Mascots of Japan have earned world wide appeal and attention. The term Yuru-chan is used to define mascots who represent locations in Japan, a well-known one being Kumamon who is the Kumamoto Prefecture’s mascot. This is frequently referenced in video games such as Root Letter’s Shimanekko, the mascot for the real life setting of the Shimane Prefecture, our protagonist and tourist takes notice of for location guidance. But for Japanese games that have created their own signature characters that have reached a certain threshold of popularity, this has sparked worldwide attention and recognition as the very best character representation of their beloved video game – the Japanese video game mascots.
These characters not only represent their IP, but are deserving of being the face of its product. There are so many to mention and name, but with only 10 spots for the taking, we’re sure we may be missing out on your favourites. Let us know in the comments below!
ASTRAL CHAIN’s Lappy
If you ask me, the ingredient that was added to make Astral Chain as entertaining as it is is with one simple addition, and it’s called Lappy. Lappy, who most certainly, definitely, 100% isn’t fellow policewoman Marie Wentz, is a lovable and fun loving bear who provides many of the game’s memorable and humorous scenes. My personal favourite is the comical jump scares Lappy unexpectedly starts delivering as done above when giving the player character a tour of the police department.
I loved rocking Lappy’s signature police cap with a ‘P’ throughout the journey and looking forward to when I finally unlocked the whole costume to masquerade around in when kicking ass in the big city. Even Nintendo knows how and when to use Lappy’s infectious energy to represent and sell their amazing action game, the best example being the pre-order bonus of a Lappy t-shirt. As the single entity to inspire this list, Lappy achieves what he sets out to do, spreading positivity and smiles in people.
The Prinnies aren’t only iconic to the Disgaea series, but also as the mascots for developer Nippon Ichi. As a recognisable entity of both, Disgea’s Prinnies are identifiable as JRPG representatives, providing instant recognition by many gamers and even those who are not partial to JRPG’s. Nippon Ichi have maximised the Prinny appeal, not only by having them be the face of many events and announcements, and merchandise consisting of hats and accessories (their Ita backpack has no right to be as amazing at it is!), but from many appearances outside of its franchise. The most well-known of such spin offs is their own video game Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? and its upcoming remake and sequel releasing this year. There’s a lengthy list of their appearances outside the Disgaea universe, from Makai Kingdom, Phantom Brave, Cross Edge, Trinity Universe and Last Rebellion.
Fate/stay night’s Saber
Visual novels offer plenty of memorable and notable characters. Initial candidates that represent the genre that will most likely cross your mind may be Stein Gate’s Makise Kurisu or even Clannad’s Furukawa Nagisa. However, one single woman stands head and shoulders above every other rivaling visual novel mascot. Saber is one of the poster girls of the genre, since the original release of Fate/stay night in 2004, and her continual appearances on Type Moon’s many other announcements and events.
Saber, much like the list’s other choices, has appeared across a multitude of different media, as well as different incarnations of herself from the product’s many anime adaptations and video games. From the musou styled spin off Fate/EXTELLA, to Type Moon’s mash-up of their IP characters in the Carnival Phantasm anime and even the Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel, Saber’s appeal has and continues to be understood and exploited for our pleasure (in the very best ways, of course). Saber is one of the most popular love interests within the genre’s history, and she’s kept our attention and affection ever since her unforgettable entrance in the original game.
Final Fantasy’s Moogle
For this category, we have an overwhelming amount of choices within the Final Fantasy universe to pick from. From the godly Cactuar, to the freakishly cute but deadly Tonberry, and the iconic Chocobo’s, my pick is the more questionable Moogle. If I’ve upset you already with this more unpopular choice, then hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, Kupo!
My love for these little guys originated from the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy games. In my first exposure of them, it was the initial glimpse of one in Lulu’s arms, an already iconic character design in her own right. Final Fantasy XIII would further involve this mascot, as the endearingly talkative Mog as main character Serah’s transformation weapon, as well as boomerang. Since the very first Final Fantasy, they have been established and referenced in many Final Fantasy installments, and even outside of the franchise. From Star Ocean, to Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts and even Mario, this little guy has snuck in on many occusations to remind us of their helpful guidance and support. Mog proves that not only are Final Fantasy Moogle’s the cutest creature companions ever, but they make for adorable plushies too!
If you’ve already seen any of my other articles, you’ll be sure to expect this one making the list. Monokuma is iconic. I could leave it at just this as my explanation, but as further discussion, he has his staple laugh (pu-pu-pu), and a design that hits home his bipolar nature from a mischievous, genuinely hilarious character that turns downright frightening and cruel in the same breath. His inclusion in the franchise is not only a roller coaster to experience, but he truly makes the game what it is.
You just couldn’t imagine Danganronpa the same way without its mastermind, now could you? On top of this, Danganronpa’s criminal mastermind has made a number of appearances and even referenced outside of the franchise. From AI: Somnium Files, to Zanki Zero: Last Beginnings and Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars, he’s even appeared as unlockable bosses in the latter two games!
