Friday’s ad ends Bud week early and is a bit of a departure for what’s usually featured here. I try not to use overtly male-oriented ads but today is an exception. We all have celebrities, male and female, that we’re more attracted to than others. For me, one of my most enduring starstruck crushes has been on Phoebe Cates, most famous for Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Gremlins. But many actors also did ads in Japan, which during the 1980s was quite lucrative so many who wouldn’t do ads in the U.S. just couldn’t turn down doing them in Japan, and Phoebe Cates was no exception. She did a series of ads, usually in a bikini, for Asahi Breweries sometime during the 80s. Also, I should point out that the reason for all this is today is Phoebe Cates’ 47th birthday.
The campaign also included television spots, like this one on YouTube. Since it was for their Asahi Draft Beer, they used the slogan “Live Beer” in the TV spots and on branded beer glasses in the print ads, such as the ones below.
Sometimes in a big floppy hat, sometimes not.
Most of the ads I’ve seen have been cropped and don’t show the full ad, sad to say.
Most people have probably heard of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. But the Japanese propensity of coming up with unusual hobbies knows no boundaries. One of the tamer examples is the related art of making 3D paper models. Using vector software like Pepakura, 3D models are created in 2D and then sheets are created to cut out and build the paper models. I stumbled on one of these while searching for another image. It’s of a waitress serving beer to a bar patron. The title of it is Bunny Beer Maiden because the waitress is dressed in a bunny costume, a popular Japanese fetish theme. Instructions and more photos are also at Papercraft and also at Paperworks’ And Wind Until, which has even more views of the component parts of the paper models.
After being put together, the server in bunny costume looks like this. See many other angles here.
And the customer with his beer. See many other angles here.
Friday’s ad is a strange one, I don’t actually recall where exactly I found the image. I don’t believe it’s actually for a brewery’s beer but instead is a Japanese anime character called TsumugiKotobuki. According to one description, she’s a “high school student who walks in on the ‘light’ music club. She is inspired to join the club as a keyboardist and wields damn freaky eyebrows.” Actually I may have that wrong, as there appear to be a number of Japanese carton characters with the name Kotobuki and a different first name, like the several in the show Gals!. Whatever the truth about her is, I still thought it interesting that a cartoon character can be shown so happily holding a mug of beer. It’s just nice to see a culture that’s not so puritanical.
Thursday’s ad is from Japan, and is for Sapporo beer. The ad is from 1934 and pictures a woman sitting and enjoying a beer, presumably at a dance watching the other couples cut a rug. One oddity; is it just me or does that glass in her hand look pretty small? Or is she perhaps a giant? Either way, it seems a little out of proportion. It’s also interesting that apart from the kanji writing and the woman’s obvious ethnicity, it could be any western ad for beer.
I stumbled on the photo of a peculiar beer below while looking for another image. It was on Holy Taco, a humor website as far as I can tell.
Best I could find out is that it’s a Japanese beer made by what appears to be a fairly large global food and drinks company called SC Foods Co., Ltd. The beer is called U.S. Select Beer Taste and is fairly resplendent with patriotic imagery from using a red, white and blue palette to the U.S. flag, an outline of the lower 48 and even part of the Statue of Liberty.
It’s certainly an odd duck. But what fascinates me most is wondering what it tastes like. I mean that in an abstract sense. I know in reality it’s likely a clone of a tasteless American-style macro lager or similar low-calorie light beer. Or is it? What is the perception of the “select beer taste of the U.S.?” Is is still the former big three, or has craft beer managed to upstage that as an antiquated image of American beer?
I also can’t help but wonder, if it is an American light lager, why? The three major brands in Japan — Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo — aren’t substantially different from Bud, Miller or Coors. So if you’re going to label it U.S. Select Beer Taste, then it has to mean something to the intended consumer, which appears to be the Japanese. They have to perceive it as being something different than their own beer, don’t they? And if so, then doesn’t it follow that U.S. Select Beer Taste might be more craft-oriented in taste? It wouldn’t taste like a German, Belgian, Czech or English import. Sadly, I couldn’t find any ratings for the beer on either Beer Advocate of Rate Beer, so I don’t really know if it’s more Dale’s Pale Ale than Bud Light.
So what exactly is American Beer’s Taste perception in Japan and around the world? Among brewers and the über beer geeks certainly our reputation for quality is unsurpassed and the craft industry has staged a remarkable comeback for American beer since the low point of the 1970s. But that’s among the small, niche customer for whom beer matters. To the general consumer, I’m not so sure. Budweiser and Coors both sell surprisingly well in Great Britain and Bud is even making modest progress in Germany. What do you think U.S. Select Beer Taste is?
