Art / Translation

exist†trace – ROUGE

“ROUGE” is the second track on VANGUARD – Of the Muses – and the last track I have left to translate from that release! Woo!

Unfortunately, miko hasn’t written anything about this song on her blog; I only found posts that mentioned it in set lists. So I won’t be able to share any officially verified notes on this song’s meaning, making-of, etc. But, I think it’s a pretty straight-forward song, so I’m confident of my translation.

Three general notes: this song uses the feminine pronoun “atashi” instead of the masculine “boku” or neutral “watashi” which is more common for exist†trace. Given the title, it’s a logical switch.

Also, CW for lyrics that could be taken as suicidal ideation.

Speaking of which, this is the song that made me realize why John Everett Millais’ 1852 painting Ophelia was used as the cover for this EP.

This depiction of Ophelia shows a woman in a white dress floating face-up in a stream, surrounded by flowers that she must have brought, the slanted willow tree Queen Gertrude mentions, and other vegetation.

Image is in the public domain. [Source]

Edit [July 31, 2021]: Well, I thought I had stumbled upon some interesting connections, but it turns out miko said in an interview with JaME that the painting was chosen because it’s “an amazing painting” of a woman. Thanks to Silphion for bringing this interview to my attention!

I’m leaving my Pepe Silvia moment in the comments for fun. XD

Charlie in front of the complicated bulletin board from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Anyway, on to it!

Lyrics in Japanese can be found here on Rock Lyric.

ROUGE

yoku ni mamireta kono sekai de wa katachi dake no ai ga habikori
akai kuchibiru kara kobosu uso de atashi wa ikiru sube wo oboeta

hontou wa yuku beki michi ga naku hontou wa kodoku ni kuzurete
sagashita sora ni hoshi wa miezu furikaeru koto sae kowakute

kono mama kono mi yo hondeshimae1
sore demo kono mi wa ikitai to negau

hatenai yami wo sakete nemuru yume no naka wa atatakai kedo
toki ga tachi kareteshimau no nara utsukushii mama owaritakute

kono mama kono mi yo hondeshimae
sore demo kono mi wa ikitai to

doushite kono ashi wa shizunde ugokenai
sore demo nazeka fushigi to kokoro odayaka na no
hitorikiri no atashi wa dare ni mo kizukarezu
atashi no yami e shizuka ni ochiteyuku deshou

ROUGE

In this world smeared with lust, fake love spreads like weeds2
I figured out a way to live using the lies dripping from my red lips

Truth is I have nowhere I should go
Truth is I’m falling apart in loneliness
I found the sky but couldn’t see any stars
And was afraid to even look back

(Like this) Just die already3
(Even so) This body wants to live

I sleep to avoid the endless darkness
It’s warm inside the dream, but
If time withers all I’d rather it end while it’s still beautiful

(Like this) Just die already
(Even so) This body wants to—

Why are my feet sinking? I can’t move
Yet for some reason I feel calm
I’m all alone and no one notices
I’ll probably just fall into my darkness quietly


1. It sounds to me fairly clearly like Jyou sings 滅んでしまえ, which would normally be “horondeshimae,” as “hondeshimae” instead. The only verb that would conjugate to just “honde” in the te-form is 褒ぶ (also written 誉ぶ) “hobu” meaning “to praise, to compliment,” which doesn’t make sense here. Maybe “honde” for 滅んで is dialect? Or some obscure classical form? Whatever the case may be, “horonde” doesn’t fit the melody, because “horonde” is four mora, but the melody fits only three. So I’m writing “hondeshimae” in the romaji on the assumption anyone who wants to see romaji wants to sing along!

2. A direct translation would be “fake love proliferates [and that’s a bad thing].” Which is, clearly, rather awkward as a song lyric. So I went with “fake love spreads like weeds” to capture both the proliferation and the nuance of this being a bad thing. It also fits nicely with plant-related terminology later in the song, as well as the fact that the primary meaning of 蔓延る (habikoru) does relate to the rapid growth & spread of plants.

3. As I wrote in a footnote for “Hana no Sakanai Machi,” clause-final よ (yo) denotes direct address, so this line is, more literally, “Like this, O this body, be destroyed!” Which sounds really dumb in English. I couldn’t think of a way to work in that direct address aspect without sounding similarly bad, so I just went with this, which I think is a more natural way of expressing wanting to die. If, by the way, you’re feeling like that right now, please reach out to someone for help, and if you’re seriously thinking of acting on such thoughts, US-based folks can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via their website or by phone at 1-800-273-8255. For folks in other countries, the fastest thing I can link to is Wikipedia’s list of global crisis hotlines.

6 thoughts on “exist†trace – ROUGE

  1. Here’s my theory on how Millais’ painting—or rather, the character & story of Ophelia—ties in to all the songs on this EP. Granted, some connections are stronger than others. At the end of the day, maybe exist†trace picked this image as the cover art simply because it featured a widely recognizable female character in a widely recognizable depiction. But for what speculation is worth:

    1. Vanguard: This song is about vampires and mentions songs several times. There’s a sort of mad ecstasy in the hunt. Maybe this relates to how Ophelia would sing in her madness, and even died singing.

    2. ROUGE: The last line is what made everything click: “I’ll probably fall into my darkness slowly.” At first I was thinking of “darkness” in the abstract sense, perhaps as a metaphor for depression. But then I thought, “What if it were literal? What would it look like to be unable to move but calm, sinking into darkness?” That’s when the painting immediately popped into my mind.

    3. Hana no Sakanai Machi: The pendant song to “Wrath,” we know from miko’s blog that these two songs tell the same story from two different characters’ perspective. Or to use her words, these songs are two different characters singing about the same thing that happened. This could be like how both Ophelia and Hamlet experienced madness, only Ophelia’s was real and Hamlet’s was feigned (at least initially?).

    4. Requiem: A requiem is a song or a Mass for a dead person. That’s the strongest connection, though it doesn’t seem like this song in particular is necessarily for Ophelia, save for the part about “wide open eyes.” Though I always assumed she just wasn’t dead yet in the painting, and that’s why her eyes were open.

    5. Orleans no Shoujo: This song is about Joan of Arc, another prominent female figure who ends up dead.

    6. Lost in Helix: The first line of this song translates to “My disembodied consciousness looks up at the moon floating on the water’s surface.” When I originally did the post for this song, I thought about making note of how seemingly strange that was: the person is looking UP at a moon that is floating on water, NOT at the moon in the sky. This means that the person is underwater. Which makes sense if you think of this song as also being sung by Ophelia.

  2. There’s no way to know if your theory is correct about this EP being an Ophelia ‘concept album’ without being able to directly ask Miko – but I’m a fan of the way you connected the dots! 🙂

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