All posts by Sergio Hernandez

But I’m Sailor Moon?

A scout reboot?

Anime is full of dreams that are enchanting, powerful, and legendary. Japan today may be more well-known for sushi, Hello Kitty, and Godzilla, but it was surprisingly innovative in tackling sensitive social issues in the early 90s, specifically same-sex relations. Today it is not difficult to discover media (be it in television, print, or web) that tackles this topic, making for great dialogue.  Japan brought it to the limelight in the least expected area: Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン).

The manga featured two proud lesbian lovers (Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus) in a committed relationship fighting evil and protecting Usagi (うさぎ), the moon princess. The plot reads slightly borderline cheesy but it was progressive in featuring warriors in a dedicated relationship to one another.  It is a matter DC Comics has recently played with in making the Green Lantern openly gay for its Earth 2 series for the The New 52, making it the first for the super-hero. Yet it is a century behind Takeuchi’s undertaking. She provided a world to her readers where love is fluid and valid no matter the gender.

Sailor Moon had a strong audience in Japan that it was eventually picked up for an American dubbed version that unfortunately suffered severe editing for length and content and was supplemented with additional educational segments stealthily named “Sailor Moon Says.”  At least the kids were learning about recycling, bullying, and body stigma. Sailor Moon arrived at America during the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Digimon, and Pokemon era—all very male dominated—that its cult following was unanticipated. Allison, in “Japanese Superheroes for Global Girls Abroad,” attributed this devotion to Sailor Moon and the Scouts being new kinds of superheroes different from the American ones. That is, Sailor Moon kept the human and superhuman personas much more intact. Each volume never focused on an identity crisis; it targets saving the planet, forming friendships, and love. It was almost as if being a girl was a superpower of its own that allowed these murky terrains that can be unsettling and raw.  

Fans point out that Sailor Moon was a pioneer in bringing lesbian characters to a mainstream audience, but it accomplished it at a price. The series fantasized lesbianism that it took away from it at times the love and intimacy and shifted it to a basic girl-on-girl action genre. The Sailor Moon series are divided into 52 different acts following the adventures of Usagi Tsukino (月野うさぎ), a boy crazy 14-year-old, as she “morphs” into the pretty, loving, evil fighting Sailor Moon.  The Sailor Scouts each possess special powers they receive from their corresponding planets; for example, Sailor Mercury gains her power from the planet Mercury and Sailor Mars from Mars.  The first series begins with Sailor Moon (Usagi), Sailor Mercury (Amy), Sailor Mars (Raye), Sailor Jupiter (Lita), Sailor Venus (Mina) and Darien (Tuxedo Max). The Scouts all live in Tokyo, Japan and attend the American equivalent of middle school. Amy, Raye, Lita, Mina, and Usagi overcome daily obstacles in school work, love, and plans just as any other adolescent. That was certainly a connecting point for most American audiences that these characters were vulnerable and not indestructible.

A manga depicts a story through illustrations and words, using dialogs and interactions between characters to present the story. The movements and exchanges, and the facial expressions, become the focal point to readers. In Sailor Moon, lesbianism is presented in an erotic nature, maybe not intentionally, but none the less very sexualized because of the way the characters are positioned from their body stances, clothing, and mannerisms. The Sailor Scouts’ costumes, for example, for their superhero alternatives are very skimpy that it makes anyone wonder how they could possibly fight evil in 8 inch heels and 5 inch mini-skirts, and tight fitted blouses. In a later series the Sailor Star Fighters, another group of Sailor Scouts, after their transformations donning black high knee boots, extremely small bras emphasizing the body rather than the story, but this also applies to male heroes such as Superman, Batman, and Aquaman—can any realistic male achieve a lean twelve-pack? The series was probably drawing audiences with these depictions for attention risking being a caricature. Sailor Five, a hentai manga, meaning pornographic comic in English, was an erotic parody of the Sailor Moon, underscoring the hidden sexual appeal Sailor Moon unknowingly possessed (Clements 336).

