“Saki, let’s go to Israel!”
Thus begins a new anime web series called Israel, Like!, launched by the Israeli embassy in Tokyo as part of a campaign to entice Japanese visitors to the Holy Land. In the debut episode—the first in a series of seven—sisters Saki and Noriki travel to Israel on the strength of its famed “chocolate bar” (i.e. Max Brenner), marvel at the clapping when their airplane lands (“many Israeli are cheerful people”), admire the “cool” airport (there’s never been a more enthusiastic response to Ben Gurion) and relaxed locals (“many guys are good looking!”), then get plastered on Israeli wine at a Tel Aviv bar in a evening of sisterly bonding.
Ruth Kahanoff, Israel’s ambassador to Japan, told Ynet that the series aims to “use anime to reach the Japanese audience, especially youth, and display the Israel beyond the conflict.” Embassy spokesman Ronen Medzini says the response has been “unprecedented,” and that the show is garnering “massive media attention all across Japan.”
The video is interspersed with cameos from “Shalom Chan,” the embassy’s Pikachu-esque mascot who delivers little factoids about Israeli life and culture. Subsequent episodes will take the sisters all over Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to the Negev to a kibbutz. (I guess the West Bank and Hebron are off the list?)
Episode one is full of many strange and unexpected moments, but it’s also fun and super-watchable. A melodramatic cliffhanger relating to Noriki’s marriage—which comes out of nowhere but is totally compelling—has me hanging out for episode two. According to the embassy’s Facebook page (which has a solid following of about 7,000), it should be live soon, and promises a visit to the Dead Sea and a closer look at Noriko’s past. I’ll admit it: I can’t wait.[For English subtitles, press play and click the “closed caption” icon in the bottom right corner of the video.] [h/t The Forward]