Cute song

These Japanese schoolgirls hate nuclear power with cute song

If you’ve played a Japanese video game, watched an anime, or read a manga, you’ve seen them: school girls. Idols, in particular, are the lightest and mellow part of the spectrum. They represent the fantasies of their fans.

Not the Seifuku Kojo Iinkai (School Uniform Improvement Committee) idol collective, or SKi. These girls are standing up against nuclear power. This summer, Japanese pop music, so often devoid of political sense, saw one of the most cheeky protest songs from a group of unlikely singers: Schoolgirl Idols.

At March 11, everything has changed in Japan. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook the nation. Within minutes, a tsunami ravaged the coast, destroying lives and, in many cases, ending it. It was the worst earthquake in Japanese history and the biggest challenge the country has faced since the war.

The ensuing Fukushima disaster exacerbated the nightmare. In the days and weeks that followed, the outcry over the use of nuclear power grew louder and louder.

Even the family-friendly Studio Ghibli, the studio behind classics like Kiki’s delivery service, publicly expressed his opposition to nuclear power, a courageous move given its rumor on the blacklist. the Grave of the Fireflies and iPad masturbation remarks aside, Studio Ghibli doesn’t seem to want to push any agenda other than that kids should play outside and use their imaginations.

Likewise, schoolgirls and Japanese pop culture tropes are a blank slate. I’m not saying that real schoolgirls are, but their iconography, namely their uniform. This is one of the things I explored in my book Japanese schoolgirl Confidential, which was edited and laid out by the designer of The madness of the arcades, Andrew lee. Schoolgirls exist in a myriad of embodiments across popular culture, from cute and cool to tough and scary. The uniform itself is used both as an identifying marker and as a point of contrast. One of the things that made Gogo Yubari by Chiaki Kuriyama character in Kill bill so memorable was that she was a deadly assassin in a schoolgirl uniform. The same dynamic is at play here.

This contrast is what makes the protest song SKi, “Free From Nuclear Power Plant”, so effective. Even for an idol song it’s not very good, and girls are not good singers – I say this as someone who has great tolerance and even great appreciation for this type of music. – and that’s exactly why this song works. Instead of singing about getting together after class or being happy or no matter, these girls sing about meltdowns and microsieverts. It is alarming.

The uniform itself is used both as an identifying marker and as a point of contrast.

Idols usually don’t write their own music. They don’t write their words. They are the spokespersons of their producers, managers and lyricists. Here, their being alone makes the message even more powerful.

During the summer a the controversy broke out on this song. The group said they were banned from performing at the Fuji Rock Festival because the sponsors gave in to the idea of ​​an anti-nuclear song. Japan, with its history of nuclear destruction, depends on nuclear energy to power its cities and factories. From a production point of view, many companies have a vested interest in nuclear power, because without it they cannot operate.

SKi, which doesn’t see itself as a band but as a family, has never been officially announced for Fuji Rock. SKi has been around since 1992, producing “pure idols” with the exception of the occasional member who went on to star in hardcore porn. He never quite reached the heights that other groups of schoolgirls love Morning museum Where AKB48 have. As SKi was never officially announced for Fuji Rock, some have wondered if this was not a publicity stunt. Apparently the girls weren’t announced as they were meant to be special guests.

Several SKi members marched during an anti-nuclear demonstration Tokyo at the end of July. The group also held live events to protest nuclear power.

There does not appear to be a “ban” on anti-nuclear songs at Fuji Rock per se, as the show allowed one of the Kiyoshiro ImawanoThe anti-nuke songs will be performed in 2009. It was before March 11th. Before everything changed, when idols just sang for nothing.

Watch the video for the protest song in the gallery above.

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(Top photo: SKi | Japan Idol Records)

You can contact Brian Ashcraft, the author of this article, at [email protected]. You can also find it on Twitter, Facebook, and prowling around our #tips page.

Promote a song and protest at the same time.