Modern Existentialism in Vocaloid: “Common World Domination” by Pinocchio-P

This song is awesome. It’s catchy, has a lovely music video, and it’s philosophical. Watch it and share your thoughts.

“Common World Domination” is a modernist narrative about the fruitlessness of material obsessions. You can see this right from the beginning with the motif of the skeletons collapsing, which represents how no creature can escape from returning to skeletal dust. Meanwhile, the band-aid motif represents the superficial and artificial ways in which people try to escape from their problems. The narrator (whom I’ll just call “Miku”) is a classic modern intellectual filled with apathy and the burdens of consciousness, who compares and contrasts herself with “you”, the viewer.

Why is Miku surrounded by this array of bursting human skeletons, covered in bandages? Because Miku (and those like her) are the only ones who are truly alive. They understand the flaws and limitations of the world they live in instead of blindly following convention and authority. Miku knows that her existence in this world is short-lived, so she would rather die than see herself abide by conventions that she could never agree with. And for the rest, those people who choose to have their lives dictated by external forces beyond their control, they are dead men dressed in the clothing of the living, skeletons wearing bandages to shield themselves from the pain and bitterness of existence. They deny their mortality almost as if they think they will live forever, but Miku knows better, and for this reason, she is shunned as an outcast and endures a horrible existence among her peers.

With some trepidation, Miku finally takes off the one bandage that has been holding her back throughout her entire life, a bandage that represents the self-doubt and suffocating consciousness that always stopped her from existing comfortably. Perhaps from drug use, passionate life-living, meditation, or some combination of the three, Miku understands the nature of existence and allows herself to live beyond the world. She no longer feels bothered by the idle, materialistic pursuits of her peers, for she has seen and truly understood what it means to be alive. The fact that Miku’s face disappears towards the end of this music video indicates precisely that she has transceded beyond her very identity and achieved a nirvana-like state of ego loss. She understands that our world is a world of the absurd, but that there is great joy to be found in it because of it.

For people interested in minutiae, here is a lyrical breakdown that almost certainly has a few flaws:

“A snail in a cramped classroom plays a melody by clicking its tongue.” -> Miku feels stifled and cramped in the classroom environment and clicks her tongue to express her disgust, an act considered impolite and unladylike.

“Both the bullying and the bullied have made the great discovery that bell pepper is bitter.” -> Hasty judgments on bullies and bullying victims in the classroom is useless, as they are both people suffering through the bitterness of life.
“The cool people and the cute people both belong to you. On the survey, your answer is always “yes” regardless of the truth.” -> Miku is a black sheep. She understands that her peers have always obsessed with being cool, being cute, and blatantly lie in order to fit in the with the crowd.
“It hurts. It hurts. Because I hate this pain, I can’t bring myself to fight it…” -> Miku’s existence is fundamentally incompatible with that of her society. She tries to fit in with the crowd, but she can’t. She does not want to indulge herself in superficial lies. She is a stranger to her world.
“The day will eventually come when words such as “Thank you”, “Good morning”, and “Sorry” will all have become fond memories.” -> Our preoccuption with forced phrases (many of which are insincere) is completely useless, as one day they will just fade away into memory.
“Whether you’re 14 or 40, let’s dance! Lattattatta!” -> Age doesn’t matter in a world that is constantly and inevitably approaching extinction. Miku beckons you to dance and enjoy the moment, free from material fancies.
“Somebody! Will somebody please help everyone?” -> Miku knows that she is not the only one struggling. She idly wonders if anyone can help them, but knows that this is a naive dream.

“I litter because I’m irritated. At the Grand Prix, the babies display their cute irony.” -> Miku litters because she does not care about the world and natural conservation. At the Grand Prix, parents take babies with them who ironically understand nothing at all about what they are watching.

“Let’s have a grand experiment to determine if both lovers and invaders are merely lumps of flesh.” -> Miku wonders if there is more to love and war than the workings of flesh and chemicals.

“The sirloin steak and the swallow’s nest soup both belong to you.” -> Sirloin steak and Swallow’s nest soup are both prized delicacies. Miku sarcastically congratulates those who enjoys such high-prestige pleasures. She derives no joy from socially charged foods.

“Therefore, the spies’ correspondence records are secret.” -> Miku feels as if she is a spy in a world of ordinary, law-abiding people. She feels some relief in knowing that despite however anxious she may feel existing in such a world, her own private thoughts and consciousness will be forever secret.

“It’s scary. It’s scary. Because I hate being scared, I want to just fall asleep…” -> Existence itself and the call of the void are horribly scary. The constant pounding of Miku’s anxiety-ridden consciousness make her wish for an eternal sleep.

