♫ "Segata Sanshiro! Segata Sanshiro! Sega Saturn... Shiro!"note ♫
In the 1990s, Hiroshi Fujioka played the eponymous Segata Sanshiro (pictured), the Japanese spokesman for Sega's Saturn console — a crazed martial artist who beat the living crap out of people for not playing Sega Saturn and singing his own theme song (well, part of it), which was later released as a single that sold over 100,000 copies. It can be argued that his presence in Sega's Japanese commercials was singlehandedly responsible for the continued existence of Sega in the console market (up to the Sega Dreamcast).
Unbeknownst to many people nowadays, he was a direct and very personal parody of Sanshiro Sugata, a literary character of the eponymous series written by Judo scholar Tsuneo Tomita and immortalized in film at the directorial debut of Akira Kurosawa.
His last commercial consisted of him bravely sacrificing himself to ensure the Dreamcast's release, and his exploits were immortalized in Sega's last first-party Saturn game Segata Sanshiro Shinkenyugi.
He made his first American comic appearance in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog issue #269, was one of the three winners for the voting of DLC characters in Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, and made an appearance in Project X Zone 2 as one of the playable characters.
The Segata Sanshiro commercials provide examples of:
- Abusive Advertising: Dire consequences are promised for those who lack a Saturn.
- Advertising Campaigns: Probably one of the best (and ridiculous) advertisement series ever made.
- Always Someone Better: He lost a martial arts tournament to Sonic the Hedgehog in one Archie comic.
- Awesomeness Is Volatile: When Segata judo-tosses someone, they explode. Twice.
- Back from the Dead: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed retcons his final commercial, having him survive, but showing that he spent THE ENTIRE 14 YEARS SINCE THEN making sure Nintendo/Sony's rocket never hits Sega headquarters. And somewhere along the line, it seems that he's able to toss the rocket and have it explode somewhere else, and gets back into kicking ass in Project X Zone 2.
- Bad Santa: The children are not happy to see him.
- Bittersweet Ending: In his last ad, he sacrifices himself to save Sega from a missile. A Happy Ending Override in recent times, considering Sega's recent financial woes.
- Bragging Theme Tune: The solitary man who devoted his soul to the way of games.Today, he comes again
He will punish those who do not play seriously
Their battered bodies will never forget!
- Breakout Character: He was so popular that his theme song got a hit single release AND he had the honor of getting his own video game as the last major Sega Saturn release!
- Catch-Phrase: "Sega Saturn Shiro!" (literally "Play Sega Saturn!")
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Strong enough to catch a cruise missile. With his bare hands. In mid-air. Then force it into space.
- Complaining about People Not Liking the Show: An In-Universe example; if you're not playing on the Sega Saturn when Segata comes around, he will beat you into doing it.
- Complete Immortality: He can survive in the vacuum of space, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed shows he survived his seeming Heroic Sacrifice and has been riding the same missile to keep it from crashing into Sega HQ for 14 years, presumably without taking a break to eat, drink or sleep. One issue of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog shows Segata living on Mobius, which is/was Earth 3000 years in the future, after a bunch of aliens attacked and left the planet a wasteland — and a soft Continuity Reboot resulting from a crossover with Mega Man — so yeah, he managed to survive all that stuff somehow.
- Covert Pervert: In his ad for Burning Rangers, he insisted on applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to an unconscious woman, despite being in a burning building and the woman's younger sister pulling his shirt to get him off her.
- Deconstruction: Mostly Played for Laughs:
- When he lifts a goal up to prevent the opponent team from winning, he gets a red card for it.
- When he goes ice-skating barefoot, he has to warm his feet back up afterwards.
- Also the fact that a zombie will always get back up no matter how many times you judo-throw them.
- Determinator: He refuses to die; he cameos in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, still riding the same missile he stopped from crashing into Sega HQ, still alive, and still holding his beloved Sega Saturn.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Sings his own Leit Motif.
- Does Not Like Shoes: In keeping with his general appearance as a martial arts master. This is highlighted in the advertisement for Winter Heat, wherein he races across an ice rink against a skater. While barefoot. And wins. (Although he's shown trying to warm his feet up afterward, at the end of the commercial.)
- Disproportionate Retribution: Playing outside? Going clubbing? When you should be playing a Sega Saturn?! You deserve to be judo flipped, applied a rear-naked choke, and left in a pile of bodies with your friends!
- Double Meaning: His Catch-Phrase "Sega Saturn Shiro" could both mean "Play the Sega Saturn" or "Sega Saturn Whitenote ".
