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Sonic's success. Japanese Vs. American elements.

#1 User is offline Prototype 

Posted 10 October 2018 - 03:19 PM

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As I look back on the development of the Sonic series, one of the most fascinating eras was the initial creation of the series and it's lore. Between Japan and the West, there were many, many iterations and revisions of what the series was, and who the characters were. Sonic has had more continuities than Doctor Who in a blender.

There were many discarded elements, such as the Sonic Band, Madonna, etcetera, and various new elements introduced externally to the games such as the SatAM cast and the Robotnik redesign. Also, Japan and the US had strikingly different art styles. We had the Ohshima-styled art represented in-game, and the SoA redesigns popularized via Greg Martin's artwork, along with the various comic book/DiC styles.

Yuji Naka has gone on record to say that while he disliked the SoA meddling with the series that was outright designed to appeal to Americans, it was in some respects key to it's success. Now, I was born in '91, so I've grown up with Sonic, but I've got to disagree with that, at least visually. I mean, I won't doubt that the sheer marketing force of Sonic aided people into buying into the series, but I always found the SoA artwork unappealing and unrepresentative of the series itself, at least when regarding it as a "video game series" rather than a multimedia franchise. While I do prefer some elements, such as the name "Robotnik", overall I have to say that the original trilogy of games had a distinct visual style that has continued to appeal to me all these years, and that this weird homogenization of the different styles resulted in a series that lacked a recognizable visual style (which, combined with poorly designed games resulted in the non-entity that was recent Sonic pre-Mania, but that's a discussion for another thread).

Now, given all of these bizarre visions of the series all vying for attention at the same time, in retrospect, what would you say the secret to Sonic's success in the west was? And was that success tied to any one visual representation, or was it just Marketing's lightning in a bottle tied to a well-made game?

With the success of Mania, and the synergystic merging of great gameplay and that distinct Ohshima-esque style, I have to wonder whether Sonic's explosion of popularity in the early '90s was because it was a great game tied to a a distinctly pleasing art style, despite SoA's artistic meddling. And I must ask, of the elements that SoA added or suggested, what was a positive change, and what was a negative? And similarly, which elements are you glad SoJ discarded, and which elements do you wish they would have pursued?

(I realise that I may have rambled a little, but hopefully my meaning has been conveyed)
This post has been edited by Prototype: 10 October 2018 - 03:40 PM

#2 User is offline Casshern 

Posted 10 October 2018 - 04:38 PM

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Quote

Now, given all of these bizarre visions of the series all vying for attention at the same time, in retrospect, what would you say the secret to Sonic's success in the west was?


Honestly, the most simple answer is that the West just had a better marketing strategy and a great product that basically screamed "this is the 90s."

I think that if they would've left the Oshima-styled art for the West we would've gotten the same result but I don't think the Greg Martin/SOA redesigns hurt either. I know a lot of people now hate Martin's version of Sonic but back in the day I found it cool and I have a feeling others thought that too. (Though I would say that I wonder how close we came to not getting Martin's version since there was some promo material with the Oshima-styled art like the poster in Alien Storm.)

I think you just have to look to Japan to see how if you don't have a good marketing strategy then your great product is not going to be as successful. A lot of people always use the excuse that Japan is not into anthropomorphic characters but I always found that to be an excuse because Japan is full of characters like that. I just think that whatever marketing they were doing did not tap into the Japanese psyche in the same way the western marketing tapped into our culture.

It's kind of funny that SOA asked Sonic Team to make Sonic less edgy because to me he felt more edgy in western marketing than he did in Japan. I don't about you but looking at his original art style, the commercials for Sonic 1, magazines ads/articles etc etc. he looks more cute and reserved than the "in your face" thing SOA was doing.

Now, I'm going to say that I do like some of the original ideas Sonic Team had like the WW2 pilot/Mary Garnet story, Madonna and the band, along with the Nicky is Sonic story from the mangas. And I never liked the Mobius backstory along with the Freedom Fighters. But I can see that SOA was right to make those choices because I can't see those original ideas clicking with people that well. Even the whole Mobius is a different planet probably had a wider appeal to other kids than "this is really earth" from the Japanese stories.

