The Wii was launched in Japan on Dec 02, Saturday this past weekend and all 400,000 launch units sold out within the day according to Nikkei news service. For those following the Wii story, the sell out was unexpected.*
Although Nintendo hardware launches have always been met with a sell-out, the launch quantities and the lucklustre performance of the GameCube had left many speculating that once the die hard fans get their units, there would be plenty left over for walk-in buyers.
As this theory was proven false in the North American launch, it appears to be wrong in Japan as well. The big news aside from the launch day sell-out is that this is apparently Nintendo’s biggest home console launch ever, in terms of pure quantity of units shipped making it the next-gen market leader in Japan the day it was launched.
In a bit of a funny aside, a cosplayer (costume player) was mistaken to have been sent by Nintendo to participate in the launch celebrations and was asked to help a Tokyo games store mark the midnight launch of the Wii console. The in-store celebratory events (complete with confetti and a countdown to midnight) is not uncommon in hardware launches (there was a similar event for the PS3 launch).
Store employees soon discovered the Luigi mascot was in fact not a Nintendo representative but a regular guy in a Luigi costume and he was promptly arrested. His arrest has turned into a cult event celebrated among the Japanese netizens, which included a pictorial story of the sequence of events leading to the arrest and a photoshop showing the cosplayer behind the mask was none other than PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi.
*Media Create, the weekly sales tracking service has tracked 350,000 Wii sold between Saturday and Sunday. This is 50,0000 units below Nintendo's stated shipment figures of 400,000 units. That said, Media Create's numbers are the 'quick and dirty' big picture look at weekly sales and are not 100% accurate due to the speed in which the data is produced (3 days after the Sunday end of the week cut off for its tracking).
Above: Luigi cosplayer moments before his arrest.