A Thanksgiving Pun? The Sunflower Incident

One of my favorite moments from the YFC in Europe DVD I LOVE YOU ALL is what’s labelled in English as “The sunflower seed incident.”

Basically, a certain someone put a bunch of sunflower seeds on Chirolyn’s pick stand & mike stand at the concert in Barcelona, and Chirolyn, thinking he was supposed to do something with them, decided the thing to do was chew them and spit them out. On stage. Leaving the floor crunchy.

I loved the unhinged-in-a-different-way element that Chirolyn brought to the band. I wonder if he was also the one who wrote Spanish cuss words in katakana on his pick stand.

Anyway, a couple of years later, I was telling my students in Japan about Thanksgiving. The pilgrims, the Mayflower, etc. And one of my students says, 「メイフラワー?メイフラワー事件?」(“Mayflower? The Mayflower Incident?”). I was like, “What? They teach you guys about the Mayflower landing as the Mayflower Incident?” The student replied that yes, that it was in the history textbook. Huh. With all the Japanese history textbook controversies, I found it funny that they’d get holier-than-thou about the start of future Americans’ transgressions against the Indigenous peoples.

Then I remembered the YFC “Sunflower Incident.” Was it a history pun?!

I think I at least Googled “Mayflower jiken” in Japanese to see if the Mayflower landing was indeed commonly referred to as an “incident” in Japan. Though the word 事件 (jiken) can have the neutral meaning “event,” overall the connotation is decidedly negative.

I don’t remember the results of that search back then. But for the past 4 years I’ve been amused by the thought that the YFC bit had this extra joke in it. Finally, in the spirit of the season, I got around to checking it all out again.

The man behind the mayhem was actually Junji, who got the idea to surround Chirolyn with sunflower seeds.

But Junji himself didn’t call this “The Sunflower Seed Incident.” He called it 「ひまわりの種大作戦」(himawari no tane daisakusen), literally meaning “Big Operation Sunflower Seeds.” Or as I would translate it, “Operation Sunflower Seed.”

I suppose it’s possible the person who wrote the subtitles was a history geek being cute. Or passive-aggressive maybe.

If you Google メイフラワー号事件 with quotation marks, you’ll get a bunch of Yahoo! Chiebukuro (=Yahoo! Anwers) pages of high school students asking what the “Mayflower Jiken” was about, or why the Puritans left England. So while this usage doesn’t seem to be too widespread, it certainly is in Japanese high school world history textbooks.

On a bit of a side note, now that I’ve seen Delinquent Hamsters, I can’t help but wonder if Chirolyn inspired their creators a little bit. XD

Is the hamster with the Mohawk Chirolyn?!


Yes I Too Have Osaekirezu ni Aishitsuzuketad

Was thinking about this question of why GACKT used kanji+katakana instead of kanji+hiragana and since I’d seen the video relatively recently it occurred to me that since this arc of the MOON SAGA takes place in Europe, it could be that he did that to show that the character singing isn’t one of the Japanese originators of vampires but rather a European one. Because the other use for katakana besides emphasis or historical uses is to show that a) a non-Japanese character in a work of fiction is speaking Japanese for the benefit of the Japanese audience but within the story line should be understood to actually be speaking whatever language would be appropriate; or b) to show that a non-Japanese person is speaking Japanese (regardless of whether they’re speaking it well or not—kinda the same way that sometimes American TV shows put captions on people speaking English if they have an accent even if it’s not heavy). In these cases it is more common to write everything in katakana, but mixing in kanji isn’t unheard of either. Sasazuka Elise comes to mind.

Personally I prefer to think he did it for emphasis because unrequited or otherwise unfulfilled love is a particularly strong and sucky emotion, and because I find the practice of writing what non-Japanese say in katakana discriminatory (though I can cut Usage A some slack). But given that GACKT’s always talking about how each song portrays a character, I think the possibility that he meant for this to be a non-Japanese character’s song is also possible.

There’s one other thing I’ve wondered about this song, and that’s the weird beep at 3:40, right behind GACKT’s vocals as he’s singing “kimi no na wo.” I hear it on the CD and on MP3 and AAC rips of this track. It sounds very similar to one of the beeping noises the old iMac G3 had. It was one of the sounds you could use as an alert. There’s at least one other instance of a Mac sound in GACKT songs in weird places, namely at 2:37 of “Kimi ga Matteiru Kara.” I had that chime noise set to announce the quarter hour on the old family iMac. I’m pretty sure there was one more song with one of these sounds, but alas, I’d written these observations into the comments section of iTunes on my now-dead MacBook Pro. I’ll try to remind myself to write things down next time I hear these beeps & chimes.

Neener Neener, My Culture’s Older Therefore More Valider Than Yours

I can’t sleep. I think it’s because I didn’t drink enough caffeine today. Whatever the cause of this insomnia, rather than toss and turn, I picked up GACKTIONARY. To be honest I’ve never read the whole thing. When I pick it up, I usually read the headings and let that determine if I’ll read the rest. There’s some good stuff in there, but there are also things I don’t agree with. And usually, I leave it at that. But it really annoys me when GACKT asserts as facts things that he has no qualifications to say. Take this passage from entry #32:


It’s often said that Japanese people’s mannerisms are very passive, and Westerners’ gestures are very big, right? If you ask, “why is it that Westerners use such large gestures?”, the reason is simple. Why do those people living in America use such large gestures? It’s simple. It’s because, in short, compared to our language, English has few expressions which are grammatically specific as masculine speech or feminine speech. They can do nothing but express that through gestures and mannerisms. So, they express femininity through their bodies. Their bodies speak with them. Body language is necessary because their words are lacking. But from the start, we’ve had something that could be sufficient for everything through words alone, which is why we could express things through just the beauty of our words without the need to move our hands.

