From Sega Retro
|Segata Sanshiro (Hiroshi Fujioka)|
|Place of birth: Japan|
|Company(ies): Sega of Japan|
|Role(s): Spokesperson, Endorser|
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Segata Sanshirō (せがた三四郎) is a fictional Sega of Japan spokesperson known for his tough demeanor and insistence that gamers play the Sega Saturn. Portrayed by Japanese actor Hiroshi Fujioka, his name and appearance is a parody of Sugata Sanshirō, a character from Akira Kurosawa's popular 1943 debut film Sanshirō Sugata, and both a pun on the color of the domestic Saturn (shiro is the Japanese word for white) and the phrase "Sega Saturn shiro!" (meaning "You must play Sega Saturn!"). Sanshiro appeared in over two dozen tongue-in-cheek Sega commercials from November 1997 to November 1998, and is one of the companies most well-remembered advertising campaigns. In modern years, he has even developed a cult following outside of Japan, and still continues to be used in Sega's Japanese marketing.
In October 1998, Segata Sanshiro starred in his own Sega Saturn game courtesy of Ecole Software, Segata Sanshirou Shinken Yuugi. Later, his role as a company spokesperson was eventually inherited by his son Sega Shiro in March 2020.
Segata Sanshiro is portrayed as a judo master who regularly tracked down and harshly disciplined those who were not playing the Sega Saturn. Living as a hermit high on a secluded mountaintop, Sanshiro devoted his life to intensive training, and was usually seen carrying a massive Sega Saturn abroad his back; often, he would appear with an enormous Control Pad, strongly punching its various buttons to strengthen his mind and body.
The majority of Segata Sanshiro's commercials depict him as finding a group of Japanese people (often youths), and upon seeing that they are not playing the Sega Saturn, disciplining them by swiftly beating them to the ground and reminding them that they must play Sega Saturn.
With the winding down of the Sega Saturn, and the release of the Sega Dreamcast, Sega of Japan sent the character off with an explosive finale. In his last commercial, a giant missile is launched directly at Sega's Tokyo, Japan headquarters, with Sanshiro heroically jumping onto the missile itself, pulling it out of its trajectory with all his might, and redirecting it into the atmosphere. It safely explodes away from the general populace, and the commercial ends with a voiceover stating "Segata Sanshiro will live on in your hearts."
Sega Hatanshiro (hatan is a Japanese word meaning bankruptcy or failure) is Sanshiro's evil counterpart, appearing wearing a black gi and sinister oni mask. Hatanshiro, bent on destroying Sega, faces off with Sega Shiro in a heated battle of martial arts and strength. Although Shiro defends Sega with all his might, he is repeatedly being defeated. Still, he continues to stand up and continue fighting after each failure.
As the battle progresses, Sega Shiro is beaten to the ground once again, and is frustrated with not being able to overcome Hatanshiro. It is only when he remembers the willpower of his father Segata Sanshiro that he is finally inspired with the strength needed to take on Hatanshiro. For the first time Shiro takes his trademark shoulder-draped gi off and instead slips his arms through its sleeves - the way his father wore it. The two rush at each other in one final strike: Hatanshiro initially gets the best of Shiro with an impending leg sweep, and appears to have defeated him once again. However, Shiro uses the opportunity to get Hatanshiro in a shoulder throw, shouting "I will... protect Sega!" and pulling him into the throw and onto the ground - with this, Hatanshiro is finally defeated.
After the match, Shiro notices Hatanshiro's mask has been knocked off. As he kneels down to inspect it, he hears the voice of his father, telling him "You've grown..." Turning upwards, Shiro is shocked to find that Hatanshiro had actually been his father Segata Sanshiro all along. Segata wanted to properly test his son, to ensure he would have the same strength of his legendary father - the strength of Sega to overcome failure.
Sanshiro's popularity was so widespread that various merchandise related to the character was released, including the Sega Saturn game Segata Sanshirou Shinken Yuugi, the 1998 CD single Sega Saturn, Shiro!, and the computer utility and screensaver collection Segata Sanshirou Choujin Densetsu.
- Main article: Photos of Segata Sanshiro