Going back to the marketing though. I took some business/marketing classes for my career and Sega's early 90s marketing actually gets mentions along with other classics like what Pepsi did during the 70s and 90s. People, especially kids and teenagers, like when the underdog takes it to the big man. It's a marketing strategy that gets repeated many times and people still fall for it. And this was especially the case during the 90s.

Perhaps that's why it never took off in Japan? It seems that SoJ didn't want to be seen disrespecting Nintendo in the public eye so there was no edginess that the Japanese youth could identify.
This post has been edited by Casshern: 10 October 2018 - 04:39 PM

#3 User is offline Prototype 

Posted 10 October 2018 - 05:06 PM

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View PostCasshern, on 10 October 2018 - 04:38 PM, said:

Going back to the marketing though. I took some business/marketing classes for my career and Sega's early 90s marketing actually gets mentions along with other classics like what Pepsi did during the 70s and 90s. People, especially kids and teenagers, like when the underdog takes it to the big man. It's a marketing strategy that gets repeated many times and people still fall for it. And this was especially the case during the 90s.

Perhaps that's why it never took off in Japan? It seems that SoJ didn't want to be seen disrespecting Nintendo in the public eye so there was no edginess that the Japanese youth could identify.


I have to wonder then, was this "take it to the big man" strategy a sort of universally workable strategy though? From what I can garner, Japanese culture seems more reserved and respectful of "superiors" in general, so there's nothing to say that it would have succeeded in Japan even if they did "stick it to Nintendo" or "parents" or whatever other target they could find. Had they pursued that line of thinking, that disrespectful attitude might have hurt Sonic's performance in Japan even more.

I feel like there was a way to make Sonic cool and cute at the same time, and I'm not certain that the whole "smug asshole hero" approach was necessarily the best one. That being said, I'm looking at it as an adult, and I find it hard to imagine how my reaction would have been to that style of marketing as a child of the 90s.

I do like the Mobius aspect, because it adds some world building in the same way that Mario has "The Mushroom Kingdom", and you can still pretty much treat it like Earth albeit with a handy way to explain the wacky environment designs. I suppose what I like most about the Sonic series was the feel of this weird electro-funk/nature hybrid world with wildly diverse designs. It felt like this world could contain a ton of different imaginitive environments simultaneously with no real boundaries of what could or couldn't be. I think that's why I feel so dismayed at the modern series trying to be in a more realistic world. It has no iconography to speak of outside of "Rings" and "Springs".

It's like a modern game has this realistic-esque environment with rings and springs scattered about incidentally, like they're there for no other reason than to remind you that it's a Sonic game. One could argue that the same is true of the rest of the games, including the Classic series. But the difference is, I think, and it may just be my opinion, that it used to feel like it was this strange world where Rings were functionally and intrinsically linked to the world itself. Like there was this lore, this mystery, JUST beneath the surface if only you looked, which made exploration of the world that much more fun and exciting. In fact I suppose that brings me to my point, in that the original JP manuals had that sense of adventure. It was like "Woah, we've picked up some strange readings from this remote island, let's go explore!". Cue game full of potential and possibility. It's a feeling that the Sonic Mania Adventures cartoon has recaptured quite brilliantly I think.

#4 User is offline Blue Spikeball 

Posted 10 October 2018 - 05:15 PM

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View PostPrototype, on 10 October 2018 - 03:19 PM, said:

Now, given all of these bizarre visions of the series all vying for attention at the same time, in retrospect, what would you say the secret to Sonic's success in the west was? And was that success tied to any one visual representation, or was it just Marketing's lightning in a bottle tied to a well-made game?

I'd say it was a combination of Sonic having a great design and being marketed as a cool character, and the fact that he starred in games that had kickass gameplay, graphics and music. Those core elements were present in all regions, even if SoJ and SoA's definitions of "cool" differed. Of course, unlike SoA, SoJ also capitalized on the "cute" factor, as least as when it came to Sonic merch.

On a personal note, I've always found Sonic's American characterization really grating. And it doesn't help that recent games seem to be taking a cue from the American adaptations for the characterizations, yuck. I prefer by far the "cocky but laidback guy who doesn't feel he needs to prove anything to anyone" Sonic from the Dreamcast era, to the "sarcastic guy who only speaks in attempts at witticisms" Sonic from Colors onwards :v:

As for the art, I feel that most of the Genesis era western art has aged poorly. Looking at it now, I think much of it looks pretty ugly and unprofessional, while the Japanese art seems to have aged beautifully. I don't mind the American box arts that much, though.