Perhaps I should’ve started off by saying that this entry is about how he likes for women to speak “properly” or “beautifully,” which to him means “like a woman should.” Ignoring the issues of restrictive gender roles and the fact that no one ever said the sole purpose of gestures was to constantly be slapping people over the head with gender expression (since you can’t see my gestures, let me tell you since apparently it’s crucial that you constantly be reminded of this, but I’M A WOMAN! </sarcasm>), what bothered me about this was the Japanese Exceptionalism (better known as Nihonjinron). Whereas I as a biased Westerner would say that gestures enrich our communication, perhaps GACKT as a biased Japanese sees this feature of English through a lens of deficiency stemming from Nihonjinron: English has X. But Japanese doesn’t have X. There’s no way any language can have something over Japanese, so there must be something wrong with English that requires the use of X.

GACKT has never (as far as I know) lived in a Western country. If he had, he would know that what most Japanese people are taught in schools about gestures is exaggerated; furthermore he would be aware that despite the fact that he can communicate to some extent in English, he is nowhere near fluent, thus he would kindly refrain from educating people about a topic he can’t really instruct them on. How could someone who doesn’t know the difference between calling your S.O. “baby” and calling a mass of people “babies,” or the huge semantic difference between a sentence-final “anyway” and the same word at the beginning of a sentence, think that he knows the nuances of what makes gendered speech in English, or even how much of it exists? GACKT has come a long way in his English expression ability, but realistically it doesn’t take that much to communicate. Babies do it without using words at all. Let’s see newborns get Holier Than Thou about that!

As for the gestures, I think Western gestures aren’t as big as most Japanese people apparently imagine them to be. As a Westerner who had the privilege of judging middle school English recitation contests in Fukuoka, I saw that children were trained to gesture through speeches to the point it went from oratory to mime. Nobody delivers a speech like that! Watch J.K. Rowling’s Harvard speech, which was used for the prefectural high school speech contest in 2011, and you’ll notice that she doesn’t even use her hands; she speaks with her eyes. When comedians do impressions of Obama or Bill Clinton or other modern politicians, they do that thumb pointing thing, and we can immediately recognize it as a politician’s gesture because most people don’t move their hands that way when talking. The mime thing isn’t as bad at the high school level (at least, it wasn’t in my experience), but the tendency for Japanese Teachers of English to tell students that they have to gesture is still there, but they don’t offer concrete examples of how to go about doing that in a way that’s natural for them and appropriate to the setting. Even in more casual social settings, which are likely more what GACKT was thinking of when he wrote this, you don’t have people turning to mime to express themselves, though some people certainly get more animated than others.

As far as traditional binary gender expressions go, I think most Americans are able to tell whether a person is a man or a woman from things like voice pitch, consistency of said pitch, number of words used, and certain vocabulary choices. In the traditional gender binary, I wouldn’t expect a man to walk into a room and greet his male friends with “Hey Guys!♪” in a singsongy voice; he might say it in an excited voice, but there wouldn’t be as much variation in the pitch within those two words as there would be were a woman saying the same thing to the same people. Grammatically, written Japanese can be vague about gender because it’s unnecessary to state the subject of a sentence in many occasions. (Side note: I wouldn’t want to leave out that saying that Japanese “omits” the subject is, potentially, viewing Japanese through a lens of deficiency. Maybe subjects don’t exist in Japanese!) So sure, “atashi” is the feminine “I” while “ore” is the masculine “I” in informal speech, sentence-final “wa” is a marker of feminine speech outside of certain dialects, and women are in general expected to be more polite. So let’s look at English. Sure, “I” is unisex, but in situations where Japanese would make no gender nor marital status distinctions by addressing people as Last Name-san, in English there’s Mr., Mrs., and Ms. Last Name. Women’s greater vocal pitch variation or the fact that they get associated with vocal fry despite the fact that men do it too is sort of like a “wa” at the end of a sentence. And in the Western world as well, women traditionally weren’t “ladylike” if they cussed or otherwise spoke rudely.

Those are just some examples, but if we put more on the scales, I think they’ll still even out. I don’t say “Such language has to do X because it’s deficient.” I say “X is a feature of such language because it is.”

I tend to refrain from saying “Japanese is such and such” and “Japan is this and that” because I know that four years in Japan is a very short time in terms of truly mastering a language and culture at the level a native speaker would. I know more than someone who’s never lived there, but I still tend to present my experiences with that caveat, because I think it’s important to say. Also, the suburbs of Fukuoka City are culturally not the same as Tokyo. Many non-Japanese in the blogosphere and vlogosphere talk about “In Japan” when really they should be saying “In the Tokyo metropolitan area.” Then there’s the issue of being in the global eye. I remember how that video was making the rounds during the World Cup (IIRC) of Japanese fans picking up after themselves in the stadium in Brazil even though they’d lost the game. “Japanese are so clean and respectful!” was the message. And they were in that instance, most definitely. But do all Japanese act like that at home, which is the implied message? I went to several baseball games in Fukuoka, where one of the features is that fans buy long balloons to blow up then release during the 7th inning stretch, and again at the end of the game if the home team wins. The balloons aren’t tied; the point is to have them fly around as they deflate, then they fall down unto the stands. Nobody picks them up. There would be spilled food and drinks on the stadium floor too. It was what you’d expect to see in a stadium. While there I thought, “See, Japanese are regular people too. They’re not these perfect stoic Zen drones, they make and leave messes.” Then that video was going around, and Japanese people who’d I gone to baseball games with were posting it on Facebook like “See how wonderful we Japanese are! ♡” and I was like “…So we’re just gonna act like Yahoo Dome isn’t always a filthy mess at the end of SoftBank Hawks games? Okay cool gotcha.”

