Top 7... Oddest Japanese video game heroes

They (whoever “they” are) say you should never meet your heroes. The logic behind that tidy parcel of wisdom is that if you get too close you'll see how human and pathetically ordinary your heroes actually are. But things are quite different in Japan. Meet the oddest Japanese videogame heroes and you won't be underwhelmed or disappointed: instead, you'll be hypnotised by some podger's perpetual hip gyration dance and ripped to pieces by a sarcastic fish before a robotic maid forcefully evicts you from the room.

Are you ready to shake the hands of Japan's weirdest video game heroes? Can you handle such horrors as pixelly Lycra and bare polygon flesh? Then let the listing begin!

7. Ebisumaru

Appeared in: Virtually every Mystical Ninja/Ganbare Goemon game, highlights including Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES) and Goemon’s Great Adventure (N64), with cameos in titles such as Konami Krazy Racers (GBA) and the Parodius shmups.

The oddness: Where to start? Goemon's plump sidekick supposedly has a daughter and is based on an actual Japanese historical figure (one Nezumi Kozou – an 18th century superthief). But Ebisumaru is camp in the extreme: he skips along, arms splayed to each side, grinning at the sheer fabulousness of everything.

Despite being dumpier than the average ninja, Ebisumaru is sufficiently agile to pull some mad shapes when he puts on his tutu and performs his devastating “Heroine Technique”. If Billy Elliot put the masculinity back into dancing, Ebisumaru takes it all away again. And just when you think you’ve got him sussed, it turns out Ebisumaru is actually a big fan of the laydeez. This raunchy man of mystery carries out all sorts of sordid schemes to get closer to the opposite sex, even using a magical self-miniaturising camera so that he can get up close for a good look. Hentai hero!

Career high: In Ganbare Goemon 5, the Mystical Ninja series' N64 debut, Ebisumaru wiggled his plump hips wearing nothing but a thong and an eye-mask. Goemon wasn't too impressed, even though Ebisumaru had decided to dance like that ostensibly in order to negotiate cheaper ryokan accommodation for his crew. In the same game our sake-bellied hero uttered such defining statements as, “He just couldn't understand the beauty... in me” and “Give me a moment to go home and get changed into something different.” His weapons of choice? The Meat Hammer (a hammer, made of meat) and an instant camera. What a hero!

Career low: Concussing Goemon partway through his first Super Famicom adventure. The method? A killer dance-fart combination:

6. Pepsiman

Appeared in: Made a cameo in the Saturn conversion of Fighting Vipers a few years before starring in his own one-off PlayStation game.

The oddness: Pepsiman was designed principally to make Pepsi-Cola look good in the Japanese market. After stints as a toy figure he became the star of some phenomenally popular TV commercials and, thanks to the kind of comic timing you can see in action here, he was soon the talk of Japan:

After all that he managed to land a lead role in his own PlayStation game (of course he had no competition and was pretty well qualified for the position). That Japan-exclusive game was called… Pepsiman.

This Lycra-coated soft drink superhero was the champion of a “noble cause”: he dispensed cans of Pepsi to quench the thirst of helpless sugar-addicted souls. Pepsiman was clearly Pepsi-obsessed (he was always running towards Pepsi-exclusive vending machines and sliding under Pepsi trucks) and Pepsi-dependent (he required endless cans of the stuff to fuel his in-game heroics), so it's probably just as well that his Kamen Rider-esque shiny mask kept the state of his teeth a company secret.

Career high: Achieving national fame in Japan on the back of some awesome TV ads and this “Pepsi propaganda MAX” vehicle of a PlayStation outing:

Career low: Being too frivolous to earn respect in other parts of the world.


Top 7

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  • holic237 - April 27, 2012 2:23 a.m.

    キャプテン*レインボーーー!!Loooool why have I not played this game?
  • holic237 - April 27, 2012 2:26 a.m.

    Yesssss PaRappa the Rapper so much love. <333
  • monsterhunter3rox - September 19, 2010 9:03 p.m.

    LOL! i played pepsi man a lot as a child :P
  • phoenix_wings - September 15, 2009 6:35 a.m.

    PEPSIMAN! Who the fuck sells out of Pepsi? And with that kind of an attitude? What a bitch. I thought that Tingle would be in this article, as he's a bigger hit in Japan than in the US--but hero status? Nah.
  • GameManiac - September 15, 2009 2:32 a.m.

    Ah... Just the way Japan should be: weird, yet memorable.
  • Embolado - September 15, 2009 1:46 a.m.

    PespiMan huhhh... Looks alot like DURAL from virtua fighter fame.
  • V13Dragongal - September 15, 2009 12:03 a.m.

    Wow. Why would anyone wan to know this?
  • Rattlehead - September 14, 2009 11 p.m.

    Is Captain Rainbow out in AMerica? I might get a Wii just to play it
  • Amnesiac - September 14, 2009 9:42 p.m.

    Oh, Japan. Don't ever change.
  • mastersword369 - September 14, 2009 9:25 p.m.

    that pepsiman stage looks like the City Escape level in Sonic Adventure 2.
  • Unoriginal - September 14, 2009 7:47 p.m.

    Captain Rainbow is my favorite by far. The lyrics to that theme song are fontasticly Japanese. They are indeed a supperior breed.
  • nadrewod999 - September 14, 2009 7:47 p.m.

    Oh, now I understand how the Burger King got 3 of his own Xbox 360 games. It is because GameStop didn't like Pepsiman when it came out, so they agreed to a trade-off: Pepsiman for the Burger King, which was for the best since BK has its own store to originally sell it in, so all GameStop would have to do is show off the used copies and thus not have to market it. P.S. This wasn't one of my serious comments, which can go for thousands of characters, but just one of my little jokes that I wanted to say.
  • super0sonic - September 14, 2009 6:35 p.m.

    Did Sonic Adventure 2 rip off Pepsi man with that surf board down a busy hilly street?!?!?
  • garnsr - September 14, 2009 4:15 p.m.

    I always wanted to play Rent-a-hero, but the only chance I ever got was in Fighters Megamix.
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - September 14, 2009 3:05 p.m.

    i rike this article
  • helix92 - September 14, 2009 12:51 p.m.

    Pepsiman,later featured in Echochrome
  • FlyinMX - September 14, 2009 12:48 p.m.

    God my comment looks like Engrish. I mean I always love these types of articles. Also, a question to the G-Dar guys. Would you consider hiding of removing the related games section to the right of the article? It doesn't really hurt this article since you don't have info on many of these games, but on other top 7's I have to strain myself to avoid looking at it and ruining the list.
  • kc2 - September 14, 2009 12:28 p.m.

    I like how pepsiman is completely addicted to pepsi like it's crack DRINK
  • EmmaXII - September 16, 2009 4:24 p.m.

  • Yeager1122 - September 15, 2009 7:09 p.m.