One of my favourite YouTube channels at the moment is Japanese Commercials HD, which does exactly what it says on the tin, so to speak. The channel lovingly compiles the best entries from the weird and wonderful world of adverts shown on Japanese telly, covering ads for anime, video games and J-Pop bands to mobile phones and instant noodles, all in lovely sparkly high definition. Every installment comes in at the five to six minute mark and makes the perfect accompaniment to a tea-break at work or if you’re just looking for a few minutes distraction from the unending frustration of human existence;
The adverts all vary in tone, from the heartfelt (Japanese student texts his English teacher to tell her he loves her) to the cute (pair of cats go on holiday) to this totally batshit little number, where Tommy Lee Jones converses in fluent Japanese with a talking dog in order to plug a bank or something;
What I love most about these clips is that while advertising can be a cold-blooded, manipulative means of encouraging people to part with cash to buy stuff they don’t really need, the people making these ads figured they may as well make the best of it and have done their best to squeeze as much life, colour and personality into them as possible. When I watch these ads I feel like someone is trying to entertain me rather than peddle their wares. And yes, every now and then you see A Very Beautiful Person eating a packet of sweets in to convince people that You Too Can Be Beautiful If You Eat These Sweets, but it’s hard to throw stones at an advert that has Tommy Lee Jones and a talking dog in it. Stay weird, Japan.
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