Hahh, let’s see if I can sleep now. ^_^;

Half Ranting in Response to a Rant about Supposedly Bad Translations

The other day I saw an interesting rant on the Facebook page of the mobile game company I have been freelance translating for this past year. A couple of fans were complaining about a game’s translation, and they got a fair number of Likes, so I guess many other fans agree with them. I haven’t played nor worked on the particular game that caused these fans so much anger, so I don’t know if they’re justified in some of their complaints. (Apparently the title they played was full of grammatical errors, which I have seen in this company’s first titles but I’m a bit surprised to hear it’s happening now and kind of wonder if this person’s getting their panties in a bunch over one or two typos. But I digress.) However, two of the complaints struck me as odd, both as a fan of various Japanese pop culture products and as a translator myself.

One complaint the fans had was that things were changed to be “less Japanese.” The example given was that of Golden Week. Apparently the English version of the game changed this to “spring break.”

I wouldn’t say the translation was changed with the intention of taking its Japaneseness away. I think it was changed simply to be more accessible to a Western audience, an audience which, by and large, does not know what Golden Week is. I think this is something that people who know some Japanese, or even a lot of Japanese, tend to forget. Especially if their circle of friends & acquaintances has the same interests as they do. It can be hard to believe that despite the anime & manga boom, there are still lots and lots of people in the English-speaking world who don’t give a flying eff about Japan, Japanese things, and/or Japanese culture. I don’t know how many people have asked me “So how did you like China?” literally 60 seconds after I told them I’d lived in Japan. I wish I were exaggerating. There are still plenty of Americans & Canadians for whom Asia=China and they will hear China when you say Japan.

Anyway, these people are still potential customers. They might enjoy exploring a game that was originally made for a Japanese audience if it’s made accessible to them. That’s what localization (as opposed to just translation) is. That’s what it’s for. There are also fans of Japanese things who aren’t going to make the sort of commitment required to learn all about Japan and its culture. And that’s okay.

As a translator, I want to keep the original intact as much as possible while still giving the new audience an enjoyable experience. So it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone knows what certain things are and not everyone is going to stop in the middle of gameplay to go look it up. If a game is not meant to be a Primer on Japanese Language and Culture, and if a localization choice makes the game more accessible to its new audience without causing conflicts within the storyline, then that localization choice is probably a good thing.

Personally, I have a general rule when I come across things that are unique to Japanese culture in something I’m translating. If I Google the thing in question in romaji and find the correct thing in the first page of results, then I will leave it in, but I will usually add a line or change another line so that I can naturally add an explanation of the thing in question so that even someone who doesn’t feel like Googling it can follow along. But sometimes, that’s impossible, either because it can’t be done without having the character say something extremely unnatural or obviously exposition-y, or because the original reference is so obscure there’s no information on it available in English for fans to even find. This leads me to the fans’ second complaint.

The other complaint that I found a bit odd in this rant was about the use of memes in the translation which were most certainly not in the original due to their nature as Memes Invented By Native English Speakers. As I haven’t played the game in question I can’t say this for sure, but I would not be surprised if the translator was merely substituting a Japanese meme that would be completely over most Western players’ heads with a meme they would actually understand and enjoy. I think memes fall under the same category as jokes; some jokes just don’t translate, and even when they do, they might require too much background knowledge to enjoy. Take this joke based on Chinese characters, for example:

木 means “tree.” Put two of them together and you get 林 meaning “woods.” Put three of them together and you get 森, “forest.” So what do you get when you put 6 trees together?

The first time someone told me this joke, I answered hesitantly, “Mori mori?” thinking 森森 but pretty sure that wasn’t really a thing. I also tried saying “Big forest,” thinking 大森, but that was also incorrect.

The answer is 六本木. *Rim shot*

Enjoying this joke requires that the listener know all the kanji involved and at least the place name Roppongi and the fact that it literally means “six trees”. Looking at the Western audience overall, how many people would get that?

If the original game made people laugh at a certain point, the translated game should make them laugh at that point too. That point is therefore not where you want to throw in a mini-lesson on kanji and Japanese place names. But at least that’s a fairly simple joke, and you could probably find it online in English. (Although Googling “What do you get when you put six trees together” didn’t yield results related to this joke, and I personally don’t like making people have to dig too far to get what their fun game is trying to do, namely make them laugh.)

A more obscure example: I once came across a line about putting tacks into someone’s pointe shoes as a prank. At first I thought it was a reference to something from the movie Black Swan. It apparently wasn’t. Then I thought it was a reference to ballet in general. I knew a professional ballerina once; she told me the world of ballet was absolutely ruthless. But after more digging, I found that the reference originated with a 1970’s drama called Akai Kutsu. But when you Google that in romaji, not only do you not get info about the drama, you get information about the nursery rhyme of the same name which is about a Japanese girl getting abducted by a foreigner and taken away from Japan. WTF?

