Coffee Talk #277: Understanding Japan’s Monster Hunter Craze

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, David Arquette entering rehab because he’s sad (and rich), Windows Phone 7’s marketplace being hacked, or Reona Rewis vs. Christina Aguilera vs. Scarlett Johansson, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

For years I’ve struggled to understand Japan’s Monster Hunter craze. The series’ popularity and sales are one thing, but it always mystified me that dozens — even hundreds! — of Japanese gamers would get together in large rooms to play Monster Hunter together. It’s more than just the Japanese preference of seeing other gamers during multiplayer sessions. It’s a phenomenon. Thankfully, my friend Shane explained it to me last week.

The topic randomly came up over lunch and Shane told me that it has to do with Japan’s cultural concept of senpai and kohai. After a quick search on my T-Mobile G2, I confirmed that they weren’t Dragon Ball Z characters that I forgot about. In round-eye terms, the relationship between senpai and kohai is akin to the relationship between mentor and protege, older student and younger student, veteran athlete and rookie athlete, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, or Nightwing and Red Robin. Here’s a quote from the WikiPedia:

More than simple seniority, senpai implies a relationship with reciprocal obligations, somewhat similar to a mentoring relationship. A kohai is expected to respect and obey their senpai, and the senpai in turn must guide, protect, and teach their kohai as best they can.

In Monster Hunter terms, the senpai guides the kohai around and helps them level up. Experienced players are expected to guide and protect. Newcomers have to do some menial grunt work. Both find their roles satisfying. The novices are also expected to field strip their mentor’s PSPs, restoring them to factory condition (okay, I made this part up). It’s similar to the closeness of guilds in World of Warcraft, but it goes beyond social enjoyment. From what I gathered from Shane, there’s a distinct cultural satisfaction in the senpai/kohai relationship.

In the (sometimes wonderfully) self-absorbed West, most players like to go at it alone or conquer all others. Individual accomplishments in games are more gratifying than shared accomplishments. American gamers love going for glory on their own, saving the day by themselves, or beating all of their friends online. (I blame the Rambo movies.) The complex subtleties of the senpai/kohai relationship aren’t as common. Instead it’s more like master and servant, boss and employee, or Kobe Bryant and Luke Walton.

So yeah! I’m jazzed that Shane dropped some knowledge on me and explained one of the most puzzling videogame phenomenons I’ve ever encountered. It makes much more sense to me now. How about you? Do you “get” Monster Hunter in Japan? Or is it still a mystery to you?

Author: RPadTV

86 thoughts on “Coffee Talk #277: Understanding Japan’s Monster Hunter Craze”

  1. one day i may move to japan, im fascinated by the japanese and consider them to be the coolest people on the earth

  2. I am trapped at work for 8-5 each day, the last thing I want to do is go be in another "master and servant" "boss and employee" situation. Video game time is MY time and I do prefer to dominate everyone else by myself. I don't do well in teams because you just can't count on other people. I sometimes wish there was a way I record an entire multiplayer gaming session over and over again with me being a different player each time until I was the entire team.

    But Yes why anyone would want to do thing kind of gaming outside of a daily job does baffle me.

  3. Heh. I once dabbled with the idea of picking up a PSP for this title alone. I decided against it, I don't know why.

    WoW guilds help their members? No way! Not leveling anyway.

      1. @sandrock

        Maybe so…but it's the best of the bunch :P

        Are you playing FF14? How do you like it? Have you tried Cata out? It's a much more deliberate pace. I'm quite interested to see their (Blizzard) new IP Titan.

      2. I'm going MMO free right now. To many games to catch up on to devote enough time to any MMO. Haven't gotten around to FF14 yet. Helping a friend build their PC up to spec so that we can start at the same time. If I get through my long list of single player games and my friend's PC isn't complete, I may go over to WoW for the first time.

  4. Yeah, I don't get why anyone would enjoy being subservient to another person.

    Ok, well I can think of ONE example……


      1. it's like the Jedi and the Sith almost! i'm ok with this craze now. i never knew what it was about, even tried watching the show when it was on WGN saturday morning cartoons and still didn't get it. (yeah i said i watch saturday morning cartoons!)

    1. I messed with OnLive recently. It's a neat idea but the lag is kinda bad. It would be ok for a singleplayer game that involves exploration but not a twitch action game. I also don't think a multiplayer FPS or RTS works well over it. Maybe something like Might and Magic or Lord of the Realms lol.

