When Japan’s Top Animators Made a Thrilling Cyberpunk Commercial for Irish Beer: Watch Last Orders (1997)

When it came out in 1995, Mamoru Oshi­i’s Ghost in the Shell showed the world what the art of Japan­ese ani­ma­tion could do with the kind of grit­ty, tech-sat­u­rat­ed, glob­al­ized cyber­punk visions pop­u­lar­ized in the pre­vi­ous decade by William Gib­son and oth­er writ­ers. The film’s par­tic­u­lar­ly suc­cess­ful release in the Unit­ed King­dom got some cul­tur­al­ly savvy mar­keters in Ire­land think­ing: why not use this sort of thing to sell beer?

But rather than rip­ping it off and water­ing it down — all too par for the course in adver­tis­ing — they hired ani­ma­tors straight from Pro­duc­tion I.G., Ghost in the Shell’s stu­dio, to cre­ate a whole new ani­mat­ed cyber­punk real­i­ty, the one in which Last Ordersthe minute-long spot above, takes place. The 1997 com­mer­cial tells the sto­ry of six samu­rai rush­ing through a cityscape that has every­thing we’ve now come to expect from this genre: forests of high-ris­es, bustling streets, mys­te­ri­ous women, arti­fi­cial humanoids, the tech­no­log­i­cal every­where merged with the organ­ic, and neon signs aplen­ty.

The samu­rai con­verge on their des­ti­na­tion, a tav­ern, just in time to silent­ly but firm­ly sig­nal their demand for their drink of choice: Mur­phy’s Irish Stout, a Heineken-dis­trib­uted brew offered as a lighter, less bit­ter alter­na­tive to the mar­ket-dom­i­nat­ing Guin­ness. But no mat­ter of the steely deter­mi­na­tion of the samu­rai in Last Orders, the first ani­me-style com­mer­cial ever to air in the UK and Ire­land, it seems that one chal­lenges such an icon­ic brand at one’s per­il: Mur­phy’s cur­rent­ly has only a five-per­cent share of the Irish stout mar­ket, and that most­ly thanks to a 28-per­cent share in its native Cork.

The Japan­ese ani­ma­tors who worked on the com­mer­cial have fared rather bet­ter, going on to, among many oth­er respect­ed projects, Blood: The Last Vam­pire and Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. Though I’ve nev­er encoun­tered Mur­phy’s on any tap, I’d glad­ly watch a movie or even an entire series set in its world. The stout mar­ket, the mighty Guin­ness includ­ed, may have been on the decline in recent years, but cyber­punk, in our own ever more glob­al­ized and tech-sat­u­rat­ed real­i­ty, seems about due for a come­back.

via Kotaku

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Phi­los­o­phy, Sto­ry­telling & Visu­al Cre­ativ­i­ty of Ghost in the Shell, the Acclaimed Ani­me Film, Explained in Video Essays

Watch the New Ani­me Pre­quel to Blade Run­ner 2049, by Famed Japan­ese Ani­ma­tor Shinichi­ro Watan­abe

Watch a New Star Wars Ani­ma­tion, Drawn in a Clas­sic 80s Japan­ese Ani­me Style

The Art of Hand-Drawn Japan­ese Ani­me: A Deep Study of How Kat­suhi­ro Otomo’s Aki­ra Uses Light

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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