But anyway, at that point I’d gone on probably a 30-minute exploratory tangent, and finding the info I found required fluency in Japanese. So I did the kind thing, and changed “tacks in pointe shoes” to “itching powder in underwear.” Both are old pranks. Had I left it as “tacks in pointe shoes,” the average English-speaker probably would have been confused about why a character who never mentioned ballet before suddenly had pointe shoes. But for a Japanese person, “tacks in pointe shoes” is understood as “an example of a mean prank.” Younger Japanese may not know the origin of the phrase, but they know the meaning because it’s just a part of pop culture now.

Sometimes translators make mistakes, and the editors don’t always catch every typo or mistake in what the translator wrote. But when people start virulently complaining about things like these, I wish they would take other fans into account. Just because you know what X thing from Japanese culture is doesn’t mean that others do too. Also, I wish people, especially people who aren’t bilingual, wouldn’t be so quick to get paranoid and assume the translator is cheating them somehow. That’s something that I also experienced a lot when I was working in a school, interpreting between Spanish and English. People have all sorts of misconceptions about languages and translation and they get angry at the interpreter/translator when what they deliver doesn’t match their personal misconceptions. (No, it doesn’t take twice as long to say the same thing in Spanish as it does in English. That might happen sometimes but it’s not a rule at all.)

Side note: So I was watching Jeopardy tonight and one of the clues was something like “This emperor had to renounce his divinity in 1946.” The reigning champion rings in and says “Who is Mao?” The correct answer was “Who is Hirohito?” Right when I was talking about people often confusing Japan for China!

Sarcastic Sasazuka

I entered the Sasazuka Elise contest just to put my point out there. Given how sarcastic (and poorly drawn) it is I have no hopes of winning, but if nothing else, I’m amused. I think this is the funniest use of the blur tool I’ve ever thought up. I hope they don’t disqualify it off the bat since YouTube displays it initially as being 31 seconds long, but it’s only 30. Transcription and translations below. The part in brackets is the text I wrote in the video but didn’t speak.


I’m Elise Sasazuka, GACKT’s childhood friend. But, I’m hiding a terrible secret. It’s my fault GACKT’s parents died. I spoke to them, and their heads exploded. At that time, GACKT was a normal, cheerful boy. But when he came upon that bloody scene, he plunged into a world of darkness. [By the way, it’s also my fault that Saya’s in a wheelchair now. I used chopsticks in front of her, and the shock was so great, her legs broke.] I’ll study Japanese more so that this tragedy may never again be repeated!

Yo soy Elise Sasazuka, amiga de GACKT desde nuestra niñes. Pero tengo un secreto terrible. Es mi culpa que murieron los padres de GACKT. Sus cabezas explotaron cuando yo les hable. En esos tiempos, GACKT era un muchacho normal y alegre. Pero cuando el llegó y se dio cuenta de lo que habia pasado, el cayó en un mundo muy, muy oscuro. [Por sierto, tambien es mi culpa que Saya quedo en silla de ruedas. Comí con palillos enfrente de ella, y se le quebraron las piernas del susto.] Voy a echarle ganas a mis estudios de japones para que esta tragedia no se repita!

Since I was limited to 30 seconds and I didn’t want to have too much text saying one thing while I spoke another, I left out that TAKUMI developed thyroid problems from the shock of seeing Elise either go into a Japanese home and take her shoes off without being told, eat and enjoy natto, or offer him a snack in really respectful language (like「巧様、お気に召すかどうか知りませんが、差し入れでございます」or something—you can really blow some minds if you use お気に召す instead of つまらないものですが, BTW) I hadn’t decided which “foreigners don’t ___” thing to play with.

What GACKT Listens To

On April 27th, GACKT appeared on a radio show called “Love for Japan ~Kizashi~”. On this show, the host, NASU Eriko, invites various celebrities to share the music that they like. At present, you can find a recording of GACKT’s appearance on YouTube. As the uploader warns, it may be taken down soon, so listen to it while the listening’s good.

I always find it interesting to hear musicians talk about other musicians’ songs, and since some of what GACKT said on this appearance was totally new for me, I figured I’d go ahead and translate it. Now, GACKT did have a cold, and he was speaking ad lib, so there are parts where he changes his train of thought mid-sentence, and parts that I couldn’t catch at all, but I could catch enough of it to justify sharing, methinks. Where I wasn’t sure about something I wrote it in brackets [ ], and if I couldn’t catch something at all, I wrote [???]. I only translated what GACKT said.

The citation numbers are linked to the footnotes at the bottom of the page, and you can click on the arrow (↩) at the end of each footnote to jump back to that point in the text.

Good evening, this is Gackt. Today I want to present songs on the theme of “Opening a Path to the Future.” The songs I chose today…well, I don’t listen to Japanese music much but, specially for this occasion, I thought up some songs I do particularly like, and want to share them with you. Please look forward to my selections.

(Explanation of where the program is broadcast, and its aims to send positive energy out all over the country with good music.)

Good evening again, Gackt here. This program is broadcast on NHK Radio, as well as through internet radio, and through various community temporary disaster area radio stations.

