The hot summer months of July and August are almost upon us, and for families with young children, you know what that means…SUMMER VACATION! That’s right, like in many other parts of the world, families in Japan will be thinking about how and where to spend their summer holidays, including plans for travel. It seems quite fitting, then, that West Japan Railway Company, or JR West Japan as it’s commonly called, has recently announced the launch of the “JR West Japan SUMMER TRAIN!” campaign to showcase the appeal of traveling in western Japan by rail.
And it so happens that there’s something unique about this campaign that makes it hugely appealing to anime fans in particular — the commercial for the campaign features animation created by members of the Studio Ghibli team, and their beautiful artwork is immediately recognizable.
Yes, there certainly are many lovely spots in western Japan, including places of natural beauty and historical significance, that you can visit using the JR West Japan rail system. The campaign, which is aimed at highlighting such spots, now has a delightful animated commercial created by producer Yoshiaki Nishimura and animation director Yoshiyuki Momose, both of whom have been involved in numerous Studio Ghibli movies in the past.
Nishimura has managed advertising and marketing for films such as Howl’s Moving Castle, Tales from Earthsea, and Ponyo, and also produced the The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and When Marnie was There. Momose has been involved as animation director and producer in films such as Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Porco Rosso, Whisper of the Heart, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Tales from Earthsea and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. The ad also features music by composer Yugo Kanno, who is responsible for the themes of numerous popular anime as well as TV dramas.
Here’s the JR West commercial that has just started airing on TV and online as well:
The heart-warming ad portrays memorable scenes from the summer experiences of the three-generation Nishomoto family: Susumu (the active grandfather), Kyoko (the grandmother who loves to travel), Mai (the busy but cheerful mother)m Hiromichi (the creative father who is quite skillful with his hands), Sakura (the nine-year-old daughter with a healthy curiosity and appetite), and Tetta (the five-year-old son who loves trains).
▼ The Nishimoto Family
▼ The commercial starts with Tetta looking unhappy at the train station as the family gets ready to board the train.
▼ The family manages to get Tetta on the train …
▼ … and the train departs.
▼ Once the train pulls away from the station, the family is transported to a world of summer wonder.
▼ And of course, who doesn’t enjoy a family barbecue in the great outdoors, right?
What do you think? Does the commercial make you want to drop everything and hop on a train? As befitting the talent behind the animation, the artwork is delightful to look at and brilliantly colored, with scenery somewhat reminiscent of the mountains in My Neighbor Totoro. The visuals also remind us of Ponyo, which isn’t surprising since Hayao Miyazaki’s marine-themed film takes place in west Japan’s Tomonoura fishing port in Hiroshima Prefecture.
In addition to the commercial, JR West Japan will also have various events going on at the Osaka Station City shopping/dining/entertainment complex as part of their campaign. From June 27 to August 31, a special JR SUMMER TRAIN cafe designed to recreate the world in the animated commercial will be open on the fifth floor of the complex. Also on the fifth floor, there will be a special “Let’s Go on the JR SUMMER TRAIN!” area where kids can ride a miniature bullet train and take souvenir photos, and on the second floor there will be a JR SUMMER TRAIN×teamLabCamera Summer Trip Photo Studio where you can get your photo taken and have it made into stickers that combine the picture with elements of the animated commercial.
So, are you all ready now to take a summer trip by train? We certainly are, after seeing the ad. And even if we end up working or staying home during the summer, we’ll still have enjoyed looking at the lovely artwork, so thank you, JR West Japan, for your visually entertaining commercial!