The Onyanko Club, Pt. III

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In the last few days, I’ve been asking around about The Onyanko Club, and all the girls I know commented that their second single “O-yoshi ni natte ne TEACHER” — “Stop it, Teacher” (YouTube video) — was absolutely the worst of their catalog . (“本当にひどいよ,” they say.) High-school girls cheerfully talking about underage sex and molestation is somewhat surprising, but it is the tone of this track that leads me to a higher plane of bewilderment. Whether you’re a fundamental believer in statutory rape laws or not, I think most societies generally agree that romantic relationships between students and teachers are wrong for a myriad of professional and ethical reasons. But as this song reminds us, the most important thing blocking anything from happening between students and teachers in most cases is that really, he’s not even her type.

As bonus ideas from the enlightened mind of Akimoto Yasushi, we are also treated to the idea that girls are bad at math and their only chance at good grades is a campaign of seduction. Notice, however, that even these high-school idols are studying calculus — a relic from when Japanese student math scores were super high on the international ranking charts and people actually paid attention during class.

A note on language: o-yoshi ni natte (およしになって) is a polite form of “stop it” usually said by women to men in their superior — like a geisha saying to her customers, “Oh, quit it, you. (giggle)” It’s not a particularly strong form of rejection. (Not to say that “no” ever means “yes,” of course.)

The lyrics in English (translation by me):

Stop it, teacher.
Class is about to start.
Stop it, teacher.
You are, you are the teacher.

I can’t understand math at all.
It’s like I’ve just given up.
Derivatives, integration, quadratic functions
A desperate situation, red marks on my paper.

The trump card is, the guy on the teaching platform
At an angle can see my skirt, a glance
So I’ll add a little bit of sex appeal.

Stop it, teacher.
It’s the more innocent route.
Stop it, teacher.
I am, I am a student.

It’s like I’ve started to be noticed
By that eye, I’m serious.
But, even though he has a wife at home…
Mmm… He probably likes this sort of thing.

Once I’ve told him everything,
Come to school infirmary,
If I just show him my young skin,
I don’t have that much to lose.

Stop it, teacher.
We should stop this adultery.
Stop it, teacher.
You are, you are the teacher.

Stop it, teacher.
You’re middle aged and not my type.
Stop it, teacher.
I am, I am a student.

You are, you are the teacher.

Read more about The Onyanko Club in Part 1: Don’t Take Off My Sailor Uniform and Part 2: Otto Chikan.

W. David MARX (Marxy)
March 18, 2005

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

16 Responses

  1. glitchslaptko Says:

    David,

    Thanks again for an interesting post! I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop and the flury of posts to being.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say something about one line of your translation.

    You translate “Heri wa shi nai” as “They’ll be nothing to bad going on” and I think that works for the surface-level meaning, where the girl is commenting that this is objectively not a bad act…

    But the line words on another level of meaning where she is thinking this isn’t a bad act (like you translate), but at the same time thinking something like “This isn’t a sin, but if it might get me what I’m after (a good grade), so what the hell!”

    A more natural translation would have been simply “There’s nothing to lose [on either of our parts]”

    Let me know what you think.

    Best,
    Robert

  2. marxy Says:

    Yeah, that’s a hard line that I added a lot of exposition to, because 減りはしない only means “nothing will decrease”. I like “There’s nothing to lose” better than what I thought so I will change it to that.

    I do these translations pretty quickly and without attention to the “art” of lyric writing, so I appreciate any kind of corrections/improvements.

  3. Momus Says:

    Yeah, Hisae agrees with “Nothing to lose” for that. Also, even although I don’t speak Japanese, I have to correct your last line. It should read “You are, you are the teacher”. It might have been nice to show a power reversal between teacher and student as she takes over thanks to his Achilles heel, but that’s not what the song says.

    On the “Japan, better or worse country” score, Hisae again says “Better, of course!” But she thinks this song packs less punch than the others, because it’s more jokey. For middle-aged men and schoolgirls, it releases stress, like a joke you tell that makes everyone laugh.

