Last year, Nissin, makers of Cup Noodle instant ramen, created the awesome Samurai in Brazil ad, in which a soccer player clad in Japanese armor travelled to South America to show off his footwork to the locals. The company later caught up with the freestyle soccer expert in Europe with a sequel, Samurai in Manchester .
In its newest commercial, Nissin isn’t just switching venues, but sports, too, as Samurai in New York features one of the best tennis players in the world, who proves just how talented he is by leaving behind his racquet and delivering powerful forehands, backhands, and serves using a wooden sword.
The minute-long ad opens with a skiff floating under overcast skies, being plied up New York City’s Hudson River.
The oarsman’s face is hidden by the wide brim of his hat, but the camera does get a clear shot of his passenger: professional tennis player Kei Nishikori, currently ranked number five in the world, dressed in samurai garb with a headband wrapped around his forehead. While still on the river, Nishikori picks up a spare oar and starts whittling with his knife, mirroring the actions of historical swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, who’s said to have carved a wooden sword on his way to Ganryujima Island for his fateful duel with rival Sasaki Kojiro.
But wait a second! Nishikori is an athlete, not a warrior. You can’t hit tennis balls with a sword, can you?
Right up until the moment of filming, the commercial’s producers say they weren’t sure if it could be done, but Nishikori stepped up and showed them that yes, it can.
▼ Without the sword, this would be just another ho-hum behind-the-back, between-the-legs return.
At the most recent U.S. Open in September, Nishikori became the first male Japanese tennis player ever to advance to the final round of a Grand Slam competition. And while he fell in straight sets, we think the outcome might have been a little different had he and his opponent both been using swords.