In one universe, they are the Straw Hat Pirates, sailing the Grand Line in hopes to achieve their individual dreams. In another, they are high-schoolers, with 17-year-old protagonist Zoro training to become the best kendo practitioner – one who never experiences defeat and always emerges victorious.
The description sounds exactly like the typical, run-of-the-mill sports anime, but that’s about where the similarity ends. For their latest spate of “Hungry Days” commercials, popular cup noodle brand Nissin has teamed up with hit anime series One Piece for a brilliant 30-second trailer, in which the characters are brought into a slice-of-life high school setting.
In it, Zoro is shown to have swapped out his three swords from the original series for a shinai (bamboo sword), as he faces off against a stern-looking man with a heavy resemblance to Mihawk, the greatest swordsman in One Piece. He loses the match, dedicates himself fully to the sport so he will never fail again, and embarks on a training journey that’s compiled into a montage.
It’s not just any montage, either – Nissin has cleverly stashed many easter eggs and anime-manga references within the reel, including the opening and ending scenes. For instance, the first few seconds of Zoro crying at his failure while sprawled on the ground serves as a nod to his reaction during the East Blue story arc, where he (surprise, surprise) experienced defeat by the hands of Mihawk.
Meanwhile, the ending perfectly parallels the first encounter between Zoro and One Piece protagonist Luffy. In the original source material, the Pirate Hunter was greeted with a visit from the latter upon capture by the marines, and later had food passed to him from a little girl whom he rescued earlier. This time, Luffy is the one to approach Zoro with a cup of Nissin instant noodles on hand, while proclaiming, “You’re so cool.”
Other One Piece characters across different arcs have also been spotted in the trailer. A still of the school premises sees the motley crew of Bonnet, Kuma, Katakuri, and Ace (a tear was shed) gathered at a table, as Admiral Fujitora looks into the distance from the second floor.
The entire collaboration is nicely topped off with the voices of the original cast, with Kazuya Nakai (Zoro) and Mayumi Tanaka (Luffy) playing their respective characters in the commercial. Sweet.
Indeed, Nissin is the gift that never stop giving.