Monday, December 6, 2010

AKB48, "Ponytail to shushu"

As I promised, a single!
This time I wanted to go for something lighter, but still meaningful, so let me introduce to you...

"Ponytail to shushu" (Ponytail and scrunchie)
(from "Ponytail to shushu" single)
AKB48 senbatsu members (A: Kojima Haruna, Maeda Atsuko, Shinoda Mariko, Takahashi Minami, Takajo Aki / K: Itano Tomomi, Minegishi Minami, Miyazawa Sae, Ono Erena, Oshima Yuko / B: Kasai Tomomi, Kashiwagi Yuki, Kitahara Rie, Miyazaki Miho, Watanabe Mayu / SKE48: Matsui Jurina)

words: Akimoto Yasushi
music: Ota Shinya
point of view: male
theme: love song
original lyrics

listen to Ponytail to shushu on youtube

Before the set date on the calendar
I roll up my shirt's sleeves
It's the sign that the sun is getting closer
I'm changing to summer uniform starting from my arms1

Blue sea
On the shore
I want to see you
Splashing water with naked feet

(Shaking) your ponytail
Into the wind
You run (I run)
on the sand
(Shaking) your ponytail
You turned my way
Your smile
My summer begins

Sunrays lighten the classroom
The temperature of my dreams got higher
When I look at you, sitting some rows ahead of me
My heart aches

I'll never be able to say I like you
I whisper my feelings to your back

Your ponytail (makes me feel sad)
Inside my dreams
I have all of you (all of me)
For myself
Your ponytail (makes me feel sad)
One-sided love
When our eyes meet
Now, we're just friends

Your long hair in a ponytail
In a polka dot scrunchie
I can't catch the tail of love
It's an illusion that will disappear if I touch it

(Don't take out) your ponytail
Without ever changing
Just keep running
As you are (as I am)
(Don't take out) your ponytail
Please be forever
The happy young girl you are

La la la...

1 The whole first verse refers to the Japanese school tradition of changing from long-sleeved winter uniform to short-sleeved summer uniform on a set date (usually at the start of June).

This song is cheerful only in appearance. It is actually a melancholy song, sung from a schoolboy's point of view, about his unrequited love for his classmate. The literal story is as follows: he sees her frolicking on the beach, her hair in a ponytail, and in their sunlit classroom at the beginning of Summer, and thinks that he will never be able to confess to her, he'll just keep loving her from a distance.
But the ponytailed girl is also a symbol of idealized youth. Her ponytail (tied with a colourful scrunchie), her school uniform, taking off her shoes and socks to play with the sea in the first Summer days... The schoolgirl symbolizes youth as it is often idealized in the Japanese adult world: innocence, simple beauty, cheerfulness. Youth is beautiful and fleeting, the only carefree time in a lifetime before being lining up in the "shakaijin" (productive worker) ranks; therefore it is an object of longing - this is the real reason why idol industry is so florid in Japan. They don't sell an image of sex as many Westerners think: idols are the image of perfect youth.
Back to the song, of course the literal unrequited love story is the prevailing part of the song, but the "symbolized youth" metaphor is a pivotal element of Japanese, and especially idol, culture, so I thought I'd point it out since it would be easy to overlook it for someone who is not very knowledgeable with Japan's idealization of youth.

1 comment:

  1. I've been reflecting on this song's lyrics for a long time. I agree with you that it's cheerful only in appearance. I had this same feeling when I listened to it the first time and heard that that line saying "your ponytail into the wind". It sounded pretty melancholic...
    I always thought this song is about a girl in love with another girl (and I thought the line saying "I can't say I love you" was confirming it), but reading your comment I now realized it's sung from a boy's point of view. This probably apply also to songs as Bokudakeno value and Kimi ni tsuite...