“The day will come when you will be secretly watched 24/7 whether you are happy or sad or being mischievous. “ -> Miku feels as if her world is dominated by artificiality and scientism. Eventually, it will be impossible to escape the scrutiny of those who want to analyze every little part of the human soul.

“Mr. Sato, and Mr. Suzuki, let’s sing! Lanlanlanlan! Someday, someday, we’ll forget even our names.” -> Identity is temporary and material, and even the human names which we hold so dear will be lost to the void.

“Will it be a happy end when we become buddies? But as for the kid that’s left out, where is he going?” -> Miku wonders if she can escape from her anxieties by simply pursuing friendship. But she knows that she will always be the one left out, as she is a stranger to all things in the world.
“The passport has become smeared with blood. The moment of choice is right, right, right next to you.” -> Something happens to Miku that causes her to question her previous way of life, something world changing like an enlightened vision. At this point in the music video, she realizes that she must take off the bandage on her nose in order to escape the burdens of a bitter life, and doing so causes her to spill blood on her passport (an item which represents the wandering nature of her life).
“The day will eventually come when words such as “Goodbye”, “Good night”, and “See you tomorrow” will no longer lead into the next day.

Mr. Tanaka, and Mr. Takahashi, let’s laugh! Wahahaha! Somebody. Somebody. Somebody. Somebody. Somebody.” -> With her bandages gone, Miku ironically does not feel hurt by the world at all. She is truly happy and has finally understood the nature of her existence.
“The day will eventually come when words such as
“Thank you”, “Good morning”, and “Sorry” will all have become nostalgia.
Conspiracy theory, and gas stove, let’s dance! Lattattatta!
Somebody! Will somebody please help everyone?” -> Miku reflects on previous themes in the song. It is still true that idle greetings and phrases are useless in an absurd and uncaring universe, but there is great joy to be found in the absurd. Now finally at peace, Miku wonders if it is possible for any of her peers to realize such a profound awakening and experience the same joy that she has.

 

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3 thoughts on “Modern Existentialism in Vocaloid: “Common World Domination” by Pinocchio-P

  1. It’s always nice to see people responding to the the artists’ synthesis of the aural, visual, and semantic. Your analysis is pretty well done overall, and I’m certainly not going to nitpick on artistic interpretation. However, I do think you stopped far too prematurely, ignoring all important motifs such as the numerous chibi Miku dolls (including one particularly poignant flash of a cleaver-wielding Miku), and her transformation into a Witch (this one has a lot of cultural significance at this point and speaks volumes by itself, as Miku removing her bandage catalyzes the transformation good to evil, from hope to despair) leading into her body breaking into a large number of bandages (which then in turn presumably seed themselves onto others just like her). Then of course, we should assume that the title was picked due to some thematic importance, as any listener would be curious as to how all of this ties back into world domination. Is Miku a victim of the mundane that predominates her world, or is she a harbinger of a more absurd kind of domination, namely that our existences are ephemeral and whimsical, and in the end we all collapse into faceless, nameless entities?

    I would caution against ignoring important motifs for the sake of telling a story, even if it’s a pretty good and compelling story, at least in the case of a literary analysis. If we say that you’ve laid 90% of the framework for this song, a single frame of the song/music video is capable of taking that ending you presented (one of hope and acceptance) into something far more nihilistic (yet also with distinctly whimsical flare that is often seen in Vocaloid music).

    But I say all this because I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Keep it up 🙂

    • If I ignored something, I did it for good reason. Let’s take a look at what you’ve presented:

      “the numerous chibi Miku dolls (including one particularly poignant flash of a cleaver-wielding Miku)”: Yes, I did take a look at this, and this seems to be more of a signature of Pinnochio-P’s music videos than an actual literary theme.

      “her transformation into a Witch (this one has a lot of cultural significance at this point and speaks volumes by itself, as Miku removing her bandage catalyzes the transformation good to evil, from hope to despair) leading into her body breaking into a large number of bandages (which then in turn presumably seed themselves onto others just like her)”: First of all, I didn’t ignore this. I argued pretty clearly in my original post that the narrator achieves ego loss at the end of the song and finally understands what it means to be alive. And second of all, your point is completely debatable. I don’t really see any reason from the song to arbitrarily tie it to Madoka, and even if it was Pinnochio-P’s intention to reference Madoka, the lyrics in a vacuum attest pretty obviously to a modernist narrative.

      “Then of course, we should assume that the title was picked due to some thematic importance, as any listener would be curious as to how all of this ties back into world domination”: This is a pretty fair point. Unfortunately, I don’t know any Japanese and don’t really think it’s worth it to analyze a translated English title. You can disagree here, though.

      “I would caution against ignoring important motifs for the sake of telling a story, even if it’s a pretty good and compelling story, at least in the case of a literary analysis”: Thanks for the warning, but I never did this.

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