I first encountered Roro's Suicide story after having one of her tribute music video on my recommend list on Youtube. Note that I'm not exactly a cheery type of person so my playlist commits to a prevalent themes of melancholy. The thumbnail and title of the video were the first things I've noticed prior to listening to the song.
I knew I was going to have mixed feelings at receiving the media. the bright colors for the animation and upbeat music markedly contrast the depressing themes that are conveyed by the lyrics. For those that don't know the Japanese language, it's understandable to overlook this gloomy detail. The song was often used on tiktok for just sounding cute without anyone knowing the context behind.
Most of the summarized details about Roro's story can be found here. For those that can't be bothered about clicking external links:
Roro was a Japanese niconico streamer that started her streaming career on 2012. Her content was mostly about singing and piano that later transitioned to riskier stunts. Her viewers would comment the slow descent of her behavior to being a bit off as the streams continued. She ended her life by jumping off a building on November 24, 2013. The link contains better details of the story though.
The illustrator and animators did an awesome job manipulating pastel colors and balancing them with a gloomy scenes and symbolism to tell the story. Even when you don't know the lyrics. some parts about how the animation flow, color transitions, and even facial expressions of the character gives a hint of the unsettling.
How can an upbeat music show the opposite visuals aesthetics? this disagreement between the visuals and sound is already a tell for the audience that something isn't right even with 0 knowledge of the Japanese language.
Part of the magic is how the title gives away the story for those that already know about Roro. It hits different when you know the backstory behind the music first before listening to it compared to going in blind and knowing the story after. I revisited the story again and each time I dwell into Roro's background, the music video shifts it's meaning for me. Sure it's a depressing music but I can't really say it's all depressing thanks to the upbeat rhythm.
It's a difficult feeling to put into words but when you have been living in a depressive state, high functioning, with a terribly high amount of self awareness about yourself, there comes a point when you become desensitized about your own negativity. So you end up becoming appreciative about the small positive things you see around you. Well that's the closest thing I could get when I try to make sense why the song remains catchy to me even with the twisted story behind.
I don't think the video was meant to glorify suicide. My own take on the matter is it being another way to interpret several faces of depression leading to suicide. Sometimes people just deal with their problems with a smile until it rots them to their core until they couldn't take it anymore. The bright colors mask the underlying sadness.
It even hits harder after realizing how it got popular overseas with an audience not adept with the language. Let's say you're just listening to the song over the radio or watching it without any subtitles, you know something is wrong but you just can't put a finger on it until you get overt hints like the suicide word is part of the title. The music and colors mask those details from the unsuspecting. Almost the same energy as someone good with faking their smiles when they're feeling down.
I like this form of story telling as it lets the audience ponder on the meaning and the meaning becomes different depending on who views it. I mean, just look at the number of symbolic acts, colors, and way of story telling the video has. It's bright but disturbing and the lyrics just adds another layer of cognitive dissonance for the art style used in the animation.
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