Who are these people, and what in the world are they singing about?
April 14, 2006 10:35 AM   Subscribe

This music video [YouTube link] is...um...hard to describe. It's also entirely in Japanese, and my wife, friends and I have all been wondering for more than two years just who these people are, and just what, exactly, they're singing about.

While channel surfing with my TiVo a few years back, I stumbled across this strange music video on KXLA, a channel in Los Angeles that sometimes plays Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and other "leased access" programming (that is, another company purchases a block of airtime, and plays back whatever they want within that block.)

My wife and friends find this video as compelling as I do; we're not sure if it's because of the incessant banjo playing in the background, the unbridled enthusiam of the performers, the call-and-response exchanges at the end...or the fact that the singers appear to be granting freedom to a bunch of unfairly incarcerated mimes.

Yes, mimes. So help me god, mimes.

So far, here's what we know:

1. It aired on January 29th, probably in 2004 (it's been on my TiVo for a long, long time);

2. It aired during a block of Japanese programming, on a show called "Asian Stadium", and so is likely being sung in Japanese;

3. Based on the only english-language reference to "Asian Stadium" I could find, it was a show that featured tours of tourist attractions, followed by an interview with a musical guest -- so these performers had probably just been interviewed before this music video was played;

4. It is not Chage and Aska (J-Pop group), although we thought so for a few minutes, based on a passing resemblance between the guitarists in both groups (who wear similar sunglasses.)

We can't get enough of this video, but please, tell me who these performers are and what they're singing about!

Sorry about the video quality; it's a camcorder pointed at a television, because I don't have a video capture card on my computer (I uploaded the video to YouTube specifically for this posting.)
posted by davejay to Media & Arts (14 answers total)
I can't help you, but I'm oddly tempted to post that to the blue.
posted by danb at 11:02 AM on April 14, 2006

It's a Japanese group called Kuzu. The song is called "ikiteru koto tte subarashii," which means "living is wonderful" or "life is wonderful."

Rough translation of the lyrics:

Everyone is born into the world wrapped in a smile,
and crying, and feeling pain, and feeling joy, we grow up.
With tears and shining sweat and true friends, more than anything, let's learn to feel good about ourselves.

Reach your hand up to the sun, stretch yourself out, breathe in the air, and then start walking again. Let's live our lives to the fullest!

When you turn on the TV, all the news is depressing.
So, what I think is, we need to dream bigger, bigger dreams!

Reach your hand up to the sun, stretch yourself out, breathe in the air, and then start walking again. Let's live our lives to the fullest!

Life is wonderful! Life is wonderful!
"I'm dying, I don't want to live!" "I'm dying, I don't want to live!"
But we're still living! You don't have to worry! Life is wonderful! Life is wonderful!
posted by Jeanne at 11:05 AM on April 14, 2006

Jeanne, you are officially and without a doubt not only the favorite person of me right now, but my wife and friends as well. Thank you!

Quick followup question, though -- what's the deal with the mimes, and the guy with the fingers?
posted by davejay at 11:17 AM on April 14, 2006

Holy cow, Jeanne, you are amazing!!!

I :heart: MeFi
posted by OhPuhLeez at 11:21 AM on April 14, 2006

[note that OhPuhLeez is my wife -- told you that you're her favorite too! Heh.]
posted by davejay at 11:23 AM on April 14, 2006

I was looking for a better version of the video -- no luck there -- but I found a site that appears to be selling the CD. Just thought I'd give you a heads-up. :)

(and I know nothing about anything, this is all Jeanne + google. :) )
posted by Malor at 11:35 AM on April 14, 2006

And the complete lyrics here.

And I'll be ordering that CD.
posted by OhPuhLeez at 11:37 AM on April 14, 2006

Wow, I'm learning a lot while digging around about these guys.

A bit of bio about KUZU is here. Essentially they're a band formed of two comedians, Miyasako Hiroyuki (32) and Yamaguchi "Gu-san" Tomomitsu (33), who are featured on a variety/comedy show "Ebunai" (hence the outrageous music video). As a band, they're managed by Yoshimoto Kogyo - a media conglomerate that started out as a manager and producer of comedic talent. So in terms of origins, it's somewhat similar to The Blues Brothers' birth through SNL but if SNL had formed a label and become manager and producer for The Blues Brothers.

Amazingly, they managed to rope in a lot of guest artists for their album "KUZU Album" (Malor linked to the single, not the album) among them Utada Hikaru, Teru and Takuro of GLAY (current pop stars) and Saijo Hideki (pop legend). The album also went to #2 on the ORICON charts (like Billboard). Oh and expect to pay about $30 for the album and half that for a single after shipping.
posted by junesix at 12:01 PM on April 14, 2006

$34.93, to be exact ;).
posted by OhPuhLeez at 12:10 PM on April 14, 2006

Alas, I don't have a clue about the mimes. I speak the language, but the culture still can be opaque now and then.
posted by Jeanne at 12:15 PM on April 14, 2006

Oh and FYI, the band and song title were on the video itself all along. The two rows of fuzzy text in the lower left corner is the band name on the top and the song title on the bottom.
posted by junesix at 12:33 PM on April 14, 2006

You guys are both awesome. Thank you!
posted by davejay at 1:43 PM on April 14, 2006

I have to say that this was one of the few "Life Is Wonderful" songs I've seen in a long time that actually--for the duration of the running time, anyway--genuinely made me feel like life really IS wonderful.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:23 PM on April 14, 2006

Great stuff - Although I have no inside knowledge of the Japanese penal system or of Japanese mimery, I'm pretty sure that the dudes in jumpsuits are not mimes... The makeup looked more like they were just supposed to be pale (like dudes who have been in lockup forever, maybe)? Just an idea.
posted by sluggo at 5:38 PM on April 14, 2006

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