      Interesting idea though if they can get the lag out of the remote hookup.


    I downloaded the new Need For Speed Hot Pursuit Demo on December 28th. On January 1st I tried to play the demo. Oddly it is no longer available. It wouldn't let me do anything but uninstall it. Checked back in the PSN Store and you can't even download it anymore. What a bunch of crap. I thought it might be a game i'd like but now I don't plan on even giving it a chance.

    While there I found the Dead Space 2 Demo. Man I forgot how much I like Dead Space. Excited for the new one now.

    1. You're a super hardcore gamer. I was checking out your trophies and you've played everything.

      1. Lol. I own 128 PS3 games. I was looking at yours too. You seem to finish more games than me. I noticed I have more trophies but you have a higher score due to the large amount of platinum trophies. You are the first person that I know that has a higher score than me.

      2. Wow, 128 games? I can't afford that many. I've been on the fence about getting Gamefly and I think I'll do that this year so I can play more games. There are quite a few games that I want to play but don't think they are worth $60 like Enslaved. Yeah, silvers, golds, and platinums really give your score a boost. Bronzes, not so much.

      3. I got Enslaved for $25 on Amazon via one of Rays posts. I rented it before that but I haven't even opened the one I bought.

    2. What's your XBL gamertag? Mine (unsurprisingly) is bsukenyan5000 if you ever wanna play something.

      1. I rarely fire up my 360 these days for anything more than Kinect stuff, but I am VitriolicMass. I also still haven't bought into XBL GOld again, but I keep meaning to

      2. My 4 year old loves the Boxing in Kinect Sports. He's got the offense of Sugar Ray Leonard and the defense of Rocky Balboa (i.e, he never stops punching, but gets hit in the face a lot).

      3. I played it for a bit until I found out you can beat nearly anyone with just twirling your fist around like you are hitting a speed bag. Matches started lasting under 10 seconds.

        I just rented Fighter Uncaged for Kinect. I am hoping it has more than just high punch low punch and block. Hopefully as good as The Fight.

        Also got Kinect Motion Party. Having people over Friday to play games so I thought it'd be fun. Probably won't be though

  6. How do you guys feel about the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks hosting a playoff game? Do you think the NFL should do something about this or leave it as is? I think the playoff system is great. Sure, a losing team making the playoffs doesn't look good but the Seahawks did win their division, as bad as that division may be, so they do deserve a playoff spot.

    1. I'm with you. The division is crap… for now, and they won it. This is all subject to change over time.

      I could see the home field advantage thing changing based on the teams in the playoffs with better records regardless of winning the division or not, but I REALLY don't want Goodell to screw with the league any more than he already has.

      Last year, the Steelers went 10-6 and didn't make the playoffs. A 7-9 team getting a shot is a heartbreaker, but in the infamous words of Kurtis Blow…. "These are the breaks".

      1. Yeah, I know. But that does increase the chances of a Wild Card or two coming out of the NFC East.

      2. Good point, considering my comment under this, there may be a chance that 3 teams from the AFC North will be in the playoffs.

      3. Yeah, just look at what a trip west did for the NFC South this year. 3 teams with 10 or more wins.

      4. I don't think Palmer ever really recovered physiologically from the horrific knee injury. You see him now and he's basically turning into Ken O'Brien in the pocket. He either makes horrible decisions or he falls down as soon as the rush gets close to him. Although to be the true second coming of Ken O'Brien, he needs to inexplicably put up 40 points every time he plays the Dolphins despite sucking ass.

      5. @Nightshade

        True on Palmer. I find that he is very inaccurate now. He has two good WRs and still has so so production.

      6. Smartguy, to put it in terms only you would understand;

        A "Chad Henne" is a mix between a "Billy Joe Tolliver" and a "Billy Joe Hobert".


      7. Palmer was never in Marion's League to begin with and Marino never had a decent defense or running game to work with.

      8. HEY!!!!!

        The AFC North plays the NFC West next year too!!!!


        On the downside, we get a visit at Heinz Field from the Pats.

      9. Yeah, here's the Giant's opponents. I'm amazed that they never seem to play the Jets as a home game…..

        HOME: Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles, Packers, Rams, Seahawks, Bills, Dolphins

        AWAY: Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles, Jets, Cardinals, 49ers, Saints, Patriots

      10. My Falcons have the NFC North and the AFC South next year. It's going to be a tough year next year.

      11. Who's the Viking's QB? Will the Bears actually have two good years in a row under Lovie Smith? Sure the Packers are good and the Lions will be better. But the NFC North ain't that good.

