As we all know, candy is an extremely important part of life. Chi-chan, the star of a series of commercials by Japanese gum company Sakeru that has utterly ravaged everything I thought I knew about life, believes this deeply. She and her boyfriend Tooru-san are huge fans of Sakeru Gummy, a line of “rippable” chewing gum that comes in both short and “looong” formats. The practical, down to earth Tooru-san prefers the smaller, more traditional size of gum. Unfortunately for him, however, Chi-chan’s desires are more... unconventional.
Over the years, many an American confection company has attempted to market comically large portions of chewing gum to youths. Indeed, many have done quite well; in the 1980s and ‘90s, Wrigley used Terry Gilliam-parroting animations and rude cartoons to successfully convince children that Bubble Tape is good because old people think it is bad. But no American gum company has ever come even close to the emotional rapture and subsequent devastation of Long Long Man.
She is immediately transfixed by the length of his... gum
Set to the tune of what is surely a rip-off of the sexy sax man riff from “Careless Whisper,” which Sakeru either couldn’t or wouldn’t bother to license, the eleven (!) discrete episodic commercials tell the tale of Chi-chan’s rapturous, rollercoaster love life. It begins on a carefree day in the park, where she and Tooru-san are enjoying short pieces of gum in the sunshine. That is, until she lays eyes on a mysteriously goateed and tuxedoed stranger called Loooong, Looooooong, Maaaaaaaaaan.
She is immediately transfixed by the length of his... gum, and after he mysteriously appears both during another date with Tooru-san at the zoo (Long Long Man’s... gum is as long as an elephant’s trunk!), then at her doorstep (delivering a box of Tooru-san’s boring short gum, with a stick of his long... gum sticking out of his... delivery uniform pocket), she can no longer resist, and throws herself (mouth first?!) into his smooth, gum-ripping arms. This of course means she must end things with Tooru-san, who is beside himself with grief. That is until Chi-chan dramatically claims she is dying, which is why “whenever [she looks] at long things, [she feels] assured.” No logical connection between death and long gum is ever offered.
Eventually she reconciles with Tooru-san — after a friend with strong spatial awareness points out that many short gums equal one long, long gum — and agrees to marry him, despite being sexually haunted by elongated objects like the long, pink ears of a giant bunny whose existential terror rivals Donnie Darko’s Frank.
Many, many questions remain by the end of this chicle-saturated gum-dong epic. Why do these relationships revolve almost exclusively around gum and gum fandom? By “let’s eat,” does Chi-chan’s boyfriend imply that these people rely on gum as sustenance? Why does he hate extra-long gum so much that he (a) has a tantrum about it, and (b) refuses to try it in order to keep his lady’s heart? If Long Long Man’s affections truly lie where he claims in the twist ending, why did he apparently get naked and chew gum with Chi-chan in bed?? Did Chi-chan really fake a terminal illness as an explanation for her gum infidelity?
But the answers matter not, my friends. What matters is the mightiest jingle refrain of our time: the George of the Jungle-esque cry of, “Looooong, loooooooong maaaaaaaaaaaaan!” If you arrive halfway through the journey and discover “Looooong, loooooooong maaaaaaaaaaaaan!” has lost its deranged grip on your soul, I beseech you: trust in me, and continue on this journey. Your patience shall be rewarded. The sound... it echoes through my mind even now, after a solid six repeat viewings, and will likely reverberate there for years to come. For whom do I root in this epic saga of sexual desire for rubbery corn syrup? I don’t know, but Long Long Man has nevertheless undone me.