The Sailor Scouts are middle school students, yet specific body parts are prematurely developed. In the Sailor Moon Stars volume, for example, Mina and Raye, Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars, respectively, confront the three new Sailor Star Lights while wearing clothing so small that is accentuates their chests and slightly curvy figure (Takeuchi 1.1.16). The Sailor Stars Lights were the most explicit in their homo-erotic behaviors apart from Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune. The Star Lights never label themselves lesbians, but the mannerism they exploited hinted the probable sexuality. These new fighters disguise themselves and lived as men while searching for their princess on Earth: they date, flirt with other girls, etc. When the day needs saving, they instantly transform into their female warriors; unlike Superman, the Sailor Star Lights “transform” into their new selves embodying new identities, emotions, and abilities hinting that gender is changeable, messy, and difficult depending on the context—really Sailor Moon dwelled into some gender studies 101 most 90s audiences were not ready to face, and it is definitely a magical point viewers overlook.

The transformation from female to male allowed the Star Light Scouts to no longer bottle up any act, longing, or expression. The male versions of themselves are assertive; for example, one of the Sailor Star Fighters while in her male consume kisses Usagi on the mouth to assure her she will never let anyone harm her (Sailor Moon II.4). The kiss is an obvious hint that the male versions of the female Star Fighters are extensions of the feelings they want to exhibit and repress while fighting in their female forms. In the last scene of the Sailor Stars volume, Sailor Tin Nyanko, tells Usagi, “you know [Usagi] I wouldn’t trust girls that pretend to be guys,” echoing that these heroes are imposters that need to accept their desires and show that it comes from a place of female attraction and love.

These instances and others in the animated and manga series are presented but are not marked “lesbian.” The Sailor Moon franchise taught its audience about friendship, acceptance, and support. As one critic noted about Sailor Moon’s success: its “strong plot, its earnest, honest romance, and its refusal to talk down to its audience” really made it thrive (Clements 336).  Sailor Moon remains a cult-favorite and has recently seen support from the online community that Hulu started airing unedited versions of the series that includes the same-sex relations—there’s even talk of a Takeuchi franchise reboot this Summer 2014. For all its stories Sailor Moon was beyond girl power, feminism, and heroes: it was a nucleus of love, determination, and defeating obstacles.

Jane Austen was Japanese?

We all react differently to Jane Austen’s books: some of us love them, obsess, and some think she just wrote really unrealistic love stories. Japan, however, developed a unique relationship with the famous writer. Unlike her fellow countrymen’s ambivalence about her talents, Austen was welcomed during the early Meiji Restoration period. Early Japanese scholars and authors believed Austen depicted her works so accurately that she must had been highly regarded in her time. Unbeknownst to them was the fact that Austen was largely unrecognized as a writer during her life; it was not until 1817 that her works amassed a larger readership building the path for what would later be dubbed Austenmania.

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Japan was partially closed off under the Shogun rule until 1868 when it became open to Westerners again. Besides making its ports accessible, Japanese officials decided that the country needed to integrate Western ideas, customs, and business models. The campaign was meant to foster creativity and revive the country’s culture that had not contributed to the world ever since it exiled foreigners. Japan even expunged all foreign influence by relocating any Non-Japanese to Dejima, a 130-acre artificial island built in 1634 in Nagasaki. It sounds unlikely that Japanese during the Meiji restoration would even undertake translating or reading Austen’s works; after all, her focus centers on marriages, family dynamics, and social constrictions. How could the newly engaged Japan connect with these scenarios? The time frame between Jane Austen’s death in 1817 to Japan reopening its ports in 1868 is also another point that potentially could had stilted her fame from germinating as her works could had been lost, forgotten, or never been introduced to any eminent university in Japan.

Japanese students in Tokyo University were presented works by Flaubert and Zola and the social and existential ideas of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky that by the time Lafcadio Hearn, an early English literature professor at Tokyo University in 1896, gave lectures on Jane Austen’s “genius” Japanese students resisted him. They thought Austen works were outdated, trivial. Hearn also had his own reservations about introducing the Pride & Prejudice author to Japan, voicing: “I am not sure whether you [the Japanese] could like Austen or not. . . [T]he kind of life described, the suffering and the follies described, would probably seem very strange to most of you.” Hearn was obvious in signaling out that Japanese readers would not understand the nuances around marriages, proposals, and courtships because that was not the culture they followed. Austen’s descrition can muzzle any audience from understanding what is important because some relative background about the time period is needed to notice undertoned jokes. For example, in Emma, Jane Fairfax (the impoverished Miss Bates’s niece whom Emma dislikes) and her aunts arrive after the other guests have dined because they are impoverished gentry, but Emma can dine first as she is gentry. In other words, Emma is the cool lead in the lunch table and no one else can sit until she sits down. Not knowing the social customs, however, did not prevent Japanese readers from engaging with Austen’s wit.