Umm…I think there must be many listeners who feel like much time has passed since the disaster. To me it feels like it was just yesterday. Recently, on March 11th, I [went around to see] the various affected areas. Even now, the scars from that disaster remain. There are still many places that need to be fixed up, places that need to be revitalized, and things that we mustn’t forget no matter what. So for this show, I tried to pick not just songs that I liked, but songs that included the kinds of thoughts and feelings necessary to face the future and move forward. The first song I’ll play is, well, it serves as a “self-introduction” too; it’s my newest song. Uhh, sorry about my scratchy voice. I’ve got a cold. Mm. Anyway, please listen to my song, “P.S. I LOVE U.”

(“P.S. I LOVE U” plays.)

And that was “P.S. I LOVE U,” by me, GACKT. On the first listen it probably seems like a terribly sad song, but its concept is that it’s a letter for one’s beloved, to help them open a path to the future, to have them face the future and more forward. Actually, it took eight months to complete this song. I ended up taking eight months. Oh man, really, it was grueling. I was abroad the whole time, right? While I was abroad, traveling between places, all those times I ended up tied up with this song, every day I was just thinking about it. Then we filmed the music video for it, filmed it, edited it, then when I listened to it I was like…hmmmm…nope, do over. Rewrite the song, reshoot the video, do everything again from the beginning. Those are my memories about this song. I still remember how all of the staff members involved, their jaws just dropped. Of course they were shocked! But this piece is very important to me, so I couldn’t possibly put out something I didn’t believe in, right? There was no way around it. And so that’s why after that, it took two more months to redo everything and complete the song, but ultimately I thought, “I’m glad I did it.”

Anyway, let’s move on to the next song. Shall I have you listen to it first? This is ONE OK ROCK with “Wherever You Are.”

(“Wherever You Are” plays.)

And that was “Wherever You Are,” by ONE OK ROCK.

Is there anyone thinking, “Why is GACKT listening to ONE OK ROCK?” Actually, when I was in the band YFC…well, basically, when the 3/11 earthquake happened, YFC’s concept was “what we can do;” the feelings we should convey, we said let’s put out what we’re thinking right now. That’s how this 7-person band started. There was Shinya, the drummer from Luna Sea, and various other members who came together, and we’d put on pretty intense shows. Our youngest member, Takumi, a guitarist, said to me, “Big Brother, do you know the vocalist of ONE OK ROCK?” I said, “No.” That’s how the conversation started.

“Well, his name is Taka. Can I introduce him to you?”

“Sure, yeah. But why?”

“Oh, it’s just that…he’s good.”

Something like that. “Ah, is that right?” I said.

But, the timing was never right, and ultimately I was never introduced to him, but I remembered what Takumi said, and I thought, “What are ONE OK ROCK’s songs like anyway?” So I tried listening to a few of them. Mm, being perfectly honest, there weren’t many songs that I liked, but this one, this “Wherever You Are,” I really liked this one. I said to Takumi, “His voice is really good on this track, isn’t it?” It left a strong impression on me, this song. Yeah.

Anyway, today I’m choosing songs based on the theme “Opening a Path to the Future.” Please stay tuned.

(Program jingle plays.)

This is GACKT, selecting music based on the theme “Opening a Path to the Future.” The next song I’ll play is by a group I love, Dreams Come True. Of course, all of you know this song, right? Well, I think there’s no one my age who doesn’t know it. First let’s listen to it. This is Dreams Come True, with “Mirai Yosouzu II.”

(“Mirai Yosouzu II ” —「未来予想図II」meaning “Rendering of the Future Part Two”— plays.)

That was “Mirai Yosouzu II” by Dreams Come True.

Listening to music like this, you get a feel for those days, don’t you? It feels old, doesn’t it? Like you get thrust back in time. Mm. When you hear the first sound in the song, it does make you wonder, “Ah, did they mess up?” But Miwa-san’s voice is really good, isn’t it? Her singing’s really good.

At that time, I was singing…it was around the time I was in this band…1 when I first heard of Dori Kamu, my girlfriend at the time—I was giving her a ride—she said, “There’s this really good group I want you to listen to.”

“Oh, really? I only listen to Western music, but…”

“No, no, listen to this.”

My first impression of the song was, ah, they’re good. “What band is this?” When she said, “Dori Kamu,” I answered, “Chewing on what? ‘Kamu‘ what?”2

“Dori Kamu.”

“Dori? What’s ‘dori’?”

“What, you don’t know?” she said to me. “It’s ‘Dreams Come True.'”

“Eh? How is that ‘Dori Kamu’?”

“It’s just an abbreviation.”

[???] that didn’t [???] at all. And then when I heard “Mirai Yosouzu II,” I asked innocently, “Two? Is there a three?” I was [???], huh? It’s still good though, isn’t it? This song. Its message is good. The sound is outdated, but I feel like I’d like to hear the song again if it were re-recorded. Mm. My ex-girlfriend really loved this song. Well…moving on…

The next of my favorite songs that I’ll introduce was used as the theme song for a movie. Give it a listen. This is ORANGE RANGE, with “Hana.”

(“Hana” —「花」meaning “flower”— plays.)

And that was ORANGE RANGE with “Hana.” Ahhhh, when you listen to it after [???], [you reevaluate it, don’t you?] But it’s [???].

