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Filed under: Guest Article, Super Smash Bros. Series

The Case for Jibanyan


The following is a guest article by zoniken! Be sure to also check out his Pixiv.
If you are interested in submitting a Guest Article to Source Gaming, please check out the guidelines here.

Ever since Sakurai brought third parties to Smash starting from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, many fans started to speculate which third party character they want to see in the next Smash. So far, Konami, Sega, Capcom, Bandai Namco, and Square Enix has joined the project as they brought their company mascots and iconic characters to Smash, making Smash an exciting character fighting game with many possibilities. If there were to be more third parties involved in the future, which company would join the next Smash, and who would that be? Today, I will discuss the company that has the strong connection with Nintendo, Level-5. And when it comes with Level-5, everybody would probably think about Professor Layton first, but if we were to discuss the main face of the company, I’d argue that Yo-kai Watch’s Jibanyan is the natural choice. 2016-03-19 22-09-22

Meet Jibanyan the Cat Yo-kai: who’s always busy or dull (in Japanese ver.) whenever he introduce himself.

Character Background

The first Yo-kai Watch contains 380 species of Yo-kai (now the count is over 500 with Yokai-Watch 3!), and Jibanyan is one of them as a mascot of the franchise, similar to Pikachu’s position to the Pokémon series. He is a D-Ranked Yo-kai in a Charming Tribe, and lives in a fictional town in Japan called Springdale/Sakura New Town. During his lifetime, he was an ordinary cat with a name of Rudy/Aka-maru by his former owner Amy, but he got run over by the oncoming truck. Since Amy called him lame upon his death, he became a Yo-kai to take revenge against any oncoming trucks, in an effort to prove his former owner how strong he had became. Due to this effort on never giving up his dreams, he later befriends with the main protagonist, Nate Adams/Keita Amano or Katie Forester/Fumika Kodama (depending on a gender you choose from the beginning), and aids them whenever they need by granting them his Yo-kai Medal.


During his first debut, he wasn’t really focused as being a mascot of the franchise as he had lesser roles during storyline. However, the anime version which was aired after the game’s release described him to be lazy, uncooperative and selfish like every cat is. He’s also heavily addicted to chocolate bars, and a huge fan of the music idol group Nextharmeowny/Nya-KB48. This description was added to the later sequels and spinoffs, giving him more roles during storyline, and lead him to become the real mascot of the franchise. Although Yo-kai fight automatically and randomly during battle without giving any commands, his main special move (or called the Soultimate attack) is his rapid punching attack called “Paws of Fury”, which was based from Fist of the Northern Star’s protagonist Kenshiro’s “Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken”. As he also can evolve into Baddinyan and Thornyan through fusion, he also has many variation of himself or alternate cat Yo-kai, such as his future robotic counterpart Robonyan, and his samurai ancestor Shogunyan. 2016-03-19 22-09-34

Yo-kai Watch seem to have lots of Fist of Northern Star references for some reasons, but the series author Tetsuo Hara approved this as his wife likes Yo-kai Watch, which this resulted Level-5 president Akihiro Hino to make a Fist of Northern Star parody anime (left), while Hara brought Jibanyan’s parody version “Jibaisekinyan” to DD Fist of Northern Star anime (right).

Jibanyan also appeared as a main protagonist in many spinoffs; such as being the member of Yo-kai Watch Busters, and even portraying himself as a Sangokushi warrior in Yo-kai Sangokushi. In Yo-kai Watch 3, which is planned to be released this summer 2016 in Japan, Jibanyan moves to the fictional town in the United States called St. Peanutsburg, alongside with the protagonist (Nate at this moment) due to their father’s relocation. He’ll be assisting the protagonist on solving Yo-kai problems in America, while a new secondary protagonist Inaho Misora and her Yo-kai partner USApyon will be solving mysteries as Yo-kai Detectives in Japan.

Reasons of Inclusion

Level-5 has its long relationship with Nintendo since their first release of Professor Layton and the Curious Village for DS in February 2007. Ever since the first Yo-kai Watch was released in July 2013 in Japan, the franchises were mostly released for the Nintendo handheld console, while they released Yo-kai Watch Dance: JUST DANCE Special Version on Wii U as their first home console game. The only series that was released on the non-Nintendo console was on mobile platforms such as Yo-kai Watch Puni Puni, and arcade platforms such as Bandai’s Data Cardass game Tomodachi UkiUkipedia.

