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The Forty Year-Old Virgin's Global Cool


On the left below is an image currently used in Marui (OI) department store’s Christmas campaign. The model is Ikeuchi Hiroyuki, who plays the lead role in a special tie-up short drama series available on the Marui website. The story 「クリスマスの約束」(The Christmas Promise) deals with fixing broken music boxes, making cake, and absolutely, positively finding love on Christmas Eve. Actually, it’s a pretty non-commercial message for what is ultimately a commercial advocating the general purpose consumption of items. Although Christmas in Japan is a “romantic holiday” — opposed to the “family holiday” emphasis in the U.S. — both advocate material exchange as close communication. The difference is that lonely Americans rarely try to desperately put together a family to properly celebrate, whereas it’s a running joke that Japanese girls work hard to meet boys in the Advent season lest be alone on the Eve night. (Many guys then get the tsukaisute treatment come New Years.)

Ikeuchi’s portrait now towers over Shibuya, and I couldn’t help but notice that his overall posture and expression strike a strange resemblance to the promotional poster for 2005’s The 40—Year—Old Virgin. What an odd thing to inflict pakuri upon. Or is there something universally endearing about dippy-looking men wearing collared shirts and looking to the viewer’s upper left with a blithe, toothy smile?

W. David MARX (Marxy)
December 19, 2006

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

10 Responses

  1. marxy Says:

    What is also odd is the fact that Ikeuchi’s character dresses so pastel-preppy for an antique salesman.

  2. tim Says:

    the way the posters are set up in shibuya i thought he was looking longingly across the street to his girlfriend, who is hanging on the other marui building. shes almost looking towards him too.

  3. mchan Says:

    I dunno, Marxy. It seems like a bit of overreaching here…

    Although I also suppose that any counterargument I make would also be overreaching, huh…

  4. trevor Says:

    i think, being that the movie is a comedy. that shot is ment to be a “joke” on a generic “good portrait” type photo.
    anyways. i think the idea is generic.. or something…

    thats as much as i can care.

  5. toshi Says:

    Perhaps the Marui is targeting the approximately 10% of 40 year old men who are still virgins.

  6. marxy Says:

    “the way the posters are set up in shibuya i thought he was looking longingly across the street to his girlfriend, who is hanging on the other marui building. shes almost looking towards him too.”

    I didn’t notice that, but on the website, they are both looking off into the distance – not towards each other.

    Also, watch the film since his character does not resemble anything approximating the demeanor indicated by the poster.

  7. alin Says:

    Forget the japs and marui mate, that’s the fly eating the icing. the 40YOV image is a total rip-pff of Martin Parr’s self-portraits – – sneak into the guys who made that poster’s office and you’ll find Parr’s book (itself a self-conscious, brilliant collection of rip-offs) in a handy place.
    oh, detective …

  8. alin Says:

    actually the source of the poster is probably not parr’s self-portraits but his own pakuri of himself , his own fashion magazine. ad-people hardly go into esoteric territory these days.

    funny thing is parr’s magazine, a one man magazine is a rather japanese idea (yokoo tadanori, jun miura etc , – a totally different concept to say ‘andy warhol’s interview – martin parr’s fondness of japan is well known) || it’s circular mate

  9. marxy Says:

    Congrats on being the first person on the Internet to suppose a Parr-Carell connection.

  10. alin Says:

    only incidental to your own insight, you take the credit.