One of the most famous Japanese music videos, and, by definition, advertisements, is “PONPONPON” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Known on the internet as an annoying song akin to “Nyan Cat”, and often some Westerners’ first introduction to the surreal world of Japanese media, this song’s music video is a shining example of Japanese media’s mastery of catching viewers’ attention. The combination of surreal, often absurd, content, which is proven to be preferred by audiences, and fast-paced nondiegetic montage made of completely unrelated images makes Japanese advertisements puzzlingly captivating.

“PONPONPON” starts in complete silence, cutting every few seconds to show more and more confusing images. The singer’s shorts are covered in eyes and her microphone appears out of someone’s pink-skinned ear, creating a surrealist setting worthy of Salvador Dali. Yet it isn’t creepy or dark, but obnoxiously bright with a normal pop music beat. If you turn on English subtitles, the words are as slightly understandable as an American pop song. “PONPONPON” is a nondiegetic montage in multiple dimensions – it’s a montage of normal lyrics with surreal images that don’t “advertise” anything in the song, the images are morphed montages in themselves (at one point there is are skeletons and ducks with designs and accessories), and the images behind the singer in each cut have nothing to do with each other.

As much as this video confuses, it is also somehow inexplicably entertaining. The viewer simultaneously wants to plug their ears but also watch what crazy thing might appear next. It is incredibly effective in selling its product, the song, because you keep watching and sharing it with friends, even if you don’t like it. The success of this technique in Japan hasn’t gone unnoticed either – nondiegetic montage has been around in American media for a while, but the surrealism in advertising is evident everywhere from non sequitur Superbowl commercials to bubblegum-pop Katy Perry music videos.


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