Soccer franchise Winning Eleven (AKA Pro Evolution Soccer) is facing increased competition from foreign-based developers. The game's latest television spots also show heavy competition from a sauve non-Japanese-looking fella with a Japanese last name. And they're some of the most popular ads on Japanese television.
The first ad opens with actor Fuku Kondo talking to "Yoshida", the guy with the open shirt and the two ladies. Apparently, the guy is Indian if the curry mark on the back of his iPad is anything to go on.
Kondo asks Yoshida if he plays Winning Eleven, and he says he's pretty good at it. They make plans to play.
Yoshida starts winning and starts showboating. He also starts bossing Kondo around, telling him to go buy him a canned coffee and pour his soy sauce. At the end of the ad, Kondo curses Yoshida and his underhanded play, screaming, "Yoshidaaaaaa!"
Kondo is going head-to-head with Yoshida's counter-attacks, or what he calls "Yoshida style". "Yoshidaaaaaa!"
Kondo is up 2-nil. Then Yoshida yells, "goal, goal, goal" after scoring three in rapid succession. "Phew, that was close!" says Yoshida.
Traditionally, Japanese advertising either ropes in famous Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts to shill goods or fetishise foreigners. This means the foreigners that appear in ads are confined to the status of "the other".
But recently, there are more and more commercials that genuinely include foreign actors. Mobile phone provider SoftBank has its White Family ads, which feature American-born Dante Carver. He's a member of the White Family, and the ads don't dwell on his nationality, his accent or race.
These Winning Eleven ads give what looks like a non-Japanese actor a Japanese surname. (Granted, he could be Japanese! Anything is possible.) As with Dante Carver, Yoshida is the yosougai (unforeseen) element in the ad.
So far, the commercials are proving to be popular. Comments from Japanese viewers point out how real the two interact and how enjoyable the spots are. The ads do play on stereotypes, sure, but Yoshida is the guy at the beginning with the pretty ladies and the guy kicking arse. Yoshidaaaaaa!