Hearn campaigned for Jane Austen’s canonization in Japan, but it was Natsume Sōseki’s (夏目漱石) that established Japan’s love for her works. Sōseki had a tremendous impact on Japanese culture that he was honored by being printed on Japan’s currency until 2004. Sōseki considered Austen’s writing superior that of any “advanced writer,” declaring she captured reality’s undertone beauty. Sōseki fell for Austen’s writing because it mirrored his idea that nature (that is everyday life) must be presented to readers objectively rather than in florid banter and psychological runoffs. He nurtured Austen’s image in Japan and even based the literary ideal of 側転 きょうし (follow Heaven, forsake the self) on Austen’s novels.

Nogami Toyoichirō (野上 とよいちろう), under Sōseki’s tutelage, translated Pride & Prejudice (高慢と偏見) for a Japanese audience in 1926. Toyoichirō’s wife, who went under the pen name Yaeko Nagomi, proofread her husband’s translations because she read the original English version under Sōseki’s supervision and guidance. During the Meiji restoration, however, some Japanese worried that Western beliefs and customs were dominating their culture, suppressing Japanese from creating a new powerful identity. But Austen’s novels connected with Japanese readers because her works revolved on decision, using sense and logic, and finding happiness by keeping to one’s morals. At the time, the West was courting Japan similar to Mr. Wickham’s flirtations with Elizabeth Bennet: accepting a hasty proposal would only hinder Japan from contributing to the world. Possibly, it was this contrast between Austen’s novels and what the Japanese felt at the time that made her works popular. Yaeko Nagomi (やエコ 和み), for example, was so enamored with Austen’s writing style that she mimicked it for her novel, マチコ (Machiko). She wrote in her journal: “Every time I read [Pride & Prejudice], I admire it more than before…this is, indeed, a novel true to nature…I had hoped that the quality of my next novel would match at least that of Austen… If I reached such a level of accomplishment, I would surely congratulate myself.”

Machiko tells the story of a modern Japanese Elizabeth Bennet, Machiko, who must decide whether to marry the cultural industrialist Kawai (Mr. Darcy) whom she “judg[es] to be incapable of distinguishing” his friends from his enemies or the revolutionary activist Seki (Mr. Wickham), who “attracts her strongly both ideologically and physically.” Machiko, however, unlike Pride and Prejudice, uses the industrial Japan in the throes of economic crisis and workers’ militancy as the main background that propels Machiko to decide between being a industrialist or a revolutionary. Yaeko’s Machiko is one of the earliest spinoffs of Jane Austen’s work in Japan. The second was Kurahashi Yumiko’s 夢の浮橋 (The Bridge of Dreams, 1971) where she fused the Austen story with classical Japanese narratives.

In Japan, it was not until 1950 that Iwanami, a prestigious publishing house, made available a second Pride & Prejudice translation by Akira Tomita. This particular translator saw the book as an educational novel and “the best social novel in the world.” Though Japanese admired Austen’s works and satirical voice, they also made dialogue changes to fit verbal expressions that a Japanese audience would understand better. These translations were commercially successful because they maintained Austen’s witty spirit without changing the entire novel’s flow or adding any archaic language.

The history of Austen’s translated adaptations is important because it let’s us see that even though we are different ethnicities, culturally we value similar customs: morality, justice, and marriage.. Japan made Austen Japanese because her works connected with their literary and cultural beliefs. It was her early admirers and translators that initiated her fame that had it not been for them she would had remained unknown in Japan. Today it seems unrealistic for someone to not know Austen. Japan made her their own, Spain the same, and Americans too, nurturing new readerships and even greater devotees.

You Ought to Know The Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Taking a quick poll of current trending news, using that word loosely, you will notice that the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is largely missing from the media. Why?One reason is due to the U.S government stalemate over the fiscal ceiling that, if left unresolved, could lead to ramifications we could sum up as cray banger.

    The Trade-Pacific Partnership, Initially under the acronym TPSEP, planned to liberalize trade in the Asia-Pacific region among  Brunei, Chile, Singapore, and New Zealand. After several negotiations with original members new candidate countries are being considered into the agreement; some of which include Mexico, the United States, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan. The United states began courting the TPP in early 2008 under the Bush administration’s leadership and now under Obama’s administration is being completed.  The TPP’s main priority is to “free” trade among partners to dilute barriers that stifles economic growth, i.e, tariffs and corporate restrictions.