Silent Hill’s Pyramid Head
As the only spooky entry for this list, Silent Hill’s Pyramid Head has become a staple of horror video game representation for all the right reasons. With one of the most hauntingly memorable introductions of an enemy in any video game, to the themes and revelations hidden behind its unique design, Pyramid Head not only terrorises its protagonist, but every single person witnessing his every action beyond the screen.
For such a simple design of a literal triangle head that indicates a penetrating and forceful presence, Pyramid Head leaves a truly haunting sense of dread in its audiences unlike any other. This fear will never falter no matter how old this title gets, and this is only further proved by Pyramid’s Head recent appearance as a playable character in Dead by Daylight.
Who didn’t see this one making the list? I don’t think I could add anything more that hasn’t already been said about this little bundle of joy. Pokemon has and always will represent nostalgia and childhood wonder with each instalment for a new generation, despite Pokemon’s many different additions and alterations in its pokedex. Be it exclusions from the national dex in the mainline Pokemon games, or its anime seasons not always including much screen time of your favourite Pokemon team members (you will always live in my heart, Spinda).
What is constant though, is Ash’s number one companion. Pikachu is universally recognised, easily done by being the mascot of the top ever selling gaming franchise. But despite Pikachu not beating a majority of other Pokemon as our favourite, Pickachu will always be the face of this major franchise, continuing to be recognised by parents across the globe for years to come.
Fire Emblem’s Marth
A series juggernaut, Fire Emblem has seen a large rise in popularity in recent years, to the point where many smash players are questioning why we need any more FE characters (who thought it would get to this point?!). The series really made a splash with the release of Fire Emblem Awakening on the 3DS, and those loyal to the series saw one character rise to the role of the series figurehead. It followed Marth, a character that would continuously be referenced, and even imitated in later instalments (Awakening’s Lucina).
His popularity would sky rocket when mainstream Western gamers first witnessed him in all his glory in Smash Melee. As the first Lord of this massive JRPG franchise, alongside the many other incredible main characters of the series, from Hector, to Lyn, and fellow first timer Roy in Smash, and more recently Edelgard, Marth’s legacy will not be so easily overtaken by anyone else. This can be seen by the amount of effort and dedication Marth’s character arc goes through, spanning two games and a remake. That’s one game more than another popular Lord has, Ike.
Marth set the bar as the prime example of being an incredible main character who grows and develops throughout his arc and story, creating a strong and memorable first main Lord of the franchise. From appearances in the only anime adaption of the franchise (OVA), to amibo’s that make his character available in both Fire Emblem (3DS’ Gaiden) and other video games (Codename Steam), he’s even appeared in the Dynasty styled Fire Emblem Warriors and Fire Emblem: Heroes on mobile devices. The latter, of course, coming with an amazingly excessive alterations of our darling Marth we all never knew we needed, but appreciate (Altean Groom Marth is my everything).
Animal Crossing’s Isabelle
When it comes to Animal Crossing, I’m sure the first character to come to anyone’s mind is not actually Isabelle, but Tom Nook. This is completely understandable, but at the same time I find it undeserving. It may be for the single reason that he’s the one having our escapism into a video game ruined by an always present in-game debt, or maybe simply because Isabelle is the juxtaposition of this, which is a word we’ll come back to. First appearing in the 3DS game New Leaf, Isabelle was the guide character to the player character, devoted to working for you 24/7 as the mayor’s assistant. Isabelle has become some gamer’s number one dog in video games, and who can blame them?
She’s charming, she’s sweet, she’s a god damn Labrador, the very best family dog! From the many hilarious crossovers of Doom and Animal Crossing due to releasing on the same day, to being the cutest character in Smash Ultimate to actually hold one of the most surprisingly terrifying movesets of any other character, Isabelle has become an icon outside of Animal Crossing all on her own for the juxtaposition; a cutie who can be a badass. Such juxtaposition has created a monster by memes from appearing in commercials to promote whiskey, to being a literal underdog in the Smash Ultimate competitive scene when she first joined the party in 2015/2016.
nitroplus’ Super Sonico
Given my love for the company nitroplus, it proved far too hard to not include their signature leading lady of the company on this list, the appropriately named Super Sonico. Super Sonico is the ultimate girl. Firstly, she’s stupidly attractive, having taken the internet by storm a decade ago by wallpapers, figures and a plethora of other merchandise pieces otaku’s land their wanting eyes on. Secondly, she has a rocking and charming personality who is also prone to macaroons and sleep, who we get to see come into her own by a number of appearances.
She’s appeared numerous times in different medias, from the criminally underrated fighter game Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Dual, as a DLC fighter in Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash, and stars in her own anime, manga and video game, the latter being one of my favourite guilty pleasure games ever, SoniComi. It’s never felt so good to be a photographer, has it?
Since 2011, she has released 3 awesome albums, of course expected from nitroplus’ mascot created to promote nitroplus’ music event in 2006. Give her a listen!
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