FEATURE: "The Avengers" Invade Japan!

A survey of the crazy ways Nippon is promoting Earth's Mightiest Heroes

I know most of you lot must have seen The Avengers months ago, waaaaay back in May at the beginning of summer blockbuster movie season. But dig this: the film only just opened in Japan last Friday 8/17! Why the long wait? Like a lot of “foreign films”, The Avengers had to take a back seat to domestically produced films booked in theaters during the summer months. Also, extra time was needed to coordinate deals with distributors and to set up elaborate promotional and zany ad campaigns…the results of which you’ll find here! 



The Avengers promo blitz official began in Japan on Tues/14 with a red carpet event attended by Samuel L. Jackson (who was in Afro Samurai way before he essayed the role of Nick Fury), writer / director Joss Whedon, along with some other spotlight-seeking celebs held in Tokyo’s ritzy Roppongi Hills district. Sam got the money quote here by telling the attending looky-loos that Japanese people should watch The Avengers...because the Olympics were over!



Theater exclusive items are a big part of the movie-going experience in Japan, and The Avengers are no different. At participating cinemas, fans could throw down 800 yen (about US$10 bucks) for a drink cup festooned with the Marvel Superhero of their choice…the choices being limited to Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor (You already know some crazy otaku has long since hoarded all of them and will not let go at any price…).



Meanwhile, collaboration goods began rolling out in earnest, including a line of T-shirts from the famed clothing label known as A Bathing Ape -- The shirts, which mash-up Marvel heroes with Ape’s Baby Milo --mascot can be had for a price gouging 7,140 yen (about US$89.00). Too expensive? Consider selling some of your rare back issues to make the investment.




Huge figures of the heroes featured in The Avengers were placed in front of the men's 109-2 shopping mall in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, where additional collaboration shirts and Bearbrick action figures could be found inside. It also made for an irresistible photo op for stylish store employees (at right)…


By the end of the week, Avengers mania had spread well outside the borders of Tokyo city limits. On August 16th, the Softbank Hawks baseball team in Fukuoka got into the act with an Avengers / Hawks cross promotion. You buy the "T-shirt Set" for 4300 yen (about US$54.00) and you get discounted ticked on reserved seats for a Hawks home game over the next month…along with a special T-shirt depicting members of the team as Avengers characters. Except the Hulk. Hulk is still Hulk…




Furthering the sports theme, Nagoya's Chunichi Dragons got into the acts with an ad mimicking The Avengers iconic movie poster. The much-loved Marvel superheroes have been replaced with a bunch of aging baseballers, and the tagline  "Japan, this is a movie!" has been subtly replaced with "Japan, this is Chunichi!"



Indeed, weird local parodies of The Avengers movie poster might prove to be Japan’s greatest contribution to the film’s history. Take for example this ad for the current issue of Kansai Walker magazine. Instead of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, this issue spotlights the world’s best noodle chefs with a feature called RAMENGERS!


Let's hope they defeat the bad guys fast and whip up some lunch for me!



Patrick Macias is editor in chief of Crunchyroll News. He also runs the Japanese Fashion Inferno tumblr blog. Follow him on twitter at @Patrick_Macias.

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