Reuters Article with comments from Yuji Naka

Interview Data:

  • Interview Date: 18 March 2003
  • Interview Topics: Sonic X, Sonic & Pokemon
  • Interview Source: Reuters external.png

Japan's Sega to Push 'Sonic' Brand on TV

Tue March 18, 2003 06:16 AM ET
TOKYO (Reuters) - In a move to revitalize its sagging earnings, Japanese videogame publisher Sega Corp said on Tuesday it plans to air an animated program starring its 'Sonic the Hedgehog' character.
Starting from April, TV Tokyo, one of the nation's major broadcasters, will air the program featuring Sonic game characters on Sunday mornings. The game maker wants Sonic to emulate the success of Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s 'Pokemon' animated character games which have boosted the company's profile and profits.

Sega said the TV program featuring Sonic, whose videogame have sold more than 32 million copies worldwide since its debut in the United States in 1991, will be on air in the United States and Europe this autumn.

A separate Sonic program has already been aired by the U.S. licensee in the U.S. and Europe, where the games series has been more popular than in Japan, but Sega said it will have a bigger role in creating the new Japan-made TV program.

'This means our dream comes true. The next business year will become the Sonic year for Sega group, centered on the TV program,' said Yuji Naka, head of Sega's developing team for the Sonic series.

The Tokyo-based company plans to release four videogame titles in the Sonic series this year in Japan and five in the U.S. and Europe, while Sega's toy unit will release Sonic related toys, Naka said.

'We would like to make Sonic as big as Pokemon,' Naka said.

Riding on the overseas success of Pokemon, Japanese toymakers are rolling out mixed-media products — tying in character toys with television programs, DVD videos and video games. Japan's biggest toymaker Bandai Co. Ltd. has pointed the way by breaking into the United States, the world's No.1 toy and videogame market, in 1993 with the long-running Power Rangers series.

Bandai has also had success using the same method to introduce the 'Gundam' robot toy series into mainstream products overseas.

Sega, struggling to turn its business around after posting its fifth consecutive net loss in 2001/02, said last month it would merge with Sammy Corp, Japan's top manufacturer of 'pachinko' and slot game machines.

The details of the pact have not been unveiled, but Sega's plan to push 'Sonic' brand at home and abroad will remain unchanged, Naka said.


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