A current Travelers Insurance TV commercial liberally borrows from Katamari Damacy, showing a ball of, well, stuff bouncing down San Francisco's hills. You could say Fallon, the ad agency behind the spot, ripped off Katamari, but we like the commercial enough to let that slide. We'll call it an homage, imitation being flattery and all.
The commercial opens with a guy -- let's call him Everyman -- walking down the sidewalk. He's on a hill in the overcast outskirts of the city, maybe in the Avenues or closer to Twin Peaks. For no apparent reason, other than eventually trying to sell insurance, he trips, and begins rolling down the street. Like Katamari, he runs into some people and boxes, picking up size until the ball eventually gets big enough to gather cars and trees.
The ball bounces through the city -- always downhill except once on even ground -- through Pacific Heights and the Fillmore, gathering motorcycles in Nob Hill, picking up a heterosexual marriage -- we have those sometimes -- in Delores Park or a similar green space, flying down California Street or an equally car-chase-laden road, and eventually crashing into a columned downtown building with a name we can't quite remember. We wish we could ride a katamari across the city; it's a record commute time.
Is it a rip-off of Katamari, and do you care if your hobby becomes a commercial? Or did Fallon just have Katamari-of-the-mind? Immersive games have changed our way of looking at the world, like if we notice a drainpipe on the outside of a building and think of climbing it, Splinter Cell-style. Carmageddon also rewired our minds for a few weeks, urging us to crash the family truckster into a van. (We restrained). And Katamari has changed the way we think about space; we often imagine rolling up our surroundings. What, you don't?