I love this commercial. Deeply, and truly. From the bottom of my heart. One Piece and Cup Noodle are two of Japan’s most famous institutions. One is loved by children and adults with a taste of hot-blooded adventure alike and the other by penniless college students and those with 10-minute lunch breaks everywhere. Why shouldn’t One Piece team up with Cup Noodle? They do with Uniqlo, Bikkuriman, not to mention Sketchers. Especially since the fruits of this collaboration are amazing; a fully animated look into the Japanese high school life of the three sword samurai himself Roronoa Zoro.
Imagine an alternate reality where instead of sailing the high seas in search of treasure, Zoro was dedicated Kendo club member. He still gets owned by Mihawk, a strong opponent at a rivaling school. He’s late for school, sleeps in class, and eventually meets Monkey D. Luffy on the school roof. Maybe that One Piece wouldn’t be so bad. While the ad centers around Roronoa Zoro, not only do the rest of the straw hats cameo but if you look closer, dozens of cast members are hanging around the school. Eisaku Kubonouchi, the character designer for Shinichiro Watanabe’s ambitious Carole & Tuesday, provided the new character designs.
While anime characters have appeared in ads before, seeing this full, vibrant new world leaves me particularly impressed. I’m not sure if Toei Animation or Nissin footed the bill, but the animation looks great. The only actual cup of ramen you see is at the very end of the commercial, in the hands of the straw hat captain himself. It’s subtle, refreshing, and doesn’t make me feel like a brand is trying to shove a product down your throat. Well, it is Cup Noodle so I guess they literally are trying to shove a product down your throat. For high school Zoro, I’ll do it.