Saturday, February 15, 2014

Partition Infatuation

A Romance Trilogy? Eugh.

Well, today is Valentine's Day, so I could probably write something about idol love songs. At least half of idol music consists of love songs so believe me, finding some would not be that hard. After all, who doesn't love love? Romantic love, platonic love, familial love... and then there's forbidden love. Not only has that been the plot of every YA novel since Twilight, it's also the concept for the first single in Tokyo Girls' Style's Romance Trilogy. Yes, apparently TGS is releasing a Romance Trilogy of three singles all revolving around love. A little silly when they've already released several songs about love but oh well. Personally, I am not a very romantic person. Nothing against romance, I'm simply one of those people who doesn't get warm, sparkly butterflies over the concept of romance. To find that the new three TGS singles revolve around romance was less-than exciting news for me. What was exciting was finding out that the first of these singles was going to be Partition Love!

Partition Love was released as a digital single back in September along with a series of teaser clips from what appeared to be a drama. I liked the song much better than Chiisana Kiseki and expressed a desire for the song to be released as a full single, covers and PV and all that jazz that comes with full singles. And either Avex had been planning on releasing Partition Love as a single or they happened to find my blog and exclaimed, "We must release this song as a single for this poor, American blogger who has no impact whatsoever! We must!" I think it was definitely the latter. What I did not plan on was Partition Love being part of a silly little Romance Trilogy. But it is, and I'll review it either way. As I said before, Partition Love is supposed to represent the forbidden love aspect of romance, you know, two people who for whatever reason cannot be together. That can be a really strong idea what done right, so I was open to the idea. Even the Merriam-Webster definition for partition is, "to divide into parts or shares," so with that in mind, Partition Love makes sense as a forbidden love type of song.

The sound of Partition Love is nothing new if you're a longtime listener of Tokyo Girls' Style. Avex has been using their funky 90s jam sound for TGS since Himawari to Hoshizuku; I don't think they have any plans on letting up anytime soon. After the lighter and more generic sound of Chiisana Kiseki and the pop rock sound of Get the Star, Partition Love is a refreshing return to form for TGS. Not that I'm against branching out into different sounds. It's just after the lackluster Chiisana Kiseki, Partition Love goes back to the sound TGS is strong in. And how it returns with full force. Partition Love has synths, bases, all that funktastic goodness I expect from the typical TGS song. I'm really surprised that I haven't grown tired of the sound TGS has been pulling for awhile. But then again, I'm pretty lenient when it comes to artists sticking to one style, as long as the songs continue to be good. And branching out from that one style is always welcome.

So don't expect anything new going into Partition Love. Well, one new thing is that the song is produced by a band called Base Ball Bear! I had never heard of this band until now, but they sound pretty cool. I can hear a bit of rock woven into Partition Love, a result of production from a band, I suspect. It's nice. It adds a little bit of spice to Partition Love. Vocally, the girls of Tokyo Girls' Style sound consistently good. But that's to be expected from them. I noticed I heard a lot of Yuri in this song. I guess with Ayano's voice getting increasingly unstable, Avex if reeling in Yuri for vocal tag team with Hitomi. What is going on with Ayano's voice anyways? I heard her live and she sounded awful. Is she just straining her voice too much? That's what it sounds like. Whatever it is, I hope she doesn't end up shooting her vocals chords; she has too good of a voice. Anyways, I like Partition Love. Is it my favorite TGS song? No, but it is still very good and sticks to the strengths of Tokyo Girls' Style. Maybe not the ideal song to listen to on Valentine's Day though, unless you're pining away for someone you can't have!

Now you can skip this next part if you want to and go straight to the apple rating. Because the rest of this review just me getting increasingly angry at a music video and the rant that ensued afterward. It's quite ugly to read. But if you must read on, then I recommend you proceed with caution, for I was not a happy Nia while screencapping this PV. You'll see why if you dare to read the rest of the review. Still want to press on? All right. I can't stop you.

Well, the PV opens with a very familiar shot of Hitomi and Mr. Teacher staring off into space.

