In the New Year ad, Osaka and Nishikori are pitted against each other in what appears to be a tennis match, until it is revealed that they are actually playing a game of hanetsuki, a traditional Japanese game involving rectangular wooden bats called hagoita often played during New Year’s, according to SoraNews24.
The ad, titled “Happy New Year – The Year We Want Gold Compilation,” was created as a New Year’s card from the company, the Japanese instant noodle producer said.
The premise is designed as a “dream confrontation” between the nation’s biggest tennis stars which quickly shifts from reality to fantasy in the form of the hanetsuki twist.
Nishikori is the first to serve after they both pull out their hagoita; as soon as he hits the shuttlecock, the 29-year-old athlete suddenly turns into an animated version of himself. The same thing happens for Osaka when she hits back.
The setting of the match then shifts from a regular, indoor tennis court to one in a field at the bottom of the iconic Mt. Fuji.
We then see the umpire, who is a shishi (or lion), a symbol of good luck for the new year.
As a further gesture of prosperity, several other traditional Japanese symbols — namely a hawk and an eggplant — can be seen in the ad. When these two things are seen in conjunction with Mt. Fuji in your first dream of the year (“ichi-fuji, ni-taka, san-nasubi,” translated as Mt. Fuji, hawk, and eggplant, respectively), it is considered a symbol of good luck.
And if that wasn’t enough luck, Nissin also included the first sunrise of the year and two golden coins being carried in the hawk’s beak. Finally, to make it explicit, the caption “The Year We Want Gold” is displayed in big, gold font.
Interestingly, a man is shown hugging the eggplant from behind before poking his head out at the end. According to SoraNews24, the man is a depiction of a Japanese game show contestant from over a decade ago nicknamed “Nasubi” (literally “Eggplant”), who was famously locked in a room for 15 months with no food and no electrical goods for the show.
Images screenshot via YouTube / 日清食品グループ公式チャンネル