daoko – GIRL | an analysis pt. 1

Recently I watched the unexpected “sequel” to the infamous anime music video “ME!ME!ME!” (TeddyLoid feat. daoko) and was blown away. In my opinion, GIRL completely blows ME!ME!ME! out of the park in terms of imagery and symbolism — there’s just so much chaos going on in GIRL that makes it a joy for me to pick apart. Of course everything I’m going to write in the rest of this post is just subjective, but hopefully it makes an interesting read for people who are interested in the meaning behind the video.

First impressions — the video itself is gorgeous. So much color and vibrancy and psychedelic sparkle. I want to screenshot every frame of this video and make it my desktop wallpaper. A lot of people are saying the girl in question — long, straight, turquoise hair with bangs — is supposed to be the demon minion chick from ME!ME!ME! but it doesn’t really make much sense to me plus there are a few distinct design differences (the sharp cat-eye, for one) and not enough parallels drawn to the original to make me think this is convincing. She seems to be modeled after daoko, instead.

I’m just going to state my theory here — this music video is about enjo kousai (援助交際). The protagonist is lonely and suffers from low self-esteem, some common traits of girls who participate in enkou. She seeks refuge from loneliness by entering a fantasy world of her own creation, attempting to make the things she does for companionship and validation beautiful in hopes of disguising what they really are and how she really feels about them.

boat1

Anyway, the video opens with the protagonist clad in school uniform on a beached boat, the shape of which is notable (you might probably already know what it is) and will be discussed later. Cue some cut-ins of her singing with her appearance changed to that of a sexualized magical girl, the buns on her head echoing that of the world-renowned Sailor Moon. This is a hint to what is to come — magical girls don’t exist in real life, they’re a fantasy, which is one of the main themes of this video. The lyrics here reinforce this:

触れたら崩壊 仮想の世界
an imaginary world that breaks apart if touched
何度も創りなおして
again and again (i) rebuild itmagicalgirl

The “upgraded” magical girl here is surrounded by items typically associated with femininity — makeup, a mirror, high heels. Men who participate in enkou often give expensive gifts of makeup, perfume etc. to the girls they date. It’s of note that many magical girl anime/manga series weaponize these feminine items, maybe because they’re also a source of empowerment for many women. After all, Sailor Moon’s henshin phrase is “Moon Prism Power, Make Up!” Speaking of moons, the moon is referenced in the lyrics as well as visually in the video, also a symbol of femininity. Her new costume is a skimpy, pastel-colored ensemble, with frilly long socks and ribbons in her hair. There’s an element of childishness to her design, coupled with the swirling galaxies in the background, yet she is very evidently hypersexualized, slim and fairy-like but with ample assets. This juxtaposition of innocence and sexuality links to enjo kousai — many girls who participate in this are schoolgirls and are introduced to sex at a young age. It’s a corruption of sorts that leads to confusion, the problem of being forced to mature too fast which results in… well, in many cases, personality issues and mental health problems such as depression.

apple

The girl is followed by an eyeless cat, a reference to the token magical girl animal sidekick. Its blindness seems to reference the protagonist’s “blindness” as she creates her fantasy/delusion. She bites off a piece of an apple — she was surrounded by many in her boat — but doesn’t ingest it, it instead falls to the floor and erupts. The apple was the forbidden fruit of Eden, symbolizing knowledge and truth. Her refusal to ingest it is a method of denial, choosing her fantasy world over real life.

bubble

Her weapon of choice here is a star-shaped bubble wand. The first structure spawns by bubbling up from the ground and bursting — she later creates more fantastical buildings by blowing into her wand. This emphasizes the fragile nature of her fantasy — bubbles break as soon as they’re touched. There’s some flower imagery here with blooms and petals floating around the screen. On this note, flowers are basically the sexual organs of plants (disclaimer: I am not a botanist) and denote fertility. Flowers, especially white, are also a symbol of virginity.

wonderlandThe world she creates is a psychedelic rainbow wonderland. Note the flowers in the foreground — the tips of the stamen are apples. Also they’re kind of phallic in nature. I’m not a hundred percent sure what this symbolizes, possibly just more sexual imagery or the idea that truth is “blooming” directly in front of her, struggling to be seen, yet she chooses not to notice.humanStill dissatisfied with the world she has created, she forcefully sticks her wand into the ground and spawns a somewhat grotesque vaguely humanlike blob. It is incomplete and immobile, a failed imitation.
princeShe looks into the distance while leaning on her creation and fantasizes of the typical Prince Charming — all in white with a pure white unicorn to boot. This fairytale-like, childish fantasy is further indicative of her state of mind. The protagonist is still a little girl on the inside. The image of Prince Charming warps like a mirage, and soon fades away.breakThis results in the disintegration of everything the girl has created thus far, probably hinting at her realization that none of this is real. This is followed by non-explicit shots of her masturbating/making sexual expressions that indicate an orgasm. Her creation of her own fantasy world is “masturbatory” in a sense, as the act of masturbation is self-serving and also reliant on fantasy. Her orgasm is the trigger that ends the first half of the song and video. After a brief period of ecstasy, everything she has made abruptly crumbles and she is forced to return to real life.

boat2

She reappears on the same boat, which as you can clearly see is supposed to look like labia/a vagina. She is no longer floating on opaque sand but on crystal clear water, representative of her state of mind pre- and post-climax respectively. What lies below the water is a city, not the fantastical organic buildings she had dreamt up but, in stark contrast, boring, industrial, harshly geometrical skyscrapers and towers.

boat3

She pensively stands on the edge of the boat to the lyrics of part two of the song — and I’ll end my analysis here because I’m completely tired out just by overthinking the first half of the video. There’s so many things to analyze it’s driving me crazy, yet I can’t help but do it, maybe because I’ve dabbled in both literature and film studies.

