Formed in 2008 as Guild in Japan’s Kansai region, Magistina Saga adopted their current moniker in 2010. Signing with Starwave Records in mid-2012 the band has released 3 mini-albums altogether, most recently ‘Two-facedness of a Tale’ in August of 2013. With vocals by Iori, guitar by Urugi and bass by Kyo (support drums by Takuro) the band’s rock sound incorporates themes of magic and fairy tale. These themes are perhaps best personified in the MV for ‘Shadow Game’, adapting a classic story familiar to young and old alike.
From the start of the clip, we see an apple placed in a woman’s hand by another woman. The symbology of apples runs deep in human history and mythology, from Eve’s biblical snack of knowledge taken from the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden to the Greek goddess of discord Eris’ golden wedding gift; Norse and Celtic stories also include the fruit in varying roles. Folklore the world over features the fruit as well, from William Tell shooting one from his son’s head in a feat of supreme marksmanship to Johnny Appleseed spreading the crop across America. The inclusion here calls a certain tale to mind that becomes clearer as things proceed.
The music features a piano portion, and we see Magistina Saga performing in an all white studio space, as the shots figure another room into the picture in a warmer hue. The track bursts into rock and we’re shown Iori gazing into a simply framed mirror as she sings, clad in a lacy black dress with a deep purple flower in her hair. This scene shifts to the same shot of the mirror from the same angle, this time used by a blond woman dressed in white, wearing a modest pendant and chain. Mirrors have been used in scrying and divination from ancient times, and lore surrounding them figures into modern superstition to this day, so the interpolation of the women gazing here has an air of mysticism.
Following an array of views of the band playing, as the next verse starts we see an apple being presented to the camera. A clearer view of Iori’s fingernails here reveals that they’re painted in a deep purple, with a sparked line across them, as though imprecisely bisected with a barbed-wire like flair. We then see the blond woman from the mirror holding the apple with both hands, drawing it close to her. Though the blond doesn’t look the part, the poisoned apple from Snow White used by the wicked queen to render her comatose comes to mind. The original story also featured a corset and comb as gifts with ill-intent, so the use of only the apple evokes the Disney version of the tale.
Iori draws close to the blonde woman from behind, covering her eyes with her purple-nailed hands. Interspersed with more views of the band playing in the studio-like space as before, there is a shot of Iori speaking into the blonde woman’s ear as the blonde has a slight, vague smile upon her lips. She seems to be enchanted with the words she’s hearing based on her expression, perhaps seduced by the darkness? She draws the apple close to her lips, as though convinced to submit to its sweetness by the bewitching words Iori has shared, or entranced her with.
The blonde woman is embraced from behind by Iori, and the blonde reaches for Iori’s arms to accept, bolstering the hug. She is depicted taking a bite from the apple, and then the action cuts to Kyo for a brief bass solo and a longer guitar solo by Urugi. As Iori begins to sing again, we see the blonde woman collapsed on the floor, apple in hand. The Snow White allusion is most clear at this point, though the absence of dwarven saviors in the piece renders the imagery even starker.
The camera pans slowly down this princess figure’s prone body, and though her features call to mind other fairytale heroines the apple and mirror plainly allude to Snow White overall. There are others subjected to mystically induced comas and plenty of witches to be found in an array of children’s stories, but the sequence here fits that profile too well to overlook. We cut back to the band, Iori leading them as a magical evil queen and again we hear piano, though this time the preceding imagery paints the tone slightly sinister in the refrain.
As the clips plays out, we’re shown shots of a cage as well as a door, the handle in close-up. Symbolising imprisonment and locking, these images further the enticed sleep of the blonde as a punishment or curse of some sort. The last we see of the band shows Iori gesturing, pointing her thumb downwards and finger out and then holding out the other hand. She brings them together as though the final stages of the spell is repeated to bind the blonde woman’s fate.
The band’s sound is far from the safety of tales for children, but the fantastical theme of the video matches their image and name perfectly. The track runs at a whirlwind pace, never letting up as the story unfolds. Presenting a tale of global familiarity in a visual kei form, the PV is visually arresting and shows the band doing what they do best.
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1. Red false
2. Shadow Game
4. End room
5. fool’s edge
6. Double Face