By Tom Smith.
Oscar Wilde wrote, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”, but for Japanese group Sayonara Ponytail, it could be said that their art imitates manga far more than life. In fact, when this mysterious band first appeared, via the ancient medium of MySpace, its members were said to exist solely as a series of illustrations by its mononymous leader (referred to as “God”) Yuritan, and any members that didn’t quite fit in would be simply erased…!
Ironically, only one member has so far been touched by the great eraser in the sky; Yuritan herself! Now, an even more mysterious figure is running things, going by the name of Chiitan. Mind you, I call into the question the validity the band’s extensive 12-member line-up, as well as if Yuritan, Chiitan and the rest of them are real people or the imagination of one or a few.
I’m particularly dubious of its chief publicity officer, a talking black cat by the name of Kuroneko. They even have their own Twitter and Tumblr accounts, and have been known to give the odd press interview, too. Mind you, I am being a tad pedantic. Dear Kuroneko isn’t a member of the band proper; cats can’t play instruments; that would be silly.
Sayonara Ponytail have their own manga, too (obviously), which details the history of the group as well as offers greater depth to its members’ personalities and their adventures so far.
In 2014, they made the transition from the pages of manga to the TV screen courtesy of school uniform battle anime Kill la Kill and its second ending theme “Shinsekai Kokyogaku” (New World Symphony). Unfortunately the official video is blocked from the UK, and the group’s catalogue absent from iTunes.
The group hasn’t always been limited to illustrations to express itself. One of their few music videos available outside of Japan is their early single “Mukiryoku Switch”. Now with over 400,000 views, the video sets the mood of the song with playful Japanese schoolgirls jumping around their classroom while generally being a bit daft. The video was directed by Yuki Aoyama, the photographer behind controversial photobook series “Schoolgirl Complex”, which may explain why it’s had such a high view count compared to the group’s other music videos.
Currently, all the signs for Sayonara Ponytail’s future aren’t looking particularly bright. When contacting Sony Music for images to use with this article, I was informed the group no longer belongs to the label, and further research shows that vocalist YuiYukari has just launched her solo career with the cutely titled song “Lovesick Gelato”, just in time for summer. Meanwhile, a new unit consisting of three Sayonara Ponytail members has also started activities under the name Ohayou Twin Tails (I see what you did there…). Check out their first song here. However, for Sayonara Ponytail, it might be time to say goodbye.
Tom Smith runs Japanese music label JPU Records. Kill la Kill Part 3, featuring Sayonara Ponytail’s ending theme, is out now June from Anime Limited on UK DVD and Blu-ray, and features deluxe packaging and bonus content.