Theme park announces its first-ever tie-up with the pair of massively popular anime, video game franchises.
The Universal Studios Japan theme park gets its name, of course, from Universal Pictures, one of the oldest and most successful film studios in Hollywood. In recent years, though, the Osaka theme park has been reaping huge benefits from the booming popularity of Japanese anime and video games.
USJ regularly salutes a handful of properties each year as part of its Universal Cool Japan project. Past collaborations have produced attractions that let guests step into the worlds of hit anime including as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Attack on Titan, and Great Detective Conan (known as Case Closed in some territories), as well as video games such as Resident Evil and Monster Hunter.
The park has just announced the lineup for the upcoming 2018 iteration of Universal Cool Japan, and we now know that Conan and Monster Hunter will be back in upgraded forms. But the real excitement comes from Universal Studios Japan’s new team-up with two of the most popular franchises ever to come out of Japan: Sailor Moon and Final Fantasy.
Judging from the Universal Cool Japan 2018 promotional image, it’s going to be Final Fantasy VII, the entry in developer Square Enix’s long-running RPG franchise that’s had the biggest cultural impact, that will be highlighted, since that’s FF VII protagonist Cloud staring at us with his mako-infused baby blues. Meanwhile, Sailor Moon appears in her original anime character design, as opposed to the art style of the franchise’s original manga or the rebooted Sailor Moon Crystal animated series.
The only specifics known so far are that the Final Fantasy, Conan, and Monster Hunter attractions will open on January 19, with Sailor Moon joining them later in the spring, and that the limited-time Universal Cool Japan 2018 attractions will be in operation until June 24.
Between this and the upcoming Nintendo area at USJ it’s starting to feel like not being able to use Disney characters for the park is actually a blessing in disguise.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he wonders if the original characters from Kingdom Hearts are contractually allowed to show up at non-Disney theme parks.