Wolf's Rain

Lyrical Melody

An observation of the song 'Gravity' from Wolf's Rain on a subtextual level.

by Aaron H. Bynum

An intriguing television series about the tribulations of an ambitious heart, Wolf's Rain narrates the burdensome tale of a young wolf and the paradise of which he seeks. While an anime program of superb visual quality and a very unique system of character dynamics, Wolf's Rain owes much of its outstanding presentation to the several musical compositions, both complete and interstitial, which helps to weave the story.

As the Japanese animated television series deals with an overzealous wolf named Kiba and his troupe of acquaintances in their search for a mythical land that grants eternal solace to its discoverers, the music of the television series is a clever mix of classical acoustics, involving metrical blues and a tribal rhythm that personifies the confident, the precarious, the hopeful, and the excessive. The closing theme in particular, "Gravity", should you have the opportunity to listen to it in its entirety, is a lyrical interpretation of the emotional and psychological wavelengths that a journeying individual endures, such as Kiba of Wolf's Rain, as he yearns for the indescribable with a pain that is inescapable.

"Gravity", unlike the focus of several ending songs to Japanese animated programs, is neither a coming-to-terms nor a moment of reconciliation, but rather, it is a song of lamentation. The speaker wonders of the purpose of his travels, and he articulates his efforts to bring peace to his conscience after journeying for so long. As a song about the hurdles that one must overcome in order to find validate one's efforts, and as a song about the physical, emotional and psychological weight that such soul-searching elicits, "Gravity" is a powerful musical performance that brings concerned listeners even closer to the poignant circumstance at hand:

Wolf's Rain

been a long road to follow
been there and gone tomorrow
without saying goodbye to yesterday

The song begins with the speaker rationalizing the ache of his journey, remembering with uncertain nostalgia the pain accumulated from traversing roads long ago, and the inhuman strength still needed to explore roads not yet taken. Wolf's Rain is indeed the story of a journey, and as this song immediately establishes, there are times when those journeying are overcome by the tiresomeness of never finding a place to settle down and call home. While knowing that much road has been left behind, the speaker is well aware that much road still lies ahead. It is because of this persistent cycle of searching that one no longer concerns himself as a being recognizant of time or moment, but only of place, or destination. Thus it is fairly easy to be disillusioned by one's goal, and to forget the stretch of time that passes as one strives to reach such a goal.

The speaker then wishes for a place where he may find a temporal stasis. After journeying for so long and finding nothing, he knows that he may soon succumb to his weariness and lose track of time, to have his consciousness melt the days together as an inescapable continuity after chronicling the journey clearly, like the distinguishing of a sunny day and a moonlit night.

are the memories I hold still valid?
or have the tears deluded them?

Wolf's Rain

One covert motive in particular for Kiba's journey to the so-called Paradise is to reaffirm, validate, and even reclaim the sentiments ("memories") he feels that he may have lost in another life. This means that his dreams of another world where his happiness does not come after the evident suffering of over-ambition, but from the purity of one's heart. Kiba dreams of a place devoid of emotional struggle and hope, where his dreams are by chance more than just dreams. The speaker of this lyric, under such a pretense, then wonders if all that he has searched for, and all that he has been yearning for after all of this time is nothing more than a mere illusion, wrought by clouded desire.

These "tears" that "delude" such reveries or aspirations both resonate in a physical and psychological manner: physical, for the personality of one such as Kiba is that of an individual known well for maintaining a barrier around his heart, shielding his true emotions from others, living on the basis that he will let others know how he feels when he understands that others are ready to comprehend his circumstance; and psychological, for the purpose of his lyrical resonance identifies how solidified that a character’s motive, or ambition, happen to be.

maybe this time tomorrow
the rain will cease to follow
and the mist will fade into one more today
something somewhere out there keeps calling

Observing the changes in weather as the metaphorical backdrop of his personal adventure, the speaker tries to find solace and peace in recognizing the causal framework of his travels. That is to say, the speaker is reiterating the fact that if he does not reach his destination "today", he will then try again "tomorrow", and if he does not reach it "tomorrow", then he will forcibly try it again the next day, and so on. Just as the rain begets some other form of nature, so does his desire and effort on one day begets a journey for another day.

