Sumo Swarm South Bay – Toyota Films Safety Sense Ad in Beach Cities

By Steve & Tamami Laser

We’ve seen so many second-unit Hollywood productions in our neck of the woods that we often yawn when another sets up shop. Yet nothing we’ve witnessed (except maybe a pirate ship anchored off the coast) compares with the sight of seven sumo jogging in the sand at Torrance (Calif.) Beach.

SumoToy1BThe big guys were cast for the filming of a new ad by Toyota for the Japanese market, in which seven practitioners of this famous Japanese martial art demonstrate the workings of Toyota Safety Sense, a recently launched package of active safety technologies.

Toyota says the ad draws “unusual yet relatable parallels between the wrestlers negotiating the streets of L.A. and the corresponding features of Toyota Safety Sense. While the terms presented as techniques are not actually sumo lingo, the joke is that they should sound plausible even to an aficionado of the sport, as if they were real moves that have been mastered by these seven wrestlers.” Okay, let’s check it out.

Toyota says that much of the video is comprised of “genuine raw reactions from surprised L.A. citizens who gave their permission to be included in the video.” Yet we think that the guy in the barber’s chair didn’t accidentally lose half his mustache when the seven portly gentlemen strutted through the shop.

SumoToy2Of course, it’s all in good fun. For instance, does the beach scene above (with the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the background) bring to mind the classic “Chariots of Fire” film? Were the seagulls flying overhead curious locals or trained by professionals to seek out and follow sumo cavorting in the sand?

SumoToy3Do seven sumo consume more “fuel” (chanko-nabe) at this filling station than a Prius? Sure, because their tanks were empty and batteries discharged after a hard day’s work running through the streets. But more importantly, do all of these shenanigans make sense? Let’s examine a few of the scenes and see if the creative team was on target.

“Sundomari” – Stop Short

StopShortToyota says the ability to come to a safe but abrupt stop when faced with a collision is represented here through the emergence of a squad of peppy cheerleaders rounding the corner as our sumo train approaches. Using their unique “sundomari” technique, the wrestlers are able to come to a halt without crashing into the cheerleaders or even each other.

PreCollisionSys“This demonstrates the capability of not only one car equipped with Toyota’s Pre-collision System to avoid hitting a sudden obstruction (like a pedestrian dashing into the road), but also the potential for a line of cars equipped with the system to stop safely in succession.”

“Hikimodoshi” – Pull Back

PullBackWhile allowing oneself to become distracted on the road is never advised, our sumo wrestlers are lured off course by a billboard, but thankfully are able to use their “hikimodoshi” technique to automatically pull back into the center of their lane.

LaneDepart“The automotive equivalent is Toyota’s Lane Departure Alert function, which warns the driver when they start approaching the lines on the side of their lane.”

“Oimawashi” – Follow

FollowAnyone who has participated in a conga line will know how hard it is to ensure that multiple people maintain a fixed distance between one another, especially while winding around corners and through doorways (Ed note: they’re kind of stretching it a bit here, eh?). Thanks to “oimawashi,” these seven sumo wrestlers are absolute pros at following their leader.

RadarCruise“In cars, this is all made possible by Toyota’s Radar Cruise Control function, which senses and responds to the proximity and speed of preceding or following vehicles, as well as those merging to or from a lane,” says the automaker.

(Note from Toyota: Unlike the other features demonstrated in the video, which are available with the base Toyota Safety Sense C package [Japanese market], Radar Cruise Control is only available as part of the higher-spec Toyota Safety Sense P package.)

“Mitsukedashi” – Detect

DetectEven at night, our sumo wrestlers can continue their journey with the help of headlights that are capable of detecting the light of oncoming vehicles through the technique of “mitsukedashi” which leads to “omoiyari.” This means that their headlights are then automatically lowered, to not blind those approaching in the opposite direction.

AutoHighBeam.pong“In cars, this is represented by the Automatic High Beam function of Toyota Safety Sense, which ensures that headlights will switch from high beams to low beams upon detection of oncoming headlights, allowing the driver to maintain focus on the road,” says Toyota.

Since making its debut on the Corolla in Japan last April, Toyota Safety Sense has been gradually making its way around the world, and is available (depending on market) on numerous Toyota models including the Auris, Avensis, Prius, and RAV4.

SumoToy1A“Just as these seven sumo wrestlers are dedicated to the perfection of their art, this safety package was developed to enable the eventual realization of Toyota’s goal: reducing road accidents to zero,” says Toyota. “Of course, it doesn’t stand out quite as visibly as a sumo train jogging through Los Angeles, but it’s out there, and it is helping to make the automotive world a safer place.”

News source courtesy Toyota Motor Corp.; illustrations © Toyota Motor Corp.

Story (text) © 2016