The Importance of the Song in the Final Episode of Wave, Listen to Me!

Wave, Listen to Me! is a great manga and anime about a woman who unexpectedly becomes a radio host—a mature comedy that is about five genres away from author Samura Hiroaki’s most famous work, Blade of the Immortal. I recommend everyone check it out. For those who have recently finished the anime TV series, I’m here to point out that the song played in the finale has a special kind of relevance to the episode.

SPOILER WARNING, of course.

In episode 12, an earthquake hits Hokkaido, causing blackouts. As the characters look up at a starry night sky, a song plays: Kyu Sakamoto’s “Miagete goran, Yoru no Hoshi o” or “Behold the Nighttime Stars.” This song originally came out after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and it responded to the fact that the lack of light pollution made the stars more visible than normal. A common interpretation of the song’s lyrics is that the stars are also the souls of those who died in the disaster. In short, having “Miagete goran, Yoru no Hoshi o” play was an active choice with a specific meaning to Japan.

Incidentally, I actually only learned about the song and its significance because I’ve been following Kio Shimoku’s current manga, Hashikko Ensemble. The tune has a central role in the narrative up to this point, and one of the characters goes as far as to explain everything I mentioned above. I find it a little funny that these two streams dovetailed so nicely together.

Both Wave, Listen to Me! and Hashikko Ensemble run in the magazine Monthly Afternoon, so maybe this synergy isn’t totally out of the question. Most likely, however, is that they’re both referencing the same major moment in Japanese history.

Japan: Opportunities to Give and Consider

A number of sites have cropped up in the wake of the 8.9~9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan last Friday and the ensuing tsunami and nuclear scare with the purpose of uniting anime fans to donate to Japan. Certainly a noble cause, but one that I have honestly not felt entirely comfortable with, just because I don’t want it to be “about” being an anime fan.

I have benefited greatly from anime and manga. It has been a great source of entertainment, comfort, self-realization, and even one of the reasons I currently have an unbelievably wonderful job. I studied in Japan because of a love of animation, and I continue to make friends in Japan because of that passion. But before I could donate as an anime fan or an anime blogger, I had to do so as a human being.

However, I realized that it’s not my place to tell people “why” they should donate, or even if they should be donating at all. I have my reasons for acting as I have, and I know that the folks running these donation drives have the best intentions at heart. The more opportunities the better, and I can at least provide people with links to donate, whether you want to do it as an anime fan, an anime blogger, or just a person who wants to help.

Anime Fans Give Back to Japan: They’re doing a 24-hour podcast tomorrow, March 19th, starting at 6pm EST. They have a number of fans, podcasters, and even industry professionals lined up to show their support.

Crunchyroll Japan Earthquake Donation Fund: The biggest streaming site for anime promises to match donations.

Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan: They’ve got two donations going, one for Shelter Box, and one for Doctors Without Borders, a self-explanatory group that I first came to know due to their distribution of Plumpy Nut to combat malnutrition in Africa. That’s not exactly the problem here, but I think it says a lot about their mission.

Japan Society: 100% of donations go straight to helping Japan.

Red Cross

UNICEF

Lastly, a lot of artists have been creating work in response to the earthquake, and as much as I have neglected that side of myself, I felt my hand moving on its own when put in front of a piece of lined paper and given a writing tool to work with. It’s not exactly a clear-cut “Pray for Japan” image, but it definitely comes from the heart.

Hope They’re Okay

I do not have any relatives in Japan, and I’m grateful for that. No need to worry in that regard.

But I do have friends living in Japan, people I’ve met both in real life and online. I’m not sure if this qualifies as irony, but whereas the folks I know primarily through the internet I can more easily find through those channels (or at least try to), the people I met in real life first are the people I have less chance of contacting. Whether it’s through changing e-mail addresses or just lack of contact over time, I have people whom I would call friends who are probably in Japan right now and I have no idea if they’re okay or not, and I have no way of ever finding out. Part of me regrets my own lack of initiative to try and keep up with them in the first place.

It reminds me of the first time I ever ate udon and onigiri, at a small Japanese restaurant in the World Trade Center, back in about 1999 or so. The udon was amazing as far as I could tell with my limited experience, and the onigiri were $2 per ball and absolutely gigantic. I never really got to know the owners or anything, so when 9/11 hit I found myself wondering whether or not the people working there made it out okay. Of course, I have no way of ever knowing.

I do not have any amazingly close ties to Japan. I’m not going to lose much sleep over it. But I do hope my friends are okay.