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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
The 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.Still 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.
She 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.This 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.
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.
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.)