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Advertising / UFO Kamen Yakisoban

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UFO Kamen Yakisoban is a series of Japanese UFO Ramen commercials by Nissin Foods that gained popularity in the 90s. An Affectionate Parody of toku series such as Kamen Rider, the ads starred Yakisoban, a superhero with the power of noodles and sauce who hailed from the Yakisoba Planet. In his ads, he stood for truth, justice, and proper ramen-eating habits, foiling his Evil Counterpart Fake Yakisoban and his arch-enemy, the kettle-headed Kettler, who planned to steal all the kettles of the world to prevent anyone from making instant noodles.

The ads were so popular they got a tie-in video game, UFO Kamen Yakisoban: Kettler no Kuroi Inbou, a direct-to-VHS movie, UFO Kamen Yakisoban: Ikari no Agedama Bonbâ, a comic series in CoroCoro Comic from March to June 1994, spin-off ads featuring Yakisobany, Yakisoban's cousin, many pieces of merchandise, and even a themed attraction at Japan's Yomiuriland. The movie's theme song was sung by Hironobu Kageyama and became a hit CD single.

Eventually, Kettler became more popular than Yakisoban and appeared in the ads instead, and they ceased altogether... until 2017, where the ads made a comeback with a darker turn. Now barely making a living and disrespected by a public that once hungered for him, Yakisoban makes a Face–Heel Turn and sets out to destroy what he once fought for as the Demon King. He is opposed by new Kamen Rider-themed heroes—Sauce, his son with a passion for extreme ramen who transforms into Yakisoboy, Sauce's girlfriend Claudia who fights with a ramen-themed gun, and the Legend, a legendary hero played by Hiroshi Fujioka himself who can turn into a motorcycle and a tank.

As the description implies, these ads are very much a Quirky Work. A collection of vintage Yakisoban commercials as well as some of the revival ads can be found here, a translation of all three Yakisoboy commercials can be found here, and an overview of the tie-in game can be found here. The movie can be found here.

