| Madousho #25(Autumn Special Issue)
Debate Until Dawn?
The continuing progress of Japan, and the search for an imagination lost. Interview: Mademoiselle L
- Today we have in attendance Mana-sama, Juka-san, Kazuno-san, and taqueya-san: Monologue Theater's architect, designer, and Madousho manuscript designer, to discuss some topics. First of all, please tell us what brought this meeting together in the first place.
M: We meet every month to discuss the Madousho, but there were some topics that I found very stimulating, so I thought we should include the members as well, and expand our ideas.
t: That's true; our talks get heated up over the things that "we just didn't think was right!" What kicked off our talk was our prediction that "Fantasy Literature" would soon disappear.
M: Yes, in this ever-changing present where convenience is the only thing that is ultimately sought after, we can't help but fear that imagination itself is at stake. It is due to this very nature that we want to be careful we are always thinking about what we are producing, and using our imagination at every step of the way.
- We have some books here that are marked "Fantasy Literature"...
t: This is "Yasou." (A review magazine that introduces a wide range of culture; from Fantasy Literature to Modern Art.) Bookstores that carry these types of magazines or books are rare now. So many of them are large chain stores.
J: I think, unrestricted to Fantasy Literature, books in general will disappear. We live in an era that lets us download whole books on to our cell phones. I personally always make an effort to pick up books, but it doesn't seem like the younger generation does.
t: Don't we sound like old men. (Laughs) Magazines like this have become out of print as a result of profit centered business style. Tatsuhiko Shibusawa and Suehiro Tanemura, who translated foreign Fantasy Literature pieces, have passed away as well, and I can't help but feel that it's the end of an era.
M: Did you know this "Yasou" magazine, which went out of print, came back with a special Goth report? I wasn't directly interviewed but they wrote about me.
t: I didn't know that, but of course, if the subject is Goth, whether they were for or against it, Mana-sama's name would no doubt be mentioned.
- How would you best describe Fantasy Literature to someone who had never heard of it?
t: That's a good question. For example, "Harry Potter" would not be Fantasy Literature, but "Frankenstein" would. Is that easy enough to understand?
J: I picked up the book "Frankenstein" when I was in middle school! Although I gave up mid way through...(laughs)
t: I believe the author wrote this when he was in high school. It was a story that he and his friends had talked about during a summer trip to a lake, or something like it.
M: Ken Russell portrayed it with his film "Gothic." (A short silence follows this comment.)
- For some reason, it's gotten a bit quiet. (Laughs)
M: Okay how about we change the topic to...records?
J: When I was in Elementary school, I was part of the broadcasting committee, and since my school was out in the country, we used records.
K: I went from cassette tapes to CDs, so I never experienced records.
J: Yeah me too, until CDs I bought cassette tapes, like that of the band "Kome Kome Club". (Laughs)
M: You bought tapes? (Laughs)
t: Then what was the first CD you ever bought?
J: For me, it was WANDS, and Miho Nakayama's "Sekai no Dareyori Kitto."
K: I first bought the soundtrack to Dragon Quest IV. Even before I got hold of the CD though, I recorded the music that could be heard from the game on to my cassette player. What about you Mana-sama?
M: The first record I bought was "PIECE OF MIND" by Iron Maiden. The title and the cover jacket attracted me. Also, it was written that a devil's voice could be found on it, and I already had an attraction to that sort of thing so.
t: I knew it! I always thought that Mana-sama's image overlapped with Iron Maiden's.
M: Really? Well, the devil's voice is recorded pretty clearly and it's fascinating so I recommend it. Records can't be handled carelessly, and requires a certain time and procedure before you can actually listen to it. But that was why it seemed almost like a ritual to me, and I liked that distinct feeling.
K: Wait; records can't be fast-forwarded can they?
J: You can up the revolutions per minute, but that's about it!
- Did it feel odd when records started to be replaced by CDs?
M: It wasn't too bad for me, because as much as I cared for them, I wasn't as badly hooked as some others were. I know there were a lot of record-maniacs back then so the emergence of CDs, with its convenience and bland taste, couldn't have been an easy transition.
t: When CD's first came out, it was said that the sound just wasn't the same.
M: Yes, that was discussed. There is an audible difference between doing everything in the digital domain, and transferring the audio to analog tape. In general while digital sounds can be described as thin or crisp, analog produces a more warm, thick, or a punchy sort of noise. It's like the difference in sound between modern transistor amps and the classic tube amp. Classic tube amps, or vacuum tubes, are old things that break easily and aren't economical, but I still use them.
