'Yokai Watch' takes Japan by storm

'Yokai Watch' takes Japan by storm
Youkai Watch "Type-Zero"

Like a monstrous wind, "Yokai Watch" is sweeping the country, this time with the newly released film version of the mega popular game and anime. More than 1 million advance tickets were sold, a record number for any film produced by Toho Co.

Children across the country reportedly begged their parents to buy Yokai Watch medals and games for Christmas. To purchase popular Yokai Watch medals for their children, parents lined up early in the morning before toy stores opened after carefully checking sales information.

In a nutshell, Yokai Watch revolves around a boy named Keita, an ordinary fifth-grade primary school student who lives in Sakura New Town. After he suddenly obtains a Yokai Watch, which enables him to see yokai monsters, he becomes involved in many adventures involving the monsters.

Titled "Yokai Watch: Tanjo no Himitsuda Nyan!" (Yokai Watch: Secrets of the Birth), the film version starts after the Yokai Watch disappears from Keita's wrist.

Keita then receives a request from the gigantic cat monster Deka-Nyan, who pleads, "Please help my buddies." In his search to find clues to their whereabouts, Keita heads to the village of Kemamoto, where his grandmother lives.

In the village, he meets another monster named Fuyu-Nyan, who holds a clue to why his Yokai Watch disappeared.

To get his Yokai Watch back, Keita travels 60 years back in time, accompanied by his monster friends, such as Whisper, Jiba-Nyan and Fuyu-Nyan.

Yokai Watch enthralls not only children, but also adults. Like its TV version, the film version incorporates a variety of elements that people in their 40s and older will find amusing.

For instance, the scene in which the characters slip back in time is a parody of Doraemon, a nationally popular catlike anime character.

The powerful monster Master Nyaada, who holds the key in the Yokai Watch story, is a legendary cat sage, who puts on a mantle and holds a stick. He gives a mysterious instruction to Keita, saying "Use your hose (hoosu in Japanese)," which is a parody of "use the force" in the "Star Wars" movies.

The character is voiced by comedian Ken Shimura. Shimura's grouchy voice reminds adults of his performances as a member of the Drifters comedy group.

Most notable among the film's voice actors, however, is kabuki actor Kataoka Ainosuke, who voices Ubaune, the most powerful enemy of Keita and his monster friends.

Apart from his kabuki performances, Ainosuke was extremely popular for his appearance in the TV drama "Hanzawa Naoki," in which he played an effeminate official of the Financial Services Agency.

This time, he plays the part of a hag-like monster, which is scary, comical, and at the same time embraces some pathos.

Yokai Watch: Tanjo no Himitsuda Nyan

Dir: Shigeharu Takahashi, Shinji Ushiro

Cast: Haruka Tomatsu, Tomokazu Seki, Etsuko Kozakura, Yuki Kaji

Running Time: 97 minutes

The movie is currently showing at Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi and other cinemas across the country.

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