This band is, like me, originally from Okinawa. They debuted after me. ORANGE RANGE released this song just when I had also released a new song, and when I first heard “Hana,” I thought, “Man, these guys are really [???].” It ticked me off, and I wondered, “Why did this song sell so well?” I thought, “These guys have to try a bit harder,” and [???]. That was my candid impression of the song. I had mixed feelings about the whole thing.3

Then a friend of mine said to me—he calls me waka, “young master,”—he said, “Waka, did you see it?”

“See what?”

“The movie, the movie!”

“What movie?”

“You haven’t seen it?!”

“What are you talking about? What movie?”

He said, “Be With You!”4 and I said,  “Eh, what’s up with that title?!”

Really, that was the conversation we had. [??????]. Anyway, some time passed and I still hadn’t seen this movie, Be With You. Now, I have a big monitor in my car, and I’m in the habit of watching movies in there when I’m on the go, that’s how I watch most movies. Then one day, unexpectedly, Be With You was there among the movies that [had been downloaded]. I was like, oh, this is the one my friend was talking about, so I watched it.

It stars NAKAMURA Shidō-kun, and TAKEUCHI Yūko-chan. When they got married in real life, I thought, “Wow, those two got married?” But that was all I heard about it. Then when I saw this movie, at the very end, what I thought was, [“Is this why you got married?!” That was my reaction.] And the last scene, when the husband is in the garden, full of the sunflowers that his wife loved, and the camera pans up, and we see all those sunflowers blooming, that’s when ORANGE RANGE’s song comes in like, ♪hanabira no~. [“Is that what sells?!?!”] I remember that that’s what I said. I was moved.5 The movie and the song were so overwhelmingly good, that even though when I heard the song by itself I thought nothing of it, hearing this song “Hana” after the movie it seemed so terribly good, and though it had been just a 30-minute trip, I was crying so much I couldn’t get out of my car for 2 hours! Then finally when I got out of the car, I said to everyone on my staff, “You guys…right now…we’re gonna watch Be With You right this instant.” I think everyone must have thought, “What, he doesn’t feel like working?” But actually, of all the Japanese movies in recent years, this one, Be With You, is my number one favorite movie. It hasn’t changed in all this time, though I wish an even greater movie could come along soon.

So, here I am, GACKT, picking out songs based on the theme “Opening a Path to the Future.” More coming up next.

(Program jingle plays.)

GACKT here, playing songs for you about “Opening a Path to the Future.” First, let’s listen to this song, which was a charity single in the Act Against AIDS campaign. This is KUWATA Keisuke & Mr.Children with “Kiseki no Hoshi.”6

(“Kiseki no Hoshi” plays.)

And that was “Kiseki no Hoshi” by KUWATA Keisuke & Mr.Children. This song was used in the 1995 Act Against AIDS campaign.

If I were to be asked, “Do you have any special memories about this song?” I’d have to answer, “Honestly, for this song, not at all.” If instead the question were, “Why did you pick this song as representative of the theme ‘Opening a Path to the Future’?” then I’d have to answer like this: At the time, KUWATA Keisuke-san as well as Mr.Children were putting out really great songs. So I was surprised when I heard that SAKURAI Kazutoshi-kun of Mr.Children would be singing a song with KUWATA Keisuke. Then when the song came out, and I heard Sakurai-kun’s voice, I was like, “Hm, he sounds like Kuwata-san. Wait…is this Kuwata-san? Sakurai-kun? Which is it?” Then when Kuwata-san’s part comes up, I thought, “Wow! Kuwata-san’s really something else!” My first impression of the song was that it was too [???] so I couldn’t tell what they were singing. But both the Japanese and the English, either language was good. As you’d expect from them. I think there aren’t many vocalists like that.

And then there’s…it must’ve been when I was in grade school…I went to a relative’s house in Okinawa, to my aunt’s place. She said to me, “Ahh, Gacchan, you look like that person…that person!”


“A singer! A really really good singer!”

“There’s someone that good? Who? Who is it?”

When she told me, “KUWATA Keisuke,” I wasn’t sure how I should feel about that. Should I have been glad? Sad? And I couldn’t ask what it was about me that was similar to him. Well, now I can say that back then, I should have been glad to be compared to KUWATA Keisuke.

I’ve met him in person a few times, but he doesn’t make conversation much, because he’s shy around strangers.

Well, anyway, I remember that it was quite the surprise that those two wonderful vocalists miraculously came together.

Moving on…this next song is, I think, completely in line with the theme of “Opening a Path to the Future.” Let’s listen to it. This is Yuzu with “Eikō no Kakehashi.”

(“Eikō no Kakehashi“—「栄光の架橋」 meaning “Bridge to Glory”— plays.)

We just heard Yuzu with “Eikō no Kakehashi.” To be honest, I didn’t know this song. I found out about it because of the Olympics. In footage of Olympic athletes getting ready for a match, you always see them with earphones in, listening to music. So I asked friends of mine who were Olympians, “What do you listen to then?” Quite a number of them said they were listening to Yuzu’s “Eikō no Kakehashi.” I was blown away. “Is it that good of a song?” That’s what prompted me to give Yuzu’s “Eikō no Kakehashi” a listen.