View PostPrototype, on 10 October 2018 - 03:19 PM, said:

With the success of Mania, and the synergystic merging of great gameplay and that distinct Ohshima-esque style, I have to wonder whether Sonic's explosion of popularity in the early '90s was because it was a great game tied to a a distinctly pleasing art style, despite SoA's artistic meddling. And I must ask, of the elements that SoA added or suggested, what was a positive change, and what was a negative? And similarly, which elements are you glad SoJ discarded, and which elements do you wish they would have pursued?

(I realise that I may have rambled a little, but hopefully my meaning has been conveyed)

I agree with some of the changes, such as removing Madonna. But for the most part, I feel the localization changes, and the American cartoons and comics, did more harm than good to the franchise, by fragmenting its fanbase into dozens of tiny pieces. By this point, no matter what Sega does, it's virtually impossible to please most of the fanbase. It will always be divided in arguments such as Earth vs Mobius, Eggman vs Robotnik, etc.

Granted, some of the fragmentation came from decisions taken by SoJ alone, such as classic vs modern. But still, I feel the disconnect between the games and adaptations, and between Japanese and western lore, predisposed the fanbase to reject changes. Mario doesn't suffer from this to the same extent as Sonic. For instance, the Mario cartoons and comics don't have a cult of rabbid fans demanding that the games incorporate their characters and lore, or raging over newer adaptations being closer to the games. This is because unlike the Sonic adaptations, the Mario adaptations didn't have such a blatant disconnect from the games. Sure, they had a different style, but they didn't introduce countless original characters, while using only three characters from the games. When I was a kid, it puzzled me that the Sonic games and the Sonic cartoons were so different.

View PostPrototype, on 10 October 2018 - 05:06 PM, said:

I do like the Mobius aspect, because it adds some world building in the same way that Mario has "The Mushroom Kingdom", and you can still pretty much treat it like Earth albeit with a handy way to explain the wacky environment designs. I suppose what I like most about the Sonic series was the feel of this weird electro-funk/nature hybrid world with wildly diverse designs. It felt like this world could contain a ton of different imaginitive environments simultaneously with no real boundaries of what could or couldn't be. I think that's why I feel so dismayed at the modern series trying to be in a more realistic world. It has no iconography to speak of outside of "Rings" and "Springs".

Never been fond of Mobius TBH. I feel it needlessly complicates some aspects of the Sonic series. I like think of Sonic as just an anthropomorphic hedgehog, rather an alien from some fictional planet that happens to look like an anthropomorphic hedgehog :v:
In addition, I found Archie's explanation that anthros in Sonic's world were basically mutated animals really, really dumb.

I also blame Mobius for many of the arguments regarding the presence of humans in Sonic's world. By establishing that Sonic lives in a fictional world populated by anthros, it prompted people to wonder what's the deal with Robotnik, who is obviously a human. I remember people arguing over his origin back in the day, and debating if he came form another planet or something.
But if you just think of Sonic's world as the Earth, the existence of Robotnik and other humans isn't that puzzling. Earth has humans in RL, so why wouldn't it have them in the Sonic universe?
This post has been edited by Blue Spikeball: 10 October 2018 - 06:12 PM

#5 User is offline Casshern 

Posted 10 October 2018 - 05:44 PM

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View PostPrototype, on 10 October 2018 - 05:06 PM, said:

I have to wonder then, was this "take it to the big man" strategy a sort of universally workable strategy though? From what I can garner, Japanese culture seems more reserved and respectful of "superiors" in general, so there's nothing to say that it would have succeeded in Japan even if they did "stick it to Nintendo" or "parents" or whatever other target they could find. Had they pursued that line of thinking, that disrespectful attitude might have hurt Sonic's performance in Japan even more.


I think that sometimes we tend to take the whole "Japanese culture seems more reserved and respectful of superiors" thing too seriously. I don't think there's really a lot of cultures out there that don't value the whole "respect your elders and figures of authority." But being a rebel against the establishment or oppressive forces it's something that's universally liked. (And of course people don't like rebels when they are the authority).

