Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Lone Man Who Gave His Soul to Gaming - or - I Love Japanese Video Game Commercials

A recent post on Gnome's Retro Treasures featured Chu Chu Rocket - a neat little game for one of my favorite consoles - the Sega Dreamcast. More than the game itself, the post reminded me of the Japanese TV commercial I saw for it on YouTube whose song (the melody anyway) stuck in my head despite the fact that I didn't have any idea what the heck the guys were saying at the time:

My Japanese friend Hiroshi translated the commercial for me today - thanks Hiroshi!:
Chu chu rocket, save the mice
Chu chu rocket, cats are scary
Chu chu rocket, rocket is great
xyz puzzle chu chu rocket 2,800 yen, cheap! Dreamcast. (He said he couldn't quite catch the xyz part. He also informed me that in Japan "chu chu" is considered to be the sound that mice make - like "squeak squeak" is in the US).

And that sent me back to YouTube to watch another few old Japanese video game commercials I recalled seeing. I've always enjoyed those commercials - so exuberant and over the top. I never saw any of them back in the day of course but only discovered them much later after the birth of the internet and when the internet begat YouTube.

Most of my favorites were, as one might guess, developed by Sega and I was going to embed a bunch of them here from the SG-1000, to the Mega Drive, to the Dreamcast but then I rediscovered one of my absolute favorite Japanese commercial advertising campaigns - Sega's Segata Sanshiro - and immediately deleted all the other embeds out of respect to the one true master.

Segata Sanshiro was a martial arts master who cherished his Sega Saturn so much that he made it his mission to travel the world - or at least Japan - and beat into submission all those who did not play the Sega Saturn often enough or with sufficient respect.  I like Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" - but if I was starting a super hero team of advertising icons Segata would be my first draft pick. Sega did it first and did it better.

I had seen a couple of the Segata Sanshiro commercials before, but last night I stumbled across this one awesome video that chronicles Segata's birth, rise to power, and tragic end as he gives his life to protect the very board members of Sega who are ushering in the Dreamcast and thus ending the life cycle of his beloved Saturn. I defy you to watch his tragic death and not shed a tear. It is an opera-worthy climax. And in the usual random full-circle meaningless coincidence style that I love, Segata (whose real first name is Hiroshi) is killed by a missile that looks quite similar to the rocket in Chu Chu Rocket - well I guess they all do really... His last words as he clings to the missile in deep space - "You must play Sega Saturn... You must play Sega Saturn... You must play Sega Saturn!". And then the end - oops, guess that was a spoiler.

This stuff is pure gold. If I saw these commercials back in the day I probably would have bought a Saturn and gotten back into console gaming a decade before I bought my PS3.  I even put the mp3 of his theme song on my iphone (thanks SegaShiro!) - hell it kept reverberating inside my head anyway - Segata Sanshiro! Segata Sanshiro! Sega Saturn Shiroooooo!!  Rest in peace Segata Sanshiro.

and if you didn't get enough Segata Sanshiro from the official music video - here is a little clip of a cover of the theme song by Segarocks - a Japanese Sega tribute band.

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Fallguy40 said...

A Japanese Sega tribute band? That's funny! Having never been to Japan, I've never seen these commercials but they are entertaining. That guy looks like a younger Japanese version of the Old Man on Pawn Stars.

MadPlanet said...

Hey you're right FG - Segata DOES look like the dad on Pawn Stars. Although with that head full of jet black hair he reminded me a little of someone else's Dad too - although I don't think his hair is probably black any more.

Fallguy40 said...

I can see that.

gnome said...

Everybody now:

Segata Sanshiro!

Ah, yes, what an excellent character. Thanks for the reminder and -of course- the kind link :)

Mik said...

Segata Sanshiro is our emperor. You must bow before him.


(annoying Saturn fanboy since 1994)

MadPlanet said...

Segata Sanshiro! Segata Sanshiro! Sega Saturn Shirooooo!!

Mik and Gnome, I figured you guys may have already been members of the Church of Segata. I am a more recent devotee but still steadfast in my faith! If stores still sold Sega Saturns I just might have gone out and bought one today.

gnome said...

Very well then; may the many blessings of Segata help your gaming...