Eternal Feminine Comets, Utadialectics and the Hikki-Ringo Debate
In a post titled Beginning Galaxy Railways, I commented on a striking image that popped up in that series as well as in Arrivederci Space Battleship Yamato. The image is of a female figure turning into a ray of light and streaking across the screen. The light moves right to left in both cases, leading the heroes to their destiny, to perfection. Allow me to call them Eternal Feminine Comets (EFCs). Here’s what I’m talking about:
I love these EFCs. They invoke thoughts of the divine in my heart somehow. I get the feeling that I’ve seen them before in many other places, though I honestly can’t remember any. The direction of the movement intrigues me because I’m not expecting it. Am I wrong or is this sort of movement on TV and cinema usually from left to right?? Maybe it isn’t, and it just draws my attention because I’m left-handed.
Now, Hikaru Utada has a video for her song Passion (Kingdom Hearts II soundtrack) which is partly animated. The animation was handled by Koji Morimoto, who’s well known for his music anime productions, such as the concert animation in Macross Plus and several music videos. The “Utada” character flies about, turns into an EFC and blazes across the screen right to left.
On a hunch, I checked Namie Amuro’s Leijiesque PV for her song Dr. and sure enough, although throughout most of the video the Amuro character flies in her regular human shape, toward the end and for a brief instant she transforms into an EFC and streaks to the left. These comets are great 😀
As for the song Passion, I think it’s classic Utada because it makes the listener go through the following dialectical process:
1) On first listen, it sounds like a deep, meaningful song, almost mystical. The listener expects a mystery herein.
2) After a couple more listenings and reading and understanding the lyrics, the listener realizes the story here is absolutely normal and mundane. It’s the sort of stuff that happens to everyone. There is no mystery.
3) If the listener perseveres, however, the song’s beauty seems to endow the story behind it with a force of its own. We go back to it and start to see how wonderful (meaning: full of wonder) these mundane matters really are. The mystery of the everyday begins to call to us.
The next part of my post is a bit of a fiasco. I was totally dazzled with the Passion PV, and decided to subtitle it. I got the lyrics, did a translation, and when I started to sub the video I realized the song had such a peculiar, drawling pace that my translation was worthless. So I had to start all over again taking the music and the visuals in mind. It took me hours. When I finished, I noticed the lack of Utada videos on YouTube. Then it dawned on me: since Hikaru has her own YouTube Channel with all her videos, her enforcers have systematically put the kibosh on all other uploads. So if I upload a subbed version it will get squashed. Instead, I made a video with a still image and the song and the translated lyrics. And I’m embedding it here. I warn you, the result is rather underwhelming. [To make things worse I just learned that YouTube will block this in 99% of the world because of the song coyprights, so you might not even be able to see it :(]
BTW, the weird phrase she repeats over and over (first time at 0:12) is in English: “I need more affection than you know” played backwards.
For those interested in the full and proper subbed video in all its glory, here’s a link.
Hikki vs. Ringo
Since recently I’ve been listening to and writing about these singers so much, I was happy to find a pertinent debate on 2ch. Utada comes out on top as expected, although the margin is much wider than I thought. Most comments went her way, with a substantial group saying that the question was pointless (either because talent is subjective, or because their styles are so different) and lastly a minority of people preferred Ringo. For a 2ch thread, there were quite a few thoughtful comments. Here’s a selective translation:
26. Singing ability: Ringo // Power of expression: Utada // Music composition: Utada // Lyrics composition: Ringo // Singles: Utada // Albums: Ringo
65. Hikaru Utada doesn’t have rivals in Japan. Who can sell 800,000? I guess Ringo Shiina’s number 2. Number 2 isn’t bad, is it?
86. Ringo Shiina is a normal person who wants to be a genius. Hikaru Utada is a genius who wants to be a normal person.
133. Ringo Shiina is Japanese style. Hikaru Utada is Western style.
333. Ringo Shiina sells to her believers, like she has a little cult. She plays it safe. Utada seems to consciously avoid this. She’s never made a fan club and everything she does seems to negate the concept of charisma. It’s a tough way to go, but it means she is confident in herself.
334. Ultimately it’s up to your tastes. Both of them surprised me when they first came out.
335. And the two of them get along very well. They always send flowers to each other’s concerts. They even worked on a song together.