      12. I think Detroit will be better this coming season if Stafford can keep his shoulder injury free. Best looks good and Suh is just a monster on D. They have some good pieces in play. Oh yeah…Megatron is badass.

        Packers – I don't see a Mike McCarthy lead team being good 2 years in a row. Example: Aaron Brooks lead Saints with McCarthy as O coordinator.

        Vikes – who knows what QB will play. Maybe Orton? Maybe McChoke? Kolb? Locker? Luck? Newton? I think Newton would make them instantly better since their team is good now. Maybe a new O lineman to help out.

        Bears – I'm happy Cutler is doing good but like Nightshade I have doubts about Smith being able to string together 2 good seasons. Martz probably saved Lovie's job so maybe he can have better success next year with another stud WR.

        AFC south

        Indy – can't wait for Indy in NOLA. Welcome home Payton.

        Tenn – Please keep Vince Young and hopefully CJ has the flu

        Jax – Bittersweet. Let Del Rio go visit LSU if it's a home game for us so he can have that job on his mind

        Houston – As long as it's after the midway point Kubiak will be out of trick.

  7. I think it is kind of cool how these people seem to get together in person to play these games more than we do in the states, and I agree with others that I wouldn't really enjoy the senpai/kohai relationship in a game like that. I am drawing some parallels here with the Pokemon games as well where the player is always the senpai and the pokemon are always the kohai- I think the same analogy roughly fits there as well, as Ray defined it up top. I would love to have the social interaction while playing that series, so I definitely see the appeal of gathering together to play a game. I'm not familiar with the Monster Hunter games though, so I can't really say much more about it other than I can see the appeal to playing together just not in that manner with that game.

  8. Guys, don't forget that these crazy playoff overtime rules start right now. If a game goes to overtime and someone kicks a field goal the other team will get the ball and a chance to score as well. Basically, college rules.

  9. @topic

    I actually enjoy working with others towards a common goal in video games. When I play MMOs and join guilds, I'm always the guy helping out everyone else. lol I mentor three newbies on PSU a couple months a go when I went back.

    1. At the risk of sounding like a douche/nerd…I'd love to see the tax forms for this. 1231 property recapture specifically.

    2. Ok, whenever a mid-sized company is bought for the retail price of a video game, you know there has to be a catch. Sure enough, the $49.99 price tag is nothing more than a gimmick.

      The real news is that the new buyers (Nova… something) is going to acquire the outstanding debt and the rights to Harmonix. That should have been the headline.

      It's like if I sold you a car that is in such bad condition that it needs at least $5,000 worth of parts and labor just to get it running and I sell it to you for $1. Yet, in the advertisement I used to get your attention, it reads: "Buy a car for just $1!"


    1. @Ray

      Cool, if I win I'll fund your site in perpetuity. Whatever content you want and I insist on you going to any event you feel would benefit the site.

      I will be the silent partner who you must attend expensive lunches with every other month.

      (expensive business lunch = alcohol, unhealthy food, and boobs)

      1. … Only you would find a way to write off a trip to the nudie bar as a "business expense".

        Well, O.K., you're probably not the only one.


      2. Actually when I was in high school during the State basketball tournament in Columbus, OH my principal tried to write off his outing to the strip clubs where he had three or four girls on him at all times as a business expense. His wife didn't like that, and neither did the school board. It didn't go through of course, and he is still there now. So there definitely are plenty of people out there who would gladly try.

    2. Aww, that's sweet, but you don't have to get us anything. Just put that money into making this site the best it can possibly be and show it off to everyone.

      "Living well is the best revenge."


      1. I don't blame you. But I'm more glad for a site with character and real community rather than the empty void only filled with trolls. I know it doesn't help put food on the table or pay the bills, but I am so grateful to be able to have a place like this to hang out on.

      2. I'm half-kidding about everything. Sure, there are times when I'm wondering what the hell I'm doing, but I love what we've all built together and hope to grow it in 2011. With some luck, it'll all be cool. If not, I hope hey let me blog from the nut house. Ha!

      3. I bought a $1 lottery ticket for tonight's drawing in your honor… and buying a lottery ticket is something I rarely ever do.


