“You remember the steps to the dance, but the music has stopped.”
This is a post I’ve stopped and started several times over the last few days.
This is yet another installment in the Diary of an Anime Lived series which 21stcenturydigitalboy started. If you haven’t checked out his posts, or the posts of other participants, I would really encourage you to do so, as they are both well-written and extremely engrossing. Think of it as a very rare chance to have a glimpse of our humanity in a way that regular, everyday blogging doesn’t normally allow (at least not in the sense you get from Diary of an Anime Lived).
I’ll be honest – in a way, I feel like I’m cheating in labeling this as ‘Diary of an Anime Lived’, as, in this case, it isn’t precisely about anime and my life. Instead, its about my life and… a few pieces of music from anime. So I apologize for cheating in that regard, although I do believe it still fits with the basic theme. (I also apologize to anyone who thought this post related to ef~a tale of melodies~.)
Where shall I begin?
Its difficult to begin, because essentially I should begin with the fact that a good friend of mine suddenly passed away last week. This is something that is, though, hard to relate to others; telling someone that someone you know and cared about and loved (and continue to care about and love) has died is very difficult to do. Making such a statement is effectively a conversation killer, simply because it requires a response that is hard to actually formulate in a manner that doesn’t sound completely wooden. What do you say when someone tells you that their friend has died? Everyone falls back on cultural expectations, because that is the pattern we’ve learned. Even as we feel awkward in responding as we are socially taught to, we can’t help but continue in that vein, since we really have no other rubric to utilize.
Well, I hope that made sense, because I’m actually not making a hell of a lot of sense lately.
But, yes, a good friend of mine died last week, and I’m still fairly numb. The fact that I’ve experienced the death of a loved one so recently may come as something of a shock, given that my most recent posts hardly suggest such a thing, and neither do any comments I’ve made on anyone else’s blog, but I have been operating on a weird split, wherein I behave like a “normal” person when I’ve been online, as, in a way, it was easier to – it permitted some very brief escapism. I would also remark that I’ve barely gotten past the entire shock stage, so it doesn’t always all feel very real. However, I do digress.
So we come to the matter of anime, and, specifically, music.
There are only two songs I’ve been able to listen to since my friend’s death. The first is actually a return to an old bastion, as I listened to it constantly last autumn when my old sergeant died.
Toki wo Kizamu Uta probably works as a choice because of its associations, so I suppose in a sense I am properly drawing in anime in a post that allegedly relies upon anime by its very title. However, it isn’t the anime’s events specifically that I used to comfort myself, but the song itself, with attached associations of loss. This difference matters, because the song comes across as bittersweet, whereas the anime has an explicitly happy ending. There cannot be a happy ending in the case of my friend; unlike in Clannad~After Story~, I won’t suddenly realize that I have been dreaming when a lonely girl in a snowy world saves my friend and enables a happier reality. In this life, you get one chance.
Toki wo Kizamu Uta, based on the visuals from the opening sequence, remains firmly sad. Nagisa is shown in various moments as a young woman, as a high school student who is mostly happy. We then see everyone else looking sad – and older, something certainly worth noticing – because Nagisa has died, and she has died young. I have always found something very tragic in that, because one becomes frozen forever as a young person, and it strikes me as deeply sad for someone to remain young forever.
So, as I said before, Toki wo Kizamu Uta is sad because of the associations it brings to mind whenever I heard it – it is a bittersweet song in and of itself, but I don’t have the level of Japanese comprehension to appreciate that fact sans a lyrics translation sheet, otherwise I surely wouldn’t need the association of the visuals for it to be sad. However, even if I knew the lyrics, it would leave out of the equation the fact that Nagisa dies very young. This is important in my experience of the song in my current context, because my friend has died, and she has died young (not much older than Nagisa in After Story, actually).
The only way I can describe my experience of the song now is that its like warm milk. It comforts me somewhat, and it doesn’t prod at me sharply like much of my other music would at this time. So I hit the reset button constantly, listening to it over and over again. Its a sad song in my conception, and so it doesn’t disturb me with a happiness I can’t handle at the moment. It says, “You’re sad, and I’m sad, and that’s too bad, but it’s also okay.” I don’t think that makes sense exactly, so let me explain a little more clearly – its as if I’m being told that it is alright for me to feel sad, that I don’t need to pinch my cheeks and paste a smile onto my face and go re-enter public life; I am allowed to not be happy.
Now, when I said ‘a few pieces of music’, it would’ve actually been more accurate to say a ‘couple’. Because the other song that is in heavy rotation for me is the Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae closer, Ichinuke.
Ichinuke is another sad, soft song, a song that doesn’t jar me at all. I can take it easily, either actively listening to it, or allowing it to exist as background to whatever else I have been doing in the week since my friend’s death. But, in particular, there is one line that snags me: “Hitori nukeru.”
This can be translated a few different ways, but I remember one fansub group translated it as ‘One fell out.’, which I personally prefer over other translation (‘One escaped’, ‘One left’, etc.) simply because it sounds better. But knowing that rendering, I find a resonance with my friend’s death, and the way those of us left behind are feeling about it. My friend… committed suicide. And even though I know I can’t blame myself, and we all know we can’t blame ourselves, I nevertheless can’t help but feel that I, all of us, failed my friend. We let my friend fall – ‘One fell out.’ My friend felt so lonely that they took their own life. They really did fall out.
And so I keep listening, over and over and over, because somehow hearing it said aloud makes me feel… not better, but… something that’s more productive than complete numbness and/or despair. If I hear it out loud, this notion of falling out, it makes it easier to address, easier to tackle the entire thing. I know we can’t blame ourselves, but we do. Given that, to hear it stated, even though it obviously wasn’t intended explicitly for this situation, makes it more possible for me to look at the guilt I feel head on, and begin to work through it.
But I still think we let you fall out. And I’m so sorry we did. I’m sure you would tell us its not our fault, and I’m sure you’re right, but I continue to believe otherwise nevertheless. One fell out.