Netizens fear Japan may have missed out on capitalizing on one of its hottest current exports.
When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his grand appearance at the 2016 Rio Olympics closing ceremony by coming out from a pipe dressed like Mario, the internet (and gaming community) pretty much lost its mind. It seemed like everyone had something to say about one of the best Olympic handoffs in history, but back in Abe’s home country, one of the most popular comments centered around the strange absence of Pokémon characters during the promotion.
Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) August 22, 2016
Since then the promo creators have admitted that while Pokémon GO is arguably the hugest thing to come out of Japan in some time, nobody could have anticipated just how successful it would be back when the promotional planning committee was formed at the beginning of the year. It also appears that the committee was worried about how recognizable Pokémon would have been overseas compared to other characters that have endured a longer test of time, like Hello Kitty, Doraemon, and, of course, Mario.
While younger gamers might favor Pikachu and the gang over Mario and Luigi, the Super Mario franchise has continued to sell well over the years, to the tune of over 320,000,000 games sold worldwide, beating out Pokémon by a considerable margin.
Some netizens weren’t buying it, however, and took to the web to post their thoughts on the matter:
“Who decided that Doraemon should make the cut?”
“Whoever said that Pikachu wasn’t recognizable enough, I’m not buying it. If that was indeed the logic behind the decision, then I really have to question their reasoning ability.”
“All you people dissing Pokémon GO should try going outside for a change. You’d see just how many people are playing it. It’d be a breath of fresh air for all of you shut in types.”
Others defended the decision to keep Pokémon out, even if a couple of comments were a little tongue in cheek.
“It’s no contest when it comes to Mario. What matters more than Pokémon’s international popularity is how well people of all ages know it.”
“If they’d used Pokémon it would have likely riled up all the animal welfare protection organizations. Better that they chose not to.”
“With all the server trouble Pokémon GO’s been having it was probably for the best, eh? Plus Mario had the whole ‘Rio’ connection lol.”
Then there were netizens left scratching their heads over why Japan didn’t choose to capitalize on other popular series that have been adapted overseas like Dragonball, Naruto, Gundam, and Sailor Moon, or Japanese historical figures like samurai and geisha.
The far larger majority, however, were just thankful not to see any J-pop artists make the cut.
“I think it really suits Japan to do it this way. For the actual games they should follow the same route, and not use AKB or EXILE.”
“I thought it was fine. As long as they don’t use any crappy celebrities, I’m good.”
“I was really relieved they didn’t use Whatever48.”
Personally I’d have to agree with the above statements, which is why I felt extremely glad to hear a composition by Shiina Ringo in the background instead of something by any of the groups mentioned above.