Since opening in London in the early 90s, Wagamama can claim a lot of responsibility for bringing Asian food to high streets around the UK and beyond. With its new ad, Bowl to Soul, the restaurant chain is hoping to immerse people further in the culture and food it pervades, in its first fully animated ad – an anime based in Old Street. Danish anime director Mads Broni, producers Passion Animation Studios and agency MullenLowe have collaborated to make the truly mouth-watering film, that channels Studio Ghibli and Your Name director Makoto Shinkai’s ability to make animated food look delicious.
The ad shows the protagonist and a chef, preparing for their evening in their respective ways, then converging when the main character pays a visit to her local Wagamama. Then the film takes a more adventurous turn when she dives into her food, rowing down a river of ramen, seeing a chilli firework in the sky, fishing for mushrooms and standing in a field of coriander. Broni used a combination of hand-drawn and computer illustrated artwork to bring the real world and the ramen world to life.
“We wanted this animation to look like a traditional anime, but infuse it with something modern to make it truly reflect the nature of kaizen, the idea of respecting something with history and transforming it into something relevant and adventurous,” Broni tells It’s Nice That. “It goes without saying that Ghibli is a major reference for a lot of anime, and this is no exception. For the food in particular, however, we've also taken a lot of inspiration from the legendary Makoto Shinkai. Titles like Your Name and The Garden of Words are visually absolutely gorgeous.”
The way Broni shows the two characters stories in what he calls a “fast-paced but not hectic” sequence is using match cuts showing each life in full flow – for example, when the chef divides the mushrooms on a chopping board, and simultaneously the female character divides the clothes in her wardrobe. “These kind of match cut are wonderful as they allow us to show a lot of things in a very short amount of time,” Broni explains. “With a continued motion we're able to guide the eyes of the viewer so that they don't struggle to find the point of interest, and what we want them to see, in each scene.”
As for bringing anime to London, Broni made sure to depict the city with authenticity, from the skyline to the patterned textiles of the bus seats, and a genuine Wagamama location in Old Street, while using his anime-inspired style. “We see not only the location and the iconic look and feel of London and Wagamama, but also the process of preparing the food is based on how it's done in reality.”
Wagamama’s Ross Farquhar says in a statement that the ad comes at a time when “the British public is set to widely fall in love with anime”. In a nice added touch, artwork from the ad will also be appearing on placemats in restaurants. The ad will screen in cinemas and online.
GalleryMads Broni, Passion Animation Studios and MullenLowe: Bowl to Soul for Wagamama
Mads Broni, Passion Animation Studios and MullenLowe: Bowl to Soul for Wagamama