Anniversary Special #4

Pain Reliever

Have you ever heard the word "menheru"? It is said that quite a few of Japanese Chihiro fans are somewhat tinged with a menheru disposition. It is also said that Chihiro used to sing to reduce her own pain. (Look at how she used to sing on CRADLE ON MY NOISE DVD.)

By the time Sugar High was about to be released, I came to like her songs, but I wasn't a devoted fan... until I lost my job due to my illness.

Suddenly I began to listen to her music like crazy. Wanting to catch up, I searched about for information that seemed to have something to do with her. I listened to her music, especially "BACK DOOR" and "Rebel Luck" over and over again. They were real comforts to me. I couldn't pass a single day without her voice, literally. I began to sing again, an activity I had forgotten for a long time, just as Chihiro started her musical activities having been inspired by Jewel's works.

When you say you are a fan of a certain singer, it generally means one or more of the following:

Although all of the above hold true for Chihiro, quite a few Japanese Chihiro fans are addicted by her lyrics—the mental landscapes within. She does not hesitate to expose her ugliness and weaknesses. Therefore, it is so natural that many fans who find themselves in a painful situation feel as if Chihiro was singing about (and for) themselves, just as I felt.

As an illustration, I'll show you the first part of "BACK DOOR":

What a foolish sweat I'm bathed in
Then it's no use no matter how vast the skies may be
I've become used to even the weight of the lead fetters attached to my feet
How I wish I could save myself

When you catch sight of tomorrow against your own wishes
Try to stop [and see what will happen]
Stop running on the track that is covered all over with footprints
Regain your lost breath

Where is the back door...

(From "BACK DOOR". Original text copyrighted by Chihiro Onitsuka. Translated and quoted by Folia in compliance with the Japanese Copyright Act.)

The subject word for the second stanza (though my translation is not rhymed) is not explicit in the original Japanese lyrics. It may be "I" instead of "you". I believe Chihiro is talking to herself here.

Surely this "tomorrow" referred to in this song is not an optimistic "brighter than today" thing as Carpenters sang. On the contrary, it must be a dark, hopeless day, as you can see. In this way, some of her works offer moral support to those who are having hard times.

Incidentally, do you know the small concern that Japanese Chihiro fans share with each other? If I tell my friends that I'm a fan of Onitsuka-san, they might make fun of me, calling me menheru. Don't you think that's too much?

(To be continued.)



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