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:
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.