Asics shares founding philosophies with series of animated shorts

Asics has released a series of animated short films delving into the shoe company’s origins in the Japanese city of Kobe and the brand’s guiding principles, laid down by founder Kihachiro Onitsuka.

The ‘Sole of Kobe’ series marks Onitsuka’s centenary, honouring the founder by looking back to the philosophies he inculcated at the company, which is named after an acronym of the Latin aphorism, 'A sound mind in a healthy body.'

Created by Saatchi & Saatchi, and produced by creatives at New York-based agency Brand New School and Amsterdam collective Hello Savants, the films combine a range of animated art styles, sparing narration and lessons from the life of Onitsuka and the growth of Asics.

Dwayne Koh, executive director of Saatchi & Saatchi, said: “These stories have been buried in the Asics vault for too long, and it’s time to put it out into the public domain in a way that will both and inspire and educate the public on the origins of the brand.”

‘Hope’ tells the story of how Onitsuka came to found his first shoe company – Onitsuka Tiger, which later evolved into Asics – after searching for a way to inspire local youths to turn away from delinquency and petty crime on the mean streets of post-war Kobe.

‘A Shot at the Title’ narrates the backstory to Onitsuka’s first ever shoe, a basketball shoe designed to allow players to turn and stop easily, with suction cups inspired by an opportune salad of cucumber and cold octopus. Produced specially for Kobe’s high school basketball team, the shoe was later credited with helping the side gain the championship title later that year.

The final spot, ‘Future Moves’, explains how Asics still uses Onitsuka’s original ideas and its namesake aphorism as inspiration going forward. As giant shoes and feet stride across a dreamlike fuchsia landscape, Asics’s engineers and scientists are shown experimenting and refining the brand’s footwear technology, with the aim of providing customers with a ‘healthier, happier life.’

Each of the spots utilise different styles of animation – while ‘A Shot At The Title’ is reminiscent of watercolours and traditional Japanese calligraphy, ‘Future Moves’ and ‘Hope’ use more contemporary 3D digital animation, with the latter integrating live action footage, giving the spot a surreal atmosphere.

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