Friday, June 22, 2012

A Study in Vocaloid: Senbonzakura



The word 'Senbonzakura' is one that might be familiar to anime fans but was less well known amongst the Vocaloid crowd until recently. Translating literally to "Thousands of Cherry Trees", this catchy Hatsune Miku song was released earlier this year by Kurousa-P (White flame) and caused a bit of a stir in the international Vocaloid community.

The reason for the stir has nothing to do with the musical content of the song itself - it's quite good and well mixed all around - but rather with the lyrics. If the album artwork at the top of the post didn't give it away, Senbonzakura is a rather nationalistic song and isn't too far from being the Vocaloid equivalent of American Pie (or perhaps, more accurately, Stephen Lynch's America)

I particularly like the part when Miku mentions ICBMs (ai-shii-bii-emu) at the end of the first verse...



Everything about the song - from its title to its artwork - drips with Japanese pride, and the lyrics reflect this theme as well:

After a bold and audacious Westernization revolution,

this is now an open and upright anti-war nation.
As I pedal forward my bicycle marked with the Japanese flag,
evil spirits will disperse from my intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Looping the belt line, I don't care if I'm constantly on the move.

Boys and girls must be unrivaled during the warring era, in the floating world.

Thousands of cherry trees dissolve into the night. Not even your voice will reach.

This is a banquet inside a steel jail cell. Look down on us from your guillotine

...but Senbonzakura isn't an anti-western anthem or call to arms, it's an introspective look at the individual pieces of the Japanese cultural identity and one that resonates well in modern, post-Tsunami Japan.

Also, it's cover art would make for one really sweet tattoo...