Today, February 3rd, is Setsubun (literally, seasonal division) and is the day before the beginning of Spring in Japan. It’s also the day when grownups dress up as ogres known as oni and children gleefully throw soybeans at them as a way of ridding their homes of bad luck and bad spirits. The part of the oni is almost always played by the father of the household, a typically overweight, under exercised male who is laughably easy to defeat.
Taking aim at this stereotype is Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, the maker of, amongst other things, soy-based products like Soy Joy and Soy Carat.
With the help of a creative team from ad agency Hakuhodo, the company created “Smart Setsubun,” an amazing 2 and a half minute commercial in which they reimagine the ogres as strong, agile and sexy. It’s joyful to watch the matrix-like fight sequence as the ogres push aside the dad and race through the home, dodging handfuls of soybeans being flung at them.
Watch carefully because there are some special moments worked into the film like when the male oni pulls a kabedon on the housewife.
In another scene, a bunch of soybeans go sailing through the air and knock over some small figurines. Those familiar with Japanese folklore will recognize the figurines as Momotaro and his animal companions who famously defeat a group of oni and save their village.