Back in 2010, Hayao Miyazaki’s company Studio Ghibli produced a commercial for the massive food conglomerate Nissin Seifun. The spot centers on a rotund cat named Konyara who bats lazily at a red butterfly – Nissin’s logo. Konyara is rendered in simple thick, black lines that recall Japanese sumi-e painting.
Miyazaki reportedly didn’t have much to do directly with the piece but his influence is all over it. The commercial was produced by Miyazaki’s long time collaborator Toshio Suzuki and animated by Katsuya Kondo, who did the character design for perhaps Miyazaki’s most cat-centric movie Kiki’s Delivery Service.
Another Miyazaki collaborator, pop legend Akiko Yano, did the music. More to the point, Konyara looks like some of Miyazaki’s most enduring characters from Totoro to Ponyo to the Kodama from Princess Mononoke. Adorable, elegant and vital.
The commercial was so successful that Nissin commissioned two more. The second one aired in 2012 and featured a sleepy Konyara struggling to grab 40 winks while her offspring, named Ko-Konyara (trans: Little Konyara), insists on cuddling. The calligraphy on the side reads “Always together.”
The most recent Ghibli/Nissin commercial came out a few months ago. Konyara’s brood has expanded to three – the two new cats named Kuroneko and Buchi. All three tumble into the frame as Konyara presents them with a fish while text appears reading, “I’m hungry.” When the little black kitten, who looks a lot like a soot sprite from Totoro, runs off with dinner, Konyara gives a resigned sigh. It’s an expression that anyone who has spent long periods with very young children will recognize.
You can watch all three above or here.
via Cartoon Brew
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads. The Veeptopus store is here.