From atmospheric Studio Ghibli films to fast-paced action series like Gundam and romantic anime like Your Name, there’s a Japanese animation to suit every taste, style, and mood. Besides, who doesn’t like watching anime? The widespread fandom of anime is also the reason why we’re starting to see them being used as commercials – and not just in Japan, either. Whether it’s selling us a tourism destination, a job, or food, we’re all down for these awesome ads. Here are some noteworthy original animation used in commercials:
Tackling giants with mecha robots in Taco Bell’s Fry Force
The latest anime-led commercial is for Taco Bell! It has a strong Pacific Rim vibe, which features mecha fighting off giant Nacho Fry-devouring kaiju (monsters). Protagonist Rei must push through her hunger and lead the Fry Force to face off with her brother Kosuke, who’s been taken by the monsters and consumed by primal hunger for… Nacho Fries. The fast-paced action sequences are sure to make you hungry.
Elderly couple bring the feels with Marukome Miso Paste
This heartwarming ad will bring (happy) tears to your eyes! The commercial features a retired couple where the wife is suffering from ailing legs. While wives traditionally take care of the household, this ad cleverly reverses the patriarchy as the husband takes care of the household, including cooking, as her legs fail her. He also dotes on her, and whenever she praises his cooking he blushes. Who knew miso paste would be so powerful?
Slightly exaggerated anime landscapes in Travel Oregon
Oregon capitalised on its natural landscape in 2019 by making it into a dreamy anime filled with mythical creatures and wonderful landscapes. One can’t help but think of Studio Ghibli with the way the scenery is animated – seeing walking clouds, an anthropomorphic cliff, a village full of tiny one-eyed monsters, and gorgeous food shots will likely whisk you away into a Ghibli-inspired world. They also produced an earlier version that also retained an air of dream-like realism. Who knew that animating a landscape could entice you to go to Oregon?
Civil Engineer’s nostalgia at Singapore’s Thomson-East Coast Line
Makoto Shinkai (of Your Name fame), brought us a nostalgic commercial for Japan’s Taisei Corporation, a civil engineering company that’s responsible for building Singapore’s upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL). The 2018 ad showcases the Singapore skyline (MBS and the CBD) and we see female engineer Ayano working on the TEL construction site. Taisei Corporation is responsible for a lot of major construction projects across the world, and a longer ad features a number of young engineers posted to places like Turkey, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, all of whom reminisce about their lives in Japan.
Makes you wanna work part-time at McDonald’s
Not all ads are to sell products. McDonald’s Japan made a heartwarming anime commercial in 2016 focusing on recruitment for part-timers. The ad features a girl looking at a recruitment ad outside a McDonald’s outlet before we see her taking on the challenges of her job, as her senior/manager helps her along her way. Their “Crew ni Narō. Campaign” (Join the Crew. Campaign) featured voices by J-pop supergroup AKB48.
This isn’t the first or last time McDonald’s used anime for their commercials. The latest anime-led ad was for their McShakes, released in July 2020, called “Forever, Love”. The short anime follows a character from childhood to adulthood, with the McShake by her side all the way. Back in 2019, their ad for Gurakoro (a croquette burger) featured three young lacrosse players fighting off the winter cold with the warmth of friendship and some Gurakoro.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class in a high-speed pursuit of a ramen van
Mercedez-Benz really went all out with this Production IG-led 6-minute commercial (or is it a short anime?), which features a high-speed, action-packed chase by three drivers in a Mercedez A-Class through the city in search of a legendary mobile ramen stand. The ad is set in New Tokyo, a city transformed by a “City Sharing” programme, where part of the city to rotates to accommodate a new layout. It certainly gives us Ghost in the Shell vibes.
The ads above show us just how versatile the anime medium is. In addition to original anime, there have also been many more commercials using anime in Japan, especially using well-known series titles like of Dragonball Z (Ford Focus and KFC), Attack on Titan (Schick), One Piece (Fanta), and Tiger & Bunny (Pepsi). Judging from the emergence of anime in non-Japanese commercials, you can look out for more in the near future!