January 14, 2015 posted by

More Japanese Animated Commercials

I’m back again this week with another look at vintage commercials from Japan. And its quite an interesting bunch!

Morinaga Milk Caramel
From 1954, here’s one featuring live-action and animation. A father explains how he was able to have a successful meeting at a company because he shared his Milk Caramels with his boss and co-workers.

Fuku-chan Fukumasa
“Fuku-chan” was a comic strip by Ryu’ichi Yokoyama (1909-2001) about a little boy and his family that ran from 1936 to 1944 in Asahi Shimbun newspaper, and again from 1956 to 1971 in Mainichi Shimbun. There were a few animated shorts done at Yokoyama’s own studio, Otogi Production, as well as a 71-episode anime that aired from 1982 to 1984, produced by Shin’Ei Doga.

From 1962 to 1988 the character was used to promote Fukumasa’s brand of sake, likely because of the similar name between the character and the company. Only Japan would be okay with using a cartoon child to promote an alcoholic beverage.

Here’s one featuring Fuku-chan bringing some sake to his dad and grandpa, both getting plastered.

Hitachi Room Cooler
Here’s a 1962 commercial for a room cooler, done in a banjo song with English lyrics.

Now how’s this for a doozy. Ribbon-chan is a mascot for Sapporo’s Ribbon Juice, appearing in commercials since the 1960s. She even had her own anime series from 2012 to 2013. Here are some of the vintage spots.

The kicker? She’s a ripoff. Specifically, Aurora from a series of spots Gene Deitch directed at UPA for Kia-Ora. Mike Kazaleh shared some a while back in this post.

I wrote to Gene Deitch after I discovered that he was ripped off. Here’s what he said:

“In 1957, I was in Terrytoons. We received a request from a visiting Japanese group of animators, requesting to visit the New Rochelle studio. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing of the Kia-Ora ripoff, and being proud of what we were doing at Terrytoons, I naively welcomed them. Between all the smiles and bows, as I led them on a tour of the Terrytoons studio, I saw too late what they were up to. They all had cameras, and were snapping everything in sight, leaning over animators’ desks and photographing not only the discs, but closeups of exposure sheets, photographing the Oxberry camera compounds, Asking dozens of very specific technical questions about our procedures…. there was no way I could politely stop them, the whole flock of them clicking like a field of crickets. I learned fast, but too late, to never let a Japanese animation group into the studio at that time. Ironically, nowadays, we should be sending “tour groups” to the Japanese studios, which are way ahead of us now technically!”

Aurora is forgotten, but Ribbon-chan is still used today. Sometimes it literally pays to steal other people’s ideas.

Asahi Pentax
A very stylized commercial for Pentax cameras, produced at Toei Animation. I’m guessing their idea was that, if you repeat the product’s name over and over, people will remember it. It probably worked, too.


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