Thursday, July 18, 2019
Minori Chihara -- Yasashii Boukyaku（優しい忘却）
Late last night, I was about to close up shop when I decided to take one last look at Twitter. There was the usual list of what was trending, and on top of the list was "The Lion King" since the new movie was about to premiere. Then at No. 2 was KyoAni which is Kyoto Animation（京都アニメーション）, one of the famous animation houses in Japan that helped launch shows such as "Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu"（涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱...The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya）, "Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon"（小林さんちのメイドラゴン...Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid）, "Nichijou"（日常...My Ordinary Life）, and most recently the "Hibike Euphonium!"（響け!ユーフォニアム）franchise.
I initially wondered whether its high standing may have had something to do with "The Lion King" or whether if KyoAni was announcing another movie or another trailer for the next installment for "Hibike Euphonium!". However, when I checked it out, the news was far more real and horrifying. A deranged individual went on some sort of rampage by attacking the staff via arson at their Studio 1 Building in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto on the morning of July 18th Japan time. The tweets were coming in Japanese and English from all over the world very quickly, and for the next several minutes, I tried to find out how bad the casualty count was since the building looked like it had been gutted out from the inside. Before I decided to stop and go to sleep, there had been one confirmed death and many many more injured.
When I woke up this morning to watch NHK's "News at Nine", I found out that the fatalities had skyrocketed up to 25, and by the time the broadcast was about to end, one of the anchors gave the update that the number of deaths was now up to 33, with a little more than that number injured, some critically. The Kyoto Animation arson attack was the top story on the broadcast for the first 15 minutes, and it has even gone overseas...even Toronto's all-news channel reported on it.
The details and the overall truth will be revealed in the coming days but at this point, the whole incident has been terrible for fans of KyoAni's works. According to what I heard on the NHK report this morning through a former employee at KyoAni, the staff there weren't just punching in and out a time clock trying to get their scenes done on computer or on individual cels; they all loved anime and what they were doing to contribute to the industry, and a lot of times they were being loved themselves for their work. But even taking away the fame and the talent and the work, there are 33 human beings who should have arrived at work today doing what they loved but will no longer do so. That is the tragedy of all this.
The song that has been playing out in my head all day today when reminded of what happened at KyoAni is one that I've heard at my anime buddy's house now and then during the anison segment of my visits there. I first heard "Yasashii Boukyaku" (Tender Oblivion) even before I actually saw the film "Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu"（涼宮ハルヒの消失...The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya）where it was the ending theme. This was the Sonority version which had singer/seiyuu Minori Chihara（茅原実里）, who played the stoic Yuki Nagato（長門有希）in the movie, singing it acapella. I didn't know what the plot was but even listening to this, it was enough for my throat to get pretty lumpy. The cover for Chihara's 8th single from February 2010 was also perfect for the song, especially this version, since it has Nagato looking up in quiet wonder at the phenomenon of snow falling at night.
The Sonority and Sincerity versions were the coupling songs for the original version that had the full orchestra. For me, the original is the comforting take with the soft piano and tenderhearted strings, but Sonority will always be the most affecting version (if I remember, Sonority was actually used during the ending credits). And what better choice to sing it than Chihara whose Nagato was the catalyst in "Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu" as she changed from her emotionless near-omnipotence to a far more vulnerable regular high school student, capable of feeling love and heartbreak?
"Yasashii Boukyaku" was written by Aki Hata（畑亜貴）and composed by Masumi Ito（伊藤真澄）. It broke into the Top 10 by placing at No. 8, and on the anime single charts, it even hit the top spot.
Kyoto Animation and its fans have been hit hard today, and it's still early days. But I am hopeful that despite the deaths and destruction, the company and its people will find their way back.