Continuing my look at Tokyo Girls’ Style is “Partition Love”. This single actually shook me up a bit and told me to start paying attention to the group again. Hopefully by now, it’s obvious that I’m trying to get all of these singles reviewed by the time Tokyo Girls’ Style perform at J Pop Summit in San Francisco this weekend. If you are in the area, come and see them! It will be free, and they are guaranteed to be great!
Koide Yusuke from the band Base Ball Bear wrote and composed “Partition Love”. Koide does not stray too far from the musical style of the group, nor does he forsake the musical motif heard in many of Tokyo Girls’ Style’s releases. In a nicely conceived verse, short one-measure phrases play a strictly regulated rhythm against a palm-muted guitar. The combination of rhythms convincingly mimics the heartbeat and labored words of an infatuated young girl. The composition really comes alive in the chorus where Koide writes wonderfully long melodic lines punctuated with the unsettling “Nee, Sensei” line. It’s a real joy to have a song where the melodies are stretched to their limit. “Partition Love’s” chorus works especially well when contrasted with the terseness verses. I think the song feels like the protracted, hurried ramblings of young love finally composing itself into a rehearsed and lyrical confession.
One of the criticisms or complaints that I hear often about Tokyo Girls’ Style is, “They’re so young! I feel weird watching them.” But, you see, that’s the point! They look young because the ARE young. They’re young and talented, but not plastic dolls. Do you want to play your fantasies with idols? Fine. TGS holds a mirror to our faces and dares us to sexualize them. But, they’re not going to pretend that they are any older than they really are.
With “Partition Love,” Tokyo Girls’Style keeps the awkward feelings coming with a narrative PV (we love those, right?) about schoolgirls crushing on their young teacher. The subject of the PV makes viewers uneasy.
We probably should feel a little creeped or by the premise. Or, should we? The story isn’t revolutionary: (1) Arai Hitomi and pals meet the new teacher, (2) Arai becomes smitten and clears out her rival (Konishi Ayano), and (3) Arai writes a love letter to her teacher and arrives unexpectedly at his house on a rainy night. Really, it’s a milquetoast story. It’s the stuff off either high school confidential (or the first column of a dear Playboy story). What interests to me is the story bears similarities to the relationship between wota and idol since any level of intimacy between the two is taboo. This time, however, the teacher plays the role if the idol, and the girls are the adoring fans.
Taking a break from the narrative of the PV, the girls give good face on the solo close ups! Look at all the angst!
Yuri and Mei do a great job of holding up the melodies
Miyu isn’t given much to do in this PV. She’s still a cutie.
Look at that pout!
Grrrl, you got problems.
The last things we hear (but don’t see) are the words “Arai” and then “Nee, Sensei”. Clearly the next words that need to be said are, “I’m calling you a taxi. Wait right there.”
So does the story bother you because of the age gap between the teacher and the student? Or, does the broken sanctity of the student/teacher relationship bother you? Maybe the age of the students bother you more? Or, maybe you can’t dissociate the idols from the roles they are playing? Or maybe, just maybe, the relationship bears too many similarities to the idol/wota relationship for comfort? Whichever way you choose to look at it, “Partition Love” examines and forces a dialogue about forbidden love.
You can buy Tokyo Girls’ Style “Partition Love” at CD Japan