When searching for a music video by The Little Great One this week, I remembered these magical moments captured at Oku-san’s 2011 performance at a Red Ribbon Live music concert. Red Ribbon is an organization in support of World AIDS Awareness.
The Red Ribbon Japan web page is linked here.
I love this version of her hit “Cinderella”. Instead of the upbeat, jazzy version that is on her great “GoodBye” album, you get a softer, emotional version here. It is very tender. Child-like innocence meets graceful beauty. On a non-musical note I’m loving those checkered pants! Although, her look here is part of the soft gentleness of the song. I am transformed, and transported … just like Cinderella.
All this leads me to my central topic of discussion today: Is Hanako Oku gay?
First off, please understand that I RESPECT and ADMIRE this woman more than any other person in the entire worldwide entertainment industry.
All my evidence here is all circumstantial. As far as I know, there is no public information available about The Little Great One’s relationship status.
Hanako Oku is 37 years old, and has never been married. No children are known. It is true that in Japan, people marry later than the global average, and women there also put-off having children until the last minute. This is part of Japan’s unfortunate, STAGGERING decline in birth rates. Japan’s population will decline significantly this half-century … but I digress.
It may be that Oku-san is just a very private person. She may not want her relationship status known. Also, it keeps the male fan fantasy going (Hey! Who let the 900 lb. Gorilla in here?). Her fans fall in love with her music, and fantasize that someday THEY will marry Hanako Oku. If she said that she is married, her male fans maybe would not care so much. The fantasy/illusion of the pop star may disappear — like Cinderella’s dress. Pop stars and idols may want to keep their fans guessing. Thus, is Hanako Oku unmarried for marketing purposes?
Does she not state her status or sexual orientation for record-company marketing purposes?
She is so adorable. If you are a young guy, Japanese pop star or actor, etc. — and you are standing next to her – how are you NOT supposed to fall in love with her? I’m sure she has her opportunities.
So many of her songs are about unrequited love and secret longings. No one does unrequited love better than Hanako Oku. Songs like “Hatsukoi” (song linked here in a new window) are all about heartbreak and disappointment, and having to just be-friends-with the person she loves. (I’m crying about it right now.) The song is about a “friend” that she loves, but cannot have. Look at the lyrics, not the music video from the record company. We assume in the song that it is because the boy loves her other friend, a girl. Maybe it is the GIRL she secretly loves, and knows that she can never have her.
Also in the video “Winter Fireworks” (by blog linked here) there is a love triangle. Maybe it is about the GIRL who got away, not the guy.
If you examine Hanko Oku’s emotional ballads, through this lens of “Never-Being-Able-To-Express-Your-True-Feelings-Of-Love” it makes sense, and gives the songs new meaning.
She dresses like a teenage boy. Oku-san almost always dressed in boyish looking t-shirts and slacks during her rise to fame after her songs were used in the anime film “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.” Do a Google-image search for Hanako Oku, and you will see what I mean.
On her personal blog (linked here), she lists some of her “dislikes” as stockings, bitchy people, and spiral staircases. I guess I will never get an autographed photo of her dressed in sexy stockings on a spiral staircase.
If you get to watch the Extra Features in the DVD version of “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” Hanako Oku is with the director and the voice actors onstage at a Q & A session. The other women are dressed in these jaw-dropping amazing kimonos. The actresses are stunningly beautiful. Oku-tan is there, but she is wearing jeans and a Dockers men’s button up shirt. Look, she is always a beautiful person to me, but here she is very dressed down, and looks very man-ish. Adorable, yes, but boy-ish. (She also looks like a deer-caught-in-the-headlights. Maybe she did not get the memo about dressing for the event.) Ahem … in America at least, lesbians dress this way.
True, she has taken to a more mature look for a woman of her age in the past two years. If you have seen the cover art for “GoodBye’ you would remark what a handsome-woman she is. The cover art for “FuyuHanabi” have probably her girly-est photos to date. Yet recent appearances on Japanese TV (see a post from my fellow-blogger The Penguin linked here) she still dresses like Dutch VanDyke. I even own that same shirt!
So … if my hero is indeed a Lesbian, what does that mean?
Do I love her any less? NO! Of course not.
Will I interpret her songs differently? Probably not. We still have the language barrier. That is a bigger problem. She would continue to be amongst my favorites.
If she went public, would you support her? Yes, of course. As the kids say “You go girl”. If someone calls her names – they gets PUNCHED by Denny. If she wants to keep her private life private, I respect that. I just hope that it is not a company business decision.
Although I may worry: if The Little Great One became a happy, fulfilled, openly gay person, will she still be able to write the heartbreaking, emotional ballads of secret yearnings and unrequited love? Discuss, Discuss.