The "Toast of Tardiness" trope

One of the most famous anime tropes is a girl running late to school with a piece of toast in her mouth. Appearing in everything from Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura to Neon Genesis Evangelion, the trope invariably involves a girl (or boy) realizing they're late, not having time to eat breakfast, then bolting out the door with a piece of toast in their mouth, only to crash into someone at a street corner, thereby having a fateful encounter with a potential love interest or another character who will impact the plot of the narrative.

Niigata Prefecture's "Girl Running Late with Rice Ball" Campaign

According to a press release by Niigata Prefecture, the largest rice-growing region in Japan, "repeatedly viewing such scenes in anime may have created an image in Japanese people's minds that breakfast means bread, thereby resulting in a shift away from eating rice for breakfast."

In the hopes of countering this trend generated by the so-called "Toast of Tardiness" trope, they launched the 『遅刻するおむすび少女』(chikoku suru omusubi shōjo, literally "Girl Running Late with a Rice Ball") campaign showing videos of high school students running late with an omusubi (another word for rice ball) in their mouths. According to the press release, they want to "create a new heroine culture and encourage as many people as possible to eat rice for breakfast." The videos are intended to serve as examples, encouraging viewers to create their own anime or live-action videos promoting a new "Rice Ball of Tardiness" trope to replace bread!

Since its release on January 24th, 2022, the first of the four campaign videos, starring model and actress 井頭愛海 Manami Igashira as a student preparing for college entrance exams, has been introduced on Japanese television and has gone viral, nearing 200,000 views at the time of writing.

In each video, the campaign introduces different omusubi rice ball ideas for viewers to try. For example, in the video above, they introduce a rice ball containing タレかつ (tarekatsu "pork katsu with sauce"), since katsu is a homophone for "winning" (spelled 勝つ), in other words, succeeding at entrance exams.

Yum. That looks great right about now...

The second video features a fashion model and a rice ball containing salmon, while the third video features a male high school student and a rice ball containing pickled plum. It also shows what happened to the girl in the first video. If you know the trope, you can already guess how the two students end up meeting:

Now the "Rice Ball of Tardiness" trope is complete!

Dashing off to school with a rice ball in your mouth is just as conducive as a piece of toast to creating opportunities for romance!

The fourth and final video will be released on Valentine's Day and feature an as-of-yet undisclosed Niigata Prefecture personality. Look for it on the official YouTube channel and the official homepage on February 14th.

Twitter Campaign

If you want to create a video and you live in Japan, you can participate in a Twitter campaign in which five lucky candidates who follow the campaign's account and retweet the campaign Tweet along with a link to their video will be selected to receive 900 grams (around 2 lbs) of famous Koshihikari rice from Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture.

Entries are currently being accepted for the third period spanning February 7th to 13th, and the fourth and final entry period will be from February 14th to 20th.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.