K: I use vacuum tubes as well.
M: All these new things are convenient, and therefore more efficient, but I can't help feeling that something is lacking as a result. Of course, sound system wise, everything is controlled.
t: With records, I think you get more attached to each record. As if you listened to it with more feeling.
M: Even after I dubbed the records on to cassettes, I could tell how much I cared for the records by the careful index that I had kept. I loved making those.
J: CDs have replaced records, and now it seems that even CDs will be replaced...
M: As downloading music spreads further among the mainstream, less and less people will buy CDs. For me though, the jacket booklet and the CD can't be separated. So it makes me sad to think that some people will only want the CD.
- So whether it be fantasy literature or records, the question is how do we come to terms with the things that are fast disappearing?
M: It seems that the more convenient the world gets, the more we lose out on what is fantastical and imaginative. Today, everything is made public; it's all out in the open. How is imagination to be cultivated in such an environment? Those on the receiving end will always just be recipients, and since we live in an era that requires less and less thinking, I always try to leave room for imagination in the lyrics I write.
t: That's true, these days everything is set up so that only the least amount of thinking is required. Furthermore, we meet so many people in our lives that we've made a habit of simplifying and categorizing the relationships we form for the sake of convenience. Television shows are a good example. If the show requires the viewers to think hard, it never gets high ratings.
M: It's the same thing with the numerous telop characters you see on television shows. I've gotten use to them now, but at first they really stood out.
J: Telops emphasize the dialogues, so it's a lot easier to understand the show, but almost all the shows are dependent on them now.
K: I've gotten so used to the telops being there at the bottom of the screen, that without it, I do actually find it harder to understand.
J: If a show requires a lot of thinking, it may be that kids don't want to watch it.
M: That's exactly what's wrong. The question is, how do you send a message that is not so obvious or straightforward, to a society that does not like to think period. Precisely for this reason though, it's a challenge I like to tackle. I want to pursue visual bands, and I would never think of becoming more "natural" in order to become accepted by a larger audience.
K: People lose their true character when they stop thinking about the meaning of things.
t: With the abundance of so much media, you do wonder, even if you did produce a piece of work that required deep contemplation, whether the recipient would really examine the material though.
- You mean, they may simply say, "I don't get it," and cast it aside.
t: Yes, I wouldn't expect very many people to examine it any further.
K: I agree. After all, people today are surrounded by things that are so easy to understand, that in the midst of it all, it must seem like a bother or a waste of time to try to figure something out.
M: Perhaps people lose curiosity because they are given so many things.
t: It's my belief that Mana-san creates lyrics or songs that leave room for the listener to use their imaginations. So Kazuno-san, do you play the base keeping in mind such wishes by Mana-san?
K: I do play with a definite understanding because Mana-sama has explained these things. However, I try to take into consideration the general sound and feeling of the song more than the meaning.
t: What about Juka-san?
J: To be honest, I grew up surrounded by things that did not require me to closely examine the material. So what has been pointed out here so far, applies to me in many ways. This also explains why, in many cases I cannot grasp the meaning behind Mana-sama's lyrics right away. Whenever I don't understand, I go to Mana-sama, and then try to digest everything in my own way.
t: That's interesting. In Mana-san's case, I think the mystery goes beyond that; to things that are even visible.
M: Yes, I have scattered mysteries on all of the artwork, such as on cover jackets. Those listening can try to make a connection between the songs and the cover jackets. As for the sound, I'm aiming for something barely legal. All these songs you hear now are so polite. None of the sounds ever even come close to clashing. To me, that sort of sound isn't enough. To tell you the truth, one of my aims is to see how I can get sounds that discord, to sound beautiful. This is my own way of producing music.
- There are mysteries all over the lyrics as well. This gives people room to contemplate the piece of work.
t: I think in a previous newsletter, there was a description of the lyrics to "Dix Infernal." I still haven't grasped it all though. I hear that parts of what took place in reality is weaved in there as well...
M: Sometimes in mails, I am surprised to find people have read into the lyrics much more than what I originally intended. But the knowledge that someone has attempted to unravel the meaning behind my words, does make me happier than if I had been told that the album was simply "good."
t: Perhaps people read into Mana-san's lyrics as if they were reading a fantasy novel.
M: Of course, each person has his or her own way of listening to music. There's nothing wrong with someone listening to the music only for its sound, and doesn't give a second thought to the lyrics. There's no rule that you have to understand the lyrics. One thing that can be said about lyrics though, is that I try to avoid narrow expressions, so that the lyrics will have a different effect on the listener as the setting and feelings the music is being listened to changes. For example, Nocturnal Opera is a concept album... So there has to be enough room for people to develop their own images. In this ways, I fuse direct expressions with different methods that are often used on surrealistic films. Obviously, my works are not like the Hollywood films.
