In 1998, Hidekazu Yukawa, Senior Managing Director of Sega, became an overnight celebrity in Japan when he began appearing in Sega commercials that were promoting their upcoming console, the Dreamcast. The first commercial shows Yukawa overhearing some kids disrespecting Sega and praising Sony and their own gaming console, the PlayStation. Saddened by this, he mentions what he had heard to his employees and later hits the streets to wallow in his own sorrow. While in his state of despair, some gang members rough him up and say some demeaning things to him. He finally staggers home where his wife finds him as a total mess. When the commercial ends, you hear a kid say: “Get on your feet, Yukawa!”
Yukawa’s acting was so good that it convinced viewers that he was a professional actor. After the public viewed the first few commercials he was in, Sega was flooded with emails and phone calls that were praising him. He became so popular that his face was put on prepaid convenience store cards and photo sticker booths. Kids even mimicked his acting from the commercials. He was so famous, Sega decided to put his face on the back of Dreamcast boxes so it could attract more customers into buying a Dreamcast. Sega also gave him his own website.
When the Dreamcast was finally released in Japan, the popularity for the console was so strong that Sega could not keep up the supply with the demand. Soon after, Yukawa needed to be in a commercial apologizing to the public for not having enough consoles in the channel during the first two weeks of the launch. Yukawa would soon appear in a few more commercials for Sega. Some ads had him appear side-by-side with Takizawa, a Japanese teen idol. These commercials were to promote the Dreamcast. The Sega commercials were so good that they won the excellence prize during the 38th ACC All Japan CM Festival. The ceremony had a total of over 3000 TV and radio commercials entries.
Below is a list of commercials that Yukawa was in:
Kids talking bad about Sega
Takizawa makes the sell
Apologizing for having consoles out of stock
Consoles are back in stock (yosh!)
The next few paragraphs explain the Dreamcast games Yukawa made cameos in.
In the game Yukawa Motosenmu no Otakara Sagashi (Former Managing Director Yukawa's Treasure Hunt), you play the role of Yukawa and you need to look for Sega branded items that were buried underground on an island. This was a game that was used as a promotional item for the Dreamcast and for its online capabilities. This game was only released in Japan. So, equipped with only a shovel, Yukawa will scour the land in an attempt to find and dig up items such as backpacks, VMUs, and posters. Each item is segmented into six pieces. Once you’ve collected all six pieces for the item, it will be stored in your inventory so you can view the final trinket as whole. The online portion of this allowed the player to register the item and have the opportunity to win it. This event was active between March 20, 1999 and April 11, 1999.
Sega released a Japan only minigame for Sonic Adventure called Yukawa Senmu QUO Mini game. This game was available as a download on Sega’s on-line service and it would download onto the VMU, occupying 34 blocks. This minigame is not a standalone game for the VMU. You run around the Sonic Adventure areas in the main game and try to collect Mr. Yukawa cards in the shortest time. It's not that great of a game in itself, but it is interesting the way they are able to add something new to the game. Apparently it was some kind of promotion from 01/22/1999 to 02/22/1999 where 50 winners would receive a 500 yen QUO card with a picture of Mr. Yukawa. The QUO card is a universal pre-paid card that can be used in 10,000 convenience stores and other locations in Japan. To play, start up the Sonic game and select sonic, tails, or knuckles. Go in front of the train station in Station Square and there will be a big red ball. Jump into it to start the mini game. Find the cards and Mr. Yukawa says "yosh!" just like in the commercials. You have to collect 6 of the Yukawa cards scattered throughout Station Square and Mystic ruin and finish by running into the blue ball at the station in Mystic ruin. None of the cards are in the courses. When you finish, you can upload your time on the Sonic web site. Not the deepest game in the world, but you could win a prepaid QUO card. Read more about this mini game by clicking here.
Yukawa also made a cameo in Sega’s demo for Shenmue called: “What's Shenmue.” This was a demo that was only released in Japan and was used to hype up the game and give players a taste of what the gameplay was all about. The main mission of the game was to locate Yukawa. This required the player to walk around town and get clues from the townsfolk of where Yukawa could be at. Once you’ve located him, he runs away, and you (Ryo), must chase after him. A series of Quick Time Events (QTE) portray the chase sequence. Once you’ve caught up to Yukawa, you save him from an attacker that wanted a “disk”. After the attacker is dealt with, Ryo and Yukawa talk for a bit and then the screen flashes white. Afterwards, we see Yukawa sleeping at his desk surrounded with unsold Dreamcast’s. He wakes up and realizes that it was all a dream. He looks up and sees a poster of Shenmue on his wall and then makes a heart filled effort to help sell the Dreamcast systems. After this, the game ends. You can view the video for this demo by clicking here. Screenshots can be viewed by clicking here.