Shiina Studies 101 – First Lecture

To illustrate the depth of Ringo Shiina studies in Japan, I am going to do a series of posts showcasing scholarly work on the very first song from her very first album.  I’m talking about Tadashii Machi from Muzai Moratorium.  This series, I’m afraid, will have little to do with manga-anime-doujin, except in the roundabout way in which it will give us a good sense of why so many Japanese artists (including mangaka and anime directors) are so obsessed with this one singer.

In this intro post I will simply talk about the song, let you listen and give my literal translation of it.  Each of the following posts will cover a different scholar’s analysis.

Tadashii Machi (=The Right Town) was penned by Ringo when she was 18.  That the song comes first in her first album is no accident: it deals with her move from Fukuoka Prefecture in Kyushu to Tokyo to become a star [just like Leiji Matsumoto :D].  In fact, Ringo was born in Saitama just outside Tokyo, but her family moved to Fukuoka City when she was young and that’s where she grew up.  Although there’s no PV for the song, the video below is great because it highlights the neighborhoods in which Ringo grew up and lived (including her school and Ja-Ja, the livehouse she first performed at, plus places actually mentioned in the song).  Have a listen.

OK, so below are the lyrics in romanized Japanese.  All of the symbols and colors belong to the analysis of the first scholar I will deal with in the next post so just wait for that, though I imagine those musically inclined might figure what is what by listening to the song.  BTW, I borrowed and slightly modified the romanized lyrics from this nice site [here].

(1 – C’) Ano hi tobidashita /
kono machi to kimi ga tadashikatta no ni ne. /

(2 – A) Fuyukai na emi o mu//ke, nagai chinmoku no / ato
taido o sara ni waruku shitara /
(3 – A’) tsumetai asufaruto / ni hitai o kosurase//te
kitai-hazure no atashi o semeta /
(4 – B) kimi ga mawari o nakushita /
atashi wa sore o mushi shita. /
(5 – C) Sayonara o tsugeta / ano hi no kuchibiru ga ichinengo /
(6 – C’) do iu kimochi de /
ima atashi ni kisu o shite kureta no kana. /

(7 – A) Mijikai uso o tsuna/ge, akai mono ni kae//te
sogai sareyuku honne o fuseta. /
(8 – A’) Taranai kotoba yori / mo chikai kyori o kono//mi
rikai dekite ita yo ni omou ga /
(9 – B) kimi ni namida o oshieta /
atashi wa sore mo mushi shita. /
(10 – C) Kawaii hito nara /
suteru hodo iru nante iu kuse ni
(11 – C’) do shite imada ni /
kimi no yoko ni wa dare hitori inai no kana. /

(12 – D) Nante daisoreta koto o yume mite
shimatta n daro. /
anna goman na tagui no ai o oshitsuketari. /
(13 – E) Tokai de wa fuyu no nioi mo tadashiku nai /
Momochihama mo kimi mo Muromigawa mo nai. /

(14 – C) Mo wagamama nado /
ienai koto wa wakatte iru kara /
(15 – C) asu no kuko ni /
saigo de mo kite nante totemo ienai. /
(16 – C) Chukoku wa subete ima batsu to shite genjitsu ni natta.

(17 – C’) Ano hi tobidashita /
kono machi to kimi ga tadashikatta no ni ne. /

Below is my translation of the song.  I’ve tried to be as literal as possible refrained from injecting my own interpretations (a comparison with the translation offered in the link above might be helpful).  I’ve also kept the verse numbers for easy reference.

(1) I flew away on that day
even though the town and you were right.

(2) I showed an unpleasant smile and then after a long silence
my behavior grew worse,
(3) you rubbed your forehead against the cold asphalt
and attacked me, who had disappointed you.
(4) You lost your surroundings
and I ignored that.
(5) The lips who said “goodbye” on that day, after one year
(6) what did they feel
when they kissed me, I wonder?

(7) I strung short lies until they became a red* one [red lie = big lie in Japanese]
and concealed my real intentions.
(8) Preferring a short distance to words that cannot suffice
I think it was understood
(9) but I, who taught you tears,
ignored them as well.
(10) Even though you say “As for cute people,
there are enough to throw away”
(11) why until this point
there is still no one beside you, I wonder?

(12) How outrageous was the dream
I ended up having,
pushing such an arrogant kind of love on you?
(13) The winter doesn’t smell right in the big city.
There’s no Momochihama*, no you and no Muromigawa*. [locations in Fukuoka]

(14) As for selfish demands
I know I can’t make them and so
(15) as for tomorrow at the airport
there’s no way I can ask you to come even if it’s the end.
(16) All of the warnings have come true as a punishment.

(17) I flew away on that day
even though the town and you were right.


The fun begins in the next series post…well, I guess it depends on what you consider fun 😀

~ by Haloed Bane on May 21, 2011.

18 Responses to “Shiina Studies 101 – First Lecture”

  1. Lovely. I am looking forward to the series! Incidentally, “Tadashii Machi” was the first Shiina Ringo song I ever heard too, and yet I had no idea it was her first of all. Nice.

