If I have to single out a music genre I will be regaled to listen for the rest of my life, it will definitely be Jazz.
Death, love, disgust, sex, obsession and passion all tangled up in lewd whisper and heavy bass. Sarcasm, confidence and pride in foxtrot of piano and high note saxophone. So full of life, so full of creepy notes that crawls under your skin. This particular song, took the cake.
Utsura Kooi Shinjuu (Thin-Ice Lovers Suicide) by Megumi Hayashibara.
Performed for anime Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
This song in particular made me re-track back on my obsession with Jazz in general. The heavy bass and saxophone pitches perfectly with Megumi’s breathy voice. It gave the song a very lewd and dark imagery that may only exist in Jazz music. You can easily imagine a lounge chock full of smoke, wearing a low crop dress and swirling wine in high glass, falling in love with the lead singer yet knowing that she’s out of reach. That’s the jazz I love, the kind that sinks it’s teeth under your skin, made you feel sarcastic and hating this world a little bit.
Regarding the title, 心中 [しんじゅう] (lit. double suicide lover, shinjuu), is theme often in popular Japanese novel. Two titles that came into my mind are Beauty and Sadness by Yasunari Kawabata, and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. It is basically a term given to the practice of suicide done by lovers.
In Beauty and Sadness, love, abandonment, jealousy and death played a pivotal point. The story climaxed with a suggestion that the death of one of the main character was an act of lovers suicide. Oki and Ueno were past lover with dark history, their platonic reunion spurred jealousy and doubt in Keiko’s heart, Ueno’s current lover. Spurred by jealousy, Keiko exacted revenge in the way she knew will hurt the most, that is, by committing suicide and pulling Oki’s son with her into the grasp of death. Though it might be ruled as murder, it was implied that Keiko might have fallen for Oki’s son, thus cementing the story into a tragic tale about jealousy, revenge and death.
In Norwegian Wood, Kizuki’s suicide cast a blanket of deep remorse to his lover Naoko and best friend Toru. The three were best friend, a couple and another boy who is also deeply in love with the girl. Kizuki’s death became their loss and started a journey of emotional turbulence between the two. Eventually they fell in love, yet the guilt persist and the relationship ended with empty promises. In the end, Naoko decided to follow her first love and committed suicide.
Another famous lovers suicide is Romeo and Juliet, yet comparing this drama to the two affront will make this story by Shakespeare seems cheap and phony. Spontaneous suicides by desperation and stupidity, hmmm nope.
This song in particular is about a woman spurred by her paramour’s constant rejection,
Hey, why is it you don’t even try to look me in the eyes?
You’ll probably just say, “I can’t even bear to look at you,” I’m sure. Alright then
But just who was it.
Who made me into this kind of woman?
You know, I’ve been waiting for you to chase me this entire time.
We’ve finally met after so long, but you’re not going to make love to me?
Ahh, it’s time we start our loves anew;
everything you’ve caused is your own fault!
I don’t get it, what is happiness, really?
Which time was that supposed to have been?
What a pain; shall I scatter my brains and guts all about just to show you?
Take a nice, hard look.
At this woman who’s been tainted down to her core.
credits to LN.
The song implied an one sided relationship between the singer and her paramour. She loved him deeply, the affection was returned, yet never truly evolving into a proper relationship. They parted ways, meeting again after a long time, and it started a mania in the woman’s head, that she was thoroughly rejected and came to disgust her own being. She wanted to show him, just how miserable she has become…
Once love is lost, what remain is void. And that is one of the premise for the anime Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu by Studio DEEN.
After watching the anime, it became clear that Megumi performed this song specifically for this. I haven’t found resources that confirmed my theory, but the lyrics and the climax of this anime is a haunting transliteration of words into motion.
Spurned love, jealousy, anger and subsequent death, all wrapped up in breathy whisper and low treble bass. I find it impossible to rid the song from my head.
Love lost, regret and remorse wrapped in painted lips, trailing kimono and lingering eyes. For those who love tragic story, it’s almost a sin not to watch this anime.
And as the title suggested, yes, this anime is a haunting tale about Double Suicide Lovers. I’m not going to talk much about this anime, some things are best experience by their self. Just go watch it, and let it ruin your life..
On a lighter note, I’m not always this depressingly unloved. Here’s another jazz song that is more preppy, still somber and dark, but with a sassier tone.
熱愛発覚中 （Netsu Ai Hakka Kuchu) – Discovering I’m Deeply in Love by Ringo Sheena
The nation’s in the middle of a renaissance
I’m being tsundere
I mean, I’ve got super bad luck when it comes to timing
Ugh, I don’t worship you
I resent it when my charm, all my appeal and charm
Backfires, backfires on me
A perfect shot to my vitals
All at once I’m head over heels for you
Hurry, hurry, my CRP’s rising
My frozen to the touch ‘absolute territory’
The ratio of frozen cold gold
I wish, I don’t wish, that they’d fuse together
I wanna, don’t wanna, thaw them
taken from: Renai Junkie
The lyrics might seem a bit silly, but I find it as a very innocent love, that turns into not that innocent after all (the video ending suggest so). And the translator has kindly provide a very helpful note on ‘absolute territory’ term, kindly remember how when cold, what is the best way to thaw them,
Absolute territory’ is the skin that’s visible between the hem of a skirt/shorts/etc. and the top of a girl’s socks.
Like, jazz is supposed to be sexy, but this one is just… Whoa.