A horror anime would be a natural fit for Resident Evil 4, but Capcom has decided to go an alternate route.
Capcom has begun releasing an anime tie-in to help market the Resident Evil 4 remake before its release on March 24, 2023. The episodic series depicts protagonist Leon Kennedy traveling the Spanish countryside in chibi style. The current listing also implies that there are more episodes to come. Here are details on the new series and how it fits with Resident Evil 4’s weird list of marketing schemes.
Titled “Resident Evil Masterpiece Theater,” the animated short depicts a much cuter version of the game’s opening scenes. Leon wanders into the starting village and meets with a few villagers, who are much more welcoming than they are in the game. He innocently wields his remarkably detailed handgun the whole time. Eventually, one splits Leon’s head open with an axe while yelling about a popular sauce from Mozambique. The secret agent doesn’t seem too upset about the situation.
The fact that the video is titled episode one implies that Capcom plans to produce more episodes for the series. Future installments could show Leon fighting Del Lago or infiltrating the Salazar mansion. It could also be a silly one-off showing the part of the game that every player is guaranteed to see. It wouldn’t be the first wacky marketing ploy in Resident Evil 4 history.
The name and art style of Resident Evil Masterpiece Theater is clearly inspired by World Masterpiece Theater, a children’s anime series that adapted classic literature into animated television. Several key points, from thin character outlines to cheerful title cards, are taken from the classic franchise. People outside of Japan may not recognize the references but can appreciate the art style all the same.
Resident Evil 4 anime is not the game’s first marketing scheme
While the silly anime is great advertising in its own right, it’s only the latest in a long line of strange efforts to market Resident Evil 4.
For the original release of Resident Evil 4 back in 2005, Capcom hyped up fans with posters and print ads scattered across dozens of gaming publications. Japanese moviegoers seeing The Grudge got a physical pamphlet advertising the game at the theater. Even before the game’s release, Leon Kennedy got several figures as well as an official cologne.
Perhaps the most well-known marketing trick for Resident Evil 4 was the infamous chainsaw controller. The unwieldy device was meant more as a shelf piece than an actual gamepad, though many fans have attempted to play using it. The devices currently sell for several hundred dollars on the used market, so anyone who kept it at least got their money’s worth.