From Sega Retro
|Segata Sanshiro (Hiroshi Fujioka)|
|Place of birth: 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 the character Sugata Sanshirō from the popular 1943 film Sanshirō Sugata, and a pun on both 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.
Sanshiro's popularity was so widespread that various merchandise related to the character was released, including a video game, theme song, and screensaver collection. In March 2020, his role as a company spokesperson was largely inherited by his son Sega Shiro (played by Hiroshi Fujioka's real life son Maito Fujioka).
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, wearing a black gi and sinister oni mask. Years after Segata's death, Hatanshiro is summoned after a distraught Sega Shiro emotionally cries out for his father, and challenges Sega to a battle of martial arts.
Although Shiro fights with all his might, he is repeatedly defeated. Only when he remembers the willpower of his late father Segata that he is finally inspired with the strength needed to defend Sega. For the first time, Shiro takes his off his trademark shoulder-draped gi and instead slips his arms through its sleeves - the way his father wore it. Eventually, Hatanshiro is defeated.
Sega is then shocked to find that Hatanshiro had actually been his father Segata all along, still alive and as powerful as he always was. He explains he wanted to test his son's belief in Sega, to ensure he would have the same strength of his legendary father: the strength of Sega to overcome failure. Hee then asks his son to forget him entirely; that he's "just a relic of the old Sega now." He explains that the company has expanded greatly since Segata's time - that his skills were best suited for defending Sega in its past forms - and tasks Shiro with defending the Sega of the present. At his father's orders, Shiro hesitantly throws Sanshiro through the solar system and into the planet Saturn, only for the entire ordeal to be revealed as a dream.
The character of Segata Sanshiro was largely created by Hiroshi Fujioka himself as a means to serve as a positive role model for children and young people. Fujioka says he was initially apprehensive about portraying a man that physically accosted people, to which he was instructed by producers to ensure his actions were portrayed less like violence and more like a judo punishment.
Fujioka's contract was set to expire near the end of the Saturn's life, but Sanshiro's popularity resulted in Sega extending his contract an additional few years into the life of the Dreamcast.
- Main article: Segata Sanshiro/Promotional material.
- Main article: Photos of Segata Sanshiro
- SEGATA SANSHIRO - THE LEGEND fansite