12 Days, 12 Moments 2010: Amazing Grace

I begin this year’s 12 Days, 12 Moments series—an annual blogospheric fest where we post the most striking moments in anime for the year—with a musical interlude.

Sora no Woto means “the sound of the skies,” and above any melody played in the series it was a familiar one: that of “Amazing Grace.” Stripped of its words or original context, one might wonder whether it’s anything more than a pretty, vaguely nostalgic tune in show’s context, a use of a Western artifact not too unlike the appropriation of Christian and Kabbalistic imagery in Evangelion.

At its best, however, Sora no Woto powerfully evoked the sense of loss and grief of a world already half-destroyed, whose survivors have gently acknowledged that civilization is in its twilight years. Seen in this light, the small joys that Sora no Woto concentrated on do, in fact, feel like grace. Kanata herself, too, was once lost but then was found, and the song is among her first memories; and it is the playing of the song that ends a potentially destructive battle near the end. The hokeyness of the ending comes, in part, from how neatly the song’s meaning matches the plot’s outcome and how, once again, a song saves the world. (Then again, Dostoevsky once said that it was beauty that would save the world. He probably didn’t have Lynn Minmay in mind, however…)

“How sweet the sound,” the creators must have thought. For a show filled with such wild promise but with a somewhat disappointing conclusion, this still stands out as being a memorable motif, one of the great moments of the year.

The “12 Days, 12 Moments” series is part of an aniblogosphere-wide project to blog about the most memorable moments in anime for the year in the 12 days before Christmas. It was started in 2007 by CCY of Mega Megane Moe. Others participating this year include Aorii8Cprototype27Scampschneider, Borderline HikkikomoriTWWKLandonJanette, and digiboy.

Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at mike.huang@animediet.net. You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.