You might just shed a tear watching this amazing ad from Pocari Sweat.

Japan’s most popular sports drink, Pocari Sweat, has a name that can sound kind of gross to native English-speakers. Ironically, though, it makes some gorgeous commercials, passionate celebrations of youth, energy, and effort.

That tradition continues with the newest Pocari Sweat ad, titled “But I Saw You” (Demo Kimi ga Mieta). As it opens, we see a schoolgirl trudging forward, in the same direction as everyone around her, until she stops, turns around, and sprints completely opposite to the flow of her classmates. But as she runs, we get a visual metaphor for the video’s theme that “forging your own path in life is hard,” as reality warps all around her.

The floor itself starts to undulate, rising and falling as if it’s purposely trying to trip her up. A gale-force wind blows, tearing the walls to tatters and sending a storm of debris flying at her face. She refuses to give up, though, and when she makes it to the end of the hall, she flings open a set of doors and steps out into a garden.

Again, the ground rolls under her feet, while flurries of petals from a flowering wisteria plant and cherry blossom tree pelt her. Just like before, though, she keeps moving forward.

Eventually, her momentum carries her into another building, where she and another girls clasp hands and briefly levitate into the air. A curtain drops, revealing that they’re on a stage before they run off, hand-in-hand, through a crowd of onlookers.

Though it’s just 60 seconds long, the video is packed with emotion and beauty. One thing it doesn’t have, though? Anything added as CG, as shown by the incredible video’s incredible making-of video.

The hallway actually does have peaks and valleys, with moving floor patterns and the shifting perspective of the hand-held camera making it look like the tiles are shifting at the moment actress Sena Nakajima runs over them. Really, the only digital trickery of any kind seems to be removing the harnesses used to make the two girls fly when they join hands.

Getting back to the video’s theme, the producers say:

“Forging your own path in life is hard, but we believe it’s fun too. If you have a friend running with you, you’ll feel braver. The spring of 2021 is starting. Hold out your hands. You’ll be able to touch what you’re reaching for. The wind that’s pushing you back will become the wind at your back.”

Though Japan celebrates the start of the New Year in January, spring is when the school and business years start, and the season remains the one of new beginnings in many people’s minds. Odds are we’re not going to spending all of the next 12 months on easy street, but it’s nice to have a reminder that eventually we’ll get to where we need to be, and that we’re not alone along the way.

Source: Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company via Jin
Top image: YouTube/大塚製薬 公式チャンネル
Insert images: YouTube/大塚製薬 公式チャンネル (1, 2)
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