Marui Co., Ltd., the famous Japanese retail company which operates department store chains, released its first original anime commercial Neko ga Kureta Marui Shiawase (The Round Happiness The Cat Gave) in May 2017.
This commercial has gathered a lot of attention among Internet users, and its second episode ‘Renai-hen (The Romance Arc)’ has now been released online. In commemoration of this release, Chiisana Shiawase Collab Café (Small Happiness Collab Café) opened on 15 June at Shinjuku Marui Main Building. This special café will be open until 25 June.
On the day before the café’s opening, our friends at KAI-YOU had the chance to conduct an interview with Nao Hirasawa from Ultra Super Pictures, who is the planner and producer of this event. They asked Hirasawa about how this project was all put together.
What is Neko ga Kureta Marui Shiawase?
Neko ga Kureta Marui Shiawase is an original anime commercial commissioned by the Marui Group.
It gained a lot of attention for its unique story and stellar cast. It was broadcast on TV, and it was viewed over 70,000 times on YouTube.
Episode 2: Renai-hen ~Marisan no, Niji to Doughnut~ (Neko ga Kureta Marui Shiawase Official Video)
The story is about how protagonist Mari Hirakura, who is voiced by Maaya Uchida, feels joy and happiness in small things every day, despite the fact that she confronts many hardships in her daily life. Also, Oi-san, the cat who is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai, is the story’s key character, and whenever Mari faces an obstacle, Oi-san becomes the hint to solving her problem.
The other fabulous cast members include Shuka Saitou, Tomokazu Sugita, Marika Kouno, and Yuu Serizawa.
Because it was the first time for Marui to create an original anime and the character designs were made by the popular illustrator En Morikura, the commercial became a topic of conversation in various media.
Let’s Go to the Collab Café!
Chiisana Shiawase Collab Café is the collaboration between Marui’s anime and Saru Cafe, the popular café in Shinjuku Marui. Our friends at KAI-YOU went to check out what the store is like!
In the café, there are Oi-san goods and posters displayed everywhere, and the room is filled with a cozy atmosphere.
The café is also collaborating with the Imado Shrine, which uses cats as its symbol and is known to be the birthplace of maneki-neko (beckoning cat). An Oi-san ema (votive tablet to write prayers and wishes) is distributed to each café visitor. After the visitors have written their wishes on them, the café would recollect the ema, so that they can hang them up at Imado Shrine.
The shrine is famous for being an effective place for matchmaking, so if you’re interested, please make a visit to Asakusa, Tokyo!
Interview with Nao Hirasawa, the Producer of Marui’s Anime
When the members of KAI-YOU visited the café, Nao Hirasawa, the producer of Marui’s anime commercial, came up on the stage as a speaker. He works for Ultra Super Pictures, which is the parent company of anime studios like Sanzigen, Ordet, Trigger Inc., and Lidenfilms.
On the stage, Hirasawa explained about the concept of Marui’s anime, ‘Marui had requested us that they wanted a commercial that would grab the hearts of women in their 30s. Therefore, we decided to create an anime that features on small happiness that women feel in their daily lives, rather than the huge happiness that women in the 20s tend to dream of.’
Hirasawa added, ‘We also decided to make Mari Hirakura, the protagonist, a woman who tries hard to take small steps forward every day while overcoming her many obstacles in life.’
One of the unique factors of this anime is that the feline member of the cast is playing an important role. We can also tell this from the displays in the collab café. Therefore, the KAI-YOU members conducted an interview with Hirasawa, asking his thoughts on the anime and the reasons for featuring a cat.
──Cats have been very popular in Japan, especially in recent years, but what was the reason you chose the cat as an important symbol in the anime and the collab café?
Hirasawa ‘In order for the commercial to be loved by the viewers for a long time, I believed that there should be a non-human character. Therefore, I first compared the dog and the cat, and wondered which animal could represent the small happy events in life.
I eventually chose the cat because it is difficult to make cats obey, and this is similar to being unable to control things that happen in life. Nevertheless, cats bring us happiness. I believe that cats are always near us and they bring us happy feelings every day.’
──The popular voice actor Takahiro Sakurai is playing Oi-san, and this is another aspect that has gathered attention among fans.
Hirasawa ‘We believed that Sakurai is the voice actor who can express the moody character of the cat and has the soft voice that can sooth women’s hearts. Also, we thought that it would be very interesting if a cat had such a handsome voice [laugh].
Hirasawa was kind enough to answer many questions during the short interview time. We found out that the heartwarming story of the anime was created thanks to his kind and generous personality.
The Small Happiness We Feel When Eating
We feel ‘small happiness’ moments many times in our everyday lives.
We can especially feel happiness when we are eating delicious food. Therefore, the concept of Chiisana Shiawase Collab Café is to provide food that would make the visitors feel happy and cheerful.
There are three special menu items which will be served only during the event term.
Oi-san’s Tea Cup Parfait (1,026 yen)
The first menu item is a parfait in a tea cup with an Oi-san-shaped doughnut on the top.
The parfait includes ice cream which have espresso and cappuccino flavors, so it has a great aroma of coffee.
Strawberry Fromage Brulee French Toast (1,296 yen)
The second menu item is the Strawberry Fromage Brulee French Toast. The Brulee French Toast is one of Saru Café’s most popular menu items, and the limited edition uses the strawberry sponge cake which appears in the anime commercial as its motif.
The sweetness of white chocolate and the fromage made out of mascarpone cheese greatly matches with the sweet strawberries.
Detox Mojito Squash (702 yen)
The third menu item is the Detox Mojito Squash. It is an alcohol-free mojito that has the color green, which is the image color of Mari Hirakura.
It is a refreshing drink which is made with rosemary, mint, and kiwi.
Many More Collab Menu Items
We recommend everyone, including the anime fans and those who found out about the anime in this article, to visit this Chiisana Shiawase Collab Café and feel the small happiness that you can find in your life!