13.3.21

Happy Birthday Sakurai Atsushi

What a shame that this post is a few days late. We wish it were not so, and yet, to take the lessons of Mr. Sakurai's lyrics to heart is to prioritize living in the moment, the ephemeral joy of being, over the fussy recording of events. So, we took it to heart, and into our own hands, to celebrate Mr. Sakurai's birthday the way it should be celebrated properly: by spending the afternoon at Tokyo's one and only Alice in Wonderland-themed cat cafe. Mr. Sakurai has now threatened numerous times to open his own national chain of cat cafes, claiming that the danger of him actually doing so is "very real." 


So, food for thought, Mr. Sakurai - how would you beat this? We know you could. Get brainstorming! And the rest of y'all, abandon yourselves to your squeals of "kawaii!" We assure you that however soft and fluffy these cats may look on film, they were 500% softer and fluffier in person. Plus, how about that decor? Good thing Mr. Sakurai's probably never been here, otherwise, he might never leave! (And Mr. Sakurai, if you're reading this, please enjoy these cat pics as a birthday present from us.)













Lined up for the dinner time show!






And a warning to all customers about taking care of their teas and coffees.


Happy birthday, Mr. Sakurai. Hot on the heels of a year of repdigits - Buck-Tick's 22nd album, released on their 33rd anniversary, Mr. Sakurai turns 55. May the magic spread forth through Buck-Tickistan to cover the world in this much love. Happy birthday!


.

.

.

In other news, it has been announced that Mr. Sakurai will be releasing a "produced by Mr. Sakurai" corsage, as birthday goods. However, no other information save vague concept art has been released since the initial announcement was made, on March 7th, Mr. Sakurai's actual birthday. Why bother announcing the damn thing if none of the details have been determined? Well, it's not much in the way of birthday goods if you don't at least announce it on the birthday. Guess Cayce isn't the only one procrastinating. Sorry, fans! Thank you for your patience. In fact it wasn't procrastinating, it was... mountains of other work... in Mr. Sakurai's case it was probably mountains of cat toys... in any case... blah blah blah, we will report on this developing story as more details become available.

.

27.1.21

This is NOT Greatest Site 15th Anniversary

Hey, folks! How are y'all holding up? We hope you're all staying well, staying warm, and staying stimulated. Not stimulated enough? We have something to help you with that - the translated lyrics, kanji and romaji for "Dance Tengoku"! Are you, too, sick of gender labels? Are you, too, just itching to get sweaty and dance at a party where everyone's hot, everyone's sweaty, and nobody's socially distanced? Well head on over to This is NOT Greatest Site and indulge yourself in a fantasy world that may seem impossible at this moment but if we keep praying and touching ourselves, it will come back! Pop the champagne, take off your clothes and dance alone in your room in front of your stereo with "Dance Tengoku" on repeat at full blast, to celebrate with us, because...

Today, January 27th, 2021, is the 15th anniversary of the launch of This is NOT Greatest Site!!!

Yeah, we can't believe it either. When we started the site back in 2006, we sure as hell had no idea where we'd be or what we'd be doing in 2021, but if we'd had to take a guess... we probably wouldn't have guessed that we'd still be running the site. We surely had no idea what it would become. The whole thing started as a casual project to make fun of j-rock fan sites, while bringing Buck-Tick to the world in English translation. It's been thanks to you readers that over the years we've grown as we have. Hearing from so many of you in so many countries around the world has turned out to be the most rewarding, exciting part of the whole project. Hearing about your countries, your thoughts and feelings about music, art, and life, has been special like nothing else. Since we started NGS, we've watched Buck-Tick's overseas fandom go from a few dozen people to thousands, maybe tens of thousands, like a firework exploding in slow motion. If we've had any part to play in that explosion, we're honored beyond words. Because from everything y'all have written to us over the years, it's clear that y'all really, truly love and appreciate Buck-Tick the way they deserve to be appreciated and loved. Thank y'all! We've been doing this for y'all. We wouldn't still be here without you.

Also, thank y'all for your great patience with our health struggles and our lack of updates. An even bigger thanks to the many of you who've supported us on Ko-Fi. Your support has been an inspiration to us to keep going even through some very difficult times. The internet may be full of trolls and bots and illiterate flamers but we wouldn't know that, because y'all are so smart and polite and friendly. Thanks for being the best readers ever♥

Anyhow, please feel free to let us know in the comments (or in an email) how long you've been reading the site, what your favorite parts are, and what kind of content you'd like to see more of. Anyone on here who's been reading since the beginning? Anyone on here who just discovered the site recently? Anyone on here who's been listening to Buck-Tick since they were a child? Anyone on here who's younger than NGS!? Let us know!

We wish we had more to share on such a special day, but we don't, really, so we'll leave y'all with this.









.

.

.

(Images taken from 'Gender Doesn't Matter in Sex Paradise: Hermeneutic Analysis of Sexual Semiotics in the Textual, Visual and Physical Works of Atsushi Sakurai,' published in The Journal of Queer Sexological Studies vol. 69, University of Buck-Tickistan.)

Update: holy crap, Blogger is telling us that this is the 666th post we've made on Blog-Tick to date. How serendipitous that it was this one!

17.1.21

The Questions in Question, and Other Sad Trombones (Happy New Year 2021)

Happy New Year, folks! We... guess? With the pandemic raging worse than ever, and many places under lockdown, it's looking like a dark winter, especially in the midst of a "fashion" crisis of puffer jackets that look like black plastic garbage bags stuffed with toilet paper, plus the question of why the Fashion Police haven't started arresting anyone who hasn't upped their mask game from "white paper sanitary napkin wrapper" to "re-usable, matches my outfit and actually fits my face." Having to wear a mask all the time sucks enough without looking like you mummified yourself in all that toilet paper you panic-bought last spring! Look at Imai Hisashi, kids. Imai Hisashi is a role model. You should do what he does. Put on your Swarovski mask and your giant platform boots and pandemic down the street like you're the hottest virus to infect the catwalk since Agent Smith. Imai Hisashi can jump, twirl, and kick in those boots, while playing guitar. Could he also infect the Matrix and make a gazillion more copies of Imai Hisashi? No question! So what's your excuse, eh!?

Anyhow, apologies never made up for late trains, but we apologize again for not keeping up with the blogging. For those of us who were worried for us, thank you for keeping us in your thoughts. Physically, we're doing better. Emotionally, well... who the fuck is feeling happy and well-adjusted right now? Raise your hands, you chipper lying overachievers, and we'll call you a pack of chipper lying overachievers! There's no shame in admitting boldly that wish you could sleep all day because it beats being awake. Is this what Mr. Sakurai meant by "Moonlight Escape"? How did he know?

In any case, before we get back to the Abracadabra translations (and we WILL get back to them even though we've got nothing on the OFFICIAL translations sucks to be us but more on that later), we'd like to address some questions we've gotten from you readers.

First, Yemitza from Venezuela would like to know, what sorts of too-expensive-to-buy merch did Buck-Tick release in fall of 2020?

Thanks for asking, Yemitza.

First, Imai Hisashi released this pretty cool embroidered bomber jacket, in both black and white, as a collaboration with fashion designer Takeo Kikuchi, whose Meiji Street boutique you could visit, if you were allowed into Japan as a foreigner, which you're not, because all gaijin have coronavirus. Also, you don't have enough money to buy this jacket, because it's 70,000 yen and that's more than your rent. With unicorns and sparkles, fuck you, Yemitza :) Have you been feeling like your life is a meaningless slog from cradle to grave and your grave is probably very close at hand because you'll probably almost certainly die of this virus but at this point you don't even care anymore because fuck this shit? Congratulations, Yemitza. You're correct! Take 50xp, but no gold coins, because you don't have enough money to buy this jacket.


Second, Buck-Tick released these fancy earbuds, as a collaboration with Tago Studio Takasaki, a recording studio in Takasaki, Gunma, near the band's hometown of Fujioka. These hot-shot, hand-lettered bad boys are lusciously insertable into your ear canals, developed as the small, lipstick-case-vibrator versions of the big, insert-your-ears-into-their-luscious-folds studio monitor headphones used at Tago Studio. The Tago Studio T3-02 earphones feature "box in box" technology, with an inner headphone core inside an outer box, designed to silence any sound from the outside world to less than a faint whisper, so that all you hear are the slip-sliding glissandos and falsettos of Buck-Tick in your box. Perfect for amateur sound engineers and pornographers alike. Do you like that, Yemitza? Do you want those earphones inside your ears? Do you want them inside your ears right now? Welp, too bad! Those earphones are the Shinjuku hooker in this tale and you cannot afford her. She's 68,200 yen, Yemitza. Sayonara!


.

Next, our long-lost Russian Lolita friend Maria Anastasia Hisashiyevna Sakuraina from St. Petersburg would like to ask, was the Fish Tank Only 2020 tour cancelled?

Yes, Maria Anastasia Hisashiyevna Sakuraina. Yes, it was. And it's never coming back. Just like the sweet hours of your life that you could have spent skipping rope and learning to speak Bahasa, only instead you spent them blacked out on your couch with the curtains closed in a sea of empty vodka bottles, because life is meaningless and soon, VERY SOON, we're all going to die, 'Rona or no 'Rona, it's only a matter of time and time was never on your side!!! But don't take it too hard. This is a new year. There's still time for you to write the next Great Russian Novel, before it's all over. Probably. пожалуйста меня, ох да.

.

Third, many of our dear readers would like you ask, Cayce, did you attend the Abracadabra On Screen tour? What was it like?

Yeah, we did.

It was like a drive-in movie in a graveyard.

Kokusai Forum holds 5,000 people and we only saw a few hundred. Slumped in their seats, with their feet up.

Yes, it was on screen. It was a movie, on a very large screen. A beautiful, well-produced movie, but a movie nonetheless.

Oh, but they flashed red lights on the crowd during "Ura-Harajuku"!

Stage effects, amirite!!?

The only part that didn't feel like a movie: the sloshed, plastered, wasted-drunk voice of Sakurai Atsushi, announcing a break for intermission, between the main set and the encore. Write that Russian novel, man. We know you have it in you.

.

Fourth, many of our dear readers would like to ask, Cayce, were you at the Nippon Budoukan in socially-distanced, not-sweaty, not-fleshy person on December 29th, 2020? Did you see with your own masked face and naked eyes what we only saw through a screen?

The sad, very sad answer is that no, kids. We didn't. We could have, theoretically. But we didn't. And this probably means our Buck-Tickistani passport ought to be revoked, right about now.

Why didn't we go?

Oh, well, first there was the part about how the tickets for any seats that weren't at the nosebleed back of the house were twice as expensive as usual, you see. Because they had to sell the venue at half capacity, because the Budoukan is owned by the Japanese government, and the Japanese government demanded All the Virus Performance. Because People Need Money and Buck-Tick is like a silver cow that squirts milk we mean money into the hands of many, many hungry, thirsty people so they can't cancel the show but they MUST take the fun out of it.

How best to do so? By making a dedicated smartphone app, that can only be downloaded onto a specific kind of phone (which Cayce doesn't own), and making it so that each ticket had to be purchased individually (no buying tickets for your and your plus one), and making it so that each ticket is non-transferrable so that if the 'Rona gets you and end up not being able to go, they just get to eat your 17,000 yen whole, no possibility of selling/transferring your ticket to someone else, because, with unicorns and sparkles, fuck you, Yemitza. This is a Kafkaesque gulag. What did you think this was, a rock show?

The lucky fans who managed to get through this stage of the process were then required to upload mug shots profile pictures, taken to certain specifications, to a dedicated Ticket Pia site, several days in advance of the show. Fans whose profile pictures were deemed insufficiently similar to their ID photos ran the risk of being turned away at the door. 

Next, the fans were required to arrive at the venue in shifts, so that they could enter the venue in properly socially distanced fashion. No talking allowed? Goes without saying. No tour goods. No partying. No smiling. No happiness. And no kittens. ESPECIALLY NO KITTENS!

Having reached the door, fans were required to tromp their goth boots across disinfectant pads, because the bottom of your goth boots is where the 'Rona goes to party like it's a socially undistanced 1999. Then, the hand sanitizers. The profile picture check. And the registration on the Japanese government's contact tracing app, so that officials from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare can show up at your window in the middle of the night and say "Boo!" if they feel so moved.

Next, into the venue, into your socially distanced seat, not next to any other fans, especially not your plus one. Where you SIT in your seat, and "enjoy" the entire show in masked silence, feeling smugly superior because YOU'RE sitting there live in person, you ran that gauntlet like a true American Ninja, you charmed tickets out of the Belly of the Beast like you can cadenza on Tamino's magic flute, and that makes you so much BETTER than all those schmucks in unpronounceable countries like Tajikistan and Herzegovina and Suriname who might be gathered with their friends around a bottle of wine and a plate of canapes, laughing and enjoying the show together as if there were still love in the universe. Those people may have had a warm and loving good time watching their live streams today, but the 'Rona is sure to kill them DEAD tomorrow, whereas you, coldhearted intrepid Buck-Tick stalker true believer, YOU saw Sakurai Atsushi's thighs IN PERSON through a pair of pants and several layers of dusters and veils and one very swish goth cape. And that makes you better than everyone else, forever. Better than Cayce, for sure. Suck it, Cayce. You couldn't ride a camel if you practiced for five years, Cayce. We're better than you. Sayo-fucking-nara.

(Actually, it seems from what we could tell from watching the live stream that the crowd physically present in the Budoukan were surprisingly energetic and appreciative. Good on you, guys. But, Buck-Tick's management... if you want us to attend a show IRL, do try to make us feel like we're guests at your event, rather than prisoners of war being processed. You feel us?)

.

Fifth, Lawrence of Canadia asked us, Cayce, did you have any involvement in the international edition of Abracadabra that's coming out through this record label and will include a *sad trombone* "official English lyrics booklet."

Thanks for your support as ever, Lawrence, but nope. Buck-Tick's management sure love to vacuum up your yennies and pennies, but paying Cayce for a translation??? Hell will "Kogoeru" first. Cayce is a hack and can never write such poetry as, 

"Am I dead or am I alive?
It's dark outside, dark with the dusk
I want [a] to sink, that's all I crave
Sing one last lullaby
Tell me I've been good [...in bed]
I want to sleep, that's all it is
Far away, far away in my [wet] dreams
Time to sleep."

And here's another jewel of professional translation from the JPU Records website, which Cayce could surely never equal:

"When I strummed the A chord to F#m on my guitar, tears began to well up. I kept going with that feeling and 'Eureka' was made." (said Imai).

After all, Cayce's translations tend to read more like this:

"When I put my pale pink rocket against my wife's black hole of love, a 'here is new sensation' began to well up. I kept going with that feeling and 'The Moon is Made of Green Cheese,' I mean, my daughter, Imai Hisashiko junior, was made. LOVE LOVE LOVE YEAH YEAH YEAH PEACE!!!
#imaihisashi
#bucktick
#bt
#peace
#✌
#🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈
#アブラカダブラ
#ABRACADABRA
#🔮🙏
#omamori"

In any case, we all know that passive voice is always the best way to describe your sex life, whether it's with your sex life with your guitar, or your sex life with your one and only. Passive voice: if it's good enough for scientific journal articles, it's good enough for rock-n-roll website copy.

A case in point:

Alchemical Processes of Transformation of Sonic Vibrations into Euphoria-Inducing Ether Cocktails Causing Lubrication and Arousal in Human Genitalia: Case Study on the Sexual XXXXX Effects of 'The Buck-Tick Phenomenon,' published in The Journal of Sex, Sexology and Sexuality, June 69th, 2069, Hisashi University Press, Ltd.

But, all those sex jokes aside, cut the crap, Buck-Tick's management. "Kogoeru" is not a song about feeling tired and wanting to sleep. "Kogoeru" is about longing for the sweet release of death!!! Why? Because life is an endless slog of betrayal, misery, and disappointment. Of the love you gave being tossed back in your face like a drink in a bar fight. Of the light of your being, your talent and all you hoped to achieve being slowly snuffed out by the tyranny of mediocrity and the grinding juggernaut of late-stage capitalism, just like that lonely, guttering candle Mr. Sakurai's holding in the PV.

Let me quote Mr. Sakurai, from Phy Volume 17, "Probably the only time I have no sorrow in my heart is when I get drunk and fall asleep. But sometimes, when I fall asleep, the nightmares attack..."

And now it's time for Cayce to sleep, too. God kids, I want a sink. That's all I crave. Tell me I've been good, and then leave me the fuck alone.

.

*blinks*

Oh, right, we can't sleep yet. We had to write a Russian novel.

And the Russian novel is this: what are Buck-Tick doing next?

Who the fuck knows what anybody is doing next, kids? Buck-Tick have announced a national hall tour for fall of 2021, and a show at the Budoukan on December 29th, 2021. But... your guess is as good as ours.

In the meantime.

Buy the Very Official International Edition of Abracadabra. Translated by Much Professionals with So Wow Credentials and Very Cold Hard Cash.

Or, if you like sex jokes, support us on Ko-Fi. We may not be able to translate Japanese worth a damn, but we are a VERY mother pheasant plucker (we pluck mother pheasants!)

And, if you feel so moved, answer us one last question... why would Mr. Sakurai want a sink? Does he need an extra one for his cats to sit in? Was everything but the kitchen sink not enough? That greedy bastard! Discuss.

.

(This post has been brought to you by catsinsinks.com. Not really, but, check it out, it will make you laugh.)

.

3.12.20

The Deserts of the Moon

...the Deserts of the Moon, or the Deserts of the Blog-Tick Phenomenon? Yeah, we know we've been delinquent on posting more translations, and we've been so bad at blogging for so long now that apologizing feels pointless (sorry anyway, though). Unfortunately our health is still fragile (though getting better!) But no, we do not and have not had "The 'Rona," though thanks for your concern. We hope y'all are managing to stay well, physically and mentally, during these trying times (if the virus doesn't kill you, the loneliness and boredom will, eh?)

Anyhow, enough blubbering! We are pleased to announce that the kanji, romaji, and translations for "Tsuki no Sabaku" and "Maimu Maimu" are now up over on This is NOT Greatest Site, along with copious notes. This, friends, is, as we said before, one of the big reasons why it's taking us so long to translate the new album this time around. There's a LOT to unpack. Shirts, trousers, satin knickers, lace stockings, and garters galore... plus layers upon layers of veiled references and allusions. We wanted to let it all sink in and process before we attempted to translate it, because we wanted to do justice to the depth and complexity of the songs, and we didn't want to miss anything. We probably did miss things anyway, and we'll have to go back and add them later, but that's always how it goes. 

It's been a question for us this time, whether to write separate anaylsis articles for each song, save one big analysis article for the end, or include extra analysis in the notes for each song, since based on the feedback we get from readers, it seems many of y'all have a little trouble figuring out what Buck-Tick's lyrics mean, even in translation, and would appreciate a little guided analysis. The reason we didn't include more analysis in our translation notes prior to this album was because we wanted to let y'all interpret them for yourselves, without pushing our interpretation on you. Sakurai has stated again and again in interviews over the years that he doesn't want to explain his lyrics in too much detail, because he'd rather that listeners find their own meaning... but that was also our view of art even before we got into Buck-Tick. 

There's a tendency for critics to argue about what the "correct" interpretation of a work is, but in our view, that's silly. Every work of art is a kind of dialogue between the artist and the audience. When the audience experiences the work, they add to it, with their emotional responses and individual interpretations that perhaps the artist himself never considered. In our view, that's what art is. It's malleable. It's cumulative. It gains meaning over time, and the meaning changes over time. You can't put it in a glass case and label it with a specimen tag of absolute truth, nor should you try - at least, that's our opinion. So we kept most of our analysis out of our translation notes, in order to give you the raw facts and let you decide what to do with them.

However, so many of you have written to us over the years saying that you can't make heads or tails of most of the songs, and requesting more analysis. And it's true that in our own experience, some astute critical analysis by someone deeply familiar with the artist and the work can be extremely helpful in unlocking your own personal interpretation of the work - especially one as dense as Abracadabra. So this time, we've changed our style and added a lot more in the way of critical analysis to our translation notes. We also hope to write a more in-depth article on the whole album... and that Six/Nine article y'all requested back before we got sick... so sorry to keep you waiting, we haven't forgotten (in fact, we've been thinking about what to write for several years). We hope you enjoy this new, more in-depth commentary, and please do feel free to share your thoughts on the songs in the comments, if you feel so moved.

In some cases, though, extra background info on the songs just isn't appropriate for translation notes, and "Tsuki no Sabaku" is one of those cases.

The original "Tsuki no Sabaku," translated as "Moon Desert," is a work by Japanese poet and artist Katou Masawo. Katoh Masawo was just the sort of gender-role-bending multi-talented artist the Buck-Tick members seem to be drawn to - born in 1897, his claim to fame was poetry and illustrations for children, especially girls, among whom he had an ardent fan following. It's hard to find much information about him, but according to Japanese Wikipedia, he often interacted with his fans (presumably through correspondence, since it was the 1920's), and he was well-versed in all the things the kids were doing in those days - clothes, hair, and so forth - and they loved him all the more for it. Reportedly he also played violin and cultivated roses. One wonders whether if he'd been born in a later era, he'd have worn red lipstick and garters, too.


Katou Masawo, tuning a violin

Looking at Katou's illustrations, it's easy to see why he was such a hit with young girls. His adorable flower fairies and lyrical images of young women daydreaming, reading, or playing music call to mind a gentler, more watercolored version of Brian Froud mixed with John William Waterhouse - he captures both the dreamy enchantment and the sadness of being a girl with a purity and sensitivity devoid of objectification or gimmicks. Like Sakurai, it seems that he wished he could live in a more beautiful world.


"Heart of the Flower"

.


"Flower Fairy"

.


"Letter - Spring Night's Dream"

.


"Feelings 2" (this is probably Orpheus)

.


"Moon and Girl"

.


”In the Shade"

.


"Night Melodies"

.

The poem "Tsuki no Sabaku," which became his most famous work, was first published in the March 1923 issue of the girls' magazine Shojo Club, accompanied by an illustration, which Katou also drew. 


"Tsuki no Sabaku" illustration on the poster for a Katou Masawo exhibit


"Tsuki no Sabaku" commemorative postage stamp

Katou Masawo's "Tsuki no Sabaku"
(translated from Japanese by Cayce)

Across the Desert of the Moon, far, far away
Traveling camels journeyed on
Bearing saddles of gold and silver
Two in a line, they journeyed on

In the saddle of gold, a urn of silver
In the saddle of silver, a urn of gold
The two urns each
Bound up in twine

In the first saddle sat a prince
In the second saddle sat a princess
The pair of them together
Dressed up in white robes

Across the wide desert, in single file
The two of them went - where will they go?
Through the misty haze of the moonlit night
The pair of camels trudge along

Across the sand dunes, they journeyed
Silently crossing, they journeyed on

Young composer Sasaki Suguru then set the poem to music. The song version of "Tsuki no Sabaku" was used by Sasaki in his music lessons for children, and the sheet music was released as part of his Bluebird Songbook for children's musical education. The song became popular enough that it was aired on the radio in 1927, then released as a record featuring singer Matsushima Utako (credited on that release as Yanagii Harumi) on vocals. Since then, the song has become a standard, and many other artists have recorded it over the years.


"Tsuki no Sabaku" original Yanagii Harumi recording

.


"Tsuki no Sabaku," Baishou Chieko version

.

Katou said that his song was inspired by his fantasy of a prince and princess traveling through an Arabian desert with gold and silver treasures. Wikipedia points out that he got a number of technical details wrong, since he was relying purely on his own imagination, having never visited a real desert.

Katou's "Tsuki no Sabaku" became so famous that a museum, the Moon Desert Museum, was erected in its honor next to Onjuku Beach in Chiba prefecture, where Katou spent summers recovering from tuberculosis. Katou mentioned later in his life that the sand dunes of Onjuku were part of his inspiration to write "Tsuki no Sabaku." The Moon Desert Museum at Onjuku is surrounded by a park featuring statues of the prince and princess on their camels walking across the beach as if it were a desert, as pictured in Katou's illustration. The museum itself features vaguely Middle Eastern architecture and whimsical art installations of traditional fabric handicrafts.


Moon Desert Museum camel statues


Moon Desert Museum camel statues with crescent moon monument


Moon Desert Museum camel statues with the museum building in the background



Daytime view of the Moon Desert Museum


Moon Desert Museum installation exhibits (cute, eh?)



Sakurai stated in Rock & Read 91 that his inspiration for Buck-Tick's "Tsuki no Sabaku" came when he heard a kerosene vendor truck playing "Tsuki no Sabaku" as it drove by. Kerosene vendor trucks playing tunes advertising their wares are commonly seen in the winter in Japan, because many Japanese homes lack central heating, and people often rely on kerosene heaters for warmth in the winter. Usually the songs played by these trucks are advertising jingles. Sakurai said that hearing "Tsuki no Sabaku" as a choice of song made him think "This town is beyond surreal," and continued, "If I ever run into it again, I'll go ask them why [they chose that song]." 

Sakurai borrowed a number of phrases from the original "Tsuki no Sabaku" for the lyrics to his own "Tsuki no Sabaku" - the opening phrase, "harubaru to yuku," and the image of the prince, princess, and camels. However, in Sakurai's version, the prince becomes a lonely, nameless king - clearly a stand-in for Sakurai himself, and the journey through the desert is transformed from lyrical fantasy to a not-so-subtle metaphor for the loneliness, difficulty, and uncertainty of existence - the search for meaning, or a destination, amid a life that feels like a lonely journey from nowhere to nowhere. The moonlight can also be seen as a metaphor, like the Moon card in the tarot - a journey into the subconscious and the shadowed parts of the soul, through one's own doubts, fears, and repressed or unprocessed emotions. The beautiful princess appears to be separated from the king, otherwise, why would the king be so lonely? Though draped in gold and silver, she's sunburned and weary, with a scorpion - yet another metaphor. Scorpio is the zodiac sign which represents digging under the surface into the dark depths, in search of the deepest, rawest emotions. It's the sign that deals with death, hidden desire, and possessive need. In modern astrology, Scorpio is ruled by the planet Pluto (still a planet you fucking pedants) - Pluto, king of the Underworld, god of death, secrets, and buried treasures.

And here we get to the thing Sakurai left unstated in his quip about the oil truck playing "Tsuki no Sabaku" - an oil truck playing a song about a Middle Eastern romance is driving around with some pretty heavy baggage other than oil. Oil - the Middle East's own Plutonic buried treasure. Oil - the main reason why places like California and Australia are drying up and burning into desert. When the silver and golden treasures become oil money, they don't seem quite so romantic anymore. Sakurai made a lot of remarks about watching the news and being angry about events and issues in the world as part of his inspiration for Abracadrabra ("Villain" tackles cyberbullying, "Urahara-juku" tackles sexual assault). He also mentioned spending most of the spring lockdown period revising and re-revising his lyrics. There's no way all these various levels of meaning aren't deliberately intentional. In fact, war and strife in the Middle East are a long-running theme of his - he's written a lot of anti-war songs over the years (see "Rakuen," "Muchi no Namida," "Revolver," and "Guernica no Yoru"), and while only "Rakuen" directly touches on the Middle East as a location of the war (through its use of an Arabian-style melody and verses from the Qu'ran), Buck-Tick have pulled out their repertoire of anti-war songs again and again to make comments on specific events related to that region of the world - the set list for Mona Lisa Overdrive Xanadu was partly a comment on the Iraq war, while the set list for Devil & Freud Climax Together was in part a memorial to the 9-11 bombings of the Twin Towers. 

Considered from this angle, "Tsuki no Sabaku" becomes not only a song about personal struggle against a sense of futility or meaninglessness, but also a pointed question to society - how long can we go on like this, desertifying our world for the sake of money? Even the camel reference develops a double meaning. In Japanese, the word for camel is "rakuda," but the phrase "raku da" means "it's easy," with the implication of convenience. In the parts of the world that run on oil and oil money, "convenience" has become one of the major excuses for not taking action on the environmental and economic problems that require urgent action. People haven't wanted to give up their cushy lifestyles or make an effort to make a change - but maybe things are finally changing now. 

It's just a coincidence that the moon is also a symbol of Islam, but it sure adds to the mood, when you think about how all the unrest in the Middle East and the havoc wreaked by ISIS led to the destruction of so many precious ancient treasures in a region that for many thousands of years was one of the main epicenters of human civilization. Sakurai's invoked ancient Babylon in a number of songs, mostly in the context of the Tower of Babel ("Lady Skeleton," "Babel") - which has now become a symbol of human hubris and the origin of "us vs. them" divisions among human groups, and the name Babylon itself has come to represent both unsustainable hedonism and moral corruption, and also (in the Rastafarian tradition), the white male capitalist patriarchy currently hard at work digging up the oil and destroying the planet (and, of course, a major instigator of all those Middle East wars, ISIS included).

It's also interesting that this is the only song in which Sakurai has explicitly noted that the heroine as having a brown skin tone. In every other song he's ever written about a woman that mentions her skin tone, she's pale. Maybe we're reading too much in, but we know he chooses every word for a reason and it seems to us like there might be a very slight hint in here to solidarity with the struggles of brown women. In any case, it's an interesting touch.

Whew! From flower fairies and children's songs to peak oil and ISIS, all in one article! That sure was a big trunk full of garters! Please feel free to respond with your own thoughts in the comments. If you enjoy these translations and articles, please also consider supporting us on Ko-fi. It really helps!

Disclaimer: All images used in this article were shamelessly stolen off the internet. We don't own any of them.

31.10.20

Kamijo Atsushi x Sakurai Atsushi

At long last, after many delays, Buck-Tick have finally announced the details of their collaboration with famed rock-n-roll manga artist Kamijo Atsushi, author of the manga To-Y, Sex, and other titles. If you ever wondered what it would look like if Kamijo Atsushi drew illustrations of Buck-Tick, wonder no more!






Kamijo's illustration of the five band members, and his special separate illustration of a long-haired Mr. Sakurai, will be released as t-shirts through Kamijo's new clothing label, GAIN (check the site for more photos of the shirts). The shirts are available in in either black or white, because adding insult to the injuries of 2020, oversized block printed ultra-white t-shirts are currently the height of "fashion" in Tokyo these days, if fashion is what you can call it. White to match your mask? Oh, wait, it's been seven months now! Why are we still wearing white masks? What happened to crisis being the mother of creativity? But we digress. The shirts are available in sizes S through XL, and cost 8580 yen apiece, which is an awful lot for a t-shirt, but the laws of the universe state that if it's possible to extort fan love into the spending whopping sums, then it must be done. And the illustrations are very cool, it's true. The t-shirts are available for pre-order from today until November 15th. If you'd like our help pre-ordering them, please send us an email.

As to why Mr. Sakurai alone got his own special illustration - that was because Kamijo Atsushi declared he was just dying to draw his Buck-Tick namesake. Why? Probably because having the same name as a national sexual XXXXX symbol made him feel aroused. Though we can't say for certain.

Happy Halloween, folks. Enjoy the Blue Moon, but don't give in to lunacy! More Abracadabra translations coming soon.