Dentsu Entertainment USA and Level-5 have appointed Evolution USA as the North American licensing and merchandising agent for hit Japanese video game-based franchises Yo-Kai Watch and LBX (Little Battlers eXperience).
L.A.-based Evolution will be showcasing Yo-Kai Watch to licensees and retailers at Licensing Show in Las Vegas next month. So far, Hasbro has signed on as master toy licensee for the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, South America, Central America and New Zealand, and will release a toy range in spring 2016. Viz Media owns publishing rights for manga (graphic novels) under the Perfect Square imprint, and Nintendo of America is launching a North American version of the bestselling Nintendo 3DS handheld game this year.
Yo-Kai Watch revolves around a boy named Keito Amano who gets a special watch empowering him to summon the mysterious Yo-Kai (supernatural monsters in Japanese folklore) that help him solve problems in his daily life usually caused by other troublemaking Yo-Kai living in his hometown. The property has been enjoying remarkable success in its native Japan. More than 7.5 million units of Level-5′s Nintendo 3DS video game series have been distributed in Japan, and retail sales for toys and merchandise (not including games, music or publishing) have topped the US$1 billion mark since Level-5, Dentsu and TV Tokyo launched an anime series (26 half hours) of the same name in January 2014.
A major US broadcast deal is in the works for the number-one ranked series for kids four to 12 on Tokyo TV. The first season was recently picked up by MarVista Entertainment for distribution in Latin America. MarVista and Dentsu are also handling licensing in the region.
As for LBX, it has been renewed by Nicktoons for a second season, with 26 new episodes slated to begin airing this fall. Bandai America is the master toy partner and additional merchandising and licensing partners are being sought.
The first wave of North American products for both properties is expected to hit retail shelves in fall 2016.