Really, just think of the many books, movies, anime, manga, video games from Japan that are successful where the protagonist doesn't give a shit about the rules, superiors or society.

And both the Japanese and Western versions of Sonic are like that where he's basically a person that cares about protecting people but he could care less about rules. But I think that the western marketing understood that more and that resonated with people, plus it helped that the game itself also had those values and was great to play.

While in Japan you did not get that same feeling in the way the game was marketed so there was almost this disconnect between it and the game. To describe it in a different way, both marketing campaigns were colorful, but the western version just had sharper colors that attracted you more.

I do think the Japanese youth would've been attracted to a more in your face marketing campaign, there was a restlessness that started growing in the 70s in Japan and the world that really manifested in various works during the late 80s/early 90s and one of them was Sonic. But again, the marketing is one of the most important things when you're trying to sell a product and I think SoJ failed on showing the message of the game.
This post has been edited by Casshern: 10 October 2018 - 05:45 PM

#6 User is offline Prototype 

Posted 10 October 2018 - 05:46 PM

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At the very least, can we all take a moment to be incredibly thankful that they never promoted the fact that Sonic's attitude was based on Bill Clinton? :v:

Honestly, thank the deities for that damned good Yuji Naka physics coding. Who would have thought a character based on a combination of Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson could succeed?
This post has been edited by Prototype: 10 October 2018 - 07:11 PM

#7 User is offline 360 

Posted 10 October 2018 - 07:08 PM

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Kudos on the super interesting thread Prototype. Good and original idea here. You also seem like an excellent poster and I hope you get approved as a member soon. Welcome to Sonic Retro. :)
This post has been edited by 360: 10 October 2018 - 07:09 PM

#8 User is offline HedgeHayes 

Posted 10 October 2018 - 07:30 PM

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Umm... Not sure about what to say. I think I see Sonic with japanese eyes more than western ones, yet I was a fan since the beginning. It's probably because I saw the game in action that I liked it, the narketing campaign and the traeatment of celebrity Sonic received being a way to reach me or complement my interest, but never being the reason why I was in. I watched AoStH and SatAM for being Sonic, but I had very clear since the beginning those weren't the genuine thing, with SatAM being a good quality product and a chance to create a deeper setting, but clashing enough to leave it as a secondary thing as long as it didn't mess with the games; in fact, I was really pissed of when they conected Sonic Spinball to that show.

Can't say anything about the comics, since, AFAIK, there weren't any around here (Spain). I'd probably preferred the british ones, which seemed of more quality than the US ones and closer to the games, but I'd preferred the non-game characters from Archie/SatAM most of the time, since they were the ones I was familiar with. Either way, my eyes were still on the games, so I would have thought a worse product just because they were incompatible with the games.

About the artwork, I always preferred the japanese style for the characters, but, for the rest, I have personal favourites on both sides. I love Robotnik crushing the 2 from Sonic 2 as an evil shadow (no pun intended) from above, while the heroes were on the brighter part of the picture, but the cover for Sonic Chaos with Sonic and Tails in the air while a lot of things like the boss from Gigalopolis are behind, showing a lot of elements from the game at once while they unsuccessfully try to reach the heroes, and the background has the in-game feeling of 16-bit games putting it closer to the main titles thanks to this, which was in fact true due to them adding more similarities with Sonic 2 and CD.

About lore, japan wins again, but I prefer Dr. Ivo Robotnik over Eggman and Nack the Weasel over Fang the Sniper, but I like more they eventually merged both names for our beloved evil genius, having Robotnik Winter as an official zone name for both markets, eggman still being eggman in western versions of Sonic Drift (I think, I don't remember well), and Sonic Adventure finally combining them into Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik. In the case of Fang, this iss probably a better name for the rogue treasure hunter, but I prefer adding it an animal over a shooting style. I don't like him having a gun, that kind of thing is quite out of place on a classic title, but that's a different topic.