Things are tough for Olympic athletes. What’s so difficult about being an Olympian is that, even though they’re taking on the burden of fighting for this country, for Japan, they get told they’re no good if they don’t get a gold medal, or they get told that if they don’t medal, they’re wasting taxpayer money. If an athlete’s [???] is a little bit bad, people say, “What’s up with this person?! [???]!” And then, even when Olympians do win gold medals, it’s not the case that they’re guaranteed a way to make a living. Really, the Japanese Olympic system makes me angry. A gold medal is something that, in that instant, in that sport, only one person in the entire world can get. It’s my frank opinion that there’s far too great a lack of respect for these athletes who stand at the top of the world. Opening a path to the future isn’t just about what you’re given, I think it’s also about realizing that you have to give back just as much as you received. That’s why I’d like to send out a big shout of encouragement, and all my respect, to the Olympic athletes out there who hear this song and fight on even harder; and to those who, despite losing, fight on through the next year, the year after that, and the next, so that four years later, [???], without having given up, they can give it another shot.

Umm, I, GACKT, am picking songs today based on the theme “Opening a Path to the Future.” In the last part of the program, I’d like to play a song by some energetic young ladies. That’s coming up next. Please stay tuned.

(Program jingle plays.)

This is GACKT broadcasting music on the theme “Opening a Path to the Future.” Uh, my voice is really scratchy. But even if your voice is all scratchy like this, on the radio, you have no choice but to speak. I’m reminded of the pain of having to speak even when I had a fever, when I had a cold, or when I’d practically lost my voice, back when I was a regular on-air personality.7 But radio’s nice, isn’t it? This feeling you get talking by yourself. When I think, maybe there’s even just one person listening who would be pleased with this show, then I’m glad to be broadcasting it. Well, I say what I think straight out, so I think there’s also people who are taking offense to what I’m saying. Really. And that’s just fine.

Anyway, I think I’d like to get on with the show.

Recently I finished working on a project I absolutely want all of you to see. It’ll be out on May 3rd. Akumu-chan: The Mu-ovie. “What’s with that title,” you say? The “Mu-ovie” part is yume with o-v-i-e attached to it.8 It’s a good title, isn’t it? I play the role of SHIKI Takashi in this movie. Also, I play Yumeōji, the “dream prince.” It’s a bit of a strange role. The theme of the story as it unfolds is also “Opening a Path to the Future.” Wow, what a coincidence! It’s quite surprising, eh?

Anyway, I think that fans of the drama as well as people seeing these characters for the first time can enjoy this movie. It truly turned out well. There were probably many viewers who complained about the CG graphics in the drama, but with this movie, when the actors in it saw it, we all said, “Wow, if only we’d done it this way from the beginning!” But the producers and directors had this look on their faces like “There’s no way we could’ve done this for a drama!”

Well, I think Akumu-chan The Mu-ovie is a movie that people of all ages can get into, children and their parents. When I started work on the drama, I thought, “Isn’t this a little hard for children to understand?” But I was impressed by how children can pick up on so many things instinctively even if they don’t understand those things expressed with words. When the main story finished, children and their parents talked about the drama, and contrary to what you’d expect, it turned out that the children had understood pretty much all of it.9 I thought that was a very interesting part of this drama. The bonds between parents and children—bonds that, in Japan, have grown weak—I think it would be great if this movie creates an opportunity to strengthen those bonds. You really don’t see many parents and children going to the movies together these days. Back in the day, it was common for them to go to the movies together.

Back when I first moved out to Tokyo, I went to a movie theater. All through the night, I couldn’t fall asleep, so I went driving around in my car. This young man Gackt kept driving all through the morning, and then headed to a movie theater in Shibuya. I parked my car there, and barely glanced at the titles, just thinking “I’ll go to whatever’s playing right now,” and went in. The movie started and I sat down. I had barely been sitting for a minute when I was startled by a loud thud against the back of my chair. I thought “What was that?!” and spun around to look behind me, and the children who were sitting there said, “We can’t see.” That’s it. I was thinking “Huh?! The hell?!” but I couldn’t get angry in the theater, so I figured I’d just put up with it. But then they kicked the chair two, three more times, saying ,”We said, we can’t see.” I looked over at their mother, who was sitting next to them, but she wouldn’t look my way at all. So that whole time, until the movie finished, I sat slumped all the way down in my seat. When it ended, before leaving, I said to the mother, “If your kids do that again next time, I’m gonna teach them a lesson!” Then I went home. Mm.

Well, ever since then I hardly ever go to the movie theater, because the incident left me with pedophobia. So, all you youngsters who go see this movie, absolutely do not kick the seat in front of you, you hear? Otherwise more adults will become afraid of children. We don’t need a second victim like that young Gackt. I want people to love the movie [without such incidents]. Movie theaters are going out of business one after another these days. Because they have to cut back. Really, everyone please go to the movies! Let’s build the future together.

And so, let’s listen to this movie’s theme song. This is Momoiro Clover Z—what an incredible name, huh?—with “Naite mo Iin Da Yo.”10 Give it a listen.

(“Naite mo Iin Da Yo” plays.)

That was Momoiro Clover Z with “Naite mo Iin Da Yo.” What a fantastic piece of music, huh? I’ll refrain from making any comments. So, the last song I’ll play is “Tomorrow Never Knows” by Mr.Children.

(“Tomorrow Never Knows” plays.)

