If you only knew the power of convenient seafood!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a massive opening in Japan. But this isn’t the first time for Star Wars to make a grand entrance in Japan. When the franchise’s original film came to the country in the summer of 1978, it had already spent more than a year shattering box office records in other territories. Distributors knew they were about to unleash something special on Japanese audiences, and that this was a cinematic spectacle to be promoted on a grand scale.
紳士＿ (@hide_luxe) December 18, 2015
Sure, the advertising text for samurai film Hi no Tori (火の鳥 in Japanese) is pretty big. There’s also a bit of space set aside to let passersby know that the theater is playing Shadow 55, as the largely forgotten crime comedy Double Nickels was known in Japan. But the first, last, and likely only thing that anyone is going to be paying attention to is the gigantic, several-story tall Star Wars poster.
37年前の 1978年7月1日 映画『スター・ウォーズ』が日本で公開（6月24日先行公開） 37 years ago "Star Wars" was released in Japan http://t.co/p1Ms6BYE5m—
History Image (@HistoryImg) June 30, 2015
And after Japanese audiences were dazzled by Star Wars in theaters, they could go home, turn on their TVs, and continue following the adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han.
Adventures that involved tuna.
Canned food comoany Hagoromo decided to “borrow” the movie’s characters for an unlicensed commercial that aired in 1978. The bizarre ad opens with the movie’s heroic trio, including a pearl necklace-wearing Leia and curly-headed Luke, convening as the musical voice-over announces “For dinner tonight, it’s sea chicken! Sea chicken!”
C-3PO seems to have been downgraded from protocol droid to meal service bot, but his new line of work does come with a shiny fake leather shirt.
As terrifying as the commercial’s suggested recipe of tuna salad with sliced oranges and pineapples is, things become even scarier with the sudden arrival of Darth Vader!
Decked out in what appear to be Boy Scout merit badges for Dark Side Force mastery, he’s here to fight Luke Skywalker.
▼ But not before the two politely bow to each other, as is apparently proper light saber dueling etiquette in Japan.
But 3P0 manages to diffuse the hostilities by carrying in a platter of flaked tuna, because, as the booming narrator tells us, “There’s peace in deliciousness!”
In the media-connected world of today, it’s impossible to imagine a canned food maker blatantly appropriating the costumes and characters of one of the largest, most valuable intellectual properties in the entire entertainment industry, especially now that it’s owned by litigiously talented Disney. But think back to 1978, before the Internet allowed people to easily share videos with the entire planet. Imagine someone told you, “Hey, I just got back from Japan, and there’s a Star Wars tuna commercial!” You wouldn’t have believed him. No one would have believed him, and so the commercial was able to fly under the radar.
Besides, it’s not like the Japanese commercial pendulum never swung back in George Lucas’ favor. His fame and status as the father of Star Wars won him multiple endorsement deals for Panasonic, in which he appeared with a number of his creations.
And how could you hate the idea of Darth Vader finally getting to sit down for dinner with his kids? Sure, canned tuna isn’t the most gourmet dish, but considering that that’s the very first family meal the Skywalkers have ever shared, that commercial is a heartwarming moment for both sides of the Star Wars conflict.
▼ Well, except Admiral Ackbar, probably.