- Dying Moment of Awesome: If stopping a missile with his bare hands and pushing it into space with him until it explodes doesn't count, nothing does.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Only two or three early commercials involve Segata beating the crap out of those who don't play Sega Saturn, the rest of it falls more into Crazy Awesome things he does. However, the lyrics of his songs imply that he's still doing that off-screen.
- Failed a Spot Check: For some reason, a lot of people who aren't playing Sega Saturns fail to notice the brawny, barefooted, gi-clad judo master of legend standing in their way.
- Fully Absorbed Finale: Archie's Sonic comic, Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed, Rent A Hero #1, a real life concert, and Project X Zone 2 show that he's still alive and well.
- Good Is Not Nice
- Graceful Loser: His appearance in the Archie Sonic comics has him lose to Sonic himself. He declares there's no shame in losing to him. He also is defeated by Yuri Flynn in Project X Zone 2 no worse for wear, and befrieinding them immediately after.
- Gretzky Has the Ball: If Segata wants a football team to win, it will win. He got called out for it in the second one.
- He also kicks a baseball instead of hitting it with a bat.
- And goes ice skating... without skates. Or any kind of footwear, for that matter.
- Heroic Sacrifice: When Sega cancelled the Saturn and launched the Dreamcast, they gave Segata an honorable sendoff. The Dreamcast logo appears just once, at about :13.
- Informed Kindness: He's described in-universe as being a "great hero," but this is a little hard to believe considering the fact that all he does is beat anyone who doesn't happen to play Sega Saturn senseless. It's better shown in Project X Zone 2 where he is a good friend (and sometimes even patron) of the various Sega characters and encourages those who are unfamiliar with him to pursue whatever path they choose with the utmost of seriousness.
- The Juggernaut: If you catch the wrath of Segata, no force on earth can save you from him. It took a missile to snuff him out of existence, and even that got retconned to show he survived it. To date, he has only two recorded losses:
- Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Zombies. It doesn't matter how many times you judo throw them, they get right back up
- Large Ham: Subtlety is an eight letter word to him.
- Made of Iron: A baseball-pitching machine shoots close to 100 baseballs at him, and they harmlessly bounce off his chest.
- Manly Tears: Here. And his Grand Finale will make you do the same.
- Mascot: Of the Sega Saturn.
- Mundane Made Awesome: A judo master beating people up whilst a bombastic and over-the-top chorus of men chant "SEGATA SANSHIRO! SEGATA SANSHIRO! SEGA SATAAAAN... SHIRO!!!"? Of course it's awesome!
- Oh, Crap!:
- One-Man Army: When the other army looks like this, you should be retreating. Although it won't help.
- Punny Name: His name sounds like "Sega Sataan Shiro" ("Play Sega Saturn") with the third and fourth katakana switched, or, more to the point, like a play on famous judo practitioner Sugata Sanshiro's name.
- Say My Name: Standard procedure of seeing him, accompanied with Oh, Crap!.
- Serious Business: Sega Saturn. Serious Business.
- Shout-Out: In one commercial, Segata Sanshiro wins a fight by magically creating 100 smaller clones of himself to help him, a tactic often used by Sun Wukong in Journey to the West.
- Something Completely Different: The only commercial that does not show him beating people up or doing badass things has him frolicking in a field of cherry blossoms with Sakura Shinguji. This was alluded to in Project X Zone 2.
- Spiritual Successor: Recent ads for Nissin UFO instant Ramen Noodles has their current mascot mentored by a man played by Hiroshi Fujioka who wears power armor and is known only as The Legend. These ads often knock The Legend out of his armor, showing that he wears a white Judo uniform beneath, implying that The Legend actually IS Segata Sanshiro.
- Theme Music Power-Up: His theme song always plays right when he's about to beat someone up.
- Training from Hell: Segata's daily routine involves carrying a giant Sega Saturn up a hill, attempting to judo flip a tree with a Saturn attached to it, and Button Mashing a Saturn controller... with his fists!
- Unflinching Walk: "BOMBAAMAN!" [walks away from explosion] "Sega Saturn..."
- When All You Have Is a Hammer...: The man serves justice, defeats opponents, and wins soccer matches by judo throws.
- Would Hit a Girl: In the Shining Force III ad, here.
- Would Hurt a Child: Depends on their age. He applies his usual wrath against a bunch of older kids attempting to play Baseball instead of Sega Saturn, but when faced a bunch of younger children in a Christmas-themed advert, he merely frightens them by taking off his Santa Claus disguise, but gives them a Sega Saturn afterward.