REVIEW: SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSUGOI!!!!!!!!!!!!111oneoneone Daebak. Amazing. I came across this music video quite randomly last night and, on the surface, it seemed like a really cool Jpop music video that incorporates classic Japanese minimalist analog creativity and precision in the form of a pop-and-lock dance troupe. But then as I watched it again and again, I realized that Genki Sudo/World Order had a lot of interesting things to say. And then when I did a little research into Genki Sudo and his lyrics I was seriously impressed by the breadth of his career and the creative intelligence inherent in all his work.
CONTEXT: Okay — color me wrong, for all that I’ve researched has come from the internet, scouring MMA sites w/ a heavy dose of Wikipedia. But according to those sources…So it turns out that Genki Sudo had a whole other life before he turned into Jpop artist — and that was as a MMA (mixed martial artist) pride fighter.
And, as an MMA prize fighter, he was known for his elaborate dance-routine openings…
And his catchphrase “We Are All One.”
But he had an interesting life prior to that. Genki Sudo was born as a son of a chef and in his youth he won the JOC Cup All Japan Junior Wrestling Championship. He graduated from junior college in Japan and then went on to the States to attend and then drop out of SMC (Santa Monica College.) But let his community-college-drop-out status not be the judge of his level of intelligence, for he’s written eight books since his MMA retirement in 2006, is pursuing his master’s degree and is known as an essayist.
AND he coaches a baseball team for men in their 30s. ISN’T HE AMAZING??? And he’s only 32!
But enough about his history. Let’s just enjoy his video with his new group World Order. The song is entitled “Mind Shift.”
ALICE’S ANALYSIS: The video centers around the confession of how the everyday salary man (9-5 office worker) has become a dissatisfied mechanical man, yearning for some kind of creative or spiritual connection.
The men throughout the first sequence of the video are all running in a pack towards something. Though their bodies are slow-moving and mechanic, their body language (fists, large strides) indicate that they are, in fact, running. The slowness, however, is not just some gimmick to demonstrate their AWESOME ROBOT SKILLS as dancers. You can see however slow they move, the pace of the people around them are normal, suggesting that, in their robotic state, they feel distant, separate and disconnected from the rest of society, especially when they think and move all as one unit. But where is it that they’re moving towards?
A Buddhist temple. In the dark of night.
It’s also interesting to note that the lyrics up until this point are as such: “Success, depress, ambition. Progress, regress, recognition” in a seemingly endless loop(many thanks to The Useless Tree’s “Tao of Genki Sudo: Mind Shift Lyrics” post on Global Blogger), reflective of the very mind state of these automaton salary men. In the 9-5 world of these salary men, their success in unsatisfactory, which leads to depression. But they are unable to leave their jobs or their worlds because of their ambition for success. It’s like that never-ending hamster wheel we get on as soon as we enter the workforce. There’s at first progression, then regression, but the strive for recognition is what disallows them from getting off that hamster wheel.
It’s interesting to note that they arrive to a Buddhist temple, which is commonly considered a sacred place, a spiritual place — and they arrive when the lights go out. So, why is it that the temple is the object of their pursuit?
It’s also interesting to note that the story of the salary men is revealed in a shift in the lyrics upon their arrival to the temple just after the lights go out and it is no longer open to the public: “I was awakened (enlightened) and realized what I saw and felt were an illusion.”
It is in secret that they break-into/enter the temple and it is in secret that the rest of the lyrics are revealed/confessed as they “run” up the stairs into the main hall: “Forget and abandon the outside world, and instead seek and feel your inner world. Looking at the stars, the darkness in my heart disappears. ”
Also notice that it’s not until they get to the temple that there is a break in their movement — which slowly gets more creative and fluid and Genki Sudo relays his whole experience of awakening: “”Success, depress, ambition Progress, regress, recognition. I was awakened (enlightened) and realized what I saw and felt were all illusion. Forget and abandon the outside world, and instead seek and feel your inner world. Looking at the stars, the darkness in my heart disappears. ”
World Order pantomimes a (nervous?) energy radiating from Genki Sudo as he sings the chorus of success, depress, ambition. The wavy hands suddenly shift into slow motion as Sudo sings “progress, regress, recognition.”
It is at this point that Sudo’s hand pantomimes a heart pumping, and with each beat, divine arms are released from his body as he sings that he was awakened to the realization that his world was an illusion. What’s really interesting about this part of the sequence is the allusion to the many-armed deities found in Eastern religious and spiritual iconography. Just a random dance-move that looked cool? I think not.