K: Yes, I would hope not. (Laughs)
M: The selling point of Hollywood films is its easy to understand nature. I'd like to say my selling point, on the other hand, is its complexity, although how much of an allure this is, I cannot say...
- If you think about it that way, the key concept for entertainment may be just how easy it is to understand it.
M: That's true. Black metal music (BM) is not likely to be used in commercials any time soon. (Laughs) But it's exactly that sort of complexity that I find fascinating. I suppose some people instantly turn away from BM upon hearing it once, but I would suggest that they look at it from a different point of view, and listen to it out of curiosity. It's possible that in this way, a whole new world may open up.
t: If you start digging deep into BM, it is very intriguing. Even before I got to know Mana-san, I could tell, "This person must like BM!" For some reason, whenever I listen to BM, I feel that my soul has been purified.
M: Yes, I feel that rather than listening to what are often referred to as "healing music", I am healed much more by listening to BM. (Laughs)
K: On full blast!
M: So we've touched upon a variety of topics, but if we were to make a conclusion, what sort of direction is this world heading to?
t: I've always disliked the way Japan judges everything in terms of its economic value. It's an overwhelmingly capitalistic society. How do other people feel about this?
J: The current debate over Japanese baseball: the merger of Central and Pacific Leagues is rooted in this capitalistic system too.
M: Baseball...what's the reason for having two leagues anyways?
J: There isn't one, is there?
M: I'm sure there is a reason; people would otherwise be satisfied with a one-league system.
K: It's probably because the Kyojin team wants to remain Number One.
M: I'm sure Kyojin can maintain their number one status even in a one league system.
K: That's true. (Laughs)
- For baseball fans, if it was only a one league system, the Japan Series would be meaningless.
M: Oh really? I once saw a Pacific League game that barely had audiences. It looked a somewhat lonely, so I wondered: what's the difference between Central and Pacific Leagues. If anyone is familiar in this topic, please inform me.
(The debate over baseball continues...)
M: Well, does all this talk over baseball please baseball fans? (Laughs)
J: But I hear as a result of the ongoing debate over the mergers, the numbers of people coming to see the games in the stadium have increased. Japanese people are prone to anything the media takes up. For example: Korean super star "Yonn-sama" (Bae, Yong Joon).
t: Now there's an interesting phenomenon. The media has hyped so much up, I've actually never seen anyone around me going that crazy for him.
J: You're right.
M: The whole craze may simply be a creation of the media.
t: At the same time though, it's supposedly lead to an increase in the number of tourist who visited Korea.
J: Oh yeah and Hangul (the Korean alphabet) lessons are gaining popularity as a result too.
M: No, but even those numbers may be fixed. You can never be sure with television.
t: Television is set up so that you won't have to do the thinking. So if you're not careful, there's always a chance you are being manipulated. It's possible that they are running some farfetched story and you wouldn't know it.
J: That is truly possible! It just seems like everything that is run on television is made for us to believe that they are right and just.
t: These days, I can't help but get the feeling that those who are truly saying what they want in their own individual way, are being muted out. It's as if any voice that doesn't fit the norm are swept under the carpet or co-opted. I think it's expected of artists to state their beliefs. In addition, I believe, to create something is to display your idea of utopia. Which makes me wonder, what are everyone's utopias?
K: For me, the base guitar is what I love the most, and it's what makes me feel most alive. Usually I'm laid-back, but when I have the base in my hands, it's like I'm spiritually stronger. So for me, when I've got the base in my hands, that's where my utopia is.
J: Instead of pursuing an utopia, where I'm at right now, I think foremost about how I can make Moi dix Mois better.
t: Then what sort of images do you have when you embark on recordings?
J: For "Pageant" we were told from the start by Mana-sama that this was to be done in the image of Cinderella, and that the ball was our concert. Also we had played it countless times during the concert, so we were able to recall that feeling and use it to our advantage. I have a hard time imagining experiences that I've never experienced myself. So rather than imagine the world of Cinderella, it was easier for me to imagine our concert instead.
t: Oh that's right, you sung it at concerts. But what intrigues me is the comment; you can't imagine something you've never experienced. I think this brings us back to our earleir talk of Fantasy Literature.
- Yes, we've veered off course from when we first started off, with the discussion of things that are fast disappearing, but as individual artists, what are your thoughts from today's talk?
