Sony had Kevin Butler. Nintendo had Mario. Heck even Microsoft attempted to craft a system-selling mascot of their own with Blinx, an anthropomorphic cat with a grin so sinister that it came with its own pit and a basket of lotion to rub on your skin lest you get the hose again. Icons of another age, characters who could never match up to the unrelenting might of SEGA’s greatest creation:
If those two words immediately conjure up the image of a hard-fighting Judo master who was equal parts salesman and an ass-kicker with a level of willpower that would put John Wick to shame, chances are high that you owned both a SEGA Saturn and a few broken bones after having received his Ippon Seoinage sales pitch.
Before Chuck Norris jokes hit the mainstream, there was Segata Sanshiro unleashing ludicrous feats of strength on the unlucky all so that he could convince you to buy the SEGA Saturn and its assorted games. Zombies, love-smitten teenagers and baseball players…all were fair game for the martial arts master who introduced them all to the glory of SEGA and his armpits via a headlock takedown.
Played by Hiroshi Fujioka in real life, the character would eventually be retired in 1998 when he saved SEGA (and the world!) from a missile attack, riding the weapon of mass destruction into outer space and ending his journey. Sanshiro’s tale may have come to an end then, but his legacy lives on through his son:
I love it! Bonus fact: That is Fujioka’s actual son Maito Fujioka who has adopted the SEGA-selling power of his father in the new advert. A new character for a new age, able to use charm to sell SEGA products on the cusp of the brand’s 60th anniversary celebrations. And wearing his dad’s old Judo gi over his shoulders as well, a sign that the original Sanshiro still lives on in our hearts.
And presumably in space, where he’s currently breaking alien bodies while screaming about the SEGA Saturn. SEGATA SANSHIRO SEGATA SANSHIRO! SEGA-GATA…SANSHIRO!
Last Updated: March 26, 2020