Here’s a still photo from World Order’s album art. Again, we see the allusion to those many-armed Eastern deities, which suggests that the choreography was very well thought out in the video and holds an inner meaning that is directly connected to the lyrics of his song.
“Why do those gods/deities have so many arms???”
I’m so glad you asked!
Buh. I don’t know. For sure.
But my understanding from what was commonly understood through my personal experience and understanding is that the many arms represent deity’s manifold powers, suggesting that each one of us, too, have manifold powers within us.
From my seriously non-expert understanding of specifically Hindu deities, when they have many arms, each arm tends to hold a different thing, representing a multiplicity of certain gifts or powers that they hold.
Anyway, it appears that during this “awakening” and with each heartbeat — indicating that the formerly dead-inside salary man is now alive — the protagonist has come to realize that he, too, carries a multiplicity of gifts or powers within himself, too — that his life is NOT limited to the fate of the 9-5 robot.
This also aligns with Sudo’s own life path as a Buddhist, philospher, community-college drop-out, MMA-fighter, dancer, author and essayist. He, too, was never limited to just one thing or one path.
When he dropped out of community college, he became something new — a professional MMA fighter. When he retired in 2006, he again became something new — an essayist who ended up publishing 8 books in a handful of years. But his life isn’t finished yet, for he’s pursuing a career as a Jpop artist and going after his masters.
It’s here that the arms appear to form clouds that pass an enlightened Sudo by. The lyrics also shift — I forgot to mention — to “forget and abandon the outside world, and instead seek and feel your inner world. Continue the journey, and you will discover the world some day.” The expression on Sudo’s face also relaxes from stern and stressed and put-together to something quite at peace and almost happy.
It’s here that the song takes it “to the bridge” and you can see the faces of the salary men behind Sudo pop out like peacock feathers — and, maybe I’m reaching here, but peacocks often signify envy. Whether or not I’m reaching, it’s this portion of the dance sequence that Sudo “confesses” or demonstrates how an awakened and alive human individual becomes a mechanical man.
Stern faces of judgment then shoot out from the left side (indicating a left-brained mentality?), anyway, it’s under these watchful faces that Sudo’s face gets tense again. It also suggests that his decision to become a salary man is motivated by the “SUCCESS DEPRESS AMBITION” mantra of the “outside world” he encouraged us to forget.
It’s during this sequence that the arms behind him cycle outwards, pantomiming an endless cycle of this mantra of “PROGRESS REGRESS RECOGNITION” — and it’s during this sequence that Sudo’s body not only convulses, but a look of pain crosses his face as he grabs for his heart. But as the cycling continues, Sudo’s movements become slower and more rigid as he’s unable to resist.
Finally, when all emotion and expression is sucked out of his face, the troupe of mindless, automaton salary men emerge from Sudo’s body.
And, finally, as Sudo’s rigid motions screech to a halt, the salary men who have emerged from his body turn their backs to him and move forward without him. It is here that the confession and the story of the salary man ends. Why do I call it a confession?
As soon as the lights turn on, the automaton salary men all look up in panic and “run” away. Confessions are made in the dark and in private/secret. And, perhaps their story was so shameful that they could only confess inside a dark and empty temple, seeing that they didn’t seem too keen on sharing it with the priest/monk.
In any case, it’s the story of salary men who, upon awakening, feel drawn to Spirit and some kind of asylum from the “outside world” — and it’s only when they arrive at the temple that they can creatively explore that “inner world” that Sudo mentions in his lyrics and find some kind of creative outlet, only to find that they are all expansive inside — that they are not robots when they take the moment and time to seek that inner world. And it’s only when the light turns on and they are “exposed” to the “outside world” — that they revert back to where they were at the start of the film, except they are running away, back to that “outside world” that originally repressed the expression of their spirits.
I know, I know — I could be looking way too much into it, but 1 — Sudo is Japanese, 2 — he’s an essayist and 3 — he’s a Pisces (intense!) I can’t help but think that there’s a lot more to this video than really cool-looking choreography inside a Buddhist temple.
GAH! MUST UPDATE SCHEDULE!!!
Love and tacos,
P.S. If you really like this song, then I suggest you also checking out SuperCar — specifically their Futurama and High Vision albums.
P.P.S. With the debut of Genki Sudo’s new group World Order, the title “Mind Shift” suggests that Sudo is declaring a need for an actual “mind shift” from the world order that’s run by the mechanical man.
P.P.P.S. To look more into the idea of what I mean by the “mechanical man,” check out this SUPER AWESOME and classic interview w/ Bruce Lee on the Pierre Burton Show: