Sing-along by 'Frozen' audiences gets mixed results in Japan

By Casey Baseel

Disney’s "Frozen" is a big hit in Japan, where it’s known as "Anna and the Snow Queen." It’s not such a big surprise, as Japan’s always had a soft spot for Disney and stories about the power of friendship and family, and the film’s lack of dramatic, showy romance also fits in nicely with Japanese narrative sensibilities.

So when Disney decided to bring the sing-along version of Frozen to theaters in Japan, a country where you’re never more than a few minutes from a place to sing karaoke, you’d think it’d be an amazingly enjoyable experience for moviegoers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that’s always the case.

The problem isn’t that Japan doesn’t appreciate "Frozen’s" immensely catchy songs. The film was theatrically released in both subtitled and dubbed versions, with esteemed actress and vocalist Takako Matsu providing the Japanese speaking and singing voice of magically-gifted Elsa. As we mentioned before, Matsu is no slouch, and you can listen for yourself in the video below.

There’s even been a deluxe release of the soundtrack that includes both the Japanese and English versions of the songs. Japan’s sing-along version features the Japanese renditions, though, in order to make it easy for as many people as possible to belt out the lyrics to their favorite numbers.

Sadly, the sing-along experience didn’t live up to the expectations of everyone who bought a ticket, although this doesn’t seem to be directly Disney’s fault. One fan, Fii Yokoyama, went so far as to take a day off from work to head to the theater, and described the problem via Twitter.

“It was the worst! First of all, no one around me was singing, so I was like, ‘Huh? Is it OK if I start?’”

This brings up a critical point about singing in public in Japan. The country may be the birthplace of karaoke, but unlike in many other countries where it’s become popular, standing on stage and hamming it up in front of a group of strangers isn’t how karaoke is usually done in Japan. Instead, the norm is to rent a private room where you can sing just with a group of friends, or even alone. That way, you don’t have to worry about bothering anyone or embarrassing yourself too much with your off-key warbling.

Even under the cover of darkness provided by a theater with the lights dimmed, some people might not feel comfortable singing along with the movie. Other Twitter users reported a similarly chilly atmosphere in regards to the sing along.

“Almost nobody around me sang at all. I was so sad, since I’d really been looking forward to it.”

“Man, I listened to the soundtrack so many times to get ready for this, but nobody around me was singing….Quit munching on your popcorn and sing already!!”

Some theaters even displayed a special message before the movie began, encouraging the audience with, “Don’t be shy, and sing!”

Sadly, the location Yokoyama went to didn’t show any such notification, which led to a problem with one of the other ticket buyers in attendance.

“When they got to my favorite song, I started singing along, just in a quiet voice, but the person sitting next to me turned to me and said, ‘Do you mind keeping it down? This is a movie theater, you know?’”

Yokoyama tried to explain that this was a special event where singing wasn’t just allowed, but expected. Still, Yokoyama’s neighbor wasn’t having any of it, and the intimidated Frozen fan spent the rest of the film in silence.

With the sing-along version of the film just about to leave movie theaters, we’re sure the experience has left a bitter taste in Yokoyama’s mouth. It’s always a shame when some random grump ruins your fun, but we hope she doesn’t dwell on it too much. Sometimes when someone tries to pass their negativity off onto you, you just have to let it go.

Still, we do feel bad for Yokoyama, so here are the Japanese lyrics below, just in case anyone feels like singing along for moral support.