I confess I’d never heard of Jewel Pet before now. As far as I can tell, Jewel Pet is one of those saccharinely sweet Japanese cartoons in the Hello Kitty mold. In fact, it was created by the same company, Sanrio. It’s a cartoon for kids in Japan so far at least 52 episodes have been produced. Here’s one description of the show:
In a magical land, small animals learn magic and are then turned into Jewels to travel to the magic forest. While her classmates are busy being transformed into jewels, Ruby, a rabbit, is off playing. The stork delivering the Jewel pets to the forest is overcome by a gust of wind, and the Jewels spill, falling to Earth. Ruby, who is being punished for going off and playing instead of becoming a Jewel with her classmates, is sent to Earth to retrieve her friends.
One fan, with apparently a lot of time on his or her hands was worried their favorite character, a bunny named Garnet, would lose air time as new Jewel Pets were discovered each episode, but was relieved to find that wasn’t the case.
What’s happened, rather, is that a troika of pets (Ruby, Garnet and Sapphy) has taken over. Each episode, after sharing the limelight with the new Pet of the Week, they pretty much banish it from ever rearing its ugly head in town. I’m relieved!
What surprised me about all this is the scene below shows Garnet drinking a beer! Remember this is a show aimed at kids around 8-years old, plus or minus. You have to love the Japanese when they don’t think anything at all about showing beer during a kids show. Apparently nobody screamed about corrupting the young, which almost certainly would have occurred if it had aired here. If you want to watch some episodes in Japanese, there are a few online.
Today’s works of art are by a variety of artists. The common element is that all of them were created for a concept bar in Japan called Beer Hall Heartland, a part of Kirin and a separate brand of beer they make.
The beer was first brewed exclusively for the bar in 1986. It has a proprietary green bottle.
The painting below is the first one I discovered, the one that led me to the rest of them. It’s called Aneuheart and is a watercolor pencil by Kazuhiro Kikuchi. It’s one of the 2007 winners.
Here’s what the artist had to say about it:
The subject was Heartland Beer, so I drew it with this thought in my mind: “Let’s create a new, cool 2007-version heart symbol.” However, this was very difficult, and it was hard to get away from the traditional kind of heart symbol. I went through some trial and error before eventually settling on a design that uses the traditional shape. I think the overall picture represents the concept of Heartland Beer, which is “the original values of things that are not at the mercy of fashion or popular opinion.” This picture is also a personal favorite. The title should be read as “a new heart,” meaning new or fresh heart. My commitment when I drew this picture was to create something for which I could congratulate myself, like: “I love this picture” or “this one is so cool,” after completing the work-and that is what I always have in my mind.
It reminds me a bit of Keith Haring, but with more pastel colors.
Another one from 2007, entitled “Carbonated Bubbles of Heartland Beer” by Ryosuke Matsuya. It’s also done in watercolor pencil.
Matsuya explains it:
I named this picture “Carbonated Bubbles of Heartland Beer” because I sensed some pathos in these carbonated bubbles. First they fizz and burst out refreshingly, but when it comes to an end, bubbles disappear and even the taste changes. I thought “this resembles a person’s life,” holding a Kaki-pea snack and a beer in my hands. I like this picture very much.
And here’s yest another one from the 2007 winners. This one is called simply “Beer,” a watercolor pencil by Ken Tajima.
Here’s Tajima’s description:
In times of celebrations and delightful events, people loudly open a liquor bottle. For us, opening the seal on a drink has a special meaning.This time I drew exactly that moment of Heartland Beer. I tried not to make it too dramatic because life is not totally filled with delightful events. Even when you are feeling bitter about something, the crown caps on beer bottles will pop. However, in either case, each of those moments is a happy moment to a greater or lesser extent. It would be a great pleasure for me if those who look at this picture can feel and taste these moments.
Here’s my favorite from the 2005 contest. It’s called “Bomb” and was created by Kentaro Izumi in acrylic paint, spray paint, and oil-based ink.
This is Izumi’s take:
By drawing beer bottles spreading out into all directions, I rendered the great taste that spreads throughout the mouth at the moment of drinking beer. I think the situation when people drink, differs according to each person, but basically, I used beautiful colors to describe a type of beer that can be drunk pleasantly and delectably.
From 2003, the watercolor pencil work below is called “837 Heartland Bottles (a year’s worth)” and is by Jun Mochizuki.
This is Mochizuki’s biography:
Born in Tokyo in 1955. Wins the Gold Prize at the JACA Japan Illustration Exhibition in 1984. Started work on as an illustrator. He has held personal exhibitions at venues including Space Yui, Ikebukuro Seibu Atelier Nouveau, Yurakucho Seibu Creators’ Space, and Shinjuku Gallery Genkai. From around 1990, he has been engaged in developing computer software, and currently he mainly creates web content, and also likes playing with his dog on the beach at Minami-Boso.
The remaining works of art are also from 2003 but I don’t know the artists either because they aren’t given or because I can’t read Japanese.
The one below is called Dream Time.
And this last one is “Untitled.”