Although the sales for the first game in Japan wasn’t successful from its release to 50,000 copies, its popularity later grew up after the anime’s release in January 2014, resulting to sell over 1.33 million copies in May 2014. The Yo-kai Medals, the collectable medals using a similar mechanics as the amiibo figures, have also sold over 3 million copies. It’s sequel Yo-kai Watch 2: Ganso/Honke have also sold over 3 million copies, which Famitsu announced that Yo-kai Watch 2: Ganso/Honke won first place in 2014’s Top 10 Sales Ranking, winning over Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire in 2nd place for selling 2.4 million copies. It’s expansion version Yo-kai Watch 2: Shin-uchi has also won in 5th place for selling 2 million copies, as resulting Level-5 selling 6.21 million copies in 2014. Its manga released for CoroCoro Comics also won two awards, while the first movie that was aired on December 2014 sold over 1.1 million tickets, resulting to win the 33rd Golden Gross Award for the highest Japanese box office of 7.8 million yen ($65 million). Due to this success, Yo-kai Watch has become a new face of Level-5 over the previous popular games, Professor Layton series and Inazuma Eleven series. 2016-03-19 22-09-45

Welcome to the Western version of Yo-kai Watch!

Jibanyan has been in a spotlight as an iconic and marketable mascot for a long time ever since the franchise became a social phenomenon in the Japanese society. They’ve opened two theme park attractions in Japan, even their official shop at Toyosu since last October. They even tied with many railway companies like JR Kyushu for a special promotional event. They even tied with Hawaii Tourism Japan as Jibanyan became a “Kids Friendship Ambassador”, which this was the first time the franchise was revealed in the West before the localized game was released. They also owned the sponsorship with McDonald’s Japan, which was formerly owned by Pokémon before their contract ended. Toys, books, clothing, souvenirs…Yo-kai Watch can be found everywhere in Japan, and Jibanyan will always be shown on its cover.

That’s right; as mentioned above, Yo-kai Watch won over Pokémon as their main competing franchise. While Pokémon was Japan’s social phenomenon back then, Yo-kai Watch has taken over many sponsorship as the franchise became successful and popular. Due to this effort, many fans suggested that they want to see a crossover of Yo-kai Watch and Pokémon in some sort, having Jibanyan and Pikachu compete each other as rivals. Not to mention that Jibanyan was actually voted in the Top 20 Most Requested Characters in Japan at 14th place, alongside with the DLC candidates Cloud and Bayonetta in the same listing.

Reasons of Exclusion

Yo-kai Watch is popular in Japan as it won over Pokémon many times. But even though their game has gone overseas, Yo-kai Watch isn’t really that popular in the West. While Japan sold 1 million copies of their first game, the localized version only sold up to 110,000 copies, not reaching to the million seller. Unlike Japan, Western viewers negatively views Yo-kai Watch to be a Pokémon rip-off due to their similar genre of monster capturing/breeding RPG. Although it’s not true due to their differences, people still view it as is, so this negativity may be the cause of Yo-kai Watch being an unpopular franchise in the West. Also, many Western fans strongly prefer Professor Layton to join Smash as a Level-5 representative than Jibanyan. Due to Professor Layton’s iconicness and popularity in the West, he was placed at 16th in the Source Gaming Polling, while Jibanyan was at the lower rank of 256th place. 2016-03-19 22-10-00

Even GameFAQs thinks Professor Layton deserves his inclusion than Jibanyan. (source)

There is also one more point that I could agree for Jibanyan’s exclusion; his lack of movesets. Unlike Pokémon which can learn new moves by leveling up but can carry up to four sets of moves, Yo-kai Watch doesn’t have an ability to learn new moves. Plus, although there are possibilities that certain characters may use original attacks that were not from the actual games, those moves must be iconic to that character. For Jibanyan’s case, his iconic move is his Soultimate attack “Paws of Fury”. Other than that, there’s none. He does have an inspirit ability to slow enemies down and shoot fire to attack in the game, but none of them are iconic. Furthermore, it is difficult to think how unique Jibanyan can be if he doesn’t have any specific and iconic move other than his Soultimate attack. This could be addressed by having Jibanyan using the other “Jiba” form moves, or moves from other characters in the game. 2016-03-19 22-10-10

There are moves that he can learn by scanning the QR code on the special Yo-kai Medal, but since these moves are actually based from Japanese comedians and an anime character, using it in Smash may be impossible due to copyright issues.