_Furi hajimeta yuki wa ashiato keshite Masshiro na sekai ni hitori no watashi Kaze ga kokoro ni sasayaku no Kono mama ja dame nan da to

Tomadoi kizutsuki Dare ni mo uchiakezu ni nayandeta Sore mo mou yameyou

Ari no mama no sugata miseru no yo Ari no mama no jibun ni naru no Nani mo kowakunai kaze yo fuke

Sukoshi mo samukunai wa

Nayandeta koto ga uso mitai ne Datte mou jiyuu yo nandemo dekiru Doko made yareru ka jibun o tameshitai no Sou yo kawaru no yo watashi

Ari no mama de sora e kaze ni note Ari no mama de tobidashite miru no

Nido to namida wa nagasanai wa

Tsumetaku daichi o tsutsumikomi Takaku maiagaru omoiegaite

Hanasaku koori no kesshou no you ni Kagayaiteitai mou kimeta no

Kore de ii no jibun o suki ni natte Kore de ii no jibun shinjite

Hikari abinagara arukidasou

Sukoshi mo samukunai wa_

Source: Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- 15 quotes from manga characters to pick you up when you’re feeling down -- From Sarah Brightman to Queen: Watch nine western artists sing in Japanese -- 10 Japanese expressions that sound delightfully strange and funny when translated

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Frozen is a great animated Disney movie made for kids that I really enjoyed watching. Young girls and boys will have characters to look up to as there are strong female and male characters. Frozen succeeds with the soundtrack and the songs never get tiring and are grand and gives so much to the film. The scripts are marvelous but also incredibly funny as well as emotional. The Disney movie is probably one of their best ever. l

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Last week , I was eating lunch with a sho gakko 4 th grade class and the school radio played some songs from Frozen. It was quite amazing , most of the kids were singing and knew the lyrics.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This was hilarious. I was immediately reminded of English conversation classes in Japan when I read this. Anyone who has ever taught classes in Japan has doubtlessly experienced this same irksome propensity for people to clam up at the wrong times.

Still, at certain stage performances here people seem willing to sing along and even mimic silly dance routines and gestures with the entire audience in unison. The concept of doing the same in movie theaters might take a while to catch on.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Perhaps movie theaters should pass out microphones so people can pretend they are in a karaoke bar.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

" . . . standing on stage and hamming it up in front of a group of strangers isn’t how karaoke is usually done in Japan. "

I might be inclined to believe this if not for the punishment I've endured countless times in snack bars when customers from separate tables engage in what can best be described as drunken sing-offs against each other, to the horror and dismay of every one withig earshot.

Maybe that's why the Disney sign-along didn't work; They didn't get the audience sauced up beforehand.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This is a bit strange, there are lots of different versions, 3D, singalong, English/Japanese, and combinations of those, but it should have been pretty clearly stated which one it was. I was going to take my kids to see this version yesterday in Roppongi, and the kind of film being shown was very clearly written on the website, and it was in the cinema itself too when we saw the normal version.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

All I know is that many parents around the world want to never hear that song again... because they've heard it for the past million~gazillion times since their kids LOVE it!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Showing them how to sing in theater:

世界中で社会現象 「Let It Go」 みんなで大合唱 May J.


2014年4月18日 「アナと雪の女王」大合唱イベント、他


0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was surprised at how weak the plot was for Frozen.

You'd think that Disney with all it's wealth and resources could afford some skilled writers.

It was shockingly poor storytelling... I'm sure a lot of the kids who have seen it could do a better job with the story.

On the positive side, it's a beautiful looking movie and the song "Let it go" is a great power ballad...

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Unsurprising, I think. Japanese movie theater audiences have a tendency to remain absolutely silent and stoic during movies, as opposed to the more reactionary audiences of the States (I'm assuming this article is comparing Japan to the States, since that's where the Disney decision-makers are who "sent it to Japan"). American audiences laugh at jokes, gasp at surprises, and squirm at uncomfortable parts, whereas Japanese audiences tend not to do any of those things. (That's left me on more than one occasion being the sole person laughing out loud...eeesh). But perhaps kids' movies are different? I've never been to one here.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I often get the sharp edge of an elbow from Mrs Bloodaxe if I have the audacity to laugh during a comedy or make a sound other than dutiful chewing on overpriced popcorn. "You're no at home now. Consider other people".

Miserable cow, she is..

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Who needs to go to a theater? Come to my house and you can sing along with my daughter who I swear watches this movie every waking hour...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The latest episode of "Once Upon a Time" shows Elsa appearing out of a golden chalice, ready to reak havok upon Storybrooke.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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