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:

Arrivederci EFC

And:

Galaxy Railways EFC

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.

Passion EFC

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:

Who is more talented, Ringo Shiina or Hikaru Utada?

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.

~ by Haloed Bane on May 28, 2011.

7 Responses to “Eternal Feminine Comets, Utadialectics and the Hikki-Ringo Debate”

  1. “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??”

    I guess that might be coming from comics, where characters moving against the reading direction marks a stop/surprise/etc, but since this is from Japan it would be with the reading direction and mark a progression, so I don’t know. Still interesting to overanalyze. 🙂

    • I thought of the reading direction, yeah 🙂 and then I realized, as you, that the Japanese would read right to left (though they do have left to right text in many of their documents).

      Hmmm, I don’t know. I just expect things to move left to right on film…

      • I guess there are different schools of thought. I know two movement-in-frame theories:
        1. Fast and slow diagonals: left to right – fast/ right to left – slow; down fast, up – slow. (Also, left to right is forward, in space and time, right to left is backward, there is finality about it. So space shuttles normally lift off left to right to the unknown and meteorites fall to the Earth right to left.)
        2. The other theory says that left to right is more familiar to the eye, so it is easier for the eye to follow, and the perceived speed of the object moving left to right in the frame slows down, as the eye and the object are moving in the same direction. Thus the movement up and right to left is perceived as most active and powerful.

        Both theories are based on the reading direction, but as they provide the opposite results, one of them may fit in 😀

        Anyway, I loved the animation in the clip. As my country falls to these 99% of the world, I might say something about youtube’s policies, but I’ll better stop right here.

        • I think all in all what you say confirms my suspicion: most films would display these comets moving left to right..

          Actually, I think the youtube policy has banned this in 100% of the world. I can see the video myself, but I think I’m the only one. I can’t find any countries NOT on the list. Oh well, the real video is tons better 🙂

  2. What do you mean by utadialectics?

    • I mean the dialectical process I (maybe only I, though I suspect others go through it as well) undergo when I start listening to a new Utada song, and which I enumerated in the post with 1, 2 and 3. I mean this:

      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.

  3. […] Eternal Feminine Comets, Utadialectics and the Hikki-Ringo Debate […]

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