    Japan voiced its interest in the TPP in early March 2013 to improve its trade in Asia especially after China advanced its position as the second largest economy–one Japan once held. The agreement would give Japanese corporations larger access to different markets; an overall positive outcome to minimize China’s growth within Asia as the  largest exporter. Concerns have grown among anti-globalization, environmental, and consumer-labor groups that the trade pact would stiffen nation business growth; in other words,Japan would become dependent on foreign companies similar to Mexico during its NAFTA treaty with the U.S and Canada.

    The Citizens Trade Campaign, a social and environmental trade policy group, pointed out that the TPP special provisions for corporations are “a wishlist of the 1%…[that] of the 26 chapters under negotiations, only a few have to do directly with trade….new rights and privileges [are enshrined] for major corporations while weakening the power of the nation states to oppose them.”  More concerning is that a larger majority of  information on the TPP meetings stem from Wikileaks and the Citizens’ Trade Campaign leaks. For instance, Intellectual Property Watch reported that $25,000 dollars were raised for Wikileaks to collect and publish drafted text from current TPP agreements because most has been redacted from the public domain and shared chiefly with industries. The shrewd secrecy in these negotiations concern Japanese as the chief majority of proposals  involve fields in government procurement, competition policy, labor standards, intellectual property, financial service, investment, telecommunications and environmental standards.

    One goal of the TPP is to eliminate tariffs and some of those involve what are labeled “sacred precincts.” Japanese tariffs cover about 9,018 specific items, of which the “sacred” categories of rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products and sugar account for 586. If current tariffs on all those items were maintained, according to The Mainichi, Japan would still eliminate tariffs on 93.5 percent of trade goods in the TPP zone. It is widely believed, however, that TPP negotiations are shooting for tariff elimination on more than 95 percent of items.Farmers in Japan have been protesting the TPP agenda for a while now. The Liberal Democratic Party, however, has vowed that it would seek to maintain tariffs on vital “national trade goods” including rice, wheat and barley. It was a clear move meant to reduce worries among voters that food safety would be jeopardized for trading consensus. Even if, the Mainichi notes, tariff protections are maintained for certain agricultural products and dropped for processed items, there is still a real possibility that domestic industries would take a hit under the TPP.

    Japan has fared well under Shinzo Abe’s leadership since 2012 winning its bid for the 2020 summer Olympics, raising exports, and taking a modest step out of recession. Consumer spending rose 0.9% and public sector infrastructure spending, part of Japan’s stimulus package, rose 0.8%, which is all good news for the country. Japan, however, faces  a wave of declining prices; a good thing for the average Joes who can now buy more with the same amount of money. For companies, however, if deflation persists for too long then their profits decline; thus, setting into motion a slew of policies that are meant to offset this scenario that involve cutting labor, closing manufacturing facilities, and reducing employee wages. For Shinzo Abe, TPP’s allure is the possibility that it could open new markets for the country in locations where it does not have strong footing. Nonetheless, he risks letting outsiders dominate Japan if he acquiesces to any compromises drafted by other nations such as the U.S; as to how Abe will handle the ramifications of the agreements is unknown. One thing is certain, Japan has much to determine before it can safely procure its citizens that Japanese  businesses, foods, and jobs will not be negatively affected. In the meantime, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) indicates the Japanese economy may see some advances against deflation fairly soon–continuing a string of welcomed reports.

Japan Sees Tighter Scrutiny as Its Economy Recovers

Mainstream media outside Japan has focused on the Fukushima Dai-ichi radioactive leakage. According to Tokyo Electric Power Co, which manages the facility, radiation “levels as high as 100 millisieverts per hour were detected near the tank.” Government regulators’ suggest workers should only be exposed to this amount of radiation in a span of 5 years. Citizens and anti-nuclear energy backers are concerned it could endanger drinking supplies and local environmental life.  Water inside the reactors’ cooling system, however, flow into basements and trenches that have been leaking since the 2011 earthquake disaster. Highly contaminated excess is pumped out and stored in steel tanks on elevated ground away from the reactors, eliminating possible widespread contamination. Local officials have said they will closely monitor the situation, providing help should it be required.