    1. Well, he set a career record to TD's. He also threw a lot of INT's. I'd argue that of the 25 picks he threw, 10 hit his receivers in the hands and bounced up in the air, which means his "real" total is a much more acceptable 15. And even some of those late season ones came after both starting WR's were out and guys were coming in off the street and running the wrong routes. That being said, a few of them were really bad decisions (the left handed one at the goal line in Dallas springs to mind). I'd give him a B- on the year.

      You also can't really hold Eli responsible for the epidemic that was Ahmad Bradshaw's fumbling issues this year. The guy lost 6 or 7, and had another 6 or 7 hit the ground. Things are a lot tougher when your RB's keep dropping the ball and your WR's keep tipping perfect passes into the air.

      The team has big issues on the offensive line. They had a lot of injuries up there, and guys were showing their age as well. They actually ran the ball better when O'Hara was out, and he's going to the Pro Bowl anyway. They could also stand to add depth at CB and LB.

      1. @Nightshade

        Should Coughlin be fired? I hear it both ways and supposedly he is going to get an extension.

        I think NYG is a stud RB away from being a very dominant team. Jacobs is too inconsistent and Bradshaw needs some stickem.

      2. He's getting an extension. Only in NY do people go nuts over a Championship coach who had a 10-6 year. I blame George Steinbrenner (and I;m a Yankees fan).

        I'd look at making some changes to the offensive playcalling, which may include replacing Kevin Gilbride at OC. They get way too predictable sometimes, especially when they go into "protect the lead" mode. This is why the offense is equally responsible for that blown lead against he Eagles (as well as other blown leads throughout the season). The playcalling was basically: dive left, dive right, inexplicable deep bomb. And then they send out the rookie punter to give the other team a short field. And then next series they line it up and do the same thing again.

      3. That's what I'm saying. The guy coached the Giants to a Superbowl win 3 years ago and now he's no good?

      4. There was actually a really awful article on ESPN NY where some writer was basically complaining that the Giants and their fans weren't more like the Yankees and their fans. I mean in baseball, if you win 2 out of every 3, you go 108-54. But the NY Sports media will go bat shit crazy after a 10-3 loss in April (and another 53 times to boot). It's utter insanity.

  10. @Iceman

    zing on the billy joe's. nicely played sir. I can't believe those guys were starters at one point.

  11. @CES

    I just read over the LG live blog and something struck me about it. They are proposing apps in their tvs and other devices. These apps of course are LG apps and will only be supported by LG and be given through updates by LG. THis got me thinking…why can't I just buy a "smart tv" or smart whatever and load my own choice of OS with compatible apps? The line between a commodity PC and commodity consumer electronics is blurring very fast. IBM tried this many years ago by trying to only use hardware that would accept IBM approved software. The SCOTUS ruled that it was illegal to do so on a commodity PC. So I guess what I'm getting at would this start applying to all consumer electronics? Or is a PC deemed different since it does many things?

    Smartphones of course are an enigma regarding their classification as commodity or not. It's not illegal to root and or jailbreak a device and install your own apps but you are still not allowed to install iOS on a Motorola or Android on an iPhone. Granted the ecosystems those devices are part of have many different apps that do the same thing so there isn't a limited choice when it comes to productivity.

    What about these new tvs? What if I don't want to use the crap LG browser or Sony youtube widget?

    does any of that make sense? I guess I don't care for companies who make hardware primarily try to get into a walled garden software ecosystem and their software is crap. Makes me wish I could buy an OS to put on my devices. Oh well, stick to my Apple tv for now.

  12. bah, its a good news bad news day for me.

    Bad news: my gf lost my screening pass for "season of the wtich", i want to see it but i don't want to pay cuz it's a nicholas cage movie.

    Good news: My comic store got more Green Hornet passes, i got them. I didn't want to pay to see this movie either. Hopefully it's in 3-D.

  13. Whew!!!

    In the comments tab on the homepage, all I saw was:

    "bah, its a good news bad news day for me.

    Bad news: my gf l"

    I'm glad it didn't say:

    "bah, its a good news bad news day for me.

    Bad news: my gf l…eft me for my boss and told me she was pregnant at the same time.

    Good news: the Maury Povich show is filmed pretty close by so it won't be that hard to get a paternity test."

  14. Based on the language from NVidia in their presser, it would seem that Apple is def going with sandybridge for gpu in their mobile platforms.

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