Trying to interpret Japanese TV commercials | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 11, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 11, 2018

Trying to interpret Japanese TV commercials

The Japanese are an eccentric bunch. If anime and manga haven't convinced you of it, then sitting through a few television advertisements should be enough to sway your opinion. However, these aren't your everyday advertisements – they have deeper meanings. Knowing that all of you are busy people, I took the liberty of deciphering the true messages behind these. You're welcome.

Weird Japanese Sushi Ad: The unofficial title will have you believe that this advertisement is about sushi, but I beg to differ. While a sushi company may have funded this, it does so much more than just sell sushi. In this advertisement, we see a man and a woman face off against each other in a public courtyard. Very soon they start to shed their mortal bindings (read: clothes) until they are down to their underwear. Of course, the only rational next step is to pour paint on yourselves, so that is what they do. Next, the woman kneels on the ground (like the rice of the sushi) and the man lays himself down on top of her (like the fish on sushi). However, the sushi imagery is simply a metaphor. This ad is actually saying something about our inner turmoil – the white (of the rice which is the woman) represents our creativity and innocence. Fittingly enough, the red (of the fish which is the man) stands for how the negativity of the real world stifles and enshrouds such positive traits. Deep.

Tarako Pasta Sauce: This advertisement is truly horrific – not only does this feature frightening visuals, but the real meaning will cause existential crises too intense to handle. From the very first frame there are hundreds (millions?) of Russian nesting dolls rotating in place, with blank babyfaces plastered on them. Next, we find our protagonist – a young child – staring open-mouthed at the horror unfolding on the table in front of her: the number of dolls has doubled, and their ungodly chanting has increased in pitch. Disregarding the pasta on the table (as it's obviously an unimportant prop), it's easy to comprehend that this is a form of social commentary. The Russian nesting doll-like things represent all the people stuck in 9 to 5 jobs, living like hamsters on the capitalist wheel, forever running with no end in sight. The child represents someone who hasn't bought into the life of servitude. That is why the final frame is even more saddening, as the child is nowhere in sight and white dolls bounce on a drum. She has been consumed by the system, and is now beating the drum of the humdrum life.

Japanese Gummy Sours Commercial: Of all the advertisements I've analysed, this has been the most transparent about its true meaning. The creators of this advertisement really knew what they were doing when they made this. This is where someone with a giant turtle suit chases down people and offers them candy. How sweet. There's no better way to teach people how to make friends then to show them this. I used to be antisocial and an introvert, until I saw this ad. Now I have tons of friends, thanks to the magic of gummy sours. The fact that they're tied up in my basement is inconsequential. Please don't call the police.


Wasique Hasan is very confused. With a heart of ash and a PC of potato, he could use some help: send him memes at

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