Editor’s Note: Mike Kazaleh is taking a well-earned break this week, traveling back to his home town in Detroit. In his place today our colleague Charles Brubaker steps in with a fun look back at the ways our animated super-stars fared in international (mainly Japanese) animated advertisements. – Jerry Beck
Even when Japanese studios started producing countless anime, there were always room in the country’s airwaves for dubbed American cartoons. Some of them, of course, would become popular in its own right, resulting in the characters’ image being licensed for use by Japanese companies. Here, let’s examine Japanese-produced animated spots featuring some of our American stars.
The Flintstones is apparently a popular choice to star in commercials all over the world. For decades, we’ve had Pebbles cereal commercials air in the ‘States. In the UK, for example, they promoted another cereal brand (animated by Oscar Grillo).
In Japan however, for several years in the 1980s they were used to advertise HonoBono Reiku, a Japanese lending firm. The animation in these spots are delightfully weird and crude.
Here, Dino has an offspring.
Another commercial features Betty and Wilma enjoy hot springs bath.
Sometimes, teenage Pebbles and BamBam appears, like in this spot:
Whoever made these commercials, we salute you.
Wacky Races is, remarkably, one of the most popular cartoons of all time in Japan. In fact, when TV Asahi did a list of Top 100 Anime in 2006, it was one of the only two American cartoons in it.
So naturally, it made sense that the characters were used in this Mobil commercial in the mid 1990s.
Tom and Jerry
The other American cartoon to appear in the Top 100 list mentioned above is this cat and mouse duo. Tom and Jerry first appeared on Japan’s Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) network starting May 13, 1964, and has since then become a phenomenon in the country, being rerun countless times and appearing in more DVD and other merchandising that you can think of.
And commercials, of course. Here we have a 1984 commercial, where Tom and Jerry (wearing clothes!) plug a Hitachi Top Lady refrigerator. And they’re even singing!
In this 1993 commercial, we see them promoting Canon Word Processor. Back then this was considered hi-tech.
Then in 1994, they plugged a mini-van for Mitsubishi.
They’re still appearing in commercials today. Right now they’re part of the ad campaign for the Saga Bank. See their new commercial on their site.
In Japan, Woody Woodpecker aired on Nippon Television (NTV) from September 21, 1961 to July 9, 1964. At the time he was simply known as “Woodpecker”. It aired again on NTV from March 29 to September 30, 1965, this time as “Woodpecker’s Big Travels”.
The 1999 Fox Kids remake aired on TV Tokyo from April 5 to October 7, 2001. During that time there was a brief revival of interest in the property in Japan, leading to some interesting licensing tie-ins, like Woody’s own brand of sausage. Yes, seriously.
In fact, here’s a commercial plugging Woody Woodpecker Sausage. Make of it what you will.
One final note: