Keijijou Ryuusei: a freeform review

We're pleased to announce that translations and lyrics for all the songs on Keijijou Ryuusei are now posted over on This is NOT Greatest Site.  Please go read them before reading this review!  Everything will make much more sense!

In fact, I hadn't planned on writing a review for this single, but in the course of translating the lyrics I realized there were a few topics I wanted to discuss, one relating to each song, so I'm going to go track by track in order, over the course of three posts.  Today, I'm going to start with Track One, "Keijijou Ryuusei."

First of all, a picture of the promo display in Tower Records Shibuya:

Note the dimensional Constructivist rectangles made out of foamcore.  The Tower Records staff really went all out this time, let's give them a round of applause!  But the big question is written right in the middle: "WHAT is METAPHYSICS?"

Part I. Metaphysics and Politics.

According to Dictionary.com, metaphysics is "the branch of philosophy that treats of first principles, includes ontology and cosmology, and is intimately connected with epistemology."  If that didn't help much...basically, ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being (what does it mean, to exist?), cosmology is the philosophical study of the nature of the universe (what is the universe? what is space? what is time? do we have free will or is everything pre-determined?), and epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge (how do we know we know what we know?)  In brief: "metaphysics" is deceptively simple questioning about Deep Shit.  Without metaphysics, you can't have any sort of study of philosophy, because metaphysics is concerned with defining the basic principles of your philosophy, and without basic principles, you can't build a logical argument.  But we're getting into nerd territory here.

Anyhow, the next question would be, "what is a metaphysical meteor?"  Looking at the lyrics to the song, I'd say it's wide open to interpretation, but looking at the single cover gives us a clue.  And that's the first comment I'll make about this single - the art direction is the best Buck-Tick has ever had.  Not only is the packaging for the CD beautifully produced, but the images in the booklet are directly related to the images in the lyrics.  The little boy vanishes into the mist in the first stanza, and as you open up the lyric booklet, the boy vanishes from the frame.  Wow, Such Art.  Very Symbolism!  

Seeing an image of a little boy brings to mind the lyrics to "Adult Children" and I sense some similar themes here...not in the sense that Sakurai's dealing with his abuse again, but more in the sense that this is a dialogue between an adult and a child, or between the adult self and the child self.  In the verses, the narrator addresses the "lost boy" mentioned in the first line, but the chorus feels more like first-person narration.  In Japanese, it's hard to tell, but it feels that way to me.  Saying "your heart is breaking and splitting open" sounds presumptuous, somehow.  And without the presence of an overt subject, usually we can conclude that the speaker is talking about himself.  In this case, how his heart splits, how beautiful it is, how he feels he's going to die, how he dreamed a dream.

But where is the meteor?  There's no mention of it in the lyrics, and this, as I see it, is where the metaphysics come in.  It's not a literal meteor, it's a symbol for something meteor-like, something inherent to existence, that can't be easily explained in words. Something that streaks across the sky in momentary, breathtaking beauty, yet that beautiful fire is the fire of its own destruction.  You could say that the meteor is just a metaphor for Life, but I don't think so.  If it were, why would the narrator of the song be observing its destruction and attempting to hold on?  If the meteor is Life, whose heart is left to break at the end?

As I see it, the meteor is not Life itself, but rather, the search for Meaning.  The search for something that sets all your senses quivering and fills your heart with burning passion. Yet such is the nature of desire, that the things that make us feel this way are so often out of our reach.  Or maybe, we don't realize how much they meant till they're gone.  Or maybe, we don't quite even know what they are, and keep searching for them as if blindfolded, dreaming of how wonderful they would be if they came true...and that's where the "I was dreaming" line comes in.

And these are the kinds of dreams we have most when we're young, because we don't know much about the world yet, and we're searching for something to live for. If Sakurai is indeed singing to his past self, perhaps he's telling him of the heart-splitting passion of life yet to come, telling him not to fear it, but to embrace it and reach for it, though it may hurt and may seem like a lie.  We may not be able to catch the meteor, but perhaps the meaning lies in trying.

A commenter on here mentioned that the red scarf could be a symbol for "dreams," but I ask you, do Buck-Tick really need to wear a scarf to symbolize that?  They sing about dreams all the goddamn time.  Buck-Tick themselves are a symbol for dreams, especially their most renowned dreamboat, Yagami Toll.  Nope folks, this scarf is something different, or the super-duper-fanfuckingtastic limited edition wouldn't include an actual red scarf as part of the goody package.  It could be a blindfold for your 50 Shades of Buck-Tick kinktastic roleplay.  It could be a fundoshi for you to wear to a Japanese festival.  It could be a not-so-secret sigil to mark you as a member of the Communist Party.  Or it could be a Red Flag warning you when dangerous fangirls are close at hand!  But if I had to guess on its symbolism in the context of this single, I'd have to guess it's the meteor itself.  Or perhaps, the flag flown by those of us searching for that meteor.  A symbolic way of wearing the passion in our hearts on our literal sleeves.


However, I do tend to think that with regard to this symbolism, the single is only showing us a little piece of the puzzle, and the rest will be revealed when the album comes out. There's no question that the imagery of the album is strongly Soviet-themed. I had this sense myself when I first looked at it, but speaking to some Russian Blog-Tickers has only made me more sure.  In fact, I recently received the following letter from a Blog-Tick fan in Russia regarding the new album cover:

Dear Cayce,

I guess red scarf goes for flag, and red flag goes for revolution, and red ties of USSR's pioneers, which the band's members are wearing in the PV...when I saw the cover of upcoming album and promo photo - needless to say I was surprised. Those pictures are like from childhood photo book of my parents. Those masks and flags came from New Year's celebrations, I swear they were absolutely the same shape and style. Those stars and space ship, oh, you know, there was a cult of space exploration in USSR. Even I felt its echo in my childhood, though I spent only 10 years in USSR, but I remember that in primary school we always painted space, planets and rockets. And every boy being asked what he would be when adult, surely answered that he would be an astronaut. And train, what boy doesn't like trains? I guess I could say that the whole room on the cover is about dreams of a Soviet boy. Even I feel some nostalgia when look at the album's cover.  Still, I rather think that they simpy liked the Soviet aesthetic, than refer to communists in a political sense. It doesn't bothers me either way though. :-) I was born in USSR and I don't have communistophobia.  I guess I'm just trying to say that if you like the image of epoch, doesn't mean that you share its political ideas.


So you don't have to take it from me.  You can take if from your Buck-Tick fan friends over in Russia.  But that last highlighted bit, my friends, is the point.  There is no question that Buck-Tick are playing with Soviet imagery here...however, that doesn't mean they're trying to get fans to join the Communist Party!  They're using the images to make some sort of point, and what the point is remains to be seen, but I'm doubting it's political propaganda.

On the other hand, it's hard to have anarchy without some sort of politics, and though Buck-Tick have largely refrained from making political statements, it's pretty clear that they're left-dressing high grade monkeys, if you catch my drift.  And I do find myself wondering, if you, as a fan, are made so very uncomfortable by the idea that they might be making a political statement this time around, what does that say about you?  Are you worried that they might make a political statement you don't agree with?  If you're worried about that, it suggests to me you've got some conservative leanings in you, and if that's the case, I just want to remind you: Buck-Tick are a new wave band. New wave came straight from punk. Punk came from the Sex Pistols. From the Sex Pistols came Anarchy in the UK. Punk has always been iconoclastic (see what I did there?)  If that rubs you the wrong way, I think you should take another good hard look at your political beliefs vs. your musical taste and ask yourself if there's a disconnect, and if there is, ask yourself why.  If there is none, embrace your discomfort - this is a highly fucked-up world we live in and if Buck-Tick is going to call bullshit I'm going to be the first one to stand up and cheer.

Also, I just want to make clear that I'm not picking on any commenters here. I value your input and I'm glad you're willing to share your ideas on here, and even if I disagree with you, I find that fan comments are a great source of inspiration for articles. So don't be afraid to comment!  I value all my readers.  You're the people I write for, after all.

We'll be back again soon with Part II, Melancholia.


  1. Hey Cayce (: As I feel one of the people the last paragraph is implicitly addressed to, I wanted to say that of course we know you value user input, and we love you very much. I would rather be concerned if you didn't answer comments.

    This is actually great review, and I think we aren't even that far off in our interpretations of the song. I didn't say that the flag stands for dreams, only that that was an association. I couldn't quite express what you say when you describe the meteor: "something that streaks across the sky in momentary, breathtaking beauty, yet that beautiful fire is the fire of its own destruction". It is the liminal, ephemeral quality of it that I found dream-like.

