A year ago, Me! Me! Me!, the creation of TeddyLoid and daoko, was debuted in the third episode of Japan Animator Expo, a weekly series of original animation – specifically focusing on web media. A collaboration between the producer/DJ and hip hop artist, it became a viral sensation in the anime community due to its shock value and controversial content. Because of its success, an extended remixed version was released during the 20th episode in May 2015. On the 11th of September, daoko’s work returned to Animator Expo for the third time.
GIRL tells the tale of a young woman with magical powers. Like the video for Me! Me! Me!, a significant portion of the plot is open to interpretation, but the first half shows her creating a fantastical world using only a bubble wand. Then everything falls apart around her, launching her into somewhere which almost mirrors reality. She works her magic, destroying everything, changing it into a world more like her own. The girls around her all turn into flowers, except for one. In the midst of the transformation, a single couple remain unchanged – the characters which are recognisable from Me! Me! Me!. Because of this, GIRL is widely considered to be a prequel, the protagonist potentially being the same blue haired girl from the first video.
Various interpretations have flooded the internet over the last two weeks, but the most logical seems to be that this is a journey of self-discovery. Whereas Me! Me! Me! can be considered to be about male fetishisation of women, and how females are perceived by men, GIRL is almost the opposite. This is the story of a girl learning what it means to be a woman, growing up too fast as she is thrust into a new world of adulthood. This is reflected in her clothes, as she goes from a school uniform into an outfit that can only be described as glorified underwear.
The middle section sees the protagonist as vulnerable, not quite a woman, but not quite a girl either, especially with the sexual content which could be interpreted as her losing her virginity. The male figure in the horizon is shown as a white knight, complete with a unicorn as his steed, but this perfection completely falls to pieces, indicating that he betrayed her and her idealism was shattered. Even the lyrics seem to suggest this. In the first song, Samishii Kami-sama, daoko sings “How many of this feeling of love, Have you been sending towards this world? Its shadow sounds like a lie, Just like a masquerade ball” (translation by foregroundnoises)
The second song, Yume Miteta no Atashi, it seems to imply that she is trying to find love again, believing that it would make her “sparkle like everyone else” (source). Her dream is unfulfilled, and her heart is broken, leading her to see the world negatively, saying “There’s nothing but things that aren’t enough” (source). She reverts back to her vulnerable state, devastated. The end of the video sees her exposed, both physically and emotionally, and a figure stands over her, causing her to smile.
The music video was created by Studio Khara (also written as χαρα), most famous for animating the Rebuild of Evangelion film series, having been founded by Hideaki Anno himself when he left Gainax. They also worked with daoko and Teddyloid on Me! Me! Me!, which references the studio by incorporating figures of Evangelion’s Rei, Asuka, Mari, Misato and Maya into the otaku’s bedroom. There are no Eva references in GIRL, but it does directly link to Me! Me! Me!, including the same characters.
As expected from Khara, the art style is reminiscent of their past projects. Understandably, the quality isn’t as good as that of Evangelion, but this would be due to the online format. This type of content doesn’t need the same meticulous detail as a large screen cinema release, but the visuals are still stunning. The backgrounds are almost watercolour, and while the animated parts are more simplistic than the first music video, the art style shines through, every movement looking extremely fluid.
Each frame flows together, even in the case of improbable jiggle physics. After how controversial the first video was in terms of sexualisation, it makes sense that they had the same level of fanservice this time around. The Me! Me! Me! reception was the reason for its viral popularity, so relying on the same shock value is a good tactic. It also means that GIRL fits in aesthetically with both Me! Me! Me! and the Chronic Remix. However, while the other two had a balance of light and dark, GIRL uses mostly pastels. These softer colours make the entire video seem more feminine, hence why the same colour scheme is used in nearly every shoujo anime.
And it’s not just the colours that are more subdued.
Now that daoko isn’t collaborating with TeddyLoid on the two tracks in the video, there’s more of a focus on her vocals. The songs are still electronic, but without his contribution, they’re more deconstructed which perfectly encapsulates the feeling of vulnerability.
Despite the recent rise of EDM and dubstep in Japan, it has still not achieved the same popularity as in Western countries (particularly in Britain – the genre’s home country). But it is growing faster than anywhere else (source) and the positive reactions to the music of Me! Me! Me! are proof of that. Even though dubstep worked last time, the tonal change in the musical content was necessary to capture the right emotions of GIRL.
It would definitely help to have knowledge of Japanese before watching, as the lyrics are important in understanding the plot, just like in Vocaloid series MekakuCity Actors. I have yet to see a subtitled version, because I watched it directly from the Animator Expo website, then I looked up the translation and rewatched, but I don’t doubt that one exists online.
This video is a lot more enjoyable if you watch it with an open mind, and don’t just dismiss it as seven minutes of nonsense. But it also works as mindless escapism, where you can just experience the fictional world as it is. It all depends on your personal viewing preferences. For those not looking to find deeper meaning, the music and visuals compensate for the lack of a solid plot, but for those who are, there’s plenty of opportunity for it.