SEGA Legacy: Hidekazu Yukawa, “Mr. SEGA”

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SEGA Legacy articles are a series at The SEGA Source about the vast and varied history of SEGA. They can range from people to places to times to art to even just a simple song. The staff here has a vast knowledge of the company’s history and would love to share it all with anyone willing to listen. Now sit back, get your favorite beverage ready because “Dreamcast is back in stock! YOSH!”.

Hit the jump to read the fifth in the SEGA Legacy series.

What’s Yukawa?

The Senior Managing Director for SEGA Japan, Hidekazu Yukawa would become a seemingly overnight celebrity in late 1998 due to his bizarre and goofy commercials that he stared in for their Dreamcast console. Considered the successor to their Segata Sanshiro character that would become enraged and beat up anyone – Even small children – Who did not play the SEGA Saturn, Hidekazu Yukawa was characterized as the exact opposite. A bit of a weakling and a geek, he would become extremely depressed and have nightmares if people said negative things about SEGA or their games.

The Commercials segalegacy


-Commercial 1: Bad Luck Yukawa

The first commercial starts with Yukawa overhearing two school children discussing how awful they think SEGA is and that they believe the Sony PlayStation (SEGA’s largest rival at the time) was much better. Finding that his employees felt a similar way, Yukawa becomes depressed and decides to go to batting cages and get drunk. He bumps into the wrong people, a fight breaks out and he clearly loses. The ad ends with off screen children cheering on Yukawa.


-Commercial 2: Yukawa’s Field Trip

The second commercial takes place on a school trip where the children around Yukawa all agree that SEGA is great, cool and the best around. However, they all begin to laugh saying they lied and begin to make fun of him for working with SEGA. They leave to go play PlayStation instead while Yukawa tries to catch them, but he falls through the ground screaming for dear life. His secretary wakes him up while he is clenching his desk on the floor shouting.


-Commercial 3: Dreamcast In Stock!!

The ad starts off with Yukawa sulking on the roof of SEGA until an employee runs to inform him that the Dreamcast is ready to be shipped. Reinvigorated, Yukawa runs down to thank everyone at SEGA and calls his wife with the great news. Before returning home he noticed the children he had seen earlier, the ones who had been disrespecting SEGA in the first commercial. This time, however, they appeared to be praising SEGA and the Dreamcast, which he reacted to by shouting ‘Yosh!’. He does this in numerous settings, then celebrates with SEGA, while accidentally hurting himself.


-Commercial 4: Yukawa’s Passion

This commercial is all about Yukawa giving a passionate speech on how the Dreamcast needs to only focus on the highest quality entertainment. Insulted with his staff wanting to us CD-ROMs (the Dreamcast used GD-ROMs, which held much more content), he shouts and slams his desk proclaiming that SEGA fans demand only the best in graphical detail, the fastest web browser and the best in online play. The speech is cut short with a kid saying “I like things that are fun!”.


-Commercial 5: Old Man Yukawa

With the owners of SEGA (who are hidden behind shadows) feeling they need to expand the Dreamcast market, but that Yukawa himself is far too old. They send Yukawa and a Japanese teen idol known as Takizawa out to sell the console from a cart together.


-Commercial 6: Takizawa Helps

Finding that no one wants to buy stuff from a desperate old guy, Yukawa’s new friend Takizawa offers up dates with women to anyone who buys a Dreamcast from Yukawa.


-Commercial 7: Dreamcast Out Of Stock!!

In this commercial, Yukawa apologizes for how their shipments of the Dreamcast console slowing down to an angry mob.


-Commercial 8: Game Show

Yukawa forcefully rushes onto a game show stage shouting how the Dreamcast is a better way to spend your time instead of a rigged game show. The show’s staff runs on stage to pull him off.

Overnight Success

After the release of the first few commercials, letters and phone calls to SEGA became so frequent requesting more of Hidekazu Yukawa that it was decided he would become a mascot for all of SEGA’s Japanese media related to the Dreamcast console. Not only would he become so popular to be featured on prepaid convenience store cards and photo sticker booths, but there was also a release of the Dreamcast that features just Yukawa on it with no games mentioned at all, and it was still a major success!

The commercials proved so popular that they won the excellence prize during the 38th ACC All Japan Commercial Festival. The ceremony had a total of over 3000 TV and radio commercials entries.

The marketing campaign, along with a solid line-up of game releases and a cheap price point for the Dreamcast console itself made the console in it’s first year a roaring success. It sold so good initially that stock of the console ran out incredibly fast and the public became annoyed with having to wait for new shipments. When this happened, more advertisements were released where SEGA made fun of themselves.

Cameos

Like Segata Sanshiro before him, Hidekazu Yukawa had his own game, but for the Dreamcast called Yukawa Moto Senmu no Otakara sagashi. It was a very simple game designed to focus on online functions and awarded players with actual Dreamcast accessories depending on how well they played.

In downloadable content for Sonic Adventure, players would have to help Yukawa find the cards he lost and would be awarded with some of his famous catchphrases. People with the fastest times for finding all of them would be put on an online leaderboard and could win merchandise.

Easily his most well known cameo was through “What’s Shen Mue?” a disc that was given out to people interested in the upcoming game Shenmue. He was the guide to players in the demo and had an exclusive chases scene. In the full Japanese retail game, once the player found enough toys of them, they could meet with him. In all English releases however, both Ryo Hazuki and Hidekazu Yukawa would still meet, but would have no dialog at all.

Closing Thoughts

Everyone was impressed to find out that the “Mr. SEGA” character was not an actor, but just a Senior Marketing Director. What could have been a basic commercial about a boring spokesman became a comical and memorable character loved by many. Although he could never have reached the cult status of Segata Sanshiro, Hidekazu Yukawa gained his own large fanbase that still beg for more commercials to this day. Seeing as how he still works for SEGA to this day it could happen! Get on your feet, Yukawa!

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