World record-holder becomes member of Pokémon Sun and Moon’s Team Skull.
For the most part, the golden era of foreign celebrities appearing in Japanese advertisements is over. A domestic celebrity boom, coupled with Internet video-sharing making it harder for Hollywood stars to keep their Japanese shilling on the down low, means that you’re unlikely to see Silvester Stallone hawking canned ham or Leonardo DiCaprio expressing his admiration of humble, incredibly inexpensive Suzuki kei cars, as both did in days gone by.
However, occasionally Japanese marketing still teams up with internationally famous luminaries, as The Pokémon Company just did with eight-time track and field Olympic gold medalist, multiple world record-holder, and generally accepted fastest person on the planet Usain Bolt.
Bolt appears in two ads for Pokémon Sun and Moon, the latest paired installments of the Pokémon franchise’s mainline video game series. Dressed in the outfit of the games’ treacherous Team Skull, Bolt is introduced with on-screen game text announcing “Team Skull’s Bolt wants to battle!”
“Even in a Pokémon battle, I’m number one,” declares Bolt in English, before switching to Japanese and instructing his Pikachu to use his Thunderbolt (juman boruto) attack, which the Pocket Monster does while striking Bolt’s signature victory pose.
In the second ad, Bolt references the sport he’s dominated, greeting the audience with “Yo! We meet again. Don’t think you can run away,” and crouching into a sprinter’s starting stance with Pikachu at his side.
Since Pikachu is known more for his cuddly cuteness than his blazing speed, we doubt he was able to keep up with Bolt once they started running. Still, meeting the star athlete must have been a pretty cool birthday present for the franchise mascot.