Shinzo Abe, the current Japanese prime minister, nonetheless, has witnessed good economic news out of Japan: exports have risen the most since 2010 impart to stronger demand from Europe and U.S and a weaker Yen (1 € = 132円 and $1 = 99 円, respectively). The exchange rate between U.S and Japan has fluctuated amid recent U.S home sales dipping in July and the Federal Government’s tapering of bond purchasing starting in September: the Fed would bring down its pace from $85 billion per month on bond purchases to $60-65 billion per month.

The Ministry of finance in Tokyo said that exports increased 12.2 percent from a year earlier after a 7.4 percent rise in June. Imports climbed 19.6 percent, leaving a trade deficit of 1.02 trillion yen ($10.5 billion). Exports to China, Japan’s biggest trading partner, rose by 9.5% from a year earlier. The news is advantageous for the economy but it may not translate to employers. Current hope is that a weaker yen will boost exports and profits for Japanese companies, thereby, increasing cash revenue for businesses and employee salaries. Anti-Abeconomics, Shinzo Abe non-backers, criticize this policy because it caters to large companies that can potentially make the Japanese markets reliant on foreign investors who could sell the currency at lower value, thus, making buying imports costly for Japan.

Nevertheless, analysts have predicted that Shinzo Abe’s direction will help revive domestic demand while stimulating economic growth. Next on the agenda for the prime minister is to abate the shrinking labor force by encouraging more women to return to work. He plans to encourage maternity leave and expand child care centers, which could add as many as 8 million workers, bringing the employment rate of women up to that of men. Abe is tackling many issues and next on the agenda for him is the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership).

Ken Hirai Married?! どうしてねえ!

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       Ken Hirai (平井堅) is famous for his sensitive ballads, style, and often “Western” facial features has, according to sources, tied the knot in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. The internet forums are a blaze with rumors that the J-pop superstar said his vows to longtime boyfriend at a ni-chōme restaurant (二丁目), a famous LGBT hub of subculture that houses most of Tokyo’s gay bars.

              The Pop Star singer, of course, has never confirmed or denied his sexuality but most people either suspect or know for a fact. According to an industry insider, “ Ken-chan rented out a restaurant in ni-chōme and held a private gay wedding ceremony. This is true since my partner attended that ceremony.” If this is the case, then K-Hirais (name for fans) everywhere will be both disheartened but eventually happy he found love. This sudden wedding will not hamper record sales which have been steady throughout his career. His most recent album peaked at number 3 on the Japanese charts.

       Tabloids speculate that the newlywed is the man Hirai has been photographed alongside numerous times in Tokyo, a tallish scruffy, athletic built man in his early 40s. This again, however, is just speculation.

             Photos of the wedding have yet to leak, but this rumor could prove to be just that, a rumor. In 2008, Hirai was romantically linked to singer and actor OdaYuji (織田裕二), which proved to be false–a welcomed relief to netizens who thought the match was quite imperfect. Will the singer announce his marriage or deny it? Fans will surely wait in anticipation, but until then they can just listen to his sanguine, cool voice to his new album Japanese Singer.

Abenomics and Abe Shinzo: the new relationship

Abe Shinzo (安倍晋三) is the man saving Japan. The Bank of Japan recently stated that Japan’s economy was ‘recovering,’ a better outlook than its previous, ‘the economy has been picking up.’ Abe’s policies, dubbed Abenomics, rely on strong approaches to the Japanese economy than his former predecessors took on by easing  the Yen’s price, which is currently trading at $1 to 100円, to encourage foreign investment and greater exports from Japan.

Investors are more or less weary about Japan’s current bond repurchases and interest payments, but has not raised alarms unlike the market’s reaction to China’s regulation of money lending between its banks to discourage “bad” or robust loans. The country’s current hurdle, among others, is its declining rapid birth rates. As the older population reaches retirement the pool of new workers is shrinking, which is a disadvantage considering the workforce China can dip into.

In his latest interview with Foreign Affairs Magazine, Abe revealed that his 3 main concepts for Japan are openness,challenge, and innovation. Abe’s strategies, luckily, are rewarding both his party the Liberal Democratic Party and Japan. Recent election results show that the new seats will give the Liberal Democrats control of the Upper and Lower house in parliament, creating a monopoly Abe can use to pass policies quicker without much interference from other parties. This election demonstrates the mounting public support for Abe’s plans that has set Japan on a tentative recovery after receding into the background for two decades. However, Abe faces obstacles, most notably his public remarks on comfort women for Japanese soldiers during its South Korea and China invasion. He has played down his critic’s accusations of wanting to rewrite history to portray Japan in a better light during its invasion. Abe argued that each country depicts its history differently. The United States, for instance, sees its Manifest Destiny history a progressive necessity, but American-Indians still view it an unjustified forced takeover of their lands and homes.