K: As a musician, I feel that I ought to work more with the landscapes and images a musical piece can offer.
J: As a singer of MdM, I want to increase my ability in many ways.
M: This time, we didn't get into much of a debate, (laughs) but I think we got a lot out of our talk. For this reason, I wish you would think a little bit further than just that you want to increase your abilities. It's because we live in such an era, that digging deeper beyond the simple surface of things, and using our imagination becomes of great significance.
- "Imagination" "The ability to think deep into the meaning of things." An artist must have these qualities, otherwise, there's no way people will receive anything from the work.
M: If we have in our minds the same understanding of Cinderella's ball for "Pageant", and the listeners come with that same understanding, then we can be connected by one complete dream world. For that, imagination is crucial.
t: After I rethink the significant role that imagination plays, I'd like to take up this debate of the "things that are fast disappearing" once again. Next time, I wouldn't mind if it became more of an intense debate. I welcome differing opinions any day. (Laughs)
M: As Juka-kun once pointed out, the "always agreeing Japanese" cannot form debates. Also, although it is always necessary to "think" there is no need to think too hard that you stop moving forward altogether.
t: You know what they say: "Thinking and resting are very similar," so one has to always be careful not to mistake the two.
M: Maybe if Juka-kun performed a concert with a glass of Jack Daniels, a whole new world will open up. (Laughs)
J: I'm no good when I drink...
M: Hey they also say, "All illness has its roots in the mind." So maybe it's all just imagined as well? If alcohol is not an option, may be you can be decked in water instead!? Either way, the important thing is to always make a challenge in the spirit of rock!
- Is December's "Dis inferno III" expected to be so? (Laughs) Well, I'd like to conclude our talk now by asking each member, what can be expected for this event
J: We will make it one die-hard night!
M: You said it, so you yourself better be ready for it!
J: I'll do my best.
K: We will really be out of control for the December event, so everyone ought to truly be in anticipation for it! ...Well, that's what we ask of everyone anyways. (Shyness kicking in all of a sudden.)
t: Oh, it's only a request. (Laughs)
M: We will burst on to the scene! This goes for the two members as well!!
t: I can't wait. No matter what else is going on, this is a must-see event. I look forward to it greatly!
- We hope everyone is anticipating it just as much.
Thank you so much for coming to talk with us today taqueya-san!
Mana & taqueya
After the "Debate Until Dawn?"
t: This talk took 4 hours! I never imagined it from reading the Madousho, but is it always this hard?
M: Well, more or less, yes.
t: There are other columns you write every month as well. That must be a major load! (Laughs)
M: Regardless of how hard you work on it during the production, in the end, all that matters is the end result. So it doesn't really bother me if the amount of work I put into it, can't directly be seen on the finished product.
t: Well, yes but I do get the feeling that you're often having to battle with deadlines.
M: It's my understanding that many fan clubs release a newsletter every three month or so, but if it is once every month, as in Montamour's case, the advantage of it is that new information or the situation of that moment can be delivered directly.Also, as I consider the various topics or articles to be written, it gives me a great chance to contemplate and rethink things about myself.
t: There's a great amount of tension involved for anyone involved in the production of Madousho though.
M: Yes, and that sort of tension makes me feel even more ambitious.
t: Then we shall go on giving it all we've got.
M: Yes, and let's enjoy the forbidden creation.
Juka's "Jukai (Forest)"
The 4th and the 17th:
My birthday and Kazuno-san's birthday, respectively!
"Happy Birthday Kazuno-san!"
Last year I ate a cake by myself, which is a bit lonely, and it was just as I predicted in the Madousho newsletter. (Tears)
However, there was one person that was kind enough to wish me a happy birthday.
I'll never forget that day...
October 4th, 2003. 11:58pm
J: I really am alone...oh what the heck! (Angrily talking to himself.)
The sound of Dialogue Symphonie coming from his ringing cell phone.
J: Yes, yes!
M: Um...it's M
J: Oh, yes.
M: Um...there was something...
J: Yes, yes!?
M: Isn't it your birthday today?
J: Y, yes!!
M: Well, Happy Birthday anyways.
J: Thank you!!
M: Yes, well, that's all for now.
J: That's it!?
M: Yes, that's it, bye then.
The phone goes dead.
It was a moment that the devil (Satan) looked like an angel.
The great M-sama. Is that saying too much?
Today, on September 22nd, 2004, as I listen to Pageant, I wait in anticipation for the day that the angel makes a visit once again.
2004-12-10 00:36:50 ()