Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Distant Starlight

"We are far, far, very, very far apart... but it might be that thoughts can overcome time and distance."

This post combines two things I have a great affinity for: the music of Muse and the films of Makoto Shinkai.

In 2002, Makoto Shinkai, a CG animator, created an OAV (or OVA, which stands for Original Video Animation) single-handedly on his Apple computer; his only help came from some friends who composed and recorded the music and from his fiancee, who recorded a voice part. It didn't take long for this independent work to become extremely popular, prompting a new dub by professional voice actors, as well as (later on) an English dub. This OAV won many awards and captured the hearts of countless fans around the world who were drawn to this touching story of love separated by distance and time. This OAV was 「ほしのこえ」 (Hoshi no Koe), or, in English, Voices of a Distant Star.  

In 2006, popular U.K. rock band Muse released their fourth studio album, entitled Black Holes and Revelations. Their second single from this album, released on September 4, 2006, was entitled "Starlight," and it also deals with the theme of love separated by distance.

I think these two works of media, Voices of a Distant Star and "Starlight," make a perfect pair in showcasing their shared theme, even if that pairing was not intended originally.

"Starlight" almost seems like the feelings of the characters of Voices of a Distant Star put into song form...well, one version of song form (since the film's ending song could be described the same way). The film begins with two friends: Terao Noboru and Nagamine Mikako. The two friends are basically inseparable...until Mikako informs Noboru that she is heading into space. She's joining the military on an expeditionary/defensive mission against the Tarsians, an alien race.

As her journey begins, Mikako and Noboru exchange text messages frequently, but the farther the fleet flies away from Earth, the longer each message takes. Soon it takes a year for a single message to travel one way (a year in Earth time, that is), and after a hasty jump through space due to an attack, the one-way time is over 8 years.

"Far away / This ship is taking me far away / Far away from the memories / Of the people who care if I live or die."

Noboru feels the temporal separation more than Mikako does. Due to the advanced technology, Mikako is making jumps through time while remaining the same age, but time on Earth stops for no one. Noboru is getting older; at one time, Mikako sends him a message saying hello from her 15-year-old self to his 23-year-old self (I may have the ages slightly off). This time difference does not make Noboru forget about her, though; early on he admits, "I will become someone who only waits for Mikako's mail."

"Starlight / I will be chasing your starlight / Until the end of my life."

As Mikako gets into space battles with the Tarsians and Noboru goes through his schooling and continues to age, their desire for each other continues. Noboru claims he will make himself cold and closed off so that the longing for her will not tear him apart, but his desires stay strong, as evidenced whenever he receives a message from her. Mikako, too, still longs for him.

"Hold you in my arms / I just wanted to hold you in my arms."

The film ends with Noboru in his mid-twenties on Earth and Mikako in a damaged space suit after a battle lightyears away. Though the chances of their ever seeing each other again seems slim (unless Noboru joins the space force, which he intends to do), their love for each other doesn't dim.

"My life / You electrify my life."

And even with all their separation, they remain committed to each other. No matter what happens, their love for each other is permanent and lasting.

"I'll never let you go / If you promise not to fade away, never fade away."

The film's final scene is a shared monologue between Noboru and Mikako that my words cannot do justice: it's portrayed beautifully.

I hope you've enjoyed this post; I certainly enjoyed writing it. I'd highly recommend watching Voices of a Distant Star and Makoto Shinkai's later work 5 Centimeters Per Second (which is probably my favorite anime film I've seen so far). I'd also recommend listening to Muse: they are an amazing band. Anyway, I hope these reflections have struck a chord for you; this movie and this song always do so for me.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Thanks for reading. God Bless, and peace.

Nota Bene: Thanks to Anime News Network, Wikipedia, and IMDb for background information for this post. Thanks also to the random YouTube accounts hosting these videos: I am most grateful for their availability. All images are screenshots taken by me from the DVD.

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