Although he has rarely been seen in Western countries, Doraemon is an animated cat whose popularity rivals that of Mickey Mouse in Japan. From his beginnings in manga in the 70s, Doraemon has made the leap to TV and film animations and was appointed Japan’s first animated cultural ambassador. Now the Doraemon story lives on in a series of TV commercials for Toyota.

Doraemon, a robot cat from the 22nd century, was sent back in time to help a young boy named Nobita to change his destiny and live a successful life. Doraemon is armed with a fourth dimensional pocket that’s kind of like Felix’s magic bag. A wide range of futuristic items can be pulled from it to get them through difficult situations, but usually don’t help or cause more trouble.

In the Toyota commercials we rejoin the characters who are now middle-aged and, for the first time, live-action. The first episode surprised audiences with the appearance of Jean Reno of Leon/The Professional and Mission: Impossible fame playing the role of Doraemon. After the initial shock wears off, Reno seems like a really good fit as the titular cat, especially since he’s put on a few since his days hanging out with Natalie Portman.

In the latest edition hard-faced Jaiko, Nobita’s ill-fated future wife, makes a surprise appearance played by the very hot Atsuko Maeda of AKB48 fame. In the original story one of Doraemon’s missions was to keep Nobita from marrying Jaiko. However, in this new case of brilliant miscasting with star power the tables have turned again.

It’ll be interesting to see what celebrities pop-up next in these commercials. Perhaps Lady Gaga as Dorami?

Source: MSN Japan (Japanese)