Besides, it is unknown how long Yo-kai Watch’s popularity will even last. Although the franchise has conquered the Japanese society over Pokémon, it’s true that the franchise’s popularity is starting to decline. Since we don’t know when the next Smash to be released, it’ll be the matter of time of how long Yo-kai Watch will stay popular in the future. Pokémon will be uprising once again as they celebrate their 20th anniversary this year, with a new Pokémon Sun & Moon planning to be released worldwide this holiday. So Yo-kai Watch’s popularity may possibly fall due to that event, if their third sequel becomes successful with it’s release this summer. 2016-03-19 22-10-20

Well, looks like his fate of being a walking roadkill ain’t gonna let him survive in Smash. (source)


What is Smash without music? Here are few tracks you can look forward to Jibanyan if makes it in.


  1. I love Yo-Kai Watch, but would be pissed if Jibanyan got in over Layton (though I’d like to see them both).
    Rather than Jibanyan solo, it should be him, Whisper and Nate as a trio. That way, the Yo-kai Watch character would actually have a moveset.

    Bala (@SuperSmashBala) on March 20 |
    • I was thinking that Whisper can be used as a weapon, but I wouldn’t think they use any anime/manga references in the game. But maybe he can use other cat Yo-kai’s movesets like how Ness and Lucas used PSI moves that belonged to their companions.

      zoniken on March 21 |
  2. I due think that Layton seems to deserve it more, but I haven’t really gotten close enough to his franchise to really route for him. Plus he does have a worse time with a possible moveset.

    Jibanyan would be pretty cool, and would probably evoke tons of love and support in Japan for Smash, set up cool stages, trophies, music, and once again show off Nintendo’s care for devs, likely reeling in more developers to join part.

    Sadly, Yo-Kai Watch suffers from the Digimon route being falsely labeled as a rip-off by people the minds of 5 year olds, but at least it got popular.

    I think the biggest hurdle is a strong and different moveset, and the already so toxic community Smash, let alone Nintendo tends to have. But I would enjoy his inclusion in Smash very much.
    Might stir that dream for Agumon in Smash… not really, it won’t happen.

    As for popularity, I think Yo-Kai Watch will live till the next Smash installment. We already get quite the obscure characters, so a popular series will likely live.
    But I guess that rides on Level 5 themselves, not milking the cow dry, keeping it interesting, and trying to avoid giving Yo-Kai Watch the appearance of a fad.

    Pokemon appeared as a fad, but it was somewhat new for what it was, people didn’t know much about fads, plus Pokemon had international success.

    Yo-Kai Watch is a new chubby bubby in the market, with everyone aware of fads, trying to steer from them, and the series finding moderate “success” in the US.

    aguchamp33 on March 20 |
    • Bringing Jibanyan in Smash is an interesting thing to be honest. The stages are greatly detailed which Springdale can be the best fighting stage, musics are catchy and be great if anybody would made a remix of it, and there are lots of popular Yo-kais like Komasan, Venoct, Kyubi and others to become trophies or assists as well! Nintendo do have a strong support with this game, and it is possible that they can be in the next Smash.

      However, I don’t know if the game was known to be a Digimon rip-off because that game is way too different from Yo-kai Watch, as I’ve heard more of being a Pokemon rip-off through Youtube and others. I don’t how they compared with Digimon, but bringing Agumon in Smash is another interesting topic. I could think of one case article about it, but I’ll leave that to you as I’m interested in your ideas.

      You are right on the point that Yo-kai Watch will live till the next Smash. Its just the franchise seem to lack few things that Pokemon have. The game’s purposes are mainly focused on local connection than WiFi, and hardly have a system to trade Yo-kai with other players as they may have thought it doesn’t work well. Yo-kai Watch 3 have announced since last year April, but haven’t heard any updates other than their release period which we don’t know when in summer 2016. There are spinoffs with new Yo-kai introduced in there, but possibly those will be exclusive to that game as it may not appear in 3. Level-5 also presented the new game “Snack World” which may release this year, so we don’t know if that game will be Yo-kai Watch’s final destination of their franchise. There are other reasons why the game’s popularity may fall, but I may be wrong on that concept so I wouldn’t know much about it yet.

