Some of the most memorable, funny, and occasionally bizarre commercials to come out of Japan in recent years have been from Japanese cell phone company SoftBank.
The premise of these commercials (or CMs) is pretty simple: a typical Japanese family talks about SoftBank phones and other products. Straightforward on paper, right?
Here’s the catch: this TV family isn’t actually so typical. The dad is a dog, and the son is inexplicably black. Why? It’s never really explained, but who cares!
Personally, I prefer these ads to the ones I see here in the US, like the Verizon “Can you hear me now?” guy or Zooey Deschanel in her quirky house full of ukeleles.
Like the one above, the CMs dance around the fact that the dad is a dog, but never really explain it. In fact, every mention of the dad being a dog only adds to the mystery, like the below commercial where the dad goes to a school reunion.
Unsurprisingly, the dog (whose real name is Kaikun) has become the breakout star of the commercials, becoming a minor celebrity and getting solo commercial spots of his own. He probably works for less than the other actors, too.
Just when you thought that the family tree couldn’t get any stranger, it turns out legendary director Quentin Tarantino is part of the family too, as “uncle Tara.” While Uncle Tara’s Japanese skill aren’t quite up to par, that’s probably the most normal thing about the whole situation.
The stepgrandfather of the family is a young, tall, 20-something who looks like he should be in a host club instead of marrying an old lady.
There have been so many Shirato family commercials (they’ve been running on and off since 2006) that they’ve begun to resemble episodes from actual TV shows. There’s way more continuity in the SoftBank CMs than most people are used to in their advertising.
Just take this dramatic two-parter where, like a Looney Tunes cartoon, somebody is moving a piano up a building with a single piece of rope, and it threatens to drop on an unsuspecting little girl.
What happens next? I forget, but suddenly I want to re-up on my Double White phone plan . . .
Which CM is your favorite? Did I miss a good one? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks to Colt for emailing this in!