12 Days, 12 Moments: Day 10–A Song for the Time Leaper

Today’s moment is not, properly speaking, a moment in the story of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo). It’s the ending song, “Garnet” by Hanaka Oku, which is not only sweet, melodic, and mood-appropriate–its lyrics fit the story well without being blindingly obvious or obnoxious. (One of my greatest disappointments was learning the English translation of the wonderful Russian choral song of Fullmetal Alchemist, “Bratya.” It was so…wooden and unworkable outside of FMA.) “Garnet” is probably the one anime song I listened to more this year than any other, for what I consider the finest anime film of the year.

Here’s the full, orchestrated version of the song, translated in the video itself:

Day 10: A Song for the Time Leaper

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is something I’ve already reviewed, so I’ll refrain from talking much about the film in general and focus more on the song in particular.

It’s lyrically fitting because the movie is in many ways about the end of childhood. Makoto is a tomboyish girl who is brought to a point where she has to take responsibility for her actions, an essential step toward adulthood. The ending of the film is bittersweet, like most of real life. The song’s lyrics reflect that perfectly, as it is a song of farewell, but with the promise to always remember this first love even after the seasons change and she loves someone else. The lyrics recognize everything that has happened and incorporates it into the rest of the singer’s life.

It’s musically fitting because, at least to me, it sounds simultaneously wistful and hopeful, which was the mood the movie was trying to evoke; it’s in a major key, so it’s not obviously “sad” sounding, but it is also slow and thus a little elegiac. The credits are accompanied by screencaps of the movie, which usually isn’t all that striking, but the last screencap is that of a blue sky, to the melody of swelling strings and piano. I can’t think of a more appropriate last image with which to close the film.

I’ve listened to this song over and over again, and it still sends chills down my back. That rarely happens to me now when I listen to music, and obviously it’s not fright chills, but the chill you get when something connects just perfectly to your emotions and experience. Listening to the song reminds me of my own adolescent years, when I spent a lot more time by myself and dreamed of becoming a published writer. I’d go to church retreats and sit on top of grassy hills with my notebook, gazing at the green all around me, looking forward to the days when I would finally see my name in print and writing poetry and stories in my notebook. That’s the feeling the song evokes for me. I suspect many of us can say similar things about our favorite songs, the kind of memories or feelings it evokes. I think the movie intended just that, and one of the things that makes it great is how accurate it is at capturing what it’s like to be a teen and offering real, rather than manufactured emotions (complete with more realistic voice acting and character motions).

This is, for me, one the Great Songs of anime, joining the small club of songs that includes the OP of Escaflowne, Cowboy Bebop, and others. It’s best experienced as the ED of the movie; then you’ll see just how fitting and moving it is as the closer of the film. (Those looking for something similar should listen to the insert song too. It’s excellent as well.)

This is an Anime Blogging Collective post. Other participants include

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.

3 thoughts on “12 Days, 12 Moments: Day 10–A Song for the Time Leaper

  1. Ha. My old office in Tokyo was in the business district where that video was filmed. I even recognize the spot where the piano is sitting… used to pass that spot all the time on my way to lunch.

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