A lot of people find GIRL and ME!ME!ME! objectionable as “art” due to their sexual content but frankly I don’t see why that’s even a valid reason to reject these music videos as art. There is clearly a coherent plot and plenty of symbolism and imagery that was definitely added in on purpose. Analyzing GIRL has been an absolute joy both visually and aurally.

(But I’m still tired and going to end this post here. Stay tuned for part 2.)

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14 thoughts on “daoko – GIRL | an analysis pt. 1

  1. Wow, I didn`t even notice any of that material, Thanks Yeo Niki.

    For one, you noted. Yes, definitely great, I mean amazing animation. Vibrant & lovely.

    I Did notice that in both seem to focus heavily on sexual-content. “Me
    !Me!Me!” had the incorporation of a pornographic message. This one as you Yeo Niki, have broken down is about Enkou. I never knew what that sub-culture was about until you had brought it up, thanks again Yeo.

    It all makes sense, now! You`re a great analyzer. Yeo!

    Chrissy.C Of https://saechaocirculation.wordpress.com/

    Like

    1. Thanks for the positive comments =) Yes, I think the link between ME!ME!ME! and GIRL here is the theme of delusion and rejection of the real world — like how the protagonist in ME!ME!ME! breaks up with his real girlfriend to chase an ideal brought about by his addiction to porn (fantasy), the protagonist in GIRL masks her loneliness by pretending that what she does is joyous and whimsical when it is quite the opposite.

      I didn’t mention this in the post, but what really hinted “enkou” to me was the second half where all the people in the city are either schoolgirls or salarymen staring at their phones, the main method of communication between enkou participants.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, you’re right. About both.

        So “Daoko” seems to take place before “Me” then, huh? And nice note about the people.

        Like

      2. Yeah, they seem to like to touch upon some damage that`s occuring in Japan, that no one else is speaking up about.

        Good job, Yeo. On spotting out all that in “Daoko” I was confused, as hell! I`ll tell my brother about what I learned today. Thanks, Yeo!

        Chrissy.C Of https://saechaocirculation.wordpress.com/

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  2. Hey,

    I did myself an analysis of the animation friday (but in french \o/).
    I’m pretty surprised to see at least one dude sharing my opinion.

    I’ve wrote the same things as you, without some cultural references that you mentioned.

    So, yeah, i totally agree with your analysis. Except for the part about the cosmetics where i understood it as an hidden reference to the “girl obligations” in modern society without the gift or trophy meaning.

    Keep going, it was really more difficult for me to analyse the part 2 (probably where the fags misunderstood the Girl character with the “concept” from MeMeMe.

    Like

    1. Great to see that I’m not the only one who thinks this way! I agree with you that the cosmetics are also a reference to how women/girls are obligated to present themselves, with a focus on appearance and beauty. It’s also relevant to enkou, I think, because schoolgirls who do participate in it may find themselves using cosmetics at a comparatively younger age to appeal to their partners. Also, cosmetics can be a sort of “mask” — after all, you are “covering up” parts of yourself you do not want others to see.

      Thanks for the encouragement! It means a lot. 🙂

      Like

  3. This is a great analysis! Probably one of the best.

    This one seems a bit harder to analyze than ME!ME!ME!, because there are so many possibilities. Some people think the girl from the video is trying to figure out her sexuality, others think that she’s the blue-haired girl from the first video, etc.

    In my opinion, the two videos don’t have any sort of connection. I think the director added in Hana and Shu to let the audience know that this video has somewhat of a similar meaning. That’s why I also disagree with your take that she takes part of Enkou. I didn’t see enough evidence in the video to support that theory, and it seems a bit out of place with the topic Hideaki Anno is trying to show.

    Either way, it’s still great. The video is open to interpretation (since the director isn’t willing to tell us).

    Like

  4. Well, this is a very intersting read. !

    I just came across these videos (me!me!me! and Girl) and looked for an in-depth explanation… Because clearly, these videos were far more than what most people only see in them: sexual imagery. There is a real message behind it.

    I live in France, and while I really like japanese culture, I obviously know very little about it. I didn’t know Enjo Kousai was such a thing.I already heard about it, but really didn’t know it was that common.

    My analysis of the first part matched yours 100% except for the fact that to me, this girl was struggling between her desire of having a real relationship with a true lover and fantasying about it while waiting for him, or giving in to her sexual desires when she realizes her prince would not come.

    She makes her decision and finally dives in the real world. Like in her fantasies, she is trying to bend it to her liking, maybe be to make it more bearable, only this time she is literally using people in the process. She even gets a man (well, he looks more like an empty zombie) to give his heart to her, while he seemed confused when she first layed her eyes on him, not knowing exactly what to do, or what was expected from him…
    She made her decision about how she wanted to live her life, and took advantage of it. If it meant using people to make her world better, so be it, she was totally emotionless in the whole process anyway… Until she met the couple from me!me!me!, on which she had no control or influence.. The couple obviously represents the relationship she always wanted but was unable to get. At that point, she litteraly snaps, seems to feel emotions for the very first time and retreats to her cocoon-like vaginaship ™. In the end, the prince she has waited for so long finally gets to her -> happy ending (unlike me!me!me!),

    Your explanation with Enjo Kousai adds much more depht to my first impression and thoughts, and I really look forward to read your explanation on the second part, because a lot of the imagery is still pretty obscure to me.

    Anyways, thanks for posting your thoughts on this. I’ll most certainly scroll through the rest of your blog, as your writing really is excellent.

    Have a nice day ! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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