Emio in Nintendo's weird creepy teaser

Nintendo’s First-Ever Age-Restricted Video Has Everyone Asking the Same Question

After the jawdroppingly stacked Nintendo Direct last month, everyone thought Nintendo had shown everything up their sleeve short of the Switch’s successor. But on July 10, 2024, Nintendo released a fifteen-second teaser that has the entire internet going, “HUH?”

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The teaser depicts a stage, bleak and grimy, captured by a grainy camera. Suddenly, you hear static, and a piano plinks as a person with a trenchcoat and a smiling paper bag mask suddenly appears center-stage. The image is interrupted by several very quick close-ups before he disappears and you see three Japanese characters in the middle of the screen. They spell out the title of the video: “Emio,” or “smiling man.”

No, really, the video is simply titled “Emio,” which is creepy enough. And the video is age-restricted, which is a first coming from Nintendo, of all companies. Nintendo of America’s Tweet about it is simply the hashtag #WhoIsEmio. Which started going viral immediately, because everyone is asking the exact same question.

Seriously, who the hell is Emio?

The mysterious Emio teaser and the minimalist social media campaign around it is brilliant marketing from Nintendo. Everyone is dying to know the answer to the very hashtag that Nintendo kicked off: who is Emio?

We have no freaking idea what this is about. Even influencers with close ties to Nintendo are stumped as to what’s going on here.

But there are several reasons to be intrigued. First is the age restriction on the YouTube video, which is an all-time first for Nintendo. Next is the creepy, almost Lynchian vibes from the video itself. The general consensus of the speculation is that Nintendo might be about to release its first-ever first-party M-rated game. Meaning, the first M-rated game made in-house by Nintendo or by one of its close affiliates.

And it looks to be a horror game at that. It’s one hell of a different vibe from the Luigi’s Mansion series, that’s for sure.

But I’ve got a personal bone to pick here, as someone who has been leading a band with a paper bag mask-wearing mascot for the last decade. What’s more, over four years ago, we dabbled in both paper bag mask horror and weird quick close-up cuts. I’m not saying Nintendo stole from us (I’d almost be honored if someone at Nintendo paid that much attention to a tiny band like mine), but I am interested in protecting what little cred I have.

Anyway, we’ll likely know more about Emio, the “smiling man,” in the coming days or weeks. For now, Nintendo’s reveling in keeping us in blindsided mystery.

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Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.