Japanese companies pay U.S. celebrities millions for endorsement, but film with whatever props happen to be lying around the sound stage. Insane...or GENIUS?
For easier reference, we've clasified the commercials by their corresponding sushi condiments.
Exhibit T&A: Mariah Carey
In a craziness cocktail, Mariah Carey and Japan go together like frat boys and secretly smelling each other's underwear. She's done well in a country that venerates shrill, 10-year-old girls in sexbots' bodies.
Right there she endorsed Nescafe while Nescafe endorsed Playstation, and Playstation endorsed her. It's a corrupt cycle whose message is clear: "Mariah, rub yourself on our faces and we will let you win at everything."
Exhibit 24" Pythons: Hulk Hogan
When peddling efficient HVAC, who doesn't immediately think of Hulk Hogan delighting a baby with the days of the week?
For some reason, Japan thinks the height of adorability is a steroid-addled wrestler brandishing a heavy mechanical device at an infant. And they are not wrong.
Exhibit C , sponsored by the number 3: The Muppets
Finally, the method to Japan's madness: a perfect world of Muppets, bright colors, and the Jackson Five. The result is the most charming thing since Paul Rudd laughed at a small child's antics. It's like the entire history of Japan was building to this one moment that was so crazy...it JUST MIGHT WORK.
They'll try to hide it amid the dulcet tinkle of a pianoforte, but crazy won't stay in the attic.
Exhibit 007: Sean Connery
Everything seems normal till you realize this is a love story between Sean Connery and whiskey. As Sir Dragonheart finishes pouring with a saucy dip and takes his lover into his mouth, the camera tastefully cuts away to paper blowing in the wind.
The only way that commercial could be more erotic is if the dog pressed its cold nose against Connery's unprepared buttock.
Exhibit Coppola: Nicolas Cage
Usually this is blatant comedy, but It's hard to tell when Cage is being purposefully funny, because he chews scenery like it's shoe leather and he's a starving war-orphan.
The way to tell if he takes a role seriously is by how ridiculous his hair looks. It's fairly normal here, so the comedy must be deliberate.
Exhibit 911: Steven Seagal
This video of Steven Seagal car-surfing makes more sense than 70% of Japanese ads and 95% of Steven Seagal films.
Next, he gets winded sucker-punching a stranger.
We all know Seagal takes a little longer to orbit the sun with each passing year, but when has he ever played up his age and butter-chins for money? That's how badly he wants Asia to like him. The way he's fetching it drinks while it laughs behind his back, you'd think Japan was the hot girl at prom.
Exhibit Blue Steel: Ben Stiller
If you believe Ben Stiller sells beer more convincingly within a bubble, you must be a rampaging football team! And no, that sentence won't make more sense after you watch this video.
Exhibit Omega: Arnold Schwarzenegger
There are Jackson Pollock paintings more intelligible than Arnold Schwarzenegger's Japanese endorsements. He doesn't even need a product to be a spokesperson. This is either an ad for hang-gliding or forming your own Sex-Voltron:
Representing Cup Noodle, the Austrian superman slaps the air for being weak, while a militant chorus shrieks "I! WANT! MORE!" That has nothing to do with noodles, so this can only be a short erotic thriller by Ayn Rand.
Growing as an artist and an ogre, he deconstructed the hand-dance while wearing a traditional Japanese outfit made from whale muscle:
Arnold is the only celebrity shouting fluent Japanese, even if it is to summon the elder gods. You might think these ads are crazy, but every second you pause to wonder whether they're actually performance art, he grows more powerful.
When Japanese ad agencies win an industry award, the trophy is a Terminator action figure that won't stop screaming. I can't remember if Japan and Austria have ever teamed up for an insane project before, but I hope it was this aw--
This is all they teach about Austria in American schools.
There's no need to be alarmist yet. After all, it's not like Austrian super-soldiers, Japanese robots, or some Terminator-like hybrids plan to march their troops west to conquer France or China, powered by rocket-fuel energy drinks.
It's started! It is as Nietzsche wrote: "Advertise not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you laugh at the Governator, the Governator laughs also at you."
Brendan McGinley writes comics so awesome they can punch a hole in your chest and show you your still-beating heart before you die. He knows there's more to Japan than sushi, but nothing so delicious.