      But yes, Pokemon was a fad in the West back in those days, and it took a while for them to accept it. Yo-kai Watch will face a same challenge as well, so it may take time for them to have an international success as Pokemon did, if the Western players would accept their systems which may lack than Pokemon.

      Thanks for such interesting comments!

      zoniken on March 21 |
      • Well, thing is, YO-KAI WATCH isn’t trying to be Pokemon, it doesn’t need trading to be successful, there are other factors that make YW a big bang in Japan, like the merchandise and anime.

        Bluey Pikmin on March 21 |
        • You’re right that Yo-kai Watch isn’t trying to compare with Pokemon since there’s a strong differences to each other. I guess the anime made the franchise successful since the first game didn’t do much effort in the beginning. Even the collectable Yo-kai Medals were also another success that made the game more popular too, so like you said, both toys and anime are the main keys that made the franchise successful.

          zoniken on March 22 |
      • Thank you so much for the reply! I would rather have you make a Case for Agumon, I’d probably mess it up somehow.

        Either way, I meant that Yo-Kai Watch is being compared to Pokemon the same way Digimon was compared to Pokemon, as Pokemon ripoffs. Sorry for the confusion!

        But yeah, you are very right. Yo-Kai Watch in my opinion will need to try hard to keep this streak going, it could end up like Tamagotchi. Successful, but not nearly as booming as it’s beginnings.

        aguchamp33 on March 21 |
  3. You forgot that it’s not just Pokemon Sun & Moon versions that are coming out but several new official Pokemon mobile games are coming out soon, the most anticipated one being Pokemon Go (especially with some leaked gameplay footage that came out recently: ).

    Bob on March 20 |
    • The leaked info was before this article was completed and sent to Source Gaming, so I didn’t know there would be such info before then. But actually, I was planning to add Pokemon GO in the last paragraph, but since I thought everybody is only focusing on Sun/Moon at this moment, and since I needed to edit the article short as possible (yes making a long paragraph is my bad habit), I decided to remove the title from the article.

      Thanks for the reminder!

      zoniken on March 21 |
  4. Nice article zoniken!
    I am one of those people who personally prefer Layton, but don’t deny how popular Jibanyan is in Japan.
    (Though regardless, I mainly just want some kind of reference to Layton in smash even if it’s a trophy or mii costume, and I think having any level-5 character in will open the door to that.)

    Smash44 on March 21 |
    • Thank you for the positive response!
      Ever since Layton series has stopped since 2013, I haven’t heard any Japanese fans suggesting for Layton’s inclusion in Smash. I think people in Japan might have forgotten about Layton because of Yo-kai Watch’s popularity. I haven’t even heard any Japanese fans about Inazuma Seven series either since they’ve also stopped since 2013.

      It can be an interesting thing if they had the Layton Mii costume and treat is as a sword fighter type. Besides, I think his face is easy to create one as a Mii character. (lol)

      zoniken on March 22 |
  5. You think Sakurai would care how well a game sold in the west? Look at Shulk.

    J. G. (@GeneralRayburn) on March 21 |
  6. I was nervous when I made my very first article for this site, but wow everything looks so great!
    I don’t know why the link on the top page is linked to Pheonix Wright’s, but still, everything looks fantastic!
    Thank you so much PushDustIn and all Source Gaming staffs! You guys are great!!

    zoniken on March 21 |
  7. I will be the first to say that I’m no fan of Yo-Kai Watch, and I say that as a fan of monster training games in general. Even with that bias mentioned, if a unique moveset could be created for this character, I’d have little problem with his inclusion. Personal qualms aside, I like seeing new franchises represented in Smash, even if they’re not from games I initially cared about. I was on the fence about playing Bayonetta before she got in Smash, but her inclusion did enough to change my mind.

    Spiral on March 21 |
    • That’s the point I’ve been concerning about when I was writing about the moveset in this article. As I mentioned in the article, Pokemon can learn new movesets through leveling up, but can hold up to 4 sets of moves. Digimon can do the same thing by learning new moves not just by leveling up, but through digivolve and re-digivolve, according to the system of Digimon Story series. In addition, Dragon Quest Monsters series can learn new abilities and magics, and Fossil Fighters can learn up to 4 moves by upgrading their fossils, and evolution in the second sequel. I don’t know about Monster Farm since I haven’t played that game before, so I have no comment on that one, sorry. (^^;) But Yo-kai Watch series is way too different from these games. Yo-kai chooses their targeted enemies randomly and automatically attacks them even you haven’t commanded them to do so. Even no matter what you do like leveling up, they don’t learn anything new except carrying only one Soultimate attack. I think that’s because the game was mainly targeting younger generations who’s not good at strategy, which is why the game’s battle system was made so simple with less mechanics.