That was Mr.Children with “Tomorrow Never Knows.” It’s a good song, isn’t it? Truly. When I hear this song, I flash back to those days. And yet, this song doesn’t feel old, so that’s good too. “Good songs” are good no matter when you listen to them, right? It’s mysterious. This song’s concept is good too. “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Meaning, “no one knows what tomorrow will bring,” “no one can know the future.” That’s exactly right. No one knows the future. It’s impossible for anyone to know it. But, each person creates their own future. The things you do now, what you do from this point on, those things create your future. Those of you who think of putting off till tomorrow what you could do today, realize that tomorrow will become a better day if you take action now, this instant. If you can smile today, you will be able to smile even more wonderfully tomorrow. I may not look it, but even I can give a hearty laugh. With a smile. Because I tried my best and practiced. I used to be told, “you’re scary-looking!” So I practiced a lot, I practiced laughing in front of a mirror. The scariest thing about that was the reflection of my own face in that instant.11 Even so, such experiences came to happen less, and I became able to smile much better than before. Isn’t that great? It’s so different from when I was in a band12—my smile, that is—that I hardly recognize it. It’s all big and sparkly.

And so, I, GACKT, chose music today based on the theme “Opening a Path to the Future.” How was it? It had been a while since I did a radio show…mmmm. Radio’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s nice. Anyway, your host tonight was me, GACKT. Thank you.


1. Not sure about the chronology here. The song GACKT introduced here, “Mirai Yosouzu II,” appeared on Dreams Come True’s 2nd album, released in 1989. The song called “Mirai Yosouzu” was originally on Dreams Come True’s 4th album MILLION KISSES, released in 1991. According to the Japanese Wikipedia, both songs were written by the lead vocalist, YOSHIDA Miwa, when she was in high school; however, she wrote “Mirai Yosouzu” first, so even though it was released after “Mirai Yosouzu II,” it is the first “Mirai Yosouzu.”  (That said…the Japanese Wikipedia, on May 4th when I checked it, does not list the release dates for the albums consistently across all DCT-related pages. ^_^;;;) Since GACKT would’ve only been 16 years old (and therefore probably not driving and…not yet in a band?) when “Mirai Yosouzu II” came out, I wonder if the song the ex played for him was 1991’s “Mirai Yosouzu.”

2. GACKT says 「何かむ?」(nani wo kamu?) which shows that he mistook “kamu” to be a Japanese verb. Since I’m working off audio I can’t know whether GACKT was thinking of the kamu meaning “to chew” or “to blow (one’s nose)” so I just picked “to chew”.

3. “Hana” was released in October of 2004 and topped the Oricon charts; meanwhile, GACKT’s “Kimi ni Aitakute,” released about a week after “Hana,” peaked at #2, and fell off the charts long before “Hana” did.

4. The original Japanese title of this movie is 「いま、会いにゆきます」(Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu, meaning literally “I will go to meet you now”).

5. I’m a bit confused by this section, because GACKT sounds angry when he says 「それ結婚するわ?!」and 「それ売れるわ?!」but then he says he was moved. I don’t know if that’s a part of the “mixed feelings” he’d mentioned earlier, or if I’m just misinterpreting his tone of voice. Also, since I’m assuming he’s kinda angry, I’m not sure if he’s saying 感動 (being moved) or 反動 (one’s reaction) after the comment about Nakamura & Takeuchi’s having gotten married…especially since they did get divorced shortly after.

6. The song title is written 「奇跡の地球」(Kiseki no Chikyū) but pronounced “Kiseki no Hoshi.” Chikyū means “Earth” and hoshi usually means “star,” but it is often used artistically to mean “planet.” Well, in English, too, the planets used to be called “wandering stars.” Anyway, the title means “Miracle Planet.”

7. I assume he’s referring to his time on the radio show All Night Nippon, for which he was a regular on-air personality beginning in 2002. This comes up in The Air Moon, the translation of which I’m slowly posting to my portfolio blog, Warped Frost.

8. Chinese characters (kanji) used in Japanese usually have at least 2 pronunciations, or “readings.” The kanji for “dream” is 夢 , which is pronounced as yume by itself, and as mu in compounds, such as akumu: 悪夢 “bad dream, nightmare.” So, “the 夢ovie” gets pronounced as “the movie.”

9. GACKT doesn’t say when, where, or why these parent-child discussions happened. Maybe it was a focus group the TV network did.

10. Momoiro Clover means “Pink Clover.” The letter “Z” was added when the group’s line-up changed. I don’t know if this is the case for the average person (Japanese or otherwise), but I always think of the mecha anime Mazinger Z when I hear “Momoiro Clover Z.” Ahaha…anyway, the song title, 「泣いてもいいんだよ」 (naite mo iin da yo) means “it’s okay to cry.”

11. I don’t know if GACKT means his usual face was scary, or his face practicing smiling was scary. I imagine it’s the latter, because I can’t smile on command so I tried practicing (e.g. in preparation for picture day) and all I managed to do was twist my face into a rather disconcerting arrangement. orz

12. I assume he means his MALICE MIZER days, as by YFC he had already been smiling quite broadly.

The GACKT Way of Life

After translating the episodes GACKT shared as time trials, I’ve tried doing something much, much longer, and gave myself one week to do it. I picked an old GACKT interview from the November 2012 issue of Rock and Read, since it’s what I have around and…I hadn’t actually read it before, despite having bought the magazine when it came out. Whoops.

The majority of what he says in this interview is stuff he’s already said a few times in other interviews, both on paper and on TV, so maybe it’s not that interesting a read for people who stay on top of GACKT’s activities, but for what it’s worth, I put it on my (ad-free, I’m paying for it so I’m not making money off this, #disclaimer) other blog:

The GACKT Way of Life.