Pretty much ever since it was invented, men have been the target market for instant ramen. That’s slowly starting to change, though, as companies are finding out that plenty of women, too, are interested in a hot, tasty meal that only takes three minutes to prepare.
Those three minutes, though, can seem awfully long when you’re sitting by yourself with nothing to do while you wait for your noodles to cook. So, Nissin, to celebrate the start of its new line of healthier, more cosmopolitan instant ramen aimed at women, has set up a special website where a handsome Japanese actor will keep you company while you cook and eat your instant ramen.
Nissin’s new series of instant ramen is called Cup Noodle Light Plus. Lower in fat and sodium than ordinary instant ramen varieties, each of the two flavors has just 198 calories, and that’s if you decide to drink all of their broth. The product lineup currently consists of Bagna cauda and ratatouille, both of which carry a more fashionable cachet with sophisticated Japanese ladies than the soy, miso, or pork stock of traditional ramen.
▼ Bagna cauda (left) and ratatouille (right), both of which go for 149 yen (US$1.25)
Both broths are flavorful. The ratatouille is the milder of the two, with a well-balanced tomato broth, bell peppers, and zucchini. The Bagna cauda, on the other hand, hits your taste buds and olfactory senses a little harder with its signature anchovy bouquet, squash, and lotus root.
Switching focus from ramen to men, to emphasize the surprising amount of vegetables and appeal to female customers, Nissin has been airing a commercial starring popular actor Takumi Saito. The 34-year-old Saito, whose filmography includes roles in Ace Attorney, Space Battleship Yamato, and 13 Assassins, appears as a farmer working in a vegetable patch, all for the sake of making Cup Noodle Light Plus as delicious as possible.
Saito’s contribution to the product doesn’t end there, though. Head to the special Cup Noodle Light Plus website, found here, and he’ll sit with you and provide a bit of small talk as you wait for your noodles to cook.
Once you’ve added your hot water to the cup, hit the start button, and a timer will appear on the left side of the screen, counting down the three minutes until your noodles are ready. While that’s going on, Saito will chime in from time to time. He’ll thank you for coming, and even give you a special message if you’re a repeat visitor.
Mainly, though, he’s there so that the two of you can stare into each other’s eyes. Every now and then, his hand extends past the bottom edge of the screen, presumably so that you can imagine you’re intertwining your fingers.
Once the three minutes are up, Saito will signal you with an enthusiastic, “OK, let’s eat up!” From here on out, there’s no timer, and the actor is happy to sit with you for as long as you want, saying things such as:
“When I see you enjoying it so much, it makes me feel happy, too.”
“How about those vegetables? Great, aren’t they? I grew them right here on my farm.”
“The soup is really good, isn’t it?”
“This is just between you and me, but I sing to the vegetables. Don’t tell anyone.”
▼ Sorry, Takumi, I’m telling everyone. That’s my job as a reporter.
▼ Saito, offering an encouraging pat on the head
Once you’re all done, click on “next step” (次のステップへ in Japanese) to wrap up your meal.
Before you go, though, Saito would like to snap a photo together. If you’re willing to indulge his request and your monitor has a built-in camera, click on the right button to take a commemorative photo.
▼ Alternatively, you can click on the left button and turn him down, if you’d like to see the actor crestfallen.
▼ Once the photo’s taken, you can preview it, and are presented with options to tweet it (1), share it on Facebook (2), download it (3), or retake it (4).
The whole thing is actually a pretty clever idea, and if you’re one of Saito’s many loyal female fans, is sort of a daydream come true.
Things are a little different if you’re a guy, though. With the fantasy of romantic tension swept away, all of those quiet smiles and sidelong glances can start to feel like awkward, bored silence.
▼ At one point, I’m pretty sure the dude fell asleep on me.
As such, I recommend bringing along something to help you kill time, either by playing a game, or slowly getting liquored up.
Still, eventually you’ll come to the part at the end, where Saito asks to take a picture together. The poor guy just seems so disappointed when you say no, though. So even if you’re too embarrassed at the idea of posing together, you can at least take pity on the actor by letting him pose with one of your friends/toys that happen to be within reach.
▼ This should totally be going up on the new Pokémon Facebook page.
Related: Nissin Mitsumete Light Plus
Top image: Nissin Mitsumete Light Plus
Insert images: RocketNews24, Nissin Mitsumete Light Plus (edited by RocketNews24)