Who Is Yatterman Night’s Target Audience?

You guys remember that Flintstones movie from the 90s? The one that did very well at the box office but was critically panned because critics did not like the tone it was going for (seriously, when you think of the Flintstones, do you think embezzlement plots and Halle Berry seducing people?)? I sided with the critics regarding that film and I’m feeling the same way towards Yatterman Night in general. The tonal shifts have always been a problem since Episode 2, but it started to click with me around last week and especially this week: Yatterman Night was made primarily for a kiddy audience with no real goal in mind other than to be a “fun” show and thus was never going to appeal to me to begin with.

Except even if you take that into account, what kid would appreciate the sort of topics that Yatterman Night goes into? Dictatorships? Oppression of the weak? Poverty? Crucifixion? This is the sort of stuff I’d expect from Fullmetal Alchemist or Now and Then, Here and There. Not in what’s essentially Pokemon from the 70s. I mean do you think this kind of scene would fly in Pokemon? Yeah, there was that one episode that got banned in America because Team Rocket used actual guns, but my point is this: why is all this heavy stuff in a kids’ show? I’d excuse it if it was doing something interesting with said stuff that’d be useful for kids, but it just has them there as a setting and it’s barely the focus, if at all.

And if it’s for the older audience, not only would the “not using heavy stuff for something interesting” complaint I made still apply, but what sort of person past the age of ten would laugh at any of the humor in this show (remember the guy who peed everywhere last week? Terrible)? More importantly, the humor gets in the way of the plot and it feels like none of the characters are taking anything the least bit seriously – which is damning considering how far this show goes to portray how poverty stricken all the human characters are. Seriously, is there only the one human on the Yatterman side?

I can’t take these Yattermen seriously as villains because they’re too disposable and goofy. The main characters’ ability to summon mecha out of nowhere is jarringly strange given how I don’t see where they got the resources to build those. I definitely can’t take the main villain (so far) seriously because he’s a boring evil asshole dressed like a Power Rangers villain. I can’t even take the dead mother drama seriously because it feels like it belongs in a different show and it’s been milked to the point that I’ve stopped caring (I mean the mother was only on-screen for like one episode, and she wasn’t exactly Trisha Elric. Hell, Trisha Elric wasn’t milked this much). The morality is incredibly simplistic (Doronjo and her gang are good, the Yattermen are bad) and whilst I’m sure there’s a compelling reason for why the Yattermen have become dictators, the show is taking too long to reveal said reason.

The main bad guy as of now just said that the Yattermen saved him once this week and that’s it. How is that a good indicator for why previously established heroes have turned into dicks? And if it’s just that one guy and his army of evil robots who disposed of all the good Yattermen and is using their name to commit evil deeds whilst acting like Dr. Eggman from Sonic the Hedgehog, that’d be even worse. Because everyone loved the final plot twist in the first season of Korra where all the moral complexity was revealed to be a bunch of farcical gimmicks covering up a basic good vs. evil story, didn’t they? Plus, I doubt his reason for betraying the teachings of the Yattermen will be interesting.

To my readers who like this show (and I know there are a few of you), why do you enjoy it? Why is there a target audience regarding this 70s revival? It’s not appropriate enough for kids to be simple fun and it’s not “adult” enough for the older audience, so who does that leave? Yatterman fans? They Flintstones fans sure seemed to enjoy the Flintstones movie just because they were in it and portrayed well by the actors (minus Rosie O’Donnell for Betty, but let’s ignore that). But unlike the Flintstones, I doubt most of you guys watched any of the original show. And even then, it’s been discussed elsewhere that this show isn’t exactly something the average Yatterman fan would like.

Also, please answer in a compelling manner. Saying “because it’s fun” isn’t something I’m going to accept. Saying “it’s well-executed” isn’t a good reason either unless you can debunk the arguments I made above.

Edit: So the homeless guy that Doronjo meets up with dies in the end. Must have missed that somehow. Yeah, actual death. That’s what I want to see in a kids’ show.

13 responses to “Who Is Yatterman Night’s Target Audience?

  1. Hi,

    Occasional reader here, feeling compelled to answer your questions because I really like this show!
    I first want to acknowledge that as you and many viewers, it seems, I find the tonal changes a bit jarring and the humour does not do anything for me.
    But I really love what they are doing with the Yatterman dictatorship.
    I recently read a book by Lisa Wedeen called Ambiguities of domination where she studies the Syrian regime, and especially the personality cult surroundig Hafez-el Assad (Bachar’s predecessor). She writes that the cult is so ridiculous (with slogans such as « Assad is the first pharmacist of Syria »), that nobody seriously believes it. But that’s does not mean that the cult is useless. On the contrary, the cult shows how powerful the regime is because it can force people to repeat these senseless slogans and participate to ridiculous spectacles dedicated to celebrate the leader. In a perspective inspired by Foucault, real power resides in the capacity to make someone act a certain way (and not believe a certain way), and the more crazy that way is, the more power it means you have. So basically, I feel like Yatterman is a really good illustration of that, especially with the goofy salute.

    I also like that the show did not go with the simplistic route of « people hate the regime, they see someone rebelling, they join her », but instead depict how torned people are between helping them and not getting involved given the possible dire consequences. From an outsider point of view it makes sense to rebel, but for people living inside this regime, it is not such an easy choice because they have their own priorities (and in most cases this priority is the well-being of their family). It adds a layer of complexity to a story that, as you said, is morally quite simple (good vs evil, at least until now). The fact is, it is simple for us and the heroes (given our point of view), but it is not for the rest of the people. This is something Leopard seems to understand more and more as the serie progresses.