Wolf's Rain

With further regards to the relationship between the naturalistic lyric and the speaker of the lyric itself, one can make the connection of rain as a distinct form of crying, and the subsequent fading of the mist as the emotional clarity that follows. To draw upon an example out of the context of this particular lyric, and out of the context of the anime television series Wolf's Rain, I ask that you try to remember any moment of which you cried so very much that you could register no more tears. I would wager that in such a tired and exhausted physical condition that your emotional state was much more apparent and focused, than the confused nature with which you had first began to cry with.

am I going home?
will I hear someone singing solace to the silent moon?
zero gravity what's it like?
am I alone?
is somebody there beyond these heavy aching feet

Although the second point in the song is where we find a series of questions, none of which are rhetorical, it is here that we find the first clear resonance of the emotional weight of which the speaker carries. These five questions reveal the honest insecurities the speaker has with regards to his journey in its entirety.

The first question inquires of a place of security, refuge or sanctuary, if you will; a place to which there will be no longer be a need for journeying, because everything needed is provided, a "home". While earlier in the song there is a yearning for a non-specific location of temporal stasis, a place where the slow-motion sickness of searching will dissipate and one's soul will finally be at ease, this "home" is that subject of yearning.

The second question inquires as to the path of which one will utilize to get to this place of refuge. This path is a voice that will guide the wanderer; a voice capable of focusing the heart and mind of the struggling soul. Throughout this entire song, we have the consciousness of an individual that is journeying and searching every single day for a place so far and so distant, it may as well be a mere memory. It is therefore necessary for the presence of a sagely guide to finally emerge in order to help direct this journeying soul. In the context of Wolf's Rain, this allusion is an evident parallel to Miss Cheza, the Flower Maiden, the blind yet all-seeing spiritual guide for Kiba and the other wolves.

Wolf's Rain

The third question inquires as to what this place of refuge may be like. The moon, suspended in an aura of minimal gravity, above all other fascinations, lifts up any weight with ease, no matter how unbearable and heavy the weight is. The weight of which the speaker has carried throughout his entire journey, once conjoined with this "zero gravity" of which the speaker dreams and wonders of, we find that the moon has the potential to grant the release of emotional tension, a freedom that the speaker seeks ever so dearly.

The fourth and fifth questions are inquiries into the relief alluded to through the previous question: The emotional release of internal strife and psychological burden. The speaker wishes for companionship, knowing full well that an emotional and spiritual release of any kind is not of any good or use to him should he be alone with no one to share this experience. Therefore, the completion of his personal ambition, the conclusion of his journey, and the subsequent release of withheld tension is just the beginning.

still the road keeps on telling me to go on
something is pulling me
I feel the gravity of it all

Here, at the end of "Gravity", we find that the speaker has returned to where he was at the beginning of the song: an ambitious individual with dreams of reaching a sanctified place afar, but still unable to conclude as to how far away this place is, and unable to conclude as to how long it will be until he finds this place. This circumstance is the true and honest nature of a journey. For according to the speaker, the persistence of the wanderer is the most important aspect of the trek, as he continually feels that "the road keeps on telling [him] to go on", despite surviving whatever emotional difficulty he had experienced thus far.

The "gravity" of which the speaker openly admits to be carrying by the final line of the song has a double meaning. One meaning concerns the emotional and psychological tension that has built up over the course of the speaker's journey thus far, in addition to the weight and pressure of the challenges that lie ahead for him. Secondarily, we have a reference to the mythical gravity of which his destination possesses, which is continually "pulling" him in, as if to be his destiny.

Wolf's Rain

Wolf's Rain Original Soundtrack
Title: "Gravity"
Vocals: Maaya Sakamoto
Composition: Youko Kanno
Arrangement: Youko Kanno
Lyrics: Troy
Harp: Tomoyuki Asakawa
Piano: Youko Kanno
Flute: Takashi Asashi
Oboe: Masakazu Ishibashi
Clarinet: Syoji Togame
Horn: Hirojuki Minami Group
Strings: Masatsugu Shinozaki Strings (Group)

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