Narrative Reflections: Narratives in Music Videos

Note: This was originally posted in Narrative Reflections as a blog post for an undergraduate honours module, Narrative Structures.

I’m going to examine the narratives in music videos, with a closer look at two music videos by Tohoshinki.

The mv featured two different scenes interspersed with each other: one set in what looks like a church, featuring members of Tohoshinki singing the song; another set in what looks like a dance practice studio. I am only going to focus on the latter, since it seemed that only the latter has a narrative.

The narrative in the dance practice segment begins with a man, likely a ballet dance instructor watching on as ballet dancers practises their moves.The next scene then shows a young girl sitting at a bench in the corner, holding on to a mop as she watches the dancers practise. The instructor is then shown applauding the dancers.We then see the dancers filing out of the studio happily as the young girl watches on and picks up the mop and pail next to her, as if preparing the clean the place. The next scene shows her beginning to mop the place, all alone. We then see her looking up as she is mopping to find a pair of ballet shoes on a stool. She went to where the stool is, picks the shoes up. While we do not see her putting on the shoes, we can see them on her feet as she twirled around in the room. She continues twirling around until we see her turning to where the dance instructor is shown watching her dance. She then turns around and saw the instructor.He is then shown handing what looks like a costume over to her. The next scene then showed her dancing in the costume, happily.

The problem comes when there is a certain disjunct between the two scenes. The song is sung by Koreans in Japanese but they are Asian, nonetheless. The characters featured in the dance studio segment, however, are all caucasians. It is odd that they choose caucasians to feature in a Japanese music video.

Another disjunct comes when there is no direct link between the dance studio segment and the lyrics of the song since the lyrics are not narrating what is going on.

Compare this with the video below:

Doushite Kimi Wo Suki Ni Natte Shimattan Darou? or Why did I fall in love with you? is another song sand by the same boyband. Like the previous video, there is also a two different segments interspersed with one another – again one with the members sing and another with the narrative.

However, as can seen in this video, there is not much of a disjunct between the lyrics of the song and the narrative segment of the mv. Despite the insterspersion of different frames of the narrative in the video (when the two main characters first met, the days they spent together when they were younger, sometime before the wedding, and during the actual wedding), we can see that the lyrics are the thoughts of the main male character in the narrative segment of the video. Although some scenes are seemingly viewed through the eyes of the main male character, and in other scenes we can see his face clearly, I argue that the lyrics reflects his inner thoughts, as though he is a first person narrator narrating his story through the lyrics of the song. This is because there is a match between the scenes an the lyrics.

While there seemed to be less of a disjunct in this mv compared to the previous one, there is still a disjunct since there are five voices singing the inner thoughts of one person! Nevertheless, the disjunct here and the disjunct in the first video can be reconciled since the general message of the lyrics in the first mv corresponds to the general air and storyline of the narrative in the mv, and the lyrics in the second mv directly corresponds to what is shown in the mv.


Narrative Reflections: Biblical references in Anime – how far can they go?

Note: This was originally posted in Narrative Reflections as a blog post for an undergraduate honours module, Narrative Structures.

As an avid watcher of Animes, I have came across several animes that made use of biblical references or religious reference. While some are relatively harmless, others are can be viewed as rather sacrilegious. While I’m neither Christian nor particularly religious, I’m rather appalled at how such terms are used and wonder how and why people can accept this.

For example, in the anime D Grayman, the Noahs are a family that aims to destroy human by bringing the dead back to live into human-eating monsters or akumas as they are called. This is definitely different from how Noah is perceived in biblical texts! Another example is in the anime, Trinity Blood, where the pope not only has children, but his children can inherit his title!

I find it interesting as to why people would complain about such abuse in live action films but not in animations such as these, and suspect that in animation, people are more willing to suspend their notions of what is sacrilegious since animations are less likely to be viewed as mimetic of real life. On the other hand, live action films or dramas, even if they are fantastic narratives, still have a certain degree of realism to it such that viewers are more critical of them.


Narrative Reflections: Characterisation in “In Death” series

Note: This was originally posted in Narrative Reflections as a blog post for an undergraduate honours module, Narrative Structures.

The “in death” series by J.D Robb is a romantic suspense series written by J.D Robb, a pseudonym of the popular romance novelist Nora Roberts. There are 45 novels and novellas in the series to date, which began in 1995 and is still ongoing. I find it rather interesting that after so many books, the series remained popular, often becoming the first in the New York Times best selling list. It is also so popular that it has its own Wikipedia page, albeit a poorly written one, and an online community where readers gather to discuss the book. Its popularity, I suspect, can be attributed to the extensive characterisation of the main characters of the series over the course of the novels and not the plot. After all, how many different plots can you find in 45 novels? It will always end with good triumphing over evil, with the main character, a cop catching the bad guy an bringing him to justice. Hence, what keeps readers going is actually the portrayal of the characters.

With this in mind, I will examine how the main character, Eve Dallas, is developed over the course of the series.

Lt. Eve Dallas, is a hardnosed cop belonging to the Homicide Division of the New York Police and Security Department in 2059. In the first book, we are given fairly detailed description of her physical appearance and this allows reader to imagine what she would look like, making her seem more real, more mimetic than an abstract character.

An intriguing backstory is also assigned to Eve Dallas, whose name was not given by her parents, but by a social worker. She was named after Eve, the first woman, and Dallas, the city in which she was found at eight years old, bloody and with no memories. She was brought up by foster system, ran away from it at 18 to join the polic academy. She has no close friends except for her mentor, Captain Ryan Feeney, who trained her when she was a rookie, and Mavis Freestone, an ex-con. However, as the series develops, more details was given about what happened to her before she was eight. Knowing that the author has yet to reveal all of the background of the main character is likely one reason why readers are encouraged to continue reading, to find out what happened to her.

The main character is also not flat, but a round character that has been fleshed out gradually in the first novel, and continues to be fleshed out in each new book.In the first book, she was described as a young brilliant up-and-coming cop in the NYPSD with few close friends, and a uptight hardnosed cop who sticks closely by the book. However, readers can see how she gradually opens up to Roarke, a self-made billionaire who was the prime suspect of the murder cases she was investigating, and falls in love with him. Ass the series progresses, she eventually married him, despite his former criminal connections, though she is still strictly by the book. However, we can see her getting increasingly more willing to use “underhand” methods to solve the case, her husband being a brilliant hacker by virtue of his past criminal activities, who can help her bypass bureaucratic red tape.In fact, She went so far to tamper with official documents to ensure that the criminal justice.Hence, we can see how the character has grown and develop from a flatter character to one who is so self-contradictory and unpredictable that she is mimetic of real people. This is especially since we can see how even as she is increasingly willing to cross lines, or recognise that lines are sometimes blurred, she still struggles with her decisions, making her a very real character.This applies not just to her working ethics, but also her relationships with other people. She starts out as a character with few close ones to one with much more friends, albeit still in a rather tight circle, from all walks of life: a bouncer, a singer, a reporter, a doctor, etc.

With every new trait that is revealed in each group, the character is further developed. It is this that made the character more mimetic, more real and possibly more lovable and this is possibly why the series is so popular.