Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Discovering Friendship with Yo-kai Watch

We were returning from an after school activity when the giant box was left on our front porch. The large logo and picture of a watch with the Yo-kai Watch symbol caught our attention and the kids were scrambling out of the minivan like they were deploying out of a helicopter. It was yet another cold and frosty day outside. My indoor/outdoor thermometer read seven degrees with a windchill of negative two. It was a perfect opportunity to discover together just what was inside this box.

I'll be honest. I had no clue what Yo-kai Watch was and neither did my kids. That doesn't happen that often in this house as I pride myself in being that dad that knows all the coolest toys. I told my kids that the Yo-kai Watch movie was even more popular in Japan than Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
To get some perspective, we snuggled up on the couch and popped in the first four episodes of Yo-kai Watch to get familiar with the characters. The box would have to wait.

It was pretty exciting to experience it together for the first time. We were in this together for possibly the first time!  All too often the kids come home with feedback from the "experts" on the bus who know it all about everything and anything. I was glad to have them untainted by outside influence. My kids were hooked instantly and the good thing is that you can see Yo-kai Watch on Disney XD on Mondays at 5 pm ET or see past episodes on their YouTube channel. Parents, you'll want to get out in front of this one as your kids will soon be asking you all about it.

Yo-kai Watch is an original concept created by renowned Japanese game company Level-5, Inc.  It follows the story of a boy named Nate who stumbles upon a Yo-kai named Whisper while hunting for bugs in a forest. Whisper gives him a watch that allows him to see Yo-kai which are spirits that cause trouble in the human world. Whisper acts as Nate's guide while he deals with bad Yo-kai who cause trouble and seeks out good Yo-kai to help him solve the issues they are causing.

After watching the show, my kids were ready to explore the toys from Hasbro and tore into the packages to divide up the Yo-kai swag. Each kid had a Yo-kai Watch which recognizes medals of different characters, a Yo-kai Medallium Collection Book to organize and keep their medals, one Yo-kai Watch Medal Moments figure and one Yo-kai Watch Mystery Bag.

The series is wacky to say the least. There is lots of potty related humor and an elusive character called Cheeksqueak whose description on the Yo-kai Land app that describes his powers as being able to force anyone to fart by spraying an orange mist from his "mouth".  There is even one episode where Nate gets outed by a girl friend of his for dropping a deuce at school. This became my kids' focus when they were pretending later that day and it made us all laugh when it happened.

Beyond the show is an immersive toy collection from Hasbro. The Medallium Collection Book is absolutely essential for the organization of the medals and understanding which category each Yo-kai falls into. My kids instantly organized all their medals in their books and went about trading and comparing their favorite characters.

Combine this collection ability with the interactive nature of the medal with the Yo-kai Watch and my kids instantly became Yo-kai Watch experts. It didn't take long before we were singing and dancing to the catchy songs from the series and pretending the the Yo-kai actually did exist in our own lives.

What I loved most about the series was that there was less emphasis on fighting and more emphasis on friendship. Making a powerful ally in a Yo-kai with impressive talents will help the wearer of the watch when it comes to difficult situations with bad Yo-kai.  When Nate summons someone for help he says "Come out my friend". The same thing happened to my own children, I watched them do the thing that brings kids together, which is play.

The same way we turn to our friends in real life when times get tough, Yo-kai Watch stresses the importance of friendship over fighting. While my children were already friends, I saw them come together while playing in a next level of friendship and sharing which isn't always the case for kids. Now my kids are running around the house knocking on each other's doors to play and saying "Come out my friend" and that's an attitude they can carry with them forever even when they aren't wearing the watch. There's one thing that holds true for once you have Yo-kai in your house, your life will never ever be the same.

FTC Disclaimer: I was compensated both financially and in product by Hasbro for the #YokaiWatch campaign. All opinions remain my own. 

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