    And lastly, I like what they are doing with Leopard’s character. There is a coming of age story somewhere in this show, and it’s especially clear with the last episode. She starts her journey saying she wants to give Yatterman a « forehead flicking », which is very childish. When confronted with the reality of the Yatter Kingdom, she starts to realize how vain it is and that everything is not going to be that simple. This progressive realization comes to an end in the last episode, where she finally says that she is not simply going to give Yatterman a forehead flicking, but that she is going to overthrow him.

    To conclude, this show is a really weird mix of tones and ideas, and it does not always work, but the way it treats political elements really fascinates me (to the point where I am ok with just overlooking other aspects). It may not be as subtle and deep as some other shows, but I actually think that’s what makes it interesting, because authoritarian regimes are actually not that subtle most of the time (and yet they persist).

    As for the target audience… Yep…No idea who they were trying to reach with this…

    Well, I hope this answer was compelling enough!

    • Apparently, the Yatterman fans in Japan like it enough because the ratings are about what they expected. Which is both good and bad for the show in a way.

    • As for your other points, the thing with Yatterman is that it’s not using them in a way that’s particularly interesting to me. Leopard wearing the “evil” Doronjo costume is ultimately irrelevant because she’s just a hero except with Team Rocket mecha. You could have just made her be the Yatterman rebel taking down the Doronjo kingdom and it would have made no difference. It’s just gimmicky.

      Also, I’m not sure what dystopian fiction you’ve been in contact with, but I’ve seen that sort of “citizens are hesitant to overthrow evil ruler” stuff before. It’s not new to me or to the genre as a whole. It’s clear Yatterman is aiming to be more “fun” than original. Thing is, I don’t like the way it’s carrying out that “fun”.

  2. By that token, who is the target audience for Junketsu no Maria? Wait, don’t answer. It’s depressing enough that it’s relatively popular.

    Yatterman seems to be targeting a niche audience of people who like to see weird combinations of old-school anime ideas with modern ones, that still have an emotional core (as flimsy as it may be). Like Casshern Sins or Gatchaman Crowds. Sometimes they work for you, sometimes they don’t.

    • Maria ain’t that popular from what I see. It’s not a critical favorite, it’s not a MAL favorite, discussions for it aren’t high, etc. Where exactly is the praise coming from?

      Like Casshern Sins or Gatchaman Crowds. Sometimes they work for you, sometimes they don’t.

      Those two shows you mentioned comment on larger things not just within their original shows, but on humanity as a whole. Yatterman, on the other hand, just uses those topics as window-dressing for fun. You also have to remember that those shows keep consistent tones throughout their runtime. Yatterman feels like it was written by two writing teams: one who wanted to make an edgy remake and the other who wanted to make a Yatterman cartoon. And it shows. Badly.

      • You seem to be right about Maria; I’ve been focusing a bit more on particular circles for it than I should be.

        But I’m not sure if we’re far enough into Yatterman to really know what it’s about, if anything. I can say that I don’t remember Casshern or Gatchaman covering their central themes all that brilliantly compared to Yatterman’s “motherhood” and “dystopian sentai” themes, at least to this point in their respective runs, but I suppose that’s debatable if you got sucked into either of them.

        Maybe the real problem isn’t “who it’s for” but that it’s not aiming higher (or doesn’t yet seem to be)?

      • It’s just a fun show at the end of the day. It doesn’t necessarily need to aim higher, although I won’t like it if it doesn’t because I don’t care about the comedy. But if it just wants to be fun, why does it have themes of “motherhood” and “dystopia” in the first place? Shallow explorations of said themes aren’t exactly something I’d consider fun for anyone.

      • I guess I’m just not as sold on it being “fun”. It feels to me like it’s just (bluntly) using comedy as levity, given how often it brings up the MC’s mother and Yatter Kingdom’s wrongdoings. The themes are pretty heavy, even if the exploration isn’t deep (yet). So, issues of taste aside, I suppose it’s just not as accessible as other anime that have similar problems, and viewers don’t feel as compelled to form an emotional connection to the MC. Which leads us back to your question of why some people DO form that bond… and from the other comments here it seems like it *is* because they find it fun. Great, now I’ve thoroughly confused myself 🙂

  3. The target audience for this show is people like me. Adults who never lost the heart of a child. people who grew up on silly cartoons and bad children shows and loved every minute of them because all they wanted was to see something cool on screen and be entertained for a few hours. But now we are adults so we can also appreciate things like darkness and some of the real world problems showing up in our goofy entertainment.

    You can keep to the shows that are always well made and have great thematic depth after all there isn’t a whole lot to blog in a show like this or something like Dog Days, which exists for the sole purpose of cute and cool.

    I am sure you can’t enjoy a show unless you can write long essays about why the show is good or enjoyable. All I need is to channel my inner child and say “That shit was cool!”

    I loved every moment of this episode and I don’t need to write an essay about it. This show put a goofy smile on my face and made me feel like a kid again. I own and love Cassern Sins but it can’t do that.

    • But now we are adults so we can also appreciate things like darkness and some of the real world problems showing up in our goofy entertainment.

      To me, Amagi is a goofy show with depths of hidden darkness amongst the antics. Venture Brothers is a flat-out hilarious adult tribute to stuff we enjoyed as a kid. The new Lego Movie is pretty cute. Yatterman Night, on the other hand, feels like a half-assed compromise between gritty adult remake and childish nostalgia aka the Flintstones movie.