Then Hitomi says via voice-over, "Hey, teacher, tell me why this wall exists here." I'm not sure why, because the only thing existing in this scene is a tree.

And then the real story begins in a cliche class room...

...with a cliche attractive male teacher that one member of TGS will inevitably get the hots for.

To prevent this PV from completely focusing on Hitomi, there are some moody close-up shots.

But most of the PV is focused on the story, which centers around Hitomi.

So if you were looking forward to say, a PV with lots of Miyu in it... too bad!

We do get to see the teacher play basketball. Because... he's also a basketball coach? I don't know, it just gives the girls a chance to ogle him.

We also get to see dubious and awkward teacher-student romantic tension! Yay! Because that's always such a joy to watch!

Three of these English sentences seem like legit phrases Japanese students would be learning but... I have never ever ever heard an English-speaking person use, "The heart is about to burst."

Oh god, please don't tell me this PV also features Ayano competing for the teacher's affections.

She is, isn't she? And Hitomi's going to get jealous, and stupid catty passive-agressive teenage girl bullshit is going to occur, isn't it? Isn't it?

And why isn't the teacher cluing into any of this? Surely he realizes that a student making lunch for him is more than just a friendly gesture.

Really? You really wanna go this route, PV? Are you fucking kidding-

I'm sorry, I gotta stop the screencap for a moment. I know I don't really do this, but I can't keep going through this without addressing a few things in this PV. Like how much I hate this storyline. Not even just the competing for affections part, where this entire PV is headed. From what I can tell, Partition Love is about Hitomi and Ayano competing for a teacher's affections despite the fact that neither one can actually have them because this entire scenario is veering toward fifty shades of illegal. At least in the US it would be. Maybe that's why I take such issue with this PV. The man (notice I said man not boy) both girls are pining away for is a fully grown man, probably at least ten years older than them, and definitely not within their age group. Ayano is 16, Hitomi is 15. They're both teenagers. I know that teenagers have crushes; I should know, I am one! But there is a line that this PV is inching over between okay and creepy.

I hate the teacher-student romance trope. I think it's disgusting and uncomfortable to watch, because I know that there is no possible way that this can work out without one of both parties getting hurt. And to add on to that is the trope of two girls fighting over a guy, a trope that I flat-out hate. I've seen it play out so many times in so many cliched ways, and I think it sets a bad precedent that girls have to "compete" for a guy's attention. This isn't cute, this isn't sympathetic, this is wrong. Watching this makes me want to stick my head into my computer screen and talk some sense into both Hitomi and Ayano. Actually, I just want to yell at whoever thought this PV would be a good idea. Because there is simply no point in having two girls fight over someone who they can't even be with due to moral standards. And the fact that they don't get that and that the teacher isn't cluing in is driving me up the wall. In the end, this conflict is pointless, and could have been completely avoided if both girls had just realized what they were doing was manipulative and idiotic. Great! I can't wait to watch the rest of this PV!

Okay. I'm cool now. Maybe. Whatever, back to the screencap.

All right, where was I? Ah, yes, a beautiful screencap of Mei being lovely.

Oh yeah, and Hitomi was faking an injury to spend more time with Mr. Teacher. Is this seriously- you know, what I'm just going to let it go.


I honestly don't know who to be more disgusted with: Hitomi for keeping this behavior up or the teacher for not realizing he needs to be responsible and stop said behavior before it escalates.

Whoops, too late! IT'S ESCALATING.

So in a stroke of sheer genius, Hitomi decides to write Mr. Teacher a love letter.

No, Hitomi, he cannot look at you as a sweetheart because it's illegal and will make him lose his job.

Don't mind me, just banging my head against my desk.

How about now, Mr. Teacher? Is this obvious enough for you to realize something's up?

Thankfully, yes, and he lays down the law with Hitomi.

Look at Miyu, judging those two with those eyes...

In fact, I'd like to think of all these close-ups as Hitomi's inner conscience trying to persuade her to back off and realize the situation.

I think that tree's the only thing that hasn't pissed me off in this PV.