    I must admit that “Shiina studies” was misleading though. Shiina Ringo is Shiina Ringo, and no matter how much I love her, when I read Shiina, I think of Tamai Shiina first. XD

    • Great. Actually, Ringo Studies just didn’t have a nice ring to it. I also thought of Shiinanalysis…

      I think the first couple of songs I heard from her were “Tsumi to Batsu” and “Honno” from her second album, though I immediately bought the first album along with the second. By the way, I’ve never even heard of this animated character you speak of 😀

      • Oh my, but Narutaru is the manga which got a whole generation into alternative manga, some 10 years ago. I was positively obsessed with it back in the day. The English print version was discontinued because publishers didn’t know about its brutality, but the manga can be found as scanlation.

        Basically Mohiro Kitoh, the mangaka, is to me what Leiji Matsumoto is to you, it’s almost impossible to talk about his manga in an objective way. 😉

        The anime was… okay, but it only covers half of the story.

        • Wow. I’ve heard of alternative music, but never of alternative manga. Look, I’m halfway through Vol. 7 of Otoko Oidon, halfway through Vol. 7 of Rose of Versailles and about to start Vol. 3 of Kare Kano. Still, Narutaru looks totally awesome and I might just start reading it.

          BTW, Kitoh designed the Third Angel in Evangelion 2.0. Very nice.

          EDIT: I have read Hallucinations from the Womb, as I recall. Yes, it was very good.

      • Ringology maybe? :O

        I will religiously follow those lectures, I am now ashamed to know so little about my favourite Japanese artist… Thank Sasa for directing me and my inane comments this way. 😀

        • Ringology is very good, actually, though then people might think it deals with Ringo Starr…

          I know very little about her too. I’m a big fan of hers and Utada, but I don’t even know their favorite colors!! I do know my wife’s though, which I guess is more important 😉

          The next series post will early next week…

          • Hahahaha oh God, Ringo Starr. I suppose that is indeed more dangerous than the Naru Taru case, and that’d be awful. (Who likes Ringo Starr anyways? :D)

            Be sure to post about Kare Kano and Naru Taru! That would be awesome. I am sure there already are a lot of blog posts on these topics over the years, but it doesn’t happen so often that somebody newly discovers them.

            “Hallucination from the Womb” is indeed typical Kitoh fare, I am glad you liked it! Actually nothing Kitoh does is really alternative manga – he is usually serialized and probably sells a lot of copies after all. But since his style and themes are so unusual, his manga are often something like an entry ticket into the so-called alternative manga, which are often too obscure to be commercially popular.
            (Honestly, I don’t particularly like this article, and especially dislike the term gekiga. But it gives a little background on how the term is perceived – at least in the English speaking world. Since when does manga mean “frivolous pictures” anyways?)

            @Ryan A: Yay, you rediscovered my blog again! 😀

            • This Shiina Tamai is Scylla, and Ringo Starr is Charybdis. It’s tough decision, but I, like Ulysses, opted for Scylla. Charybdis is simply too fearsome.

              These divisions into mainstream and alternative are so treacherous…

            • Shiina called herself Ringo after Ringo Starr so watch out what you’re saying! 😛

  2. This is fun, and I’m kind of excited to see what’s next. ^ ^

    (Also, hi Sasa *wave)

  3. The letters in the beginning of each line are notes, but I am not sure how it all fits together. Also it looks like dactylic meter, but I might be wrong. I am surprised that someone conducted studies of her work.

    • The article writer calls the letters forms, so my best guess is that they are these things here:

      Thankfully, the exact meaning of the letters is not very relevant 🙂

      The amount of Ringo analysis on the Net is impressive (both from regular fans and university folk). There’s a person who’s tabulated the use of first personal pronouns in all of her songs, and then tried to determine which ones she favors and why. Utada is practically a blip on the radar in comparison. And this of course doesn’t cover all the books and periodicals that are not available electronically 😀

      • Ah, that’s an interesting article on musical forms, thank you for linking it 🙂

        First personal pronouns… Oh my… Those people are too bored 😛 Such a wide interest means that she takes her time to design songs well and leave some food for those people.

        • It’s called being obsessive 😀 There are some 2ch’ers who argue Ringo has deliberately built her own cult of fans! Maybe she’s not trying to do anything of the sort, and this is just an easy way to interpret her mysterious actions, e.g. like making sure all the song titles in each album are symmetrical etc.

          • Oh, in one of the classes I’ve taken we actually studies how to create a cult 😛 Not that difficult actually.

            An extreme drive for symmetry is associated with OCD. Her past seem to have an influence on this preference though.

            I really like the black and white picture in that post 🙂 She is no Edith Piaf, but it was a good try with “Les feuilles mortes”.

            • But the strange thing is OCD itself isn’t symmetrical, shoudn’t it be OCDCO? Maybe Ringo wakes up every morning and says to herself:
              “Dogma: I am goD”. On sad days she says “In words, alas, drown I” and so forth 😉

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