Nissin “Eddie Wise”

If a one-foot-tall Asian wise man, complete with pointy beard and mandarin robes, materialized when you were microwaving some instant noodles in your office snack room, wouldn’t you be a bit taken aback? The women in this spot for Nissin Chow Mein (via Dentsu America, Los Angeles) seems unfazed. Nor does she seem particularly startled to find him spouting pseudo-philosophical remarks about her meal — for instance, saying she has “resisted the frozen path” (he gestures toward the nearby refrigerator’s freezer) and speaking of “the final step to noodle enlightenment” as she shovels some of the food into her mouth. If the intent of all this consumer Confucianism is to make the noodles seem genuinely Asian, I doubt whether it’ll work. Then again, maybe this hokeyness is a roundabout way of assuring potential customers that the food is not particularly Asian — that it’s the sort of thing they could have encountered at an Asian-American restaurant 50 years ago. Either way, the whole routine seems more silly than funny, including the surprise ending (spoiler alert!) when we learn that this ancient-looking character is actually “Eddie, from accounting.” And I’m not sure this plot twist will prevent some viewers from feeling the spot is trading on a hoary Asian stereotype, even if in a good-natured way. The tag line, “Noodle on,” is a nice touch that gets lost in the shuffle here. –Mark Dolliver