It sounds much worse in Japanese, trust me.

With its long and rich history in the video game industry, Sega has developed a wide range of diverse titles that appeal to all types of gamers from bouncy platformers like Sonic the Hedgehog to violent, gritty brawlers like Sonic the Hedgehog 3. And with it comes a wide range of fans and developers, all with different tastes and sensitivities who might be best left to their own devices.

For example, one might think it a bad idea to bring Sega CCO and creator of the wildly popular Yakuza series of games Toshihiro Nagoshi in to discuss the eSports championship of the long-running puzzle game Puyo Puyo, but the producers of the Sega Nama livestream on 28 July did it anyway.

In the hour-long broadcast, host Ayana Tsubaki was joined by Nagoshi to discuss all things Sega. About halfway through, they are further joined by Puyo Puyo series producer Mizuki Hosoyamada.

▼ This video is advanced to the segment in question with both Nagoshi and Hosoyamada. See if you can guess which one is which!

In the above video, everyone is watching highlights from the Puyo Puyo finals in which the winner was given one million yen (US$9,400). After the confetti has been spilled and money collected, Tsubaki turns to Nagoshi for his thoughts.

Nagoshi, who doesn’t appear to have much an interest in this puzzle-based eSport, struggles to come up with an opinion, laughs nervously, and says something to the effect of: “Yeah… they look serious… it’s pretty good, isn’t it. Um, I’m not really sure what to say about all that…. Nothing is coming to me.”

However, in the YouTube description section Sega apologized for “comments that made some viewers uncomfortable” and said they removed them to avoid offending anyone. As they say, the Internet never forgets, and elsewhere on YouTube such as in the following clip, we can see the removed part in which Nagoshi also says, “They look like they eat cheese beef bowls,” referring to the pro Puyo Puyo players.

Taken at face value, saying someone eats cheese beef bowls doesn’t sound so bad, but that particular comparison carries a lot of weight online in Japan. For a while now “chi-gyu” or “cheese gyudon” has become the label for a particular type of young men.

It’s a little hard to pinpoint, but a chi-gyu could probably best be described as a stereotypical nerd who would fall somewhere into the “Booger” class of the Revenge of the Nerds taxonomy. They are distinct from an otaku in that they don’t have any particular passions, but they still lack many of the social graces that an otaku might.

The term chi-gyu stemmed from a 2008 illustration by Ibiryo (@ibiryo_sun) in which an awkward-looking young man orders a beef bowl with three types of cheese. The image has become really popular recently for doing an amazing job of depicting a person whom everyone has seen before but doesn’t actually exist.

“I drew this too.”

However, Ibiryo has expressed mixed feelings on the way the image and term chi-gyu has been used recently to disparage other people, not to mention the food itself.

As for the actual practice of adding cheese to beef bowls, of course it’s delicious and common enough to be offered by major chains such as Sukiya, but the connotation is that it’s needlessly making a junk food even junkier. It’d be kind of like putting chocolate sauce on a Pop Tart in that it’s almost certainly great, but it implies a certain lack of self-restraint on the person eating it.

▼ For the record, we love cheese gyudon, but we’re hardly paragons of self-restraint either

Knowing all this, it’s easy to find the offense when Nagoshi said that the Puyo Puyo finalists looked like they eat cheese beef bowls. Many were furious at the remark, leaving comments on YouTube and elsewhere online.

“This is the reason Sega lost to Sony and Nintendo.”
“I’m not sure Nagoshi should be talking like that. Sure, he’s got a scary face but his arms are like twigs.”
“Probably not a good idea to mock the people who support your company.”
“Nagoshi has the body of a chi-gyu.”
“Just because he made the Yakuza game he thinks he’s a tough guy, but really he’s just a nerd like the rest of us.”
“Look up old pictures of Nagoshi. He was a total chi-gyu before making Yakuza.”

In addition to Sega’s apology on the above video, which received about 200 up-votes and 4,200 down-votes, Tsubaki also apologized for her part, saying she was not aware of the meaning of chi-gyu when she first heard it.

(Translation below)

 “Sorry to take up your time with this, but I didn’t know the chi-gyu comment was a slur. When I heard “chi-gyudon” said out of nowhere, I genuinely thought it was just an interesting choice of words. Like maybe a way to save money on food to focus on a hobby….
I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.”

In defense of Nagoshi, he’s a game developer not a professional broadcaster, and it’s hard fill an hour of commentary, especially if you aren’t personally interested in the topic but are pressured to be entertaining about it. He was probably just trying to be funny but misread his audience… or completely forgot his audience existed, seeing as the producer of Puyo Puyo was sitting right next to him.

It’s up to him to live this down, but everyone else really needs to cut this chi-gyu stuff out regardless. Not only is it insensitive to people, but gyudon with cheese on top is downright exquisite, especially along with egg, daikon, kimchi, grated yam, okra, and green onions. For society to put a stigma on such a delight, we are really only hurting ourselves.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find some chocolate sauce and Pop Tarts.

Source: YouTube/SEGA, YouTube/A, Game Memo, Itai News
Photos: ©SoraNews24
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