    By the way, if you would really, really care to read a fan interpretation, I would love to mail you one (: Only I'm not including any summaries... 'cause that's boring :P

    1. Thanks, but rather than emailing me privately with interpretations, I think it's more interesting to discuss them here on the comment thread. I discourage people from simply stating opinions without any sort of analysis because this is not a shoutbox, but I encourage constructive discussion. I mean Constructivist discussion. I mean wait...;)

    2. My first association was also Adult Children, and I imagined Sakurai from the verses as a devilish figure luring the boy, moreso because his invitation is very similar - to play and love. However, it struck me how desperate he seemed in his invitation. As if it was the adult that needed comforting and consolation, that needed the child. So I think the dark figure is the grown up narrator, who is "tainted by the black shadow dragging behind him" and looking for contact with his inner child, his inmost self. Thus all the black and white stripes, opposites meeting, I guess. And Imai pulling out his old guitar.

      The game the second verse is referring to seems to be Kagome Kagome (the question "Ushiro no shoumen daare?" is from its song.) In it a player called the "oni" (demon) sits blindfolded in a circle and has to guess who's the one behind him in order to escape the circle and swap places with them. I find the changing places aspect of it particularly fitting with the theme, but even if Sakurai didn't intend for the allusion to go that far, it adds to the feeling of confusion.

      As of the meteor/ red thingie (which is always out of focus in publicity photos), I think being something you can't put your finger on is the very point. I don't see much of a connection with communism at this stange except for U-ta's pioneer tie (that one made me giggle a bit) but we'll wait and see (:

      Well, these are my thoughts but I'd be very curious to hear from the mastermind a hint about the meaning. He's spinned some very cryptic lyrics this time.

  2. Thank you so much for this great review! I always love to read your article :) Also, it's pretty interesting to me that they seem to explore political theme this time, since (like you said) they don't usually, explicitly make comments about politics.

  3. Could it be that the meteor is a metaphor for the person whose perspective this is coming from's heart? Maybe the flag is a blindfold that symbolizes naivety or trusting, and the thought of letting go of the illusion breaks his heart? Like when children blindly believe what they are told because they know no better, and as they grow older they begin to see through it all. Maybe he wants to hold onto the fabrications, the innocence and not see the truth. Maybe he wants that blindfold to stay covering his eyes to the truth. What truth? Well, I guess it could be any number of things, but this definitely does have a political attitude so there are many ways of interpreting this...

    Just my two cents.

    1. An interesting theory, but I don't really get an escapist vibe from this one...I think it's more about the bravery to venture into the unknown, rather than an attempt at self-protection. There are a lot of children's games that involve blindfolds...I kind of think it's about searching in the dark when you don't know what you're looking for. But there's really no right answer.

  4. Yes, I can't believe for a second that Buck-Tick as a band are unaware of the universal usage of the red flag - which is as a longstanding and widespread symbol of proletariat socialist revolution. It's been around since the French Revolution, and there's even a song about it. Whether or not a direct equivalent exists in Japan, I find it hard to believe that Mr Sakurai, in particular, has not come across it in his reading material over the years. And even apart from that, Buck-Tick were Cold War kids (as am I). I don't think anyone that age doesn't at least know the red flag in its association with the Soviet era (and also the many other Soviet motifs which are liberally used in the video). And if they are aware of all that, then they also know that viewers are, and will make that association.

    It's not new - the red flag and Soviet emblems have been used in music, album art and videos by other bands in the past as a visual shortcut. It may mean a bunch of additional things too for each artiste, but at its most basic heart, the red flag being held aloft or worn in any form is a rallying cry for revolution. If Buck-Tick didn't want people to make that association in their minds, I think they would just have chosen another set of imagery entirely.

    "The people's flag is deepest red,
    It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
    And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
    Their hearts' blood dyed its every fold.

    "Then raise the scarlet standard high.
    Within its shade we live and die,
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
    We'll keep the red flag flying here."
    (The Red Flag, 1889)

    1. Thanks for bringing up the point about the French Revolution! Somehow I forgot about that one but you're absolutely right. Equally good point about the B-T members being Cold War kids.

  5. dearest Cayce,
    if you were to write a book, i swear i would buy every copy.
    you are amazeballsingly amazeballs.

    1. Thanks so much for your support! Would you buy my book even if it were called This is NOT Greatest Book?


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