The popular cast of characters known as the “Shirato Family” in SoftBank Mobile’s ads are appearing alongside American actor Tommy Lee Jones’ Suntory Boss character in a series of collaborative commercials that have been made to coincide with the drink manufacturer’s 20th anniversary campaign.
Jones, who turns 66 next month, is reportedly a big fan of Japanese culture and a regular visitor to the country. He has starred as a host of deadpan comedy characters in 36 Boss canned coffee commercials since 2006. The Shirato Family, which includes a mother played by Kanako Higuchi, 53, a father played by a single 8-year-old Hokkaido breed dog, a son played by American actor Dante Carver, 35, and a daughter played by Aya Ueto, 26, have made 136 commercials in the last five years. “It feels like we make a new one every week,” says Higuchi.
One of the new ads takes its inspiration from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The commercial sees Jones orbiting a CGI Earth in a spacesuit and enjoying the peace and quiet, to a soundtrack of “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss. His reverie is interrupted by the appearance of a space shuttle from which the Shirato Family’s canine father, also in a spacesuit, emerges to confront him.
In another commercial, Jones plays a family man who wears an apron while busying himself around the house. Higuchi said of Jones, “He really suits that apron. He would make a great househusband. I’d love for him to become a permanent member of the Shirato household.”