Hey there, fans! Time for another edition of Happy Fun Thursdays, where I bring you what’s happening in the world of anime, manga, and Japan in general. This week, I’m turning the spotlight over to something Japan has been bringing to the world ever since the advent of television. That’s right! Today, we’re sneaking a peek at Japanese commercials! Whether they’re nerdtacularly cool, unexpectedly odd, or just flat out bizarre and somewhat terrifying, the Japanese commercial has a certain flair to it that others may emulate and copy but never fully attain. A quick search on YouTube would glean hundreds of Japanese commercials of varying comedic value (and more than a few that would) but I found a certain few that struck a chord with me, and that emphasized certain characteristics of the Japanese commercial.
1. Maximum Creativity (Sapporo Beer)
To start off, there are a lot of commercials out that that lack in creativity. I mean, really? Another car commercial where an entire fleet of the advertised car perform a complicated routine to spell out the company logo? Another commercial for a new drug with shot after shot of different people saying the same thing again and again? Is that really going to convince me to go out there and grab said product in a fit of excitement? This commercial, made by Crush Inc. featuring Sapporo’s “Legendary Biru” marketing campaign, probably would. Entranced by the scenes from ancient Japan, rolling on a single take into the modern Metropolis of what the country is today, I totally would. Plus, it’s beer superheated by dragons. DRAGONS. Suddenly, I’m thirsty.
2. The (Ridiculous) Musical Number (Delicare M’s)
There’s always been that one catchy jingle from a commercial that get stuck in your head, even when you hear the commercial in passing. In a bus. Full of crowded people. All of whom seem to be HUMMING IT TOO. It’s a marketing ploy to make sure that any ideas you will have for that day will be invaded by commercial in question, redirecting any thought processes straight into the product itself. It’s such a staple of the advertising culture that it’s even invaded the realm of anime, where a restaurant’s jingle is a bit of a plot point for the entire series, and will probably never leave you. On the flip-side of the subliminal nature of jingles, this particular commercial for Delicare M’s anti-itch lotion for men makes it very clear that this product will not only cure the itch, but will have its customers singing its praises after applying it. Oh, and the synchronized movements and looks of utter relief by the men in this one are just pure gold.
3. A Celebrity Appearance (Boss Coffee)
Celebrities have always had strange relations with Japan. On the Hollywood sets in the West, they are known everywhere by everyone for their works in movie or TV or what have you, but the moment they arrive on a sound stage in Japan, things get a little weird. Actually, things get a lot weird. Then, occasionally, it gets to Nic Cage in a cowboy outfit made of tin foil dancing and bumping heads with living Pachinko balls. I wish I could make this stuff up. And there are hundreds more like these commercials, made by good actors back when everyone thought it was a good idea. However, I found one that’s fairly recent and was rather subtle in its celebrity cameo appearance. In a commercial for Boss Coffee’s Rainbow Mountain Blend, Tommy Lee Jones contemplates who exactly pulls the strings in a relationship by relating it to the string used by cormorant fishermen to make their birds cough up the fish. I don’t know what’s weirder: the apparent nonchalance in Tommy Lee Jones’s face when he pulls a giant fish out of a small bird, or how he manages to keep the same expression throughout every single one of these commercials. That’s quality acting right there.
That’s all I have for you this week, and I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring the strangeness of these commercials as I did. Did I miss a particularly funny/weird/terrifying video that you feel should be on this list? Say so in the comments!