You know World Order. They’re the ones wearing suits and ties while performing that strange choreography. Maybe you saw them in some “weird Japan” slanted story. Most likely you thought World Order knew maybe two or three moves (including a mean robot), and then they did something that blew you away.
World Order’s beginnings date back to 2009 when mixed martial artist Genki Sudo launched the group, working simultaneously on the group’s music, lyrics, and concept. Often viewed as a critique of salarymen in Tokyo, World Order’s business suited looks and tight choreography definitely say something about working world and its order. Their promotional videos frequently show confused and astounded passers-by, and worldwide watchers are awed with the group’s impressive synchronization and extreme body control.
On July 24, World Order came to San Francisco to perform in the shadow of the Golden Gate for the first time. Because J-Pop Summit is a fan-oriented festival, World Order participated in an open “Question and Answer” session and two “Meet and Greet” with photography sessions in addition to Sunday’s live performance. So this weekend, the seemingly inaccessible group were very accessible to their fans, longtime and newfound fans alike.
During their Q&A session, World Order intimated they rehearse their routines for months to perfect their choreography. This extremely long prep time from conception to performance is quite unusual, perhaps signalling the dedication of the members of Wold Order. The group was also asked whether they were filming a new video in San Francisco, which they flatly denied.
Genki Sudo retired from performing with the group in 2015 to focus on producing and directing. So when the lights dimmed and the music started the audience at J-Pop Summit were treated to a surprise as the World Order founder performed “World Order” and “Machine Civilization” with his group. Speaking of their onstage performances, World Order’s display is dissimilar from many that this author normally views. The focus rests squarely on the choreography and the execution of said choreography. Frankly, I could not believe some the maneuvers of which World Order were capable.
While most idol performances are likewise choreographed, most idols put a premium on crowd interactivity. In contrast, World Order’s focus on choreography lends itself more toward a “watch and be amazed” performance. This is not a knock against the group: you will be amazed by the performance of the members. Movements properly described as “robotic” range from slowly body motions to jerky actions with the characteristic stops of the cybernetic world. Most impressively, World Order cascade their movements like a wave from one automaton to the other until each part moves uniquely yet completely in sync. In World Order, the magic comes in millimeters and angles.
When we started, we compared World Order to robots. This comparison is not undeserved with the group’s underlying message that the salaryman lifestyle converts its necktied participants into cogs of the corporations. But, I feel as though something other than mechanization is at work with World Order. Although the corporate machine clearly dehumanizes its well-intentioned associates, the oiled machine exists not without beauty. I’m reminded of the dozens of times I’ve replayed Pythagora switches, Rube Goldberg machines, and “Satisfying” videos. World Order exist on a plane where man becomes machine, and machine becomes art.