R-Shitei is a band with a style built on pushing the envelope, and their latest single, Flashback, is true to form. The single dropped in two types on May 1, complete with a new music video.
Flashback details the events of a schoolgirl’s day prior to her untimely death. She is subject to a number of negative and potentially traumatic influences dramatized throughout the video, including ostracization and bullying, assault, hallucinations, and mental illness. As the main character travels through these scenes, directed in a captivating single-shot style, the band periodically appears to lend color to otherwise dreary scenes and observe her slow decline.
A number of these symbols and issues have appeared in R-Shitei’s work before. Suicide and mental illness factor into a number of their songs, such as Seishun wa Wrist Cut, Yanderu Kanojo, and SUICIDE MEMORIES. In fact, when they released their 2017 single Miwako no Summer Killers, the lack of overt message was almost shocking! The main character in this video is a clear poster child for undiagnosed mental illness, with her sketches of a stick figure jumping off of a building. She does not stand out in the very standard school setting, and her classmates do not seem to notice her. Then, there are strange interjections of the band members watching her through distorted scenery, a strange apparition of a little girl waving her up the stairs, and a game of ball that results in the girl holding a ghostly severed head. While the song is in a major key and the imposition of bright color in the monochromatic scenery would seem to suggest a positive and uplifting song, the dark lyrics and subject matter create an interesting distortion of assumed reality. R-Shitei is certainly not shy about making their statement, but they do so with superb musicianship and pure visual kei style.
While the video is dark and deserves some potential trigger warnings for suicide and self-harm, the musical track itself remains very accessible and enjoyable. R-Shitei continues to be a masterclass in effective social commentary in art.