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Despite being centuries-old, the core traditions of Setsubun can seem as silly as its common English rendering, The Bean-Throwing Festival. Once a year in early February, households across Japan toss roasted soybeans outside their doors, with folklore saying the practice will ensure prosperity for the next 12 months by driving off the ogre-like creatures called oni.

Perhaps the oddest thing is the way the oni are depicted in illustrations and popular culture. Generally obese and clumsy, they seem to present little if any threat, and the fact that they can be undone by a scattering of legumes doesn’t do anything to help them win street cred, either.

But what if the oni improved their eating habits and started hitting the gym? Would that make them terrifying once again? Maybe, but it also just might make them dead sexy, as shown in this stylish Japanese ad.

Told from the point of view of the oni themselves, the commercial opens with a voice over that includes the declaration “Humans have always treated us as ugly, fat, unattractive monsters…This year, we are different.”

▼ Red and blue oni, seen with their mortal enemy/newfound action star Momotaro/Peach Boy

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After a few shadowy shots of two oni working out, we cut away to a family preparing for their Setsubun festivities. In some households, Dad will dress up in a silly oni mask and so the kids can have the fun of personally driving off the monster by pelting him with soybeans, which seems to be this guy’s plan.

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It looks like his acting services won’t be needed though, because just as he’s getting into costume, the real oni show up, making good on their promise that this year, they really are different.

The humans may still see them as monsters, but thanks to their new diet fitness regimen, no one is going to be calling them ugly, fat or unattractive. The male oni has swapped the outie belly button his species is often said to have for a rock-hard six-pack, and his female companion is looking similarly svelte.

▼ Losing weight doesn’t mean they’ve lost their traditional oni penchant for tiger-print duds, though.

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As the words “smart Setsubun” flash on-screen (with the adjective being used to mean “slender,” as it often is in Japan), it’s not immediately clear what the oni are here to do. The guy seems to get sidetracked by the lady of the house, greeting her with his best wall-pounding kabe-don, which he combos effortlessly into a chin-stroking ago-kui.

▼ Japanese cool dude move #1

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▼ Japanese cool dude move #2

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But even with Mom and Dad paralyzed with fear and/or sexiness, the kids still remember that today is Setsubun, which means it’s time to take these too-cool-for-school monsters down with a bean barrage. Those muscles aren’t just for show, though, as they also allow the newly athletic oni to dive and flip around the house, letting them slip past, away, and sometimes right over their preteen pursuers.

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In fact, the oni have now become so skilled that they can catch the beans being thrown at them out of the air. Down to his final handful of ammunition, the boy chucks the last of his soybeans at the blue oni, but not only does his opponent not go down, he reveals what just might be the secret behind his transformation.

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He’s started eating soybeans, specifically the SoyCarat brand of soybean crackers from maker Otsuka, which also produces the SoyJoy soybean bars he and his lady friend were seen munching on during their workout.

Somewhat ominously, the ad ends without showing us the eventual fate of the family. On the other hand, we later see the oni couple walking through Tokyo’s Shibuya. In the background, we can see the 109 Building, where the pair is scheduled to make an appearance on February 1 at 6 p.m.

With Setsubun coming up soon, we’re feeling more than a little on edge knowing that existing oni-fighting techniques might not be effective anymore. We just hope it’s not too late to ask Robocop to come back for the Bean-Throwing Festival again this year

Source: IT Media via Jin
Images: YouTube