It’s no secret that western celebrities do commercials in Japan for some extra cash. Everybody’s gotta make a buck, right?
But some of those commercials are more strange than others. Case in point, Jean Reno’s recent commercials for Toyota in Japan.
Jean Reno, if you don’t know him, is a French actor who’s had crossover success in the English-speaking world, with a handful of high-profile movies like Leon: The Professional, Ronin, and the trainwreck that was the American Godzilla remake (but we don’t talk about that).
What’s weird about these recent commercial isn’t the actor nor the company, but the fact that they feature Jean Reno dressed as cartoon character Doraemon.
Doraemon is a classic Japanese kid’s cartoon about a time-travelling, robotic cat from the future (who for some reason doesn’t have ears), who hangs out with kids and inexplicably pulls magical items out of a pouch on his stomach.
These Toyota commercials feature a live-action, future version of all the beloved Doraemon characters with Monsieur Reno as the eponymous character.
It’s be like if Chow Yun-fat came to the US to play a live-action Scooby Doo in a commercial for Ford.
The premise of the whole sieries is a little sad, though. It follows the lives of the kids from Doraemon all grown up. The main child from the series, Nobita Nobi, is now 30 years old, single, and without a driver’s license. So who’s to help them?
Nobita has to compete with his rival, Suneo Honekawa, to win the affections of his childhood friend, Shizuka Minamoto. Unfortunately for Nobita however, Suneo has not only a driver’s license, but seemingly unlimited financial success.
But all isn’t lost for Nobita. His old pal Doraemon can help him check out all the sweetest new cars, get his license and hopefully, win the heart of Shizuka.
Doraemon’s help comes in many forms. Hi magical contraptions include a door that leads everywhere; a tiny, head-mounted helicopter; and a phone that shows the future. Not bad for a guy without ears.
One commercial even features AKB48 singer Atsuko Maeda, making the “six degrees of separation” game a snap. Jar Jar Binks to AKB48? Easy!
Jar Jar Binks was in the Star Wars franchise that also starred Natalie Portman, who appeared in Leon The Professional with Jean Reno, who was in a Toyota commercial with Atsuko Maeda who is a singer in AKB48! No problem!
In the end, it’s unclear if Nobita ever gets his license, a car, or the lady of his dreams. But if nothing else, Nobita gets to hang with his futuristic cyber cat and, in the end, isn’t that what’s more important?
Which commercial was your favorite?