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?