To me, an alternate Earth were anthros live in islands only known about in myths is the best answer to why Robotnik is the only human around, and why the games don't give a fuck about intelligent furries existing in the same world people do. Well, something like that, since the games focus on transmitting concepts and the plot from the games themselves, otherwise explain to me how could there be a city on a farawy island meant to be swirling and creating a dimensional distortion (Spring Yard and Star Light zones). Everything's a symbol and a pice of artwork, not an actual coherent setting for us to debate about which palnet it is or which species is native of that world and which one came from another planet/time/whatever.

After writing all of this, I've probably went away too much of the real topic, giving all these impressions of mine instead of doing some analysis about the impact of Sonic in different cultures, or something like that, but, as I said earlier, I don't have a clear explanation for the modest reception in Japan compared to the great success Sonic was on western markets, even less Since Mania seems to have had more success in Japan than any classic game from the 90's. It's probably because everything you said, but only after combining those circumstances, not because any of them were particularly responsible of the results. Wrong kind of game with wrong marketing for the wrong culture seems like too many wrongs to not have a similar warm reception outside of Japan, unless they were only slightly wrong things that were wrong enough together to affect the reception in that particular region but not in others thanks to those elements giving somewhat better enough results to get past the mark of success.

Sorry for so much fogginess, didn't sort my ideas enough before writing.


#9 User is offline Gryson 

Posted 10 October 2018 - 09:51 PM

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View PostCasshern, on 10 October 2018 - 04:38 PM, said:

I think you just have to look to Japan to see how if you don't have a good marketing strategy then your great product is not going to be as successful. A lot of people always use the excuse that Japan is not into anthropomorphic characters but I always found that to be an excuse because Japan is full of characters like that. I just think that whatever marketing they were doing did not tap into the Japanese psyche in the same way the western marketing tapped into our culture.

Going back to the marketing though. I took some business/marketing classes for my career and Sega's early 90s marketing actually gets mentions along with other classics like what Pepsi did during the 70s and 90s. People, especially kids and teenagers, like when the underdog takes it to the big man. It's a marketing strategy that gets repeated many times and people still fall for it. And this was especially the case during the 90s.

Perhaps that's why it never took off in Japan? It seems that SoJ didn't want to be seen disrespecting Nintendo in the public eye so there was no edginess that the Japanese youth could identify.


There's actually been quite a lot said about Tom Kalinske's aggressive approach to marketing Sonic (comparative advertising vs. Mario). First, if you read Mega Drive Collected Works, you can get some great quotes about how Kalinske and Toyoda were very nervous about telling Sega president Hayao Nakayama about the advertising campaign they had come up with, but in the end, Nakayama absolutely loved it. He was actually reading a book about Pepsi's competitive advertising at the time. Second, it never would have been possible to do the same in Japan - not out of some mysterious "respect" for Nintendo (that reads like a bad cliche of Japanese culture), but simply because Nintendo would have sued the hell out of Sega. Hideki Sato has mentioned this very fact before. Indeed, just before Sonic came out in Japan, Pepsi had attempted to show its famous MC Hammer TV commercial (where MC Hammer chooses Pepsi over Coke), and Coke had threatened to sue and forced Pepsi to remove the commercial (it was big news at the time in Japan). In the end, Pepsi risked putting a mosaic over the can of Coke and rebroadcast the commercial. The point is that Japan has more restrictive copyright laws and comparative advertising just did not happen.

#10 User is offline Prototype 

Posted 10 October 2018 - 10:38 PM

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Who said those quotes about Kalinske? I saw an interesting thread over at the Sega-16 forums casting doubt on a lot of things Kalinske himself has said (http://www.sega-16.c...nske-full-of-it)

That's not to call into question the basic premise, just some of the claims he himself has made regarding westernizing Sonic.

But that's neither here or there, really. Fascinating about the legal angle.

View Post360, on 10 October 2018 - 07:08 PM, said:

Kudos on the super interesting thread Prototype. Good and original idea here. You also seem like an excellent poster and I hope you get approved as a member soon. Welcome to Sonic Retro. :)/>


Appreciated.
This post has been edited by Prototype: 10 October 2018 - 10:39 PM

#11 User is offline Casshern 

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View PostGryson, on 10 October 2018 - 09:51 PM, said:

not out of some mysterious "respect" for Nintendo (that reads like a bad cliche of Japanese culture), but simply because Nintendo would have sued the hell out of Sega.