    This kind of thing is not confined to Japan, and not confined to girls either. I used to get touched up by the maths teacher when I was a pretty young thing.

  4. glitchslaptko Says:

    david,
    actually i’m very glad to be able to trade notes with you on translation, since i haven’t met too many other people who i can have these kind of conversations with. anyway, thanks for being such a saint and even doing these translations in the first place! otsukare.
    best,
    r.

  5. glitchslaptko Says:

    actually, i’m interested in how this song compares with something like “don’t stand so close to me”

  6. marxy Says:

    Momus: Thanks for the proofreading.

    For middle-aged men and schoolgirls, it releases stress, like a joke you tell that makes everyone laugh.

    Ah, it’s all about releasing the stress of married male teachers preying on their female students for possible bumps in their math scores. Ha. Ha.

  7. marxy Says:

    The lyrics to the Sting song:

    http://www.seeklyrics.com/lyrics/STING/Don-t-Stand-So-Close-To-Me.html

    Sting is treating sexual relations between teacher and students like a social problem, not celebrating it as a stress-relieving joke. But maybe Sting would have felt different had the girl been “his type.”

  8. glitchslaptko Says:

    just so that we can make a quick comparison, here are the sting lyrics…

    Young teacher, the subject
    Of schoolgirl fantasy
    She wants him so badly
    Knows what she wants to be
    Inside her thereユs longing
    This girlユs an open page
    Book marking – sheユs so close now
    This girl is half his age
    Donユt stand, donユt stand so
    Donユt stand so close to me
    Her friends are so jealous
    You know how bad girls get
    Sometimes itユs not so easy
    To be the teacherユs pet
    Temptation, frustration
    So bad it makes him cry
    Wet bus stop, sheユs waiting
    His car is warm and dry
    Donユt stand, donユt stand so
    Donユt stand so close to me
    Loose talk in the classroom
    To hurt they try and try
    Strong words in the staffroom
    The accusations fly
    Itユs no use, he sees her
    He starts to shake and cough
    Just like the old man in
    That book by nabakov
    Donユt stand, donユt stand so
    Donユt stand so close to me
    Donユt stand, donユt stand so
    Donユt stand so close to me

  9. glitchslaptko Says:

    Nick,
    Again, I’d like to raise the question: What do ‘garden variety’ Japanese girls think? I think Hisae is in a class of her own, so…
    R.

  10. Momus Says:

    Well, I just told her about how Bust-Up breast-enhancing chewing gum is the big craze amongst Japanese girls right now

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4361563.stm

    and she’s already trying to find a place on the web where she can order two tons of the stuff. So I don’t think she’s as atypical as all that.

  11. glitchslaptko Says:

    Touche!

  12. Chris_B Says:

    How odd, I’ve been thinking about that Police song since I saw the video at the izakaya last night…

    marxy, thanks again for a great post.

  13. sparkligbeatnic Says:

    Marxy,

    Wonder if you would be willing to put the original Japanese lyrics up with the translations?

  14. marxy Says:

    I just looked online to see if the lyrics were already up somewhere, but the Japanese take the copyright on lyrics very seriously for some reason.

    If I have some time later, I’ll put them up.

  15. nate Says:

    now this is just hearsay… but my girlfriend up here in the wilds of Aomori said that it was not altogether unusual (nor aggressively frowned-upon) for a teacher to literally date students in her high school. She went to a not so academic school graduating in ’92.
    I’m new to the site here, but for all the discussion of Japan, there doesn’t seem to be much appreciation that not the whole of Japan lives in Tokyo, went to college, and is under the age of 30.
    Still a good read. Thanks.

  16. marxy Says:

    but for all the discussion of Japan, there doesn’t seem to be much appreciation that not the whole of Japan lives in Tokyo, went to college, and is under the age of 30.

    Well, it’s a blog mostly about pop culture, and anybody Japanese older than 30’s not supposed to be participating in it. And unfortunately with Japan, the whole system is overcentralized to Tokyo. We talk a lot about freeter, and they mostly are not college kids.