I was a massive weeaboo going into 8th grade, so I had everything anime related; wallpaper, the way I act and speak, and of course, music. I had this phase where the only songs I would listen to would be from anime (even though I still listen to a bunch of anime songs now, most of them are orchestral or piano pieces). My favorite song at the time was “Secret Base,” the ED for AnoHana. I found the song so sad, it reminded me of the show so much and it would put me in this solemn mood for a while. I actually tried to show the song to some of my friends, but in the middle of listening of the song, one of my friends looked at me and said, “Why is this song so happy?” I realized afterwards that the only reason I found the song sad because of the context of the show, not because of the song itself.
Looking at the “Secret Base” musically, there is nothing really about it that makes it sad. It’s in the key of Gb, which is in most traditional Asian music, the melody is quite cheery, and the harmony only has a tint of sadness with it. The reason why this song would give me a solemn or sad mood was not because of the song, but its association with AnoHana (specifically, the last scene of the last episode).
The thing about the last episode of AnoHana, it’s really obvious what’s going to happen next, the only thing is the fine details. It’s obvious that Menma disappears, it’s obvious that that the crew is going to get together, and it’s obvious that the ending scene is supposed to invoke some sort of sadness. The writers already know about this, so there needs to be another way to actually make the scene feel sad. The reason this works is because of there is a link between the song and the ending scene. You see the scene and you think about the song, you hear the song and you think about the scene. The emotional impact of this scene multiplies because of the link between the song and the scene.
As I stated earlier, AnoHana’s last episode was really obvious, but the question is, how? The crew playing hide & seek was vary symbolic of how Menma restored their childhood. In the show itself, Menma tries to bring the group back together like back then when they were children, and at the end, when they play hide & seek trying to find Menma, it became a big symbol of how everyone’s life was restored by Menma (like back then when they were children). The ending when the song starts actually playing is when the emotions really start to kick in; the song itself talks about how there was a secret base back when they were children, while everyone reads an individual note written by Menma.
The song itself is really needed to give the scene a bigger emotional effect. The song starts to play as the first note is being read, and at the same time everyone from the group starts to tear up. The song and the crying are deliberately out of sync, so that the focus is less on the song and more on the scene at hand. The out-of-sync crying also shows how everyone is mixed with their emotions, confused, sad, and unsure about what to do. There are so many emotions flowing through their heads in a mixed up way, and it shows. Jinta’s speech about how they haven’t found her directly conflicts with the song, showing more of the mixed emotions that everyone is feeling right now. The song and the speech starts to get more and more in sync when Jinta and the crew starts screaming “Are you there!?” slowly showing how their emotions are starting to get sorted out. Even though the music is still out of sync, it stays out of sync until Menma is seen, solidifying their emotions. People start to see Menma, and the song becomes more of the focal point of the scene; this is shown because people are saying less and the song itself is still being played. When everyone starts to say “I love you,” the song starts to build up in tempo; in the song itself, that is because there is about to be a ‘bass drop’ of some sorts before the chorus starts playing again, and at the same time, all the “I love you’s” have been building up for Jinta, who obviously loves her the most out of all of them. After that, it cuts into everyone as a kid, and everyone making fun of Jinta for making Menma cry. This was to show Menma’s emotions at this point and to give the song more time to get to the instrumental. Menma’s response happens during the instrumental part; this was done deliberately so that the main focus is on Menma and her speech, with the song just being an accompaniment. Her speech is really powerful and having the lyrics there would only hinder the speech, so using the instrumental for this piece was a good decision because the instrumental actually helps boost the speech when it comes to emotional impact. As the speech comes to an end, she slowly starts to disappear, and the song starts to disappear with her.
I feel like the scene would not have been as impactful if it wasn’t for the song that was used. If it was some sort of OST or another song, I would not have felt as strongly about that scene. The song completely juxtaposes the scene, which creates a beautiful piece of art that hasn’t been done well since. I usually play this song on the piano when I feel sad; it has a solemn meaning for me, and I don’t want that to go away. When I was rewatching the scene for the analysis, I realized how overly-dramatic the scene was, but the song was what tied it all together. From time-to-time I still listen to that song, and when I hear the song I think about the scene associated with it, and I feel like having that link is important if you want a show to stick to you, and this show has. It’s been so long since I watched this show, but this song and this scene is still in my head, repeating and repeating. There is just so much about this show that knows how to tease your emotions, and shows like that are always worth watching.
-President Nico Nico Nii