I’m not a philosopher or logician, but I believe it is an uncontroversial and incontrovertible truth that Japanese commercials are weird. Japanese car commercials are weird and they have big budgets. Nobody sits in a boardroom and wonders, “but how do we make it go viral?” They just go out and do it.

You might have read a similar list on autoTRADER.ca (or perhaps one of American celebrity car commercials), but we’re pulling out all the stops today. You’ll want to bookmark this page, because it’s a deep, deep rabbit hole.

Of course, we don’t have all day, so we’re going to divide the list of commercials into six broad categories, feature the winner of each segment and link to the honorable mentions. Sound good? Let’s dive in.

Dude, Where’s the Car?

Car commercials have cars in them, right? Wrong. That’s like saying Rolls-Royce is “in the business of selling automobiles” or something just as silly. Like saying that a Toyota Hybrid Harrier (better known as the Lexus RX on our shores) is a car. It’s clearly a mysterious woman who seats five and gets excellent mileage, but has a tendency to wander into opium dens, leaving erstwhile owners bereft of their wits and writing affidavits regarding their purchasing decision.

Spoiler alert: Toyota will show up a lot on this list. In fact, their subsidiary Daihatsu also makes the cut in more than one category. You can blame their advertising agency for their overwhelming achievement. Other Toyota commercials which don’t feature a car: the Toyota Yaris (comes in 17 colours!), and the Toyota Hybrid Tree (try not to think too much on this one).

There are legitimate reasons for not showing a car, such as when you’re developing software to control a vehicle using facial expressions. Indeed, I’m talking about the Honda Face Boom, where you smile to accelerate and wink to turn.

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