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BABYMETAL and the feminist reinterpretation of Japanese mythology
death
stormsewer
So, BABYMETAL. The fusion of Japanese teen idol tropes with those of death metal. I've been spending some time with their music, and I've been a little surprised at what I've found there.

For instance, the track, "Megitsune" ("Vixen"). In Japanese mythology, foxes ("kitsune") are trickster changelings, usually female, and often wicked.



The lyrics of this song actually discuss the implied sexism of the kitsune myth and tie it into the inherent contradictions that Japanese women face in their lives. This is not the sort of subject matter you'd expect from a musical act like this (and it's very cunning to sneak tracks like this in with all the Gimme Chocolate stuff). I don't think you'd get away with lyrics like this in the standard Japanese teen idol setting, and you don't exactly see women's issues discussed regularly in death metal either. Another reason this group (and this song in particular) is fascinating as a mash-up of different musical cultures. I think whoever masterminded this is a genius.

My transcription and translation of the lyrics to "Megitsune" is below.

Sore! Sore! Sore! Sore sore sore sore! [Alternately, "soya": the sort of thing you shout when dancing at a festival. Can be considered equivalent to the English "hey!"]

omekashi kitsune-san
Miss fox is all dolled up
(chikichiki wasshoi! chikichiki wasshoi!1)
tsuinte nabikasete
Her pigtails are flying
(hirahira wasshoi! hirahira wasshoi!1)
hajikete doron shite
She suddenly disappears
(kurukuru wasshoi! kurukuru wasshoi!1)
izayuke shichi henke
Now, the seven transformations!2

kon kon kon kokon kon kon kokon [This is what the fox says in Japanese, if anyone asks.]

inishie no otometachi yo
From ancient times, young maidens
karisome no yume ni odoru
Dance in fleeting dreams
ikusen no toki o koete
Thousands and thousands of times
ima o ikiru
They live now

a, sou yo, itsu de mo onna wa joyuu yo
Yes, women are always actresses
kitsune ja nai, kitsune ja nai
Not foxes, not foxes
otome na megitsune
Young vixens

a, yamato nadeshiku onna wa kawaru no
Classical Japanese beauties3, women are changeable
kao de waratte kokoro de naite
Smiling with their faces, crying in their hearts
sou you ne, tte
"Yes, you're right," they say
namida wa misenai no
And don't show their tears

kitsune, kitsune
Fox, fox
watashi wa megitsune
I am a vixen
onna wa joyuu yo
Women are actresses

inishie no otometachi yo
From ancient times, young maidens
karisome no yume ni utau
Sing in fleeting dreams
ikusen no toki o koete
Thousands and thousands of times
koko ni ikiru
They live here

a, sou yo, itsu de mo onna wa joyuu yo
Yes, women are always actresses
kitsune ja nai, kitsune ja nai
Not foxes, not foxes
otome wa
Young maidens-
nametara ikan ze yo
Don't underestimate them

yamato nadeshiku onna wa kawaru no
Classical Japanese beauties3, women are changeable
zutto, itsu mo kienai you ni
Always, forever, to not fade away
hanabi o ageru no
They set off fireworks

saite chiru no ga onna no sadame yo
To bloom and then fall is a woman's fate
kao de waratte kokoro de naite
Smiling with their faces, crying in their hearts
junjou otome na megitsune
Those pure young vixens

1These are also festival dance chants. "Chikichiki," "hirahira," and "kurukuru" are something like onomatopoeia, where the rhythm of the words is meant to represent the motions of dance moves. "Wasshoi" is a colloquialism meaning something like "let's do it!"

2This is a reference to rapid progression through seven different outfits in traditional Japanese dance (Kabuki, I believe).

3"Yamato nadeshiko" literally means something like "pink flower of the Yamato" and refers to the traditional ideal of Japanese young womanhood. An alternate translation for this line might be "the ideal Japanese woman is changing."

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Thank you. I REALLY appreciated that explanation :-)

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