JUN TOGAWA – PRINCESS KNIGHT [RIBON NO KISHI] (1989)

lyrics by NOU KAHEI | music by ISAO TOMITA

The opening to the classic Tezuka anime Princess Knight, which I first watched in a class about anime (!) I took at university (!!). God bless UMass for that one, it was a really fun time for everyone and I remember getting a really good grade from the visiting professor who was in charge of it. We watched and read X by CLAMP in it, which remains one of my favorite manga to this day, just because they’re good.

Anyway – enough about me! This song has both a male and a female version, reflecting the dual nature of the Princess Knight character, who is both male and female. I’m not going to get into it here, but I do think the original manga is worth a read, mostly because it’s good – it is Tezuka after all! Jun here is singing the male version because of course she is, but the female version doesn’t change much, just some gendered speech.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – FAMILY HOMINIDAE (HITO-KA) [2003]

lyrics by JUN TOGAWA | music by NOBUO NAKAHARA

Track #3 off of the mini-album CD-Y and an inclusion on the cancelled (?) full album that would have succeeded it. It’s about humanity, but is it good or bad? That’s up to you to decide. The Buddhist metaphors would definitely make more sense to someone who is Buddhist, but I am not! Still, I like the imagery.

CD-Y-era Togawa actually reminds me more of the Dial Y period work she did than the later Yapoos stuff (Dadadaism, HYS) – I think it’s the more impressionistic lyrics? This song in particular reminds me lyrically of “Fool Girl,” for some reason. Maybe that’s just me.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – SAMPLE A (1988)

lyrics by JUN TOGAWA | music by YOICHIRO YOSHIKAWA

This was originally a live-only song (appearing on YAPOOS de la Cruz), but it appeared later on Teichiku Works and the remastered edition of Daitenshi no you ni / Like an Archangel. I like the visuals of the live footage, though I’m not sure why they never put this on a proper album. It doesn’t feel like it fits onto Archangel thematically or sound-wise, but I can’t imagine a song this good being dropped on the cutting room floor!

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – YOUR REIGN [KIMI NO YO] (1992)

lyrics by JUN TOGAWA | music by NOBUO NAKAHARA

I kind of went back and forth on the translation of the title for this one. It can mean a lot of things – looking at it literally, one could interpret it as ‘your age’ or ‘your generation’ but I think that the most likely reference is to the Japanese national anthem, “Kimigayo,” which translates to ‘His Imperial Majesty’s Reign.’ The wording slightly differs – from ga to no – which left me with a conundrum. How should I translate it?

I ended up going with “Your Reign,” as I feel like it keeps the reference to the anthem while also opening up the context of who the kimi of the title refers to exactly by simply writing ‘your.’ Anyway, I think this is a love song, but wrapped in patriotism metaphors. It also could just be straight patriotism, but I’m not sure. I may consult the book on this one.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – LAST APRIL 26TH [SARU SHIGATSU NO NIJUUROKU-NICHI] (1988)

lyrics by JUN TOGAWA | music by NOBUO NAKAHARA

Social commentary, which I wrote while going ‘I’ll never do it! I’ll never do it!’ I shouldn’t say this, but this was an act of desperation, really. I couldn’t write it. I had avoided it – I avoided it, I avoided it, and then only the final track on “Daitenshi no you ni” was left. This was Naka-chan’s song, and he told me he absolutely wanted me to write lyrics for it, and I wanted to write lyrics for it too. But with these lyrics, it made recording the song weird. They’d say, “One more time from ‘The pregnant woman says,'” or “From ‘I’m afraid to give birth.'” I think the other members were laughing too.

I was very shocked by Chernobyl. Wars are unending in other countries, but I am not a part of the generation that experienced war in the country I live in. But of course I’m living in the only country to be hit by an atom bomb. And so because of that, I think that the fear of atomic weapons can be felt more realistically here than in other countries. The incident at Chernobyl was a tragedy marking the first time my generation could experience the fear of nuclear power in real-time. I was so shocked that even I – who with all my power wanted to avoid writing social commentary – ended up writing something. I thought, ‘this could happen in Japan too.’

What I was afraid of more than anything was pregnancy. The effects of radiation can linger for tens of thousands of years, but at that time, it was carried on the wind and traveled all over the world. Even in western Europe high levels of radioactivity were detected in breast milk and spinach. Yes, it’s terrifying when a bomb is dropped and tens of thousands die immediately on impact, but it’s more terrifying to consider the lasting effects on children in their mother’s wombs, who are hurt, and the effects it can have over tens of thousands of years on not just humans, but on animals, plants, and life itself. The fact that pregnant women and mothers must be worried about this future is incredibly scary to me. Incidents where lots of people die are relatively common occurrences all over the world. You have to get used to it, and we should never go to war, but that day, just being in Japan meant facing head-on the terror of nuclear weapons, on a different level than just regular war. That mothers will fear giving birth to the children in their bellies is a fear found only with nuclear weapons, and so that was what I put the most effort into in this song. It was a special occurrence. I haven’t written about anything that actually happened besides this. There hasn’t yet been a war that has directly wrapped up my generation, but this incident made me realize that we’re all wrapped up in these vivid accidents.

There was no opposition from the other members. There was never a point originally where we said, ‘OK, we’re going to cut out social commentary.’ I think it was more a matter of just not liking it. But we’ve never performed this song live, I don’t think. It was made through sequencing, so it would have been difficult to do an arrangement for the band. On the other hand, I had wanted to take the album closer to a concept album, and this song was originally longer, but I had it cut down.

Jun Togawa, Jun Togawa Complete Lyrics Commentary Collection ‘Partly Cloudy with Sturm und Drang’

Translation and notes under the cut:

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YAPOOS – CITY OF PRAYERS [INORI NO MACHI] (1988)

Lyrics and music by YOICHIRO YOSHIKAWA

Another track off of Daitenshi no you ni / Like an Archangel, this one features a debatably orientalist portrayal of an unnamed Middle Eastern city. It’s difficult to track down information about this song – like what inspired it – but my guess is that someone took a trip to the Middle East, came back, and wrote this song. Instrumentally it’s probably one of my favorites on the album, though I do wish the subject matter had been handled with more… care.

Translation and notes under the cut:

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