There are few things wackier in this world than anime in advertising.
At the very least, it sure looks silly to us in the west. While we may be used to seeing animated characters like Tony the Tiger selling cereal, it’s undeniably amusing when you see a minute long commercial packed with popular anime tropes. While commercials sporting an anime art style don’t have to be tacky or silly, some TV spots just go completely off the rails and become memes within the anime community. Other times, anime commercials turn out to be so popular that fans petition for a proper anime series to be based on them!
Whether they’re too funny, too ambitious, or just impossible to comprehend, below are 5 anime commercials that went a little bit too far.
5: Gainax’s school commercial
If the only thing stopping you from pursuing an IT degree was 40 seconds of an anime girl chasing down a boy she likes, then do we have the commercial for you!
Yes, Kyoto Computer Gakuin, a private school specializing in computer education, commissioned this short animated advertisement from none other than Gainax. You know, the studio behind Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Lagaan, and numerous other critically acclaimed anime titles. Aside from its pedigree, the best part of this commercial is just how little it actually tells you about the school in question. Though it does technically star the school’s mascot character, you’d have no idea what was even being advertised just by watching the animation.
4: Windows 7 mascot girl explains… how to build a computer?
With the debut of Windows 7 came Madobe Nanami, the world’s first official “OS-tan,” or Operating System Girl. Acting as a vague mascot for Microsoft, Nanami starred in this minute long advertisement to… well… we don’t really know honestly.
The commercial starts with what appears to be a how-to for assembling computers, which is a process that is probably a bit more complicated than these 10 seconds of parts magically flying together would lead you to believe. The commercial then segues into Nanami checking out the cool new features of Windows 7, which include… using a touch screen… and looking at cute animal pictures? You know, because one of the most notable improvements Windows 7 brought to the table was the ability to look at cute animals on the internet. Our narrative tour de force ends with Nanami realizing that she forgot to put a screw on her computer, which she shrugs off before telling the viewer that they should build a computer that’s right for them.
And then it ends. Just like that.
Madobe Nanami, we will remember your commercial in the same way we remember Windows 8; a very confusing blip in Microsoft’s history.
3: McDonalds Anime Recruitment Ad
We know what you’re thinking: “An anime commercial for McDonalds? This is bound to be awful.”
Except – and we can’t believe what we’re about to say – this one minute advertisement is actually very entertaining.
Sporting a cheery color palette and smooth animation, this McDonalds commercial takes us through the days of a young girl starting her work life with a senior staff member at McDonalds. Though a quick montage, we see the clumsy girl learn the ropes of the position under the tutelage of her adviser, culminating in a friendship between the two. Though the ad just debuted this year, it has made waves across the internet with fans calling it sweet, heartwarming, and even a decent premise for a full-on slice of life series. This is apparently the first of five commercials as part of a ongoing campaign, though it’s unknown if future commercials will continue the story of these two characters.
All this to get people working at McDonalds.
2: Hatsune Miku sponsors Toyota, in America!
Vocaloid diva Hatsune Miku is still relatively niche in the west, but she’s gained a lot of traction in the past few years. One of the first major companies to push Miku in the international market was none other than Toyota in 2011, resulting in a series of commercials that drive straight into the uncanny valley.
To be fair, the commercials that just have Miku driving her new Corolla around are only mildly silly at best. However, the commercials that feature very American characters engaging in English conversation with a very Japanese, computer generated character will make you wonder how on earth this marketing campaign even happened. Look Toyota, we’ve basically memorized all the lyrics to World is Mine and The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku, and even we would react a little bit if a hologram approached us looking for a bacon wrapped hotdog.
Honorable mentions for Hatsune Miku cross promotional events go to her appearance on Late Show on David Letterman, and the meme-worthy Dominos App featuring Hatsune Miku. In retrospect, if Toyota was actually the catalyst that made all these hilarious Miku moments happen, then they clearly created their commercials perfectly.
1: The inordinately extravagant Mercedes A-Class short.
Sure, the production values on some of these commercials are pretty impressive, but nothing even comes close to this 6 minute long ad for the Mercedes A-Class compact car.
Seriously, if we were to tell you Production I.G. – the studio behind Ghost in the Shell, Attack on Titan, and Guilty Crown – created a high-budget short about three characters chasing down a legendary noodle vendor through a futuristic city, you probably wouldn’t think “that sounds like a car commercial.” Yet Mercedes apparently saw the value in commissioning talented animators and artists to advertise their product. Make no mistake, you shouldn’t expect a strong narrative from what ends up being an advertisement, but if all commercials were like this, we probably wouldn’t skip over them when we TiVo our favorite shows.
Though this “A-Class” anime garnered a ton of hits online, we have no way of knowing how many of those views turned into car sales at the end of the day. Still, if Mercedes felt their marketing dollars would be best spent supporting some of the best content creators in the anime industry, then we’re more than happy they decided to go that far off the deep end.