Disney’s Frozen is a big hit in Japan, where it’s known as Anna and the Snow Queen. It’s not such a big surprise, as Japan’s always had a soft spot for Disney and stories about the power of friendship and family, and the film’s lack of dramatic, showy romance also fits in nicely with Japanese narrative sensibilities.
So when Disney decided to bring the sing-along version of Frozen to theatres in Japan, a country where you’re never more than a few minutes from a place to sing karaoke, you’d think it’d be an amazingly enjoyable experience for moviegoers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that’s always the case.
The problem isn’t that Japan doesn’t appreciate Frozen’s immensely catchy songs. The film was theatrically released in both subtitled and dubbed versions, with esteemed actress and vocalist Takako Matsu providing the Japanese speaking and singing voice of magically-gifted Elsa. As we mentioned before, Matsu is no slouch, and you can listen for yourself below.
There’s even been a deluxe release of the soundtrack that includes both the Japanese and English versions of the songs. Japan’s sing-along version features the Japanese renditions, though, in order to make it easy for as many people as possible to belt out the lyrics to their favorite numbers.
Sadly, the sing-along experience didn’t live up to the expectations of everyone who bought a ticket, although this doesn’t seem to be directly Disney’s fault. One fan, Fii Yokoyama, went so far as to take a day off from work to head to the theater, and described the problem via Twitter.
“It was the worst! First of all, no one around me was singing, so I was like, ‘Huh? Is it OK if I start?’”
This brings up a critical point about singing in public in Japan. The country may be the birthplace of karaoke, but unlike in many other countries where it’s become popular, standing on stage and hamming it up in front of a group of strangers isn’t how karaoke is usually done in Japan. Instead, the norm is to rent a private room where you can sing just with a group of friends, or even alone. That way, you don’t have to worry about bothering anyone or embarrassing yourself too much with your off-key warbling.
Even under the cover of darkness provided by a theater with the lights dimmed, some people might not feel comfortable singing along with the movie. Other Twitter users reported a similarly chilly atmosphere in regards to the sing along.
“Almost nobody around me sang at all. I was so sad, since I’d really been looking forward to it.”
“Man, I listened to the soundtrack so many times to get ready for this, but nobody around me was singing….Quit munching on your popcorn and sing already!!”
Some theaters even displayed a special message before the movie began, encouraging the audience with, “Don’t be shy, and sing!”
Sadly, the location Yokoyama went to didn’t show any such notification, which led to a problem with one of the other ticket buyers in attendance.
“When they got to my favorite song, I started singing along, just in a quiet voice, but the person sitting next to me turned to me and said, ‘Do you mind keeping it down? This is a movie theater, you know?’”
Yokoyama tried to explain that this was a special event where singing wasn’t just allowed, but expected. Still, Yokoyama’s neighbor wasn’t having any of it, and the intimidated Frozen fan spent the rest of the film in silence.
With the sing-along version of the film just about to leave movie theaters, we’re sure the experience has left a bitter taste in Yokoyama’s mouth. It’s always a shame when some random grump ruins your fun, but we hope she doesn’t dwell on it too much. Sometimes when someone tries to pass their negativity off onto you, you just have to let it go.
Still, we do feel bad for Yokoyama, so here’s that clip one more time, with the Japanese lyrics below, just in case anyone feels like singing along for moral support.
Furi hajimeta yuki wa ashiato keshite
Masshiro na sekai ni hitori no watashi
Kaze ga kokoro ni sasayaku no
Kono mama ja dame nan da to
Dare ni mo uchiakezu ni nayandeta
Sore mo mou yameyou
Ari no mama no sugata miseru no yo
Ari no mama no jibun ni naru no
Nani mo kowakunai kaze yo fuke
Sukoshi mo samukunai wa
Nayandeta koto ga uso mitai ne
Datte mou jiyuu yo nandemo dekiru
Doko made yareru ka jibun o tameshitai no
Sou yo kawaru no yo watashi
Ari no mama de sora e kaze ni note
Ari no mama de tobidashite miru no
Nido to namida wa nagasanai wa
Tsumetaku daichi o tsutsumikomi
Takaku maiagaru omoiegaite
Hanasaku koori no kesshou no you ni
Kagayaiteitai mou kimeta no
Kore de ii no jibun o suki ni natte
Kore de ii no jibun shinjite
Hikari abinagara arukidasou
Sukoshi mo samukunai wa