The best thing Hitomi can do is just get over this. It may not be easy, but no one gets hurt.

So of course, she goes to his fucking house.

How could this possibly in any way turn out well- you know what, I'm done. I am done with this PV.

...I really hate this music video. You all probably realized that, but I still feel compelled to write that thought down. I hate it so very much. And technically speaking, this isn't even the worst PV I've ever reviewed. The camera work is decent, there's nothing cheap-looking in the PV, and there is a storyline. Only problem is that storyline is trash. No worse, it's the raccoon eating the trash. When I first watched the PV for Partition Love, I felt... wrong watching it. I wasn't repulsed or shocked, I was just overcome with this feeling that there was something very wrong about this PV. And as each second passed by, that feeling of wrongness grew. Then came the final shot with a drenched Hitomi staring at the teacher and... oh god, I can't believe they left it at that. I can't believe anyone thought this entire PV was a good idea.

I know the teacher-student romance trope is a popular one, but personally, I do not like it. And it's mostly my personal preferences that make me loathe this PV so much. I just want to reiterate that: it is my moral views that make me loathe this PV and very likely mine alone. I do not want to come off as thinking that anyone who likes this PV is a horrible person. Because that's probably not true. I, however, as a person, take personal issue with this PV. And I do not think the subject of underage romance, even if it's ambiguous in Partition Love and carried out moreso by the student than the teacher, is something you can take lightly. I believe that is a teacher's job to teach students, not get involved with them, especially if they're underage. Do you have any idea how much that could fuck up a child, or more specifically, a teenage girl with too many hormones and not enough brain cells to know what to do with them? I can't watch a PV like this and just blindly ignore the implications of portraying this subject matter in the light that it did. And maybe the PV was supposed to do that, but that doesn't mean I can enjoy this PV. If anything, that makes it worse, because then I know that this music video was intentionally made to look sleazy and pandering.

"But Nia!" you cry out in indignation (or I assume so) "How it is you're okay with PVs like Heavy Rotation and Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru and not Partition Love!?" Well, reader... to tell you true, I do not know. I don't know what it is about Partition Love that sets me off. I think what it may be is that with PVs like Heavy Rotation, Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru, etc. you know that what you're watching is not morally or visually correct. Heavy Rotation is so over-the-top and obvious in all the fanservice it shows that it's practically tongue-in-cheek. And in Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru, the music video about underage prostitution, none of the girls look very happy prowling the streets of Tokyo for clients. Acchan's face in the last shot looks terrified and numb. When I watch PVs like that, I get the message that what I'm seeing is not okay and I shouldn't think that it's okay. Partition Love is a PV that fails to show the consequences of pursuing someone who is not in the position to be with you. When you're tackling a sticky subject like the blurred boundaries between a teacher and a student, you have to show that there are consequences.

I don't care if Avex just did this PV to pander to wotas, somewhere out there someone's going to watch this and think "Teacher-student relationships are perfectly okay and normal and with no unfortunate moral implications whatsoever!" All throughout this PV, Hitomi is going after her teacher with no one, no friends or even external parental figures to deter her from this pursuit of hers. The other members of TGS could easily have at least tried to say, "Hey, Hitomi, as your friends we don't think it's smart for you to seriously pursue our teacher." But no, they don't. I think it's the fact that absolutely no attempts were made to show that behavior like this is not a good idea, for either party, that makes me hate this PV so much. I know I'm probably the only person who feels this way but... god. I don't think I've ever felt so angry at a music video. Which sounds ridiculous, but oh well, I guess there are just certain buttons you can press to set me off and this music video's become one of them.

That brings me to another thing. The "love" in this PV isn't love. It's infatuation. How can I tell? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of love is, "a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person." Whereas the definition of infatuation is, "a foolish or extravagant love or admiration." When I watch this PV, I don't see two people in love. I don't even see one person in love. I see a teenage girl thinking she's in love too blind to realize she's merely projected an ideal image of her teacher and fallen in love with that. It is completely normal to idolize adult figures such as teachers as long as it doesn't go any further than that. But in this PV, Hitomi's constantly trying to push things further and no one is around to tell her that hey, she might just want to lay off. And the teacher doesn't clue in either, despite some very obvious signs that Hitomi has more than just a childish admiration toward him. It's his job to teach these students, and to not do anything about this infatuation Hitomi's developing toward him is extremely unprofessional and sends a lot of mixed signals towards Hitomi.

