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Tom Smith gets tied up with Bleach’s schoolgirl rockers SCANDAL

Bleach’s upcoming DVD set for series 12 (part 1) is about to strike the UK for the first time. The episodes included originally introduced an all-new girl group to the anime masses in Japan – and later, the world. Their slogan: ‘The Most Powerful Japanese Girlie Pop-Rock’. Their uniform: schoolgirl outfits.  Their unique selling point; they all play their own instruments and wrote their own songs. They were like a real life K-On! at a time when girl groups were ditching instruments in favour of cute choreography, à la idol pop, and soon after featuring as Bleach’s tenth opening, they were playing at anime conventions across the globe. They are SCANDAL.

 

With a name like that it was highly unlikely this group of schoolgirls were going to be squeaky clean, but that doesn’t prevent the marketing bods at their label pretending they are. Take, for example, the song used in Bleach; Shoujo S. The official line  behind the song’s title is that it simply combines English with Japanese to create a hybrid plural word; shoujo, meaning girl in Japanese, followed by the English plural noun marker ‘s’. So in a nutshell the title means ‘Girls’. Does this writer believe that? Not a chance! Japan (as well as Rihanna and chums) has a habit of using S in a context where the letter M is usually not too far behind.

 

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The music video for the song came complete with wet shirts. And not just any kind of wet shirts, wet shirts clung to Japanese schoolgirls! Hardly an image associated with innocence, especially when at the disposal of directors in Japan – I’ve sat through enough fanservice to know that. That alone isn’t enough to tarnish the significance of S in the song’s title, so allow me to divert your attention to exhibit B; Shoujo M.

 

Seriously, they released a song called Shoujo M too – no connection to any connotations that involve chains or whips, honest! At least as far as the girl’s label is concerned…

 

Shoujo S was SCANDAL’s third major single and was released here on iTunes as part of the group’s first compilation album BEST SCANDAL, and they may have got away with the simple ‘girls’ meaning if it wasn’t for their second album TEMPTATION BOX, which contained the incriminatingly Shoujo M. So what kind of spin did they put on that naughty looking M? ‘Girls, Mmmmm’?

 

According to a Japanese interview with SCANDAL, M can stand for Mami, the SCANDAL member who sings the track, or ‘Minority’, or ‘to give and receive’ (!). Mami went on to state she had just joined Twitter and she found the online relationship with fans to be one of giving and receiving, and quite interesting to write about.

 

Whatever kind of giving and receiving you think is implied, the girls seem to have stripped back on the cheekiness this year. Their brand new album STANDARD is out now, and there’s not a single innuendo or school uniform in sight. At last, someone thought about the children.

Bleach Series 12 Part 1 – Zanpakuto: The Alternate, featuring SCANDAL’s ‘Shoujo S’ as its opening, is out on 28 October on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

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