We’ve been telling our fine readers for literally years now about Yo-kai Watch, the Pokémon-esque game/manga/anime series that’s full of adorable yet mischievous collectible yokai monsters. And now that the series has been newly localised and adapted for the West, you’re finally going to see for yourselves what’s been driving Japanese kids to ritually torch bonfires of old Pokémon goods in favour of worshipping the new yokai overlords. Okay, we’re exaggerating, but only a little bit.

Of course, the success of any Japanese import into the Western market hinges on a heartfelt and thorough localisation process. It happened to Pokémon—Satoshi became Ash Ketchum, and many Pokémon were entirely renamed—and now it’s happening to Yo-kai Watch, too.

But is the very Japanese charm of the new franchise about to be seriously lost in translation?

As we previously reported, protagonist Keita Amano has become the very American-sounding Nate Adams, while yokai is remaining the de facto term of choice for the naughty but very cute critters, albeit with the vowel-lengthening “u” dropped, possibly to prevent people mispronouncing it as you (as in “you and I”) kai.

Although the series’ number-one yokai and Pikachu rival Jibanyan is retaining his Japanese name (which is actually derived from ‘resident ghost’ and ‘meow’), the other ghost characters are being renamed entirely, with many a Japanese pun getting steamrolled into something a little less clever all in the name of relatability. Wasurenbou, for example—that naughty yokai which is the reason why we humans always “forget” our keys—has become the rather uninspiring “Wazzat” for the US release of the series, which we’re kinda scratching our heads over. Wasurenbou is a clever play on “forgetful” and “hat”, due to his hat-like shape, but “Wazzat” reminds us more of those annoying Budweiser ads from about 10 years ago, and we feel like the ‘hat’ part isn’t given as much punch as in Japanese.

Similarly, Morezou, the yokai that wreaks havoc on your bladder at inopportune moments, and whose name is derived from “moreru” (to leak) and “zou“, or elephant, becomes “Fidgephant” in the English release. We’re guessing that needing to pee does make you fidget a bit, but again the pun is a lot less apparent than in Japanese. Still, it’s easy enough to criticise, but harder to come up with inventive, punny names for hundreds of characters, we suppose…

Those two new yokai are revealed in this brand new US commercial advertising the Nintendo 3DS game which is due for release in North America on November 6.

Cheesy commercial aside (Yokai is why, anyone?) there’s plenty to be excited about—the game is technically excellent and one of the best things developers Level 5 (known for the Professor Layton games, Ni no Kuni and Fantasy Life) have put out. If you’re a fan of bright, colourful RPGs with addictive gameplay, you really owe it to yourself to pick this up, whether or not Pokémon appealed to you.

Whether or not the localisation remains faithful to the original isn’t really the point, though. Purists may argue that the original creators’ vision is the most important thing, but as far as non-Japanese speaking Western players are concerned, the English localisation is all that they have access to, and therefore all that counts. And the effort, care and consideration that goes into localising and translating a quintessentially Japanese game like this one can not be underestimated. We’re looking forward to playing the Westernised Yo-kai Watch, and while we as bilinguals may be in a position to critically evaluate all of the differences, for the majority of American kids, all they’re going to care about is how much fun they’re about to have collecting yokai.

Source: AOL News JP
Images: Screenshot via YouTube/Nintendo