What I'm trying to say is both parties are at fault, both are idiots, and I hate this PV. Again, I cannot stand the teacher-student romance trope, even if that romance is unrequited. Maybe it's just the culture I was raised in not being a strong advocate for teacher-student romance, especially the underage kind. Maybe the intention of the PV for Partition Love was to piss off its viewers in the way it pissed me off. If so, it succeeded. Spectacularly. But just because you succeed at something does not make that something a good thing. Partition Love may be attention-grabbing, but in the same way BiS is attention grabbing, only without the self-awareness. I have no idea what in the hell Avex has got planned for Tokyo Girls' Style's next single in their Romance Trilogy, but I pray that it's not as sleazy, pandering, and awful as this PV was. If you liked the PV for Partition Love, that is fine. But I never want to watch this music video again.

Partition Love gets two very generous apples from me. I'd give the PV zero, but luckily, the song itself is good. I hate the PV for Partition Love. I just... hate it. Happy Valentine's Day.


  1. I think I'll just put all of my thoughts in succession:
    Such edgy
    Very forbidden love
    Much idol
    (I didn't want to make the Doge image)

    [at the end] Oh god this is Babel all over again.

    If you view this as an anti-idol PV it makes more sense. Unrequited infatuation from adult men towards teenage girls is pretty much what the idol industry is built on these days. In this PV the girl is the one who's infatuated. If this was the intention it would be ironic since the director and writer are profiting off of something that they're also criticizing.

    The age of consent in Japan is 13. There's still the very unethical and unprofessional aspects of a romance between a teacher and student.

    1. I guess it could be an anti-idol PV, but even viewing in that light I still don't like this PV. If that was the intention, I feel like the director and writer should have emphasized that concept further. The way they're showing it now is muddled and sends some mixed messages. When you're dealing with sensitive stuff like this, you've got to make your stance clear, and in my opinion, this PV fails to do that.

      I know the age of consent in Japan is 13. But it's still highly unprofessional for a teacher and student to pursue a relationship together.

  2. TGS are known for their very mature scenarios and feels. Honestly, it's cool that they showcase something so controversial and "anti-idol" to prove how damaging and wrong it could be. I don't think they're promoting it, I think they're criticizing it. After all, "partition" does mean "a divide" or "many parts."

    1. You're right, and a music video like this isn't a surprise coming from them. But if they were trying to criticize the concept of a teacher and student romance, it doesn't show very clearly in the music video. Maybe it's the language barrier and culture differences. I do see what they were trying to do, but the execution (in my opinion) is very poorly done.

  3. I really like your review, and made me laugh so many times! I was also very uncomfortable with the (very cliche) theme, and makes people wonder what the producers were thinking. Good job for TGS to pull it off though.

    If we disregard the meaning of the lyrics and just watch their live (and pretend not to understand Japanese), I think the music alone is pretty amazing.

    1. Thanks! I'm glad someone was able to find humor in such a rant-y review of mine... I'm not sure what the producers were thinking for Partition Love. Well, I'd wager they were thinking about money. Lots and lots of money.

      I like the song a lot, it's just the music video I take issue with. Even the liver performance of Partition Love is good!

  4. In Japan, it could be wrong because the teacher is older than her. Actually, the teacher-student relationship exists in there, and EVERY single media have at least one case of it. The PV's still disgusting for me, but just because THE TEACHER NEVER REALIZED THE WHOLE THING GOING ON.

    1. Well, the age difference would be wrong here too, even though it does exist. And I hate that media is constantly glamorizing that type of relationship. As for this PV, I KNOW. UGH, that was single-handedly the most frustrating thing about it!