Well now that I’m done procrastinating on this it’s time to get to it… because I’m procrastinating on other things. (Yes, I realize this is way overdue. Apologies to everyone who was waiting on this!)
Our protagonist gloomily stands on the very end of her boat, staring into the crystal clear waters below her. There is a stark contrast between the technicolour paradise that is her imagination and the restrictive, hardened world on the other side. The music shifts in tone to indicate that — from bubblegum pop to a barren, almost macabre nursery rhyme-esque tune. The lyrics themselves reference a state of limbo.
As she falls — rather, floats — into the water her clothes rip off her body in a way reminiscent of mahou shoujo henshins, the flashy transformations that are a staple in every magical girl anime. Her sullen expression, however, indicates that this isn’t the empowering, joyous transformation sequence most magical girls experience. She dislikes the real world, so perhaps her transformation is representative of the mask she puts on in her daily life: a glamorous facade disguising the brokenness inside her with frills and ribbons.
She descends into the real world like a science fiction angel (that was my first thought, anyway). The area is populated like a video game — reused faceless sprites of a generic schoolgirl and a generic salaryman, grey and colorless like the buildings around them, a reflection of the way she views reality. It is of note that every single person is staring intently at their smartphones, not an uncommon sight even in reality, and everyone is unaware of her technicolor presence.
She mimes swiping on a smartphone, a movement akin to that of magicians casting spells with a flick of their wrists. In a way, one’s escape from reality by “entering” that of the Internet via their mobile phones can be said to be a kind of protective charm, a magical barrier that can be put up by anyone in order to step away from the harshness of real life. In the case of enjo kosai, the mobile phone is the magical link between two parties — salaryman and high school girl.
With this, she summons forth her magical bubble wand and sets about “correcting” the bland and boring city. With a tap on the nose, the face of a schoolgirl shrivels up and then blooms into one of the flowers present in the earlier half of the song, a ripe, red apple dangling between petals. I’m still a little unclear what this is supposed to represent — that she knows the truth (the apple) exists, but refuses to take a bite? That she’s trying to disguise reality by prettying it up with flowers, shooting stars and colors, but is unable to completely hide its existence? I have no clue. Still, it’s a disturbing yet beautiful image, much like this music video.
The next scene really struck a chord in me. The protagonist looks through the film in her wand and sees the true form of one of the salarymen — a sad, harrowed looking subhuman creature, that first glances about in desperation and embarrassment. He then digs into his chest, pulling out chunks of flesh until only a hollow, heart-shaped crevice remains. This one is pretty straightforward, I’m assuming it’s suggesting that the victims of this trade aren’t just the high school girls, but the lonely salarymen who don’t know how to or can’t pursue proper relationships because of their low self esteem or other problems. The ones that desire connections (sexual, romantic, or just plain affection) so much that they’re willing to fork out money for cheap imitations*. It’s sad, because what they have paid for isn’t “real love”, or anything even remotely similar to it. It’s an empty, soulless transaction.
*BTW, I’m not sympathizing with any participants of enjo kosai that end up committing abuse, rape, pedophilia or other crimes because of weird fetishes and whatnot. As far as I know, a significant amount of high school girls do this with consent. Paying for companionship is considered by many to be something shameful to do, and the fact that there exist people who are compelled to do so because of their inability to connect with others naturally (or other reasons that can’t be helped) is something that deserves a little sympathy. Don’t lynch me.
As the salaryman crumbles away, the cat eats a piece of him and transforms into a stuffed animal. This is interesting, and something I’ve just noticed — the cat starts off grayscale and, for lack of a better word, is real, like… it looks like a real cat (oh god my English is failing me), but upon ingesting the true form of the salaryman, turns into a limp, bright pink cat doll. Previously grayscale = reality and color = fantasy, so the cat is a bit of a contradiction. Interesting to note that its stuffed form has button eyes but lacks any other facial features.
The world combusts in a sea of color, reminiscent of her fantasy from the first half. The giant building in the middle is kind of Yggdrasil-esque, but I might just be reaching here. There is a shot of a flower-high-school-girl stumbling around, having lost all her senses. Perhaps this suggests that this is a side effect of indulging too much in your fantasies. It numbs you and renders you helpless. The protagonist stares at her work, but doesn’t seem particularly happy about it — her face is expressionless and blank, as it has been throughout the video.
She realizes that she isn’t alone (… besides the flower-people) as the couple from the first music video approach from the back, holding hands, with matching bracelets. They represent, in a sense, “true love” — in ME!ME!ME!, the male protagonist realizes that he has made a mistake giving up his girlfriend for his fantasies, or, well, that’s what the gist of it is. Although he is unable to break the cycle in the end, this image of them is before they split up, and captures them in a moment they are truly happy.
The world around them reverts to its original state. Reality is not grayscale, as the protagonist envisions it, but colorful, bright and somewhat peaceful. What we have seen of the video since the beginning has been from the eyes of the protagonist — our visuals are tinted by her opinions and prejudice about the real world. Here, we realize that there isn’t really anything particularly horrifying about reality, it is not particularly bland or boring, just plain… normal. An objective viewpoint, if you will.
Here we see the first ever real emotion the protagonist shows — she reels back in horror, disgust almost, as she watches the couple proudly (?) display their affection. Maybe this is the “realization” that the video has been building up to, that she now finally knows that everything she has done up to this point is unreal, a hellish fantasy that pales in comparison to true love. She is crushed — and we once more enter her mind and see that everything has crumbled away.
The music video ends as it began — with her on her boat, this time naked, fragile, and surrounded by nothing but her stuffed cat. She is in the fetal position, one that connotes vulnerability and also: rebirth. She is not floating on sand, or water, but on… nothing, rendering her and her boat directionless, in a state of perpetual disorient.
An unknown figure approaches her — she looks up and smiles, her eyes filled with tears. The video ends here, ambiguous and vague, and quite unlike the first which was meant to be an endless loop. It is hence unknown if she does break the cycle of falling prey to her own fantasies. Who is this figure? There are no blatant clues, other than his masculine physique. Could it be another salaryman offering her an imitation of love? Or the Prince Charming she crafted out of her own desires, meant to save her from her despair and again plunge her headfirst into alternate realities? Or maybe an actual soulmate, acting as a bridge to bring her back to reality? Personally I would like to be optimistic and think it’s the latter, but the music video is vague for a reason, and I think it’s up to the individual’s interpretation whether or not the protagonist has a happy ending.
I hope my analysis made sense, even though I’m pretty sure it’s not 100% coherent. I’m anxiously awaiting another installment in this series, I’ve heard rumors that this is a trilogy.