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Segata Sanshiro is a popular fictional character created by SEGA in 1997. He was created for an ad campaign for the Sega Saturn in Japan from 1997 to 1998 in order to improve unit sales. Portrayed by iconic Japanese actor Hiroshi Fujioka, the character is a parody of Sugata Sanshiro (a character from Akira Kurosawa’s film Sanshiro Sugata). The name Segata Sanshiro sounds similar to the phrase Sega Satan Shiro! which translates to “You must play Sega Saturn!”, which is a phrase used in his theme song.
In the commercials, Segata is depicted as a master of multiple forms of martial arts, living atop a mountain, carrying a giant Sega Saturn and controller on his back for training purposes to fulfill his duties towards “serious gaming”. In the ad campaigns he beats up civilians, kids, and zombies for neglecting their duties toward the Sega Saturn while urging them to “play until [their] fingers break”.
The ad campaign was an immense success in Japan and the character ended up starring in over two dozen commercials, becoming an national phenomenon. Because of this success, the character was featured in numerous games, including his own. Other game characters were based on him such as Iwao Hazuki in Shenmue, also voiced by Hiroshi Fujioka in the Japanese version of the game. Segata Sanshiro was retired when SEGA’s newest system Dreamcast was set to launch, although he was present at the official launch of the system in Japan.
Today, here in the west, Segata Sanshiro is most widely known on the internet as either being an equivalent of or far superior than Chuck Norris in terms of “bad-assery”. The most viewed video on Youtube of Segata Sanshiro (over 269,000 views) is the infamous Sega Saturn Bomerman commercial.
Here is a brief history on Segata Sanshiro. This video includes many of the original commercials as well as the official music video produced by SEGA (with translations). This video courtesy of Youtube user BLAKEBUCK:
This flash animation created by Newgrounds user BBsman5 and voiced by DrouxtheShredder parodies the Segata Sanshiro theme song. In this video, Segata is touted as being better than Chuck Norris.
This video by Youtube user tofugu