In part to the new policies, Japan has been aggressively pushing its influence alongside other Asian countries in to former Myanmmar (Burma) after the United States lifted trade embargos on the country. Abe met with president Thein Sein in June to unveil a charitable financial and investment package to demonstrate to the newly democratic country that Japan wants a consolidated economic relationship between the two countries. Japan has pledged to Burma $51 billion Yen ($498.5 billion dollars) along with $176 billion in debt forgiveness that doesn’t include the $300 million yen write off from April. Japan will also build a cheap labor industrial force in Thilawa, a port city on the Indian Ocean, to facilitate both Burma and Japanese exports, adopting China’s direction.

China is also entering Burma, or has been for some years, because Burma offers up untapped precious natural resources, an outlet for the country’s exports and a growing middle class tourist industry. China has criticized Tokyo for its expansion into the region, which it feels is a joint plan with the United States to hinder Beijing’s economic growth. Abe has boosted monetary policies, heavy government spending in forms of stimulus packages, and pro-growth movements. Now it remains if they will yield economic development for Japan or falter. Whatever the outcome Abe Shinzo is on a roll.

Tomomi Itano, Japan’s new it girl?

Tomomi Itano of AKB48 was recently spotted in downtown Soho, NYC, looking vibrant in pink while filming alongside former Gossip Girl Taylor Momsen for the luxury Japanese handbag Samantha Thavasa—proving fashion knows no bounds. The handbag company officially announced Tomomi as a “muse” for its brand in 2011. The singer announced she was excited and honored to represent the famous Japanese brand alongside the other famous muses, which include Beyonce and Ebihara Yuri. Muses promote, and often collaborate alongside designers, an exclusive handbag for the famous it retailer to market to their fan base.

Tomomi alongside then Gossip girl actress on set in NYC.
All eyes weren’t on our star, but it did not impede her job on set.

The Dear J singer let slip that she will be “graduating” from AKB48 this year during a promotional tour for the band’s documentary movie. Rumors, however, are a buzz that the songstress departure from the band is also due to her new relationship with EXILE’s Takahiro.

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   The Shukan Bushun reported that the new couple are now living in the same building, setting twitter and social media ablaze with rumors of an impending announcement from the it couple.Heavy Rotation fans will surely mourn the stars departure, but are surely to see and hear more from the new muse in new movies, TV series, and music ventures.

Stronger, intimate, and superb: Ken Hirai

Singer Ken Hirai (平井堅) will hold the 15th Anniversary of Ken’s Bar, a special live concert, celebrating his most memorable and influential songs on both May 29th and 30th in the Nippon Budokan (日本武道館). Since his discovery in a SONY singing competition in 1993, Ken Hiria has released songs showcasing himself as a devout romantic singer unafraid of exposing his sentiments to his fans.

Hirai’s most notable song 瞳 を 閉じて (close eyes) describes an enduring devotion to a past love. The song’s focus is on overcoming a once blossoming affair that provided comfort and an impalpable certitude that the person lying opposite him every morning would remain present in his life forever.  His dream is shattered but he lingers between hopefulness and disparity that his loved one will someday return. In other words,  the memory of his lost love is sufficient to carry him forward: ひとみ を 閉じて を 描くよ それ  だけ で いい. Hirai illustrates what everyone confronts once a relationship ends: the yearning to salvage a wonderful time of being in love forever. He brings this emotion forward through his raw vocals that he refuses to disguise in synthetic electronic sounds.

With effortless vocals and accompanying instruments meshing well together, Hirai and the members of his band easily portray strong and even subtle emotions in every song–gloomy or cheerful. 

Ken Hirai will not be appearing on any gossip website for his party ways, love affairs, promiscuity, or raunchy behavior any time soon. He is foremost devoted to improving his artistry, while composing albums that are simultaneously different and fresh. Hirai is definitely an artist who deserves recognition for his current trajectory as he doesn’t rely on dance electronic hits or synth voices to cement his “talent” in the music industry. Instead, Hirai has earned fame for his heart felt singing and signature serene vocals that make you believe his songs are for you alone, a secret for you and him to share.

Click the link below
A Heart Warmed Ken Singing