This paper adopts a multimodal critical discourse analysis (MCDA) approach and examines how recent online commercials produced in Japan articulate the discourses pertaining to the trending concept of work-life balance (WLB). Further, the study analyzes the narratives of working mothers in Japan who were asked to watch the selected videos and share their thoughts on WLB. As such, it investigates the effects of the discourses transmitted through commercials on women’s perceptions of their identities as workers, partners and mothers. The analysis of the multimodal data made it possible to identify the underlying discourses on WLB and gender roles conveyed through the videos. These hidden discourses were highly complex and generally contradicted the readily manifest messages of the respective commercials. One of the central messages in these discourses was the promotion of an apologetic attitude and empathy through one-time “heroic deeds” done by men for their wives. The study participants’ narratives revealed their personal aspirations for a desirable WLB, while simultaneously unveiling how they unconsciously internalized many of the videos’ discursive impositions. The study contributes to the application of critical discourse analysis methods and to the discussion on the reconstitution of gender roles, necessary for the implementation of both public and private WLB strategies, in Japan and elsewhere.