      But there are cases that a fighter can use movesets that was brought by other characters, like how Ness uses Paula’s PSI attacks and Lucas using Duster’s kicks and his snake. Jibanyan can borrow moves from other cat Yo-kai like Shogunyan, or other Yo-kai like Komasan or Kyubi if possible. There are possibilities, and that’s what Smash is meant to be. (Dang it, I should’ve wrote that in the article…)

      Right now, I’m interested in playing another monster training game, which is this. (

      zoniken on March 22 |
      • Characters like Pac-Man and Villager have moves that reference other games, so I think it’s more than plausible that Jibanyan could use moves of other monsters, as long as they fit with his general design. But even with Pokemon in Smash, they still need generic moves to fill up their normal attacks. Some may reference actual moves, like how people refer to Mewtwo’s forward-air as Shadow Claw, and even in the case that there weren’t other moves from Yo-Kai Watch that could fit Jibanyan, Sakurai has shown that he can come up with new moves for the character. Little Mac and Marth come to mind as examples.

        If I may go on a brief tangent and explain myself as to why I said I wasn’t a fan of Yo-Kai Watch, though…

        To me, a monster training game requires two things; unique monster designs and customization. If the monsters themselves are at the foreground of the series, I’d expect them to be interesting and, well, monsters. When I played the demo for Yo-Kai Watch, I remember one of the Yo-Kai I had on my team looked like an old lady, and that just feels out of place to me. My brother explained to me that it’s probably based off an actual youkai, which I know nothing about so I defer to his intelligence on the matter, I can really only say what I feel about it. Just to be clear, I’m not picking on Yo-Kai Watch specifically. The sixth season of Digimon has been guilty of this in spades (as much as I loved watching it); some of the so-called “Digital Monsters” just look like big humans with armor. And what I mean when I say ‘customization’ is (admittedly, a problem only faced in multiplayer games), if my Monster A goes up against someone else’s Monster A, I want there to at least be something that can distinguish the two monsters besides their level. In Pokemon, I could surprise an opponent who thinks my Sneasel has physical moves by giving it Blizzard and Dark Pulse, even if its stats are clearly geared towards physical attacks. In Monster Rancher, if I wanted to max out Attack on a Plant (don’t do that), I could try. Even if it’s not an optimal solution, having options keeps the game fresh and exciting, even on subsequent playthroughs. That wasn’t something I felt from the demo for Yo-Kai Watch, since every monster only had one attack and as such would likely function exactly the same regardless of who used them. Perhaps there are deeper systems in the game that I’m not familiar with because I only played a short demo, I can’t say.

        That wasn’t as brief as I thought it’d be. Last thing I’ll mention, that Moco Moco game apparently released on my birthday, November 17, so I’m tempted to play it for that reason alone 😛

        Spiral on March 23 |
  8. I’d rather have Professor Layton due to the lack of DS reps and puzzle game characters. His personality, integration of puzzles, larger amount of fan demand and bigger success on DS prove he has the better chance. Jibanyan can be good but personally I dislike Yokai Watch

    Isaac: Venus Adept on March 21 |
  9. Even through I am desperately waiting for K. Rool (in case there is an extended NX version or something like that, maybe they will pull the Hyrule Warriors Legends DLC style), two companys need their representatives

    Ubisoft: Rayman and Sam Fisher
    Level 5: Jibanyan and Prof. Layton

    BTW: I am not really fond of Ubisoft, but I think both chars deserve it, who knows it might help improving the relationship between Nintendo and Ubisoft a lot.
    I never played a Layton game (not my cup of coffee), and of course I never touched yokai watch either, but I am AWARE of their importance.

    mothes on March 21 |
    • I don’t know about Ubisoft, but bringing both Jibanyan and Layton as a Level-5 reps can be a good one, like how Capcom did by bringing both Mega Man and Ryu to Smash in the end.

      zoniken on March 22 |