/manga/game/toy phenomenon Yo-kai Watch all over the world next year.

This is fantastic news here at RocketNews24 because now we know how to spell the damn thing in English, but for many parents around the world it’s something to be concerned about.

Soon, you might wonder why your little one suddenly needs $300 to buy a plastic watch that holds pogs while also having a keen understanding of Japanese folklore. So, why not get ahead of the game and study up a little before it comes to your country and possesses your children. As a father who has lived through this I’ll try to share some tips in a brief parent’s guide to Yo-Kai Watch.

■ The Plot

First here’s a preview for an episode of the anime version of Yo-Kai Watch.

Right now it might look and sound a little like an acid trip, but don’t worry, it’ll make enough sense after we explain it.

You see, the boy in the video is Keita Amano, but he might be renamed Kevin or something when he comes to your land. He found a magical capsule machine which gives him a real ghost named Whisper whom you can also see in the video. Whisper teaches him that there’s another world existing along his own: the Yo-Kai world.

This world is full of creatures known as Yo-Kai who often affect the physical world in the form of nuisances and accidents. Keita is also given a magical watch which allows him to see these creatures and interact with them.

And so with the knowledgeable Whisper at his side, Keita goes out and befriends good Yo-Kai while battling bad Yo-Kai. In each case he can get a Yo-Kai medal, which is a little disc that allows him to call on their services whenever he wants. This might sound an awful lot like Pokémon, but it’s not…because…there’s a watch.

■ Know your Yo-Kai

Yo-Kai in the series are in part based on yokai of Japanese folklore. These creatures have a wide range of forms from simple animals to human-like monsters. The only common denominator is that they’re all supernatural. Here’s an old painting of yokai on parade.

Fun isn’t it? You may find some of the ones pictured here in the Yo-Kai Watch franchise. For example, that umbrella looking thing in the upper-right is a kasa obake or “umbrella monster.” Although little is known about this creature it has existed in the imaginations of Japanese people for about half a millennium. And now it lives on as “Karakasaobake” in the Yo-Kai Watch universe.

We recommend finding an encyclopedic resource like Wikipedia to quickly brush up on the broad strokes of yokai before your kids approach you about it. Knowing the difference between a kappa and a futakuchionna could mean the difference between them thinking you’re the smartest or stupidest person they have ever met in their life.

It goes deeper than that though. Some Yo-Kai are only loosely based on Japanese ghosts such as Jibanyan, the series flagship character and the cat seen in the video above. Get used to his face because soon you’ll be seeing it on everything from soccer balls to corrective lenses.

Other Yo-Kai draw inspiration from contemporary culture such as Hikikomori and Bully Taicho who is a reference to B-movie great turned Tae Bo guru Billy Blanks.

It’s pretty much impossible for any adult to keep pace with the rapidly growing list of Yo-Kai in the series, but if you stay vigilant, you might just be able to know enough to fake your way through.

■ Know your toys

It appears that the first wave of Yo-Kai Watch will hit your home country in the form of toys. Based on how things went here in Japan you’re going to want to get a DX Yo-Kai Watch Type Zero first. At one point it sold for around 35,000 yen (US$293), over ten times its regular price. There’s also the white-colored DX Yo-Kai Watch which pretty much does the same thing but isn’t quite as cool for some reason.

Both watches allow you to put in Yo-Kai medals which are sold separately. When doing so the watch makes a cool noise and your child is entertained for about thirty minutes before wanting to buy some more. As far as which Yo-Kai to get just remember Jinbanyan is the go-to character and not to be confused with Fuyunyan, Dekanyan, Bushinyan, Gabunyan or the other dozen or so cat Yo-Kai that look (and in many cases are) exactly the same as Jinbanyan…but possibly not quite as cool depending on your child’s taste.

I guess that’s about it for now. Be thankful that Hasbro is giving you all a head-start by announcing their arrival a year in advance. You should take this time to enjoy all your favorite products and restaurants without having to see that cat staring you back in the face everywhere you go. Maybe take a photo so you can remember how things used to look before Yo-Kai Watch came.

▼ Oh yeah! We almost forgot, there’s also a dance/exercise routine you’ll need to learn.

Source: Hasbro (English), Reuters, Alfalfalfa Mosaic (Japanese)
Top Image: Amazon, Wikipedia – NASA (Edited by RocketNews24)
Yokai Parade Image: Wikipedia – Artist Unknown
Inset Images: Amazon – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (Edited by RocketNews24) 
Video: YouTube – TVTOKYO, Level5ch