I recently went to go see “Interstellar” (which was amazing) at the movie theater with of the teachers I work with, but you’ll probably all go see it anyway, so no need to talk about that, right?
We had to go early in the morning, because there were only three showings to choose from, the theater’s 30 minutes away, the movie’s long, and I had a holiday party to go to in the evening. This narrowed our choice down to 9:05 am, only. I think I set a personal record–I don’t think I’ve ever woken up that early just to go see a movie (haha).
We got there only a little bit before the movie started, and we were a bit shocked to discover this huge line at a theater where there’s usually only like 10 people at the most waiting:
Everyone was bringing their kids to see the new Youkai Watch movie. (Except I just looked it up, and the movie comes out on the 20th, so…were they all just there to buy pre-sale tickets?)
Because of this, there were promotions all over the place, with lots of Jibanyan (the red cat).
You probably haven’t heard of it unless you live in Japan, but Youkai Watch is like the new Pokemon here. It’s a kids’ television program (based on a video game, apparently) about a boy who can see youkai if he puts on a special watch, and the stories that unfold because of that. It’s especially popular with kindergarten-2nd grade kids (4-8 years old), but I think almost all my students from kindergarten to middle school know at least Jibanyan, the red cat character, and the Youkai Taisou (“Youkai Exercise”).
“Youkai” is one of those Japanese monster words that you enter into the dictionary and get a list of definitions like “ghost; apparition; phantom; spectre; specter; demon; monster; goblin.” Uh…so take your pick. The way the trailer puts it is that when inexplicable things happen in the world, they’re caused by youkai (it shows a boy suddenly having to use the restroom, a girl feeling depressed, a guy yawning, with youkai hovering around them unseen). It’s an idea that shows up in many other anime as well.
It might sound a little creepy to put it that way, but in practice, I think this show is pretty much like Pokemon. It also has an adorable Youkai Taiso/Exercise song. I can sing most of it, and even do some of the dance. The lyrics and hand motions are funny, too–like, “Why did I get dumped, even though I’m so good-looking? It must be the youkai’s fault!” and “Ima nan-ji? ICHI DAI-JI!!” (What time is it? It’s serious problem time!!…sort of)
There are so many little kids who are into this show right now, and every time it comes on they start dancing and singing to it, so I feel like it’s a great way to get kids to exercise. The Youkai Taisou is probably one of the biggest reasons for its popularity, along with the variety of characters. Some of the classes at my school performed the Youkai Taisou and the other song, Gera-gera-po, for the school sports festival in September, too. It’s that popular.
It’s one of those things like Frozen that looks like it’s just going to be here for a while.