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This New Vietnamese Lo-Fi Video Is Making Us Feel All Sorts of Emotions

After countless hours spent doing assignments alongside the OG Lofi Girl, Vietnamese netizens might find this new study companion an especially poignant addition to their daily routine.

Premiered less than 24 hours ago, a new lo-fi tracklist by Vietnamese graphic designer Jiji is already gaining a small following. It’s not difficult to see why, as Jiji’s new video is tugging on our heartstrings in all the right ways. The playlist is modeled after the Lofi Girl character originally created by streaming channel ChilledCow, which plays lo-fi hip-hop songs round the clock.

Accompanying the jazzy tunes is an anime girl, either studying or just chilling, based on the character Shizuku Tsukishima from the Studio Ghibli flick Whisper of the Heart. Jiji’s version features a young schoolgirl who’s probably in first or second grade, judging by what she’s practicing on her mini blackboard. The animation was done by Min Min.

The designer drew the girl based on classic illustrations in vintage Vietnamese-language textbooks that might already be a few decades old at this point. “This is my favorite artwork in the Lofi Girl series,” Jiji writes in Vietnamese. “I first drew a dreamlike room, and she was flying into outer space. But then I thought: maybe I should let her be a primary school pupil in the past, studying in the kitchen while surrounded by baskets of tubers, tomatoes and eggplants, with a cupboard, cutlery drying in the sun, an old calendar, mesmerizing sunlight and the paddy field in the distance.”

The music is broadcast via an old-timey radio on a shelf, and thus features all of the acoustic imperfections we know and love about listening to an old music program on the radio. “I want to create a space I want to live in and experience, and I want to take you guys on my ‘time travel’ trips, right on your workdesk.”

According to Jiji, the music is from the YouTube channel Hà Nội Vi Vu, which uploads retro music in lyric videos done in a vintage style. Grown-up Vietnamese today will probably recognize all of these children’s songs, as some were even part of the public school syllabus, like ‘Đi Học’ and ‘Reo Vang Bình Minh.’

What makes Jiji’s lo-fi music video great is how it manages to strike several layers of nostalgia. There is the most obvious — a longing for our time in primary school and all its associated childhood joys and tribulations, when our biggest problems revolved around with whom to sit during lunchtime or which animal to draw for an art assignment.

But this month, watching the video also stirs up another sense of longing for a happy-go-lucky “normal.” In the animation, the girl wears the red scarf as part of her uniform. Schools across the country have closed for months and will probably move forward with online teaching should the current outbreak continue, so it might be a while until we’ll see those red scarves on the street, accompanying their youthful owners on their way to class.

For more lo-fi videos, visit Jiji’s YouTube channel. Visit her Behance for more artworks.

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