Not sure where you are getting the whole mysterious "respect" for Nintendo from my post. What I meant is that some companies simply don't want to appear as rude or aggressive in the public eye simply because that's not the image they want, not because they "respect" their competitors. This goes for many companies worldwide.

I don't specifically remember that part from the collected works but it makes sense that they were afraid they might get sued.

Saying that though, just because they couldn't do the marketing Kalinske was doing doesn't mean they couldn't do their own aggressive campaign.

The Playstation's Japanese 123 campaign was aggressive in its own way without having to resort to shitting on Nintendo or Sega.

It was very gritty and it really felt like the Playstation was an underdog about to make an impact on the video game industry. And in the West they basically did what Sega did to Nintendo.

I would even argue that SoJ did do a good job with the Saturn's campaign in Japan, though at the cost of the other markets suffering. But by then it was too late for Sonic even with attempts like Project Sonic trying to "reintroduce" him to Japanese audiences.

Again, I just think SoJ marketing team did not really grasp Sonic's attitude in its campaign. In the West he felt more like a rebel rockstar while in Japan he felt more like a squeaky-clean popstar. At least to me that's how he comes off going by the marketing we have from 1991.

#12 User is offline Gryson 

Posted 11 October 2018 - 08:18 AM

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View PostPrototype, on 10 October 2018 - 10:38 PM, said:

Who said those quotes about Kalinske? I saw an interesting thread over at the Sega-16 forums casting doubt on a lot of things Kalinske himself has said (http://www.sega-16.c...nske-full-of-it)

That's not to call into question the basic premise, just some of the claims he himself has made regarding westernizing Sonic.

But that's neither here or there, really. Fascinating about the legal angle.


The quotes from Collected Works on Nakayama approving of the competitive advertising campaign come from Shinobu Toyoda. And yes, it's worth being skeptical about things that Kalinske himself has said - always best to hear things from a different perspective, as well.


View PostCasshern, on 11 October 2018 - 12:55 AM, said:


Not sure where you are getting the whole mysterious "respect" for Nintendo from my post. What I meant is that some companies simply don't want to appear as rude or aggressive in the public eye simply because that's not the image they want, not because they "respect" their competitors. This goes for many companies worldwide.


I shouldn't have directed that at you - it's something that is said frequently, though (I think even Michael Katz said it...?). It's a bit ridiculous. Sega and Nintendo went after each other all the time behind the scenes, and I have little doubt that Sega would have used competitive advertising if they could have (what with Nakayama and Sato praising it so much). Businesses in Japan want to succeed as much as anywhere else. But yeah, being perceived poorly by the public is a risk, as you say.

Quote

I don't specifically remember that part from the collected works but it makes sense that they were afraid they might get sued.


That wasn't in Collected Works, but it's been mentioned in several other Japanese sources. One is the recent interview with Hideki Sato, which I've partially translated here, but not this part. He says something like: "If you did that kind of advertising in Japan, you'd get sued. We were really nervous about it. But it worked great and Sega was able to grab a large share of the market because of Sonic." Similar analyses are offered in several of the contemporary books on Sega's business in Japan, which is where I read the MC Hammer story.

Quote

Saying that though, just because they couldn't do the marketing Kalinske was doing doesn't mean they couldn't do their own aggressive campaign.

The Playstation's Japanese 123 campaign was aggressive in its own way without having to resort to shitting on Nintendo or Sega.

It was very gritty and it really felt like the Playstation was an underdog about to make an impact on the video game industry. And in the West they basically did what Sega did to Nintendo.

I would even argue that SoJ did do a good job with the Saturn's campaign in Japan, though at the cost of the other markets suffering. But by then it was too late for Sonic even with attempts like Project Sonic trying to "reintroduce" him to Japanese audiences.

Again, I just think SoJ marketing team did not really grasp Sonic's attitude in its campaign. In the West he felt more like a rebel rockstar while in Japan he felt more like a squeaky-clean popstar. At least to me that's how he comes off going by the marketing we have from 1991.


Well, it's been said before, but Sega really had poor marketing of its consoles in Japan before 1994 or so. Tadashi Takezaki (hired around then to do PR work for Sega) has really confirmed this. Sega made great games and nobody knew about them.