These ads and related media provide examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In official art, Yakisoban has a younger, more handsome face.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Kettler's official art gives him a very stylized appearance, with buck teeth and a Sinister Schnoz.
  • Affectionate Parody: The commercials, already parodic in nature, got a parody in "Kakesoban," a superhero who suffered amusing injuries and failed to beat Kettler, who was a heavy smoker.
  • All Just a Dream: If you get a Game Over in the video game and continue, Kettler marrying Princess Mayumi turns out to be a dream.
  • All There in the Manual: Claudia's name was only revealed in a behind-the-scenes ad, as the final product changed the dialogue.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Getting a Game Over in the video game has Kettler about to marry the princess.
  • Arranged Marriage: In the movie, if Yakisoban can't find an earthly bride he'd be forced to marry Sera Moline, a clingy, jealous princess from the Morisoba planet.
  • Battle Couple: Sauce and Claudia fight the Demon King together in a few ads.
  • Brand X: Fake Yakisoban wears a generic off-brand box of instant noodles on his head.
  • Brown Note: The Aonori Flash makes Yakisoban's foes dizzy and confused. Its upgraded form, Aonori Typhoon, is so strong it can turn people into ramen.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Yakisoban tends to shout the names of his attacks when using them, as does his cousin Yakisobany.
  • Came Back Strong: After getting his powers drained, Yakisoban revives himself with boiling water and becomes Great Yakisoban, who has even stronger moves.
  • The Cameo: Yakisoban, Kettler, and Yakisobany made occasional appearances on TV broadcasts from 2007 to 2010, usually having to do with Nissin foods.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Claudia, Sauce's space princess girlfriend, isn't present in later ads.
  • Distaff Counterpart: UFO Girl Yakisobany is Yakisoban's cousin who shares his power set.
  • Distressed Dude: Yakisoban starts out captured in one ad, and in the 2017 revival the Demon King captures Sauce and the Legend at one point.
  • Downer Beginning: The first Yakisoban ad in the 2017 revival is about his fall from grace and turning evil, ending as he vows to destroy all yakisoba and the world.
  • Dual Wielding: Yakisoban dual-wields soy sauce guns.
  • Eagleland: Downplayed but still present, as Kettler is from Chicago and eats ramen with a Western fork instead of Eastern chopsticks.
  • Evil Counterpart: Fake Yakisoban is an evil version of Yakisoban who wears a Brand X box on his head and dresses in villainous colors that say "USO," or "lies."
  • Evil Is Petty: Kettler's main scheme is to steal all the kettles of the world to stop people from making instant noodles.
  • Fallen Hero: By 2017 Yakisoban has turned on mankind and yakisoba itself, becoming the Demon King who vows to destroy all instant noodles.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: One of Kettler's heinous crimes is... eating ramen with a fork instead of chopsticks.
  • Finishing Move: In the movie Yakisoban finishes off Kettler with the Sauce Bazooka, and in the games he reserves his Noodle Attack for cutscenes.
  • Food-Based Superpowers: All of Yakisoban's attacks involve food in some way, from weaponry like sauce guns to his Agedama Bomber and Noodle Attack finishing moves, where he throws fried batter at the enemy or wraps them in noodles.
  • Giggling Villain: Kettler is never without a villainous giggle, especially in the movie.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • All of the special attacks are said in English.
    • Kettler's mother speaks in English half the time and in Japanese the other half, and is subtitled where appropriate.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Sera Moline is jealous of Yakisoban's noodles, which are better than her planet's morisoba, as well as his relationship with Kumiko. She ends up selling him out to Kettler once she learns his weakness.
    • Unlike her cousin, Yakisobany is jealous of Earthlings and disguises herself as a human girl to experience what they do.
  • Groin Attack: In the 2017 revival a young Sauce does this to Yakisoban when he tries to show off his sauce beam guns.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: The Agedama Bomber is an area attack that hits a large area in front of Yakisoban.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: One ad had Kettler menace a captive Yakisoban with a giant kettle that shot boiling water... which ended up charging Yakisoban's powers, letting him break free and defeat him.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: The first 2017 ad is about former 90's hero Yakisoban falling from grace, unable to hold a job, and his once-adoring public finding him washed-up, weird, and annoying. He turns evil as a result.
  • Human Aliens: Yakisoban is an alien prince from the Yakisoba Planet but looks like an ordinary human, and Yakisobany has a human disguise despite looking equally human.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Sauce tries, but all he does is get beat up and captured while the Legend can turn into a motorcycle, a tank, and take on the Demon King via the power of judo throws.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Yakisoban and the other heroes use noodle and sauce-themed powers to attack, while Kettler uses kettle-themed attacks and a giant fork.
  • Inconsistent Coloring: In early ads and the Yakisoban's Tragedy commercial Sauce has grey hair, but in the ads where he fights alongside the Legend he has brown hair.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Yakisoban's one weakness is cold water, which drains his powers and makes instant noodles taste bad. Hot water can restore his powers.
  • Latex Perfection: One commercial had Fake Yakisoban wear a mask to pretend to be Yakisoban, which worked perfectly until he took it off to gloat.
  • Left Hanging: The final 2017 commercial ends on a cliffhanger of The Legend judo-throwing the Demon King.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: The plot of the movie has Yakisoban looking for a wife within a set time limit while attempting to hide his secret identity from her.
  • Loose Canon: The ads, game, and movie don't outright contradict each other for the most part, but since the ads are short and the game and movie are standalone stories it's hard to tell what's canon and what isn't.
  • Love at First Sight: In the movie, Yakisoban falls in love with the photographer Kaya Kumiko immediately.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: One of Sauce's ads has him defeat the Demon King only to realize it's his father, Yakisoban.
  • Manchild: Kettler is extremely childish, especially in the movie, where the first thing he does after draining Yakisoban's powers is go on all the theme park rides.
  • Momma's Boy: In the movie Kettler writes to his mother for advice on dealing with Yakisoban, and he's very proud of her evilness.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The entire franchise is built around instant noodles being awesome.
  • No Name Given: Yakisoban's girlfriend in the commercials isn't named.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Despite Fake Yakisoban's different outfit and being African while the real Yakisoban is Japanese, nobody can tell the difference between the two until they appear in the same area.
  • Product as Superhero: Yakisoban was the mascot for Nissin's "UFO" brand instant yakisoba.
  • Rescue Romance: In the movie Yakisoban attempts to invoke this in selecting a wife, to the point of not helping men in trouble.
  • Save the Princess: The original commercial had Yakisoban help an unnamed woman, he saves a couple girls in the movie, the tie-in game revolved around saving Princess Mayumi, and Sauce has to save Claudia in some ads. Yakisobany also helps save her captive friends.
  • Serious Business: You can't get much more serious than the power of noodles, sauce, and eating them properly saving the world.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Kettler's men all wear sharp black suits and white ties, while Kettler himself wears a golden bow tie.
  • Shout-Out: The Legend, played by Hiroshi Fujioka, wears powered armor and can turn into a motorcycle as a shout-out to Kamen Rider. Underneath the armor is Segata Sanshiro's judo outfit, and he performs his signature throw on the Demon King.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Played for laughs in one of Sauce's Extreme ads, where he and Claudia fight off the Demon King, escape safely, and get vaporized by a fireball in the last second of the commercial.
  • Superman Substitute: Yakisoban is a human alien who comes from a faraway planet and possesses supernatural abilities, and has a younger cousin who shares his powers.
  • Talking Appliance Sidekick: The Mach UFO is a talking car.
  • Timed Mission: Each stage in the tie-in game is timed at three minutes, which is also the time it takes to cook instant noodles.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Subverted with Yakisoboy's lengthy transformation, which makes the Legend wonder what's taking so long as he and the Demon King grapple.
  • Villain Ball: Kettler and Fake Yakisoban's plans to infiltrate the media and turn the public against instant noodles could work if they didn't keep dropping their disguises to gloat.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: In the tie-in game Kettler poses as a reporter on an anti-instant noodle campaign, trying to get instant noodles outlawed.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Yakisoban's one weakness is cold water as opposed to hot water.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Yakisoban liked ramen so much he named his son Sauce.
  • Wire Fu: The movie is full of these kinds of fights.
  • Written-In Absence: In the Yakisobany ads Yakisoban is away, so it's up to his cousin to save the day.