The First Annual Japan Probe Awards For Excellence In The Field of Japanese Commercials

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    Hello guests! Welcome to The First Annual Japan Probe Awards For Excellence In The Field of Japanese Commercials!

    This year was another great year for commercials in Japan. As usual, many of the commercials were actually more entertaining than the programs they aired during. Our panel of committee of judges, consisting of myself, spent countless hours watching Japanese TV and finally determined the winners for each category. The winners are….

    Category 1: Best Commercial Featuring A Foreign Celebrity

    Winner: Boss Coffee’s “Alien Jones” Series

    It almost goes without saying that Tommy Lee Jone’s commercials for Boss Coffee, in which he plays a space alien observing the ways of earthlings, are totally awesome. In the commercial above, he is working as a delivery man and discovers that our planet has strict parking rules.

    Runner-up: Kiefer Sutherland’s Calorie Mate Series

    In case you didn’t know, 24 is very popular in Japan. In these commercials, Sutherland relives his role as Jack Bauer to sell Calorie Mate bars.

    Category 2: Best Soft Drink Commercial

    Winner: Moses drinks Dakara

    In this commercial, Moses states that there is something bad inside of him, and then says words that are meant to sound like him taking a piss. It is meant to advertise Dakara’s ability to induce cleansing urination…yeah.

    Runner-up: Kirin Nuda’s “Havin’ a good time”

    Queen + comedian Takashi Okamura’s dancing skillz = one fine commercial. There is also an alternate version with Rinka showing off her dancing skills and her bod.

    Category 3: Best Commercial Involving Use Of The English Language

    Winner: Daiwa House Construction Company

    In an odd twist, Daiwa House finds it’s way into English class!

    Runner-up: C.C. Lemon’s “Mr C.C. Lemon” (Not on YouTube, but can be viewed here)

    Category 4: Sexiest Commercial

    Winner: Yuri Ebihara’s Anessa Ad

    Ebi-chan in a bikini getting out of a pool. To watch a non-Japanese language version of this commercial in ultra high quality, click here.

    Runner-up: Sofina Perfect UV

    South Korean model Kim Young-A wants you to buy Perfect UV…

    Category 5: Best Travel Commercial

    Winner: JR Tokai’s Nara/Toudaiji Ad

    A simple and beautiful commercial advertising the ancient city of Nara.

    Runner-up: JR’s Jumping Redheads Kyushu Ad

    Two red-haired foreigners jump around while mentioning the many great tourist attractions of Kyushu.

    Category 6: Best Original Song-based Commercial

    Winner: Kewpie’s “Tarako”

    The song from this pasta sauce commercial became a major hit in Japan, spawning a CD release and music videos featuring the elementary school girls who sang the song. They’ve even got a Christmas version of their song! [An English explanation of the lyrics]

    Runner-up: “CAN GIVE YOU GATSBY”

    Takuya Kimura advertises a Gatsby’s Moving Rubber hair wax for men while dancing around to this tune. Many a day this year was spent trying to get this song out of my head.

    Category 7: Best English School Commercial

    Winner: Nova’s “Help me!” CM

    In this commercial, a Japanese woman fails to understand what a trapped foreigner is saying to her. Can Nova solve her problem?

    Category 8: Best Wacky/Strange Commercial

    Winner: PAFE Japon Animals

    Talking animals promote a magazine. (English subtitles are provided.)

    Runner-up: Nodokuro’s Dodokuro-chan Exercise

    This is an exercise video about a black seal that really loves black throat candies.

    Category 9: Best Commercial Starring A Foreign Character

    Winner: Aflack Duck

    A lot of foreign commercial characters just don’t translate into the Japanese market. However, the Aflack duck has the perfect mixture of cuteness/spunk to pull it off. As much as I like Aflack commercials here, I just wish the duck’s voice was more duck-like…

    Category 10: Cutest Commercial

    Winner: Pocky Commercial featuring Yui Aragaki

    The perfect mix of fun and cuteness.

    Category 11: Funniest Commercial

    Winner: Tokyo Gas Commercials

    I absolutely love the Tokyo Gas commercials. The premise is as follows: historical people somehow find their way into a Japanese guy’s room via his wardrobe. In the above commercial, William Shakespeare arrives with his translator (Julie Dreyfus from Kill Bill). Instead of actually translating the very simple English phrases Shakespeare is using, she says “I want to use your bath,” “Hurry, I need to use your bath,” and so on, hilighting the features of Tokyo Gas’ bathroom heating system. There is also another great commercial in the series with a clumsy Isaac Newton who keeps explaining things as “gravity”:

    Runner Up: “Discussing Milk” Commercials

    In these commercials, three of which are featured back-to-back in the above clip, high school students daydream about how they can improve themselves by drinking milk. In the first commercial the boy imagines how milk can make him strong, in the second a girl thinks about how milk can make her pretty, and in the third a boy thinks about how it can improve his academic abilities. As much as I love these commercials, I absolutely hate milk. ;)

    Ok, that’s all for this year, folks! I’ll continue to feature great commercials as they appear in 2007, possibly to use as a reference for the second annual awards (I also plan to add a few more judges for that one).

    So what were your favorite Japanese commercials this year?

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