That said, don't underestimate Sonic's initial success in Japan. It was the #1 best selling Mega Drive title over the console's lifespan and, although its numbers couldn't compare with the worldwide figures, Sega did succeed in making Sonic the face of the company.

In regards to Sonic's attitude: the single factor in a character that matters more than anything in Japan is cuteness. If you want to hear some funny comments, ask a Japanese person what they think of the Greg Martin cover art. That sense of attitude doesn't really go over well in Japan. Cute, playful, fun are much more important.

#13 User is offline Overlord 

Posted 11 October 2018 - 01:52 PM

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View PostCasshern, on 11 October 2018 - 12:55 AM, said:

View PostGryson, on 10 October 2018 - 09:51 PM, said:

not out of some mysterious "respect" for Nintendo (that reads like a bad cliche of Japanese culture), but simply because Nintendo would have sued the hell out of Sega.


Not sure where you are getting the whole mysterious "respect" for Nintendo from my post. What I meant is that some companies simply don't want to appear as rude or aggressive in the public eye simply because that's not the image they want, not because they "respect" their competitors. This goes for many companies worldwide.

There's also an additional note regarding certain countries and advertising laws - for example, in the UK while you can mention competitors in your advertisements without copyright issues, you aren't allowed to say anything about them other than demonstrable facts: so while "Coke tastes better than Pepsi!" isn't permissible in an advertisement, "In 10 identical samples, Daz performed better than Ariel" is.

This as a sidenote is why you see a lot less attack adverts in the UK than you do in the USA.

#14 User is offline Laughingcow 

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Was Sonic the Hedgehog successful in Japan? Even to this day, Sonic has more appeal in the west then in the east so discussing it in terms of Japan doesn't seem accurate. Not saying it flopped but I cannot think of anything in Japan outside the OVA and Manga. In America, he was a multimedia franchise with tie-in comics, three separate cartoon shows, a float in the Macy's day parade, and all around 90's icon. You can argue varying degrees of "success" but I don't see anything to suggest he was ever much in Japan...Maybe that's part of the reason the Japanese based team has such trouble understanding him. Sonic in the west is a 90's icon, Sonic in Japan is just Sega's mascot.

#15 User is offline Gryson 

Posted 11 October 2018 - 05:36 PM

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View PostLaughingcow, on 11 October 2018 - 04:56 PM, said:

Was Sonic the Hedgehog successful in Japan? Even to this day, Sonic has more appeal in the west then in the east so discussing it in terms of Japan doesn't seem accurate. Not saying it flopped but I cannot think of anything in Japan outside the OVA and Manga. In America, he was a multimedia franchise with tie-in comics, three separate cartoon shows, a float in the Macy's day parade, and all around 90's icon. You can argue varying degrees of "success" but I don't see anything to suggest he was ever much in Japan...Maybe that's part of the reason the Japanese based team has such trouble understanding him. Sonic in the west is a 90's icon, Sonic in Japan is just Sega's mascot.


Yes, Sonic was successful, unless you mean to the extreme degree that Dragon Quest was successful in Japan or Sonic in America.

As I said previously in this thread, Sonic 1 was the #1 best selling Mega Drive game in Japan. It actually sat in the Top 20 of Famitsu's sales charts for a while (an extreme rarity for MD titles).

Sega plastered Sonic on everything in Japan, filled UFO catchers with Sonic toys, and in my experience, most Japanese people under the age of 40 will easily recognize Sonic. There was also the Sonic X cartoon created in Japan (although I believe it didn't do well there).

That said, I've read comments from people in Japan that Sonic never really felt like a character/game designed for Japanese, but rather for Americans. And despite the success of the first Sonic game, the two MD sequels did not do so well. So I'd say that Sega successfully introduced Sonic in Japan, but the character never really took off the same way Mario did.

Sega always had problems with managing its character properties in Japan. When Sega was in talks with Bandai about a possible merger in the late 90s, Sega president Hayao Nakayama said that one of the benefits Sega would get from the deal is Bandai's know-how in how to effectively manage that aspect of the business. Of course, the merger fell through in the end.

It's not surprising that Kalinske and company were so successful in that regard, considering their backgrounds in the toy industry. Sega of Japan was ultimately a game company.

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