Last summer, the international pop-star Pharrell Williams rocked Japan with his single, “Happy,” which launched countless fan-made remakes across the country. Joining in with the “happy” Japanese people, he has since collaborated with renowned artist Takashi Murakami to make a remix of virtual star Hatsune Miku’s video “Last Night, Good Night (Re:Dialed).” This time around, however, Pharrell is trying to bring fun Japanese culture to the rest of the world.
Pharrell once again mingled with Murakami in creating the video for his song “It Girl.” As director, Murakami managed to bring in almost every facet of Japanese pop-culture. Let alone the bright, flashing colors and pop-out words (in both English and Japanese), the video fluctuates from 8-bit video game style, to rotoscoping, and to good ole Japanese animation and back again. It’s a lot to look at, if not borderline overwhelming.
One cool aspect of the video is that it contains some nice scenes of a typical Japanese summer that uninformed Westerners wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. The appearance of Pharrell in 8-bit and anime-style was kind of cute too – except the part where he peeps on bikini-clad anime-girls with binoculars.
While Japanese and Westerners alike were surprised by the excessive cute and moe images, they reacted quite differently. The Japanese seem to appreciate Murakami’s “art” of combining rough hip-hop culture with overly-cute otaku culture.
Westerners on the other hand, are either rejoicing over Pharrell’s open-mind and creativity or are disgusted and now see him as a creeping pedophile (again, the binoculars). Others were displeased for other reasons, seeing the video as doing anime, and many of its fans, a dishonor by inaccurately portraying “typical” anime.
I actually got a little caught up in reading the vehement and often explicit arguments going on in the comment section on YouTube between the pro- and against-Pharrell viewers. Check out some of the (more appropriate) comments from English-speaking viewers:
The against-Pharrell viewers:
“This is actually disgusting. And please STOP with the ‘how do you know it’s an underage girl!!’ … This is gross and I don’t see how anyone can support it. Ewww.”
“There are so many things wrong with this video…”
“He looks like a pedofile (sic) stalking little girls lol.”
“This is the Anime I stayed away from.”
“Dude, you’re ruining anime for people.”
The pro-video viewers:
“This is awesome, I give you major props for this. It’s creative and something you like, so never be afraid to share it with others. :)”
“Now I love this guy more. (￣▽￣)ノ＿彡☆Respect！!”
“Thank you Pharrell for being original and for loving the anime, you rocks bro! (✧∀✧)”
I can come to understand how the scantily clad, long-legged, big-breasted girls of anime, and those other anime girls who might look younger than their years, could cause some unaccustomed/uninformed people to be offended by the video. I have to say though, I’ve watched my fair share of anime over the years and the cute, pig-tailed blond that Pharrell’s character becomes infatuated with seems a little pre-adolescent-looking to me too.
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