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Badass of the Month Club: Segata Sanshiro

2:40 PM on 02.02.2009 // Anthony Burch

Welcome to the first-ever installment of Badass of the Month Club, Destructoid's monthly article series that highlights those people (both real and fictional) who exhibit some form of ground-shaking, Earth-shattering badassity within the realm of videogames.

"Badass" is also intentionally used as a vague synonym for everything from "good at designing games" to "has the ability to headbutt through a stack of eight cement blocks," so be ready for that.

This month, we look at Segata Sanshiro, the greatest videogame advertising mascot of all time. Though I throw the phrase "best of all time" around quite a bit, I truly mean it in this case. Granted, most videogame companies don't have advertising-only mascots to begin with (usually the heroes of their flagship games do the advertising for them), but still -- Segata Sanshiro is probably one of the coolest advertising mascots of all time.

If you don't believe me, feel free to watch the above video and have your mind blown

Then hit the jump for more.

Segata Sanshiro starred in almost twenty commercials for various Sega Saturn games, none of which I've played. That doesn't matter. None of the games Segata Sanshiro advertised could possibly be as awesome as Segata Sanshiro himself.

A parody of iconic Judo fighter character Sanshiro Sugata, Segata Sanshiro has only one goal: to roam the plains and cities of Japan in search of people who aren't playing Sega Saturn games, and beat the living fucklights out of them. Observe:

In answer to your question: yes. He did just kill an entire club full of people for no reason whatsoever. Yes.

I'm tempted to just embed every single Segata Sanshiro commercial here, but there wouldn't be much point in that. You can watch a playlist of all the commercials here.

It's also worth mentioning that, in addition to having the coolest commercials ever, Segata Sanshiro is directly responsible for one of the greatest Wikipedia paragraphs I have ever read:

Sanshiro lives as a hermit high on a mountain, devoting his life to intensive Sega Saturn training. He trains physically every day by carrying around a giant Sega Saturn on his back and punching buttons on its giant controller, as well as mentally by breaking piles of bricks with his head. His intense training has resulted in his ability to make people explode twice by throwing them, which he does with ease.

Paul Bunyan originally rose to fame as the symbol for a lumber company. Years passed, and eventually people forgot the advertising slant and began to admire the actual character as a folk hero. I like to think, in my heart of hearts, that that's how Segata Sanshiro will be treated in a hundred years. People will have forgotten the Sega Saturn (to be honest, most of us already have), and all that will remain is the image of a man in a karate suit, walking from place to place, throwing bodyslamming people to the ground just for the fuck of it.

Unlike most advertising mascots who just fade away into nonexistence after their parent companies no longer have any use for them (see: the Welch's grape juice girl), Segata Sanshiro actually got a final, plot-driven commercial to commemorate the phasing out of the Sega Saturn. 

It, unsurprisingly, is the most badass thing ever committed to film.

What I find really interesting about the Segata Sanshiro commercials is that they have that confusing, culturally-specific flair that makes watching untranslated Japanese game shows so interesting (none of the commercials are subtitled, for instance, and many of the advertised games never even came out in the US), yet none of the individual commercials are so perplexing that you can't understand exactly what is going on.

Most of the commercials include no dialogue other than "Segata Sanshiro" and "Sega Saturn shiro" ("You must play Sega Saturn," Sanshiro's catchphrase), and thus English-speaking viewers don't have to worry about figuring anything out. You're free to just sit back and watch Segata bodyslam a guy so hard he explodes.

That final commercial also advertises Segata Sanshirō Shinken Yūgi, which I can't find any information on other than what that meager Wiki entry provides. Evidently, the game consists of a series of minigames starring Segata Sanshiro, based on each of his commercials. I can't find any game footage on YouTube, though, so I have no idea how it plays. 

That's all that really needs to be said, where Segata Sanshiro is concerned. He's the most badass advertising character in history, and is, in fact, perfectly suited to his medium. We don't need to know anything about Segata Sanshiro apart from his maniacal devotion to Sega Saturn, and his vengeful punishment for those who refuse to play it. That we got a really badass final commercial where he fucking rides a rocket into space then detonates it just makes his character "arc" all the more satisfying.

I leave you with his full theme song, which I would cut a hand off to have blare from a boom box every time I enter a room.

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