♫ "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, which was later released as a CD and record 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 as 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. In modern days, Segata's exploits have given him a Memetic Badass status comparable to Chuck Norris, except this guy has video footage to back the claims up.
Despite his supposed death in his last commercial, not even a nuclear missile could kill Segata for good. 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 a boss fight and support character. He also reappeared in person for Sega's March 2019 Sega Fes to celebrate 25 years of Sega Saturn.
The Segata Sanshiro commercials provide examples of:
- Abusive Advertising: Dire consequences are promised for those who lack a Saturn.
- Actor Allusion:
- Fujioka's most iconic character, the original Kamen Rider, was written out of Kamen Rider V3 also by stopping a missile. It also didn't last.
- One of the music videos also has him delivering a flying kick to the camera, which is also a callback to Kamen Rider's trademark finishing move.
- This video takes the Kamen Rider references to its logical conclusion by having Shocker appear and call him Takeshi Hongo, to which he responds by becoming Kamen Rider 1 and fighting them with 2, V3, and Black RX, all while the original opening plays in the background.
- 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 and 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 been able to toss the rocket and have it explode somewhere else, and gets back into kicking ass in Project X Zone 2.
- Bad Santa: A Zig-Zagged example. When Segata disguises himself as Santa Claus, the children are scared to see him when he takes off his mask; but he does give them a judo throw-free Sega Saturn afterward.
- Badass in Distress:
- The House of the Dead commercial has Segata imperiled by zombies, which are immune to his judo throws, impervious to the Sega Saturn's awesomeness, and swarm and overwhelm him as the commercial ends.
- One of the minigames found in his tie-in video game, based on the Deep Fear ad, has the player tasked with saving Segata from drowning by playing a Match-Three Game.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Segata has big, bushy eyebrows.
- 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: His theme song extols his awesomeness.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!
- The Bus Came Back: Sega and Fujioka brought Sanshiro back for Sega Fes in March of 2019. Even after almost 20 years, Fujioka remembered the lyrics to his theme song too!
- Button Mashing: Part of his training routine consists of rapidly punching buttons on an oversized Saturn controller.
- Catchphrase: "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 imploded the universe, making him effectively unkillable.
- 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.
- Determinator: His mission statement is for people to pursue their passions with utmost seriousness, especially playing Sega Saturn. He also 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.)
- Disco Dan: In his Project X Zone 2 appearance he continues to promote the greatness of the Saturn despite the console having been long discontinued and Sega no longer making hardware. Of course, since he was created to pitch the Saturn....
- 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 Catchphrase "Sega Saturn Shiro" could both mean "Play the Sega Saturn" or "Sega Saturn White"note .
- 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 the randomly 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: Segata is determined that young people make the most out of life and play Sega Saturn, beating up anyone who isn't fully committed to something.
- Graceful Loser: His appearance in the Archie Sonic comics has him lose to Sonic offscreen. He declares there's no shame in losing to him. He also is defeated by Yuri and Flynn in Project X Zone 2 no worse for wear, and befriending 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 by having him sacrifice himself to save the Dreamcast.
- Informed Kindness: He's described in-universe as being a great hero, but his early ads had him beat anyone who doesn't happen to play Sega Saturn senseless. It's better shown in later ads where he's on good terms with people and spends his time being awesome, and Project X Zone 2, where he is a good friend and patron of the various Sega characters and encourages those who are unfamiliar with him to pursue whatever path they choose with utmost 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 of dubious canonicity:
- He appeared in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog series, losing to the Blue Blur in a martial arts contest.
- In Project X Zone 2, he attempts to push Yuri Lowell into playing a Sega Saturn. His refusal to play results in a fight between them, and Yuri wins. Segata promptly joins the team, and can't be injured or killed due to his NPC status.
- 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.
- Legacy Character: His successor is his son, Sega Shiro.
- 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.
- Me's a Crowd: When the other army looks like this, you should be retreating. Although it won't help.
- Minigame Game: His tie-in game was a compilation of minigames based around his ads.
- 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!:
- The reaction of anyone who met Segata Sanshiro while not playing Sega Saturn... and is about to be beaten to pulp.
- He's not immune to it himself as seen in this House of the Dead commercial.
- In the final commercial, the Sega executives presenting the Dreamcast are utterly shocked when they see a missile heading towards their headquarters.
- One-Man Army: Segata can take out just about anyone all by himself, with his only weakness being zombies.
- Pre-Mortem Catchphrase: He goes out saying his catchphrase (see above) three times just before the rocket explodes.
- Punny Name: His name sounds like "Sega Sataan Shiro" ("Play Sega Saturn") with the third and fourth katakana switched, and a play on famous judo practitioner Sugata Sanshiro's name.
- Rated M for Manly: Everything about his ads and training style is manly.
- Reality Ensues: 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.
- 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 , where the exact same thing happens.
- Spiritual Successor: 2017 UFO Kamen Yakisoban ads have their 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!
- Unexplained Recovery: He came back from space just in time for Sega Fes 2019.
- 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 then gives them a Sega Saturn afterward.