The practical effects in Pocari Sweat’s newest ad, But I Saw You, show a hallway moving like one long wave down a high school. 

Director Show Yanagisawa, a remarkable director even when not faced with an ever-increasing set of challenges, helped create a fantastic ad by developing a campaign around a theme of passage, rather than letting a set dictate his decisions.

Can you explain the impetus behind the spot’s message about friendship? 

I think it takes a lot of courage to talk to a friend when you’re fighting, especially when you’re a teenager. In the spot, our heroine runs to make up with her best friend and asks her; "why don't you go home with me today?"

She’s started running, but she's worried about rejection and her uneasy heart distorts the world. A stormy wind blows, and the corridors undulate. Still, running forward with courage, her headwind eventually becomes a tailwind, with our heroine reaching her best friend along with the cherry blossom petals.

Pocari Sweat – Find Your Own Way

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What was the process of building the set like? 

The first project theme was 'against'. The idea was to portray a young man who had the courage to move forward against adversity and everything that is happening in the world, with a headwind and reverse driving of the set.

I made the whole set with an elastic stocking-like material and planned to make it move realistically with the wind. The floor, ceiling, and walls were successful in the test stage, but if you attach columns, doors, and window frames made with elastic then the expansion and contraction ratio changes at the stitched points. It didn’t match with our pre-vis in the test stage, so we had to change direction.

The end result is a single shot ad—was that always a part of the plan?

The first agency brief didn’t detail a single-shot ad. Since it was an advertisement for a sports drink, the heroine actually ran the 85m set, really sweated, and was really thirsty and drank Pocari. It’s the same as the long-take boxing scene in the movie Creed. I wanted viewers to experience the feeling of running. If the cut breaks, then reality is cut off.

What was it like working with Nakajima Sena and how did she influence the story?

She had a lot of fun. Her eyes and features are very cool, but her expression at the moment she takes the hand of her friend was passionate and full of tenderness and joy. Thanks to her, I was able to include more emotional range than I had imagined.

You used all practical effects for this spot—what was the trickiest part to capture? 

The wall of the set was cut into strips to flutter in the wind, and everything was moving so erratically with the storm we were blowing in. It was difficult to erase the synthetic mask of the green screen due to the irregular wind. That and we only had ten days from shoot till delivery. 

How big was the team that worked on this piece? 

It's about the same as the Gravity Cat and Shiseido Party Bus spots I directed. I think there were more than 100 people in the art department.

If you could add something to the film, what would you change?

In the last scene where the heroine and her best friend hold hands—maybe I wanted to destroy the whole set with the wind brought in by the heroine. I'm sure Megaforce, CANADA, and Oscar Hudson would have done that much. They are my heroes and video terrorists. I want to be that way too.