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GENRE: Anime ORIGINAL AIR DATES: January 8, 2014 - Present
// review by FlagrantWeeaboo

Even the title tells you to "Watch" it.

The everyday occurrences that seem not-so-everyday are the work of the mysterious Yo-kai. These obviously Pokémon-inspired gotta-catch-'em-all ghosts are responsible for everything from waking up and forgetting a dream to having the munchies at 3 a.m. You can't see them with the naked eye (well, more on that later) but instead need to use a device known only as the Yo-kai Watch, which allows the user to "shine a light" on these hidden troublemakers. Besides the animated series, there are also video games and even a live-action film.

The animated series was adapted into English rather faithfully, choosing not to cut anything but instead trying to translate the jokes into a form that the target audience would understand. Even the darker themes such as the death of family members and friends, perversion, and crime are all left mostly unchanged. Despite this, the humour is still very childish, resulting in a series that is straight-up juvenile. It's a tough show to watch because it's just so jarring, but from what I gather, so is the original Japanese.

The show focuses on Nate Rodgers, a young boy who one day receives the Yo-kai butler Whisper, a ghost that gives him the Yo-kai Watch. From there, Nate makes friends will all sorts of Yo-kai, and in doing so obtains their medals for the Yo-kai Medallium. More toys for the parents to rush out and buy for their kids, ohoho. Nate can then summon a Yo-kai friend by sliding their medal into the Yo-kai Watch.

Each Yokai has its own innate ability, characteristics, and personality. This makes them different from Pokémon, in the sense that the Yo-kai are their own characters, and a lot of time is dedicated to them doing their own thing and fleshing out their own stories. Yo-kai such as Manjimutt and Komasan have their own running series within the show as smaller segments, so it isn't always about Nate.

Every Yo-kai also has various skills. Jibanyan can use his Paws of Fury, Peckpocket can steal just about anything, and Cheeksqueak makes you fart. Like I stated previously, juvenile. A Yo-kai's traits are available on the Yo-kai Pad, a tablet-like device that Whisper uses to relay information to Nate. There is a running gag that Whisper believes himself to be highly intelligent but tries desperately to hide that he's looking up information on the Yo-kai Pad.

The rest is your typical "monster of the week", pretty much. Something goes wrong with a classmate or a family member begins acting strange, so Nate shines a light on the meddling Yokai, they engage in some banter, and then Nate receives the medal. If it wasn't for sections such as Manjimutt and Komasan's ongoing stories, Yo-kai Watch would be an even more difficult show to watch than it already is, and it most certainly is. Also, they start to mess with their own rules. Humans can see Yo-kai, then they can't, then they can but only if they have a leaf on their head, but then they can't see the Yo-kai but see them as a human, and it all gets so damn confusing.

The opening theme to the show, Gera Gera Po, is frightfully intrusive. Even after a few days I found myself singing the refrain over and over. It came as a sad shock when about 10 episodes in the theme changed to this generic Ben 10-style theme — ugh. The ending theme through the whole series is Yo-kai Exercises #1, which is also addictive and gets inside your head like Espy. When they decided to remove Gera Gera Po, it pretty much right royally miffed me off rotten. I would skip the new intro with a bitter taste of upset knowing they cut a theme song that really went well with the jarring off-beat nature of the show.

I endured my way through the first season of Yo-kai Watch for three reasons: I liked what I played of the first game, I like the designs of the Yo-kai, and it popped up on my recommended shows while I still had some Netflix subscription left. While I don't regret watching the show, it certainly has shone a light on why the franchise hasn't been all too successful over here. Stick with the games, which keep the adult humour and dark themes intact, without coming across childish or edgy. Skip the show unless you really can't get enough Yo-kai Watch in your life.

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