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The lack of both L and V sounds in Japan’s language hasn’t kept Canadian musician Avril Lavigne from achieving widespread popularity here. As a matter of fact, given the country’s affinity for female solo acts, and its decades-long ready acceptance of “girls’ rock” music, you could make the argument that Lavigne has an even broader fan base in Japan, or at least one that’s split more evenly across the gender line.

So when Lavigne recently revealed she’d filmed her latest music video in Japan, maybe it wasn’t so surprising, even if a few of her choices for representing Japan were.

While Lavigne never asserts that the song is in any way the definitive statement on the essence of Japan, you can’t call your tune “Hello Kitty” without conjuring up images of the Land of the Rising Sun, and the 29-year-old singer says she was indeed inspired to create it by her “obsession” with the adorable cat from Sanrio.

The song was performed during Lavigne’s concerts in Japan this February, but the video was filmed when she swung back by Tokyo in March, following the conclusion of her Asian tour.

The Japanese media usually shines its brightest spotlight on visiting international celebrities, but Lavigne managed to keep the project under wraps, completing 12 hours of filming in Tokyo’s Shibuya and Harajuku neighborhoods while attracting the minimum amount of attention. The artist says she’d been thinking of shooting a video in Japan for over a year, and while she collaborated with a Japanese producer, director, stylist, and even background dancers, Lavigne herself is said to have been heavily involved with the costuming, choreography, and location choices.

Let’s take a look at the finished product.

Avril-chan opens with the unbridled enthusiasm of a college freshman two weeks into her first semester of Japanese, shouting, “Mina saiko, arigato! Ka-ka-ka-kawaii,” or “You guys are the best! Thanks! And you’re cu-cu-cu-cute!”

▼ Gee, thanks Avril! Gotta say, though, we didn’t know you could see us, too.

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From there, we see Lavigne dance her way through Tokyo. She’s joined by a troupe of four identically dressed background dancers, all of whom seem to be incapable of smiling.

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▼ Is Avril showing them all a picture of a dead puppy?

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As Lavigne struts around Shibuya’s Miyashita Park and JR trains buzz by, the dancers’ routine looks a little like the stiff arm movements of the parapara fad that swept through Japan about 10 years ago.

▼ Later, they all do the Monkey for some reason.

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That shout-out to kawaii cuteness sets the pace, as Lavigne goes for the garishly girly wardrobe choice of a skirt festooned with cupcakes.

▼ Not exactly normal fashion for Japan, but if you were going to try rocking this getup, you’d attract fewer strange looks in Tokyo than most other large cities around the globe.

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One of the locations evens brings up an interesting difference in cultural perceptions. We’re guessing that to Lavigne, this candy store, which just oozes with sweetness, looks extremely Japanese.

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Ask just about anyone born and raised in Japan, though, and they’ll probably tell you that when they see gumball machines, self-serve bins, and that sort of color pattern, Japan is the last country that comes to mind as they’re considered distinctly American.

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▼ Japan does indeed have a thing for big glasses, though.

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And yes, of course Avril hits up a sushi joint. (Maybe that’s where President Obama got the idea?)

▼ Apparently when it comes to the sake vs. shochu debate, she prefers the later.

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▼ Ordinarily, it’s bad manners to pour your own drink like this, but since she’s by herself, it can’t be helped.

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▼ In all honesty, even after years of living in Japan, this is still pretty close to our reaction to really good sushi.

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OK, so we’ve looked at the visuals, but what about the lyrics? Aside from including about a dozen instances of the word kawaii, are they at all related to what Japan considers the hallmarks of youthful femininity?

“Let’s all slumber party”

Sadly, most Japanese homes are too small for that sort of thing. Having even one friend sleep over is pretty unusual, and logistically, there’s just not enough space to have enough of your girlfriends over for a slumber party, so we’re going to have to dock Lavigne one point here.

However, we’re giving that point right back for the phrase, “let’s slumber party,” which is exactly the kind of half-baked English syntax Japanese pop music can’t get enough of.

▼ Let’s one point!

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“Someone chuck a cupcake at me”

Schoolgirls in Japan have started a weird trend of tweeting photos of smashing birthday cakes into their friends’ faces. We don’t know whether or not Avril’s referencing that here, but we’re going to be generous and give her a point for this one.

“It’s time for spin the bottle”

We’re not sure if kids still play spin the bottle in Canada, but since the game has never been popular in Japan, we’re taking a point away.

“Let’s play truth or dare now”

Again, not really a thing in Japan, so minus one more point.

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“We can roll around in our underwear”

When a large group of women are sleeping in the same room, we’ve got no data one way or another as to whether or not they roll around in their undies together (and possibly tickle each other). As a red-blooded male though, I absolutely refuse to give up on that dream, so I’ll be damned if I’m not giving Avril a point here, for no other reason than to keep hope alive.

“Wake up, got a secret
Pinky swear that you’re gonna keep it”

Pinky swearing is extremely common in Japan, usually with the terrifying understanding that breaking the pact is punishable by having to swallow 1,000 needles.


Sorry, Avril, in Japan cats go nyao.

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Adding in one point just for the use of kawaii, Lavigne finishes with a net score of +1.

So in conclusion, does the “Hello Kitty” music video have anything to do with Japan?

Just barely.

Source: Niconico News
Images: YouTube/Avril Lavigne