Listen, I’m not saying Anthem of the Heart is a Christmas movie, but maybe I am.
This is my twelfth and final entry into 2017’s rendition of the 12 Days of Anime aniblogger project. For more about the project, read appropriant’s introductory post. Please also check out the spreadsheet containing the work of all the bloggers participating!
Rejoicing in Song
I may have quoted my high school theater teacher on this blog before, but when I was a chorus member in our school’s production of The Music Man he said something about his philosophy on musicals that really stuck with me. “In musicals,” he said. “The characters sing because speaking is no longer enough.”
This thought came to mind immediately for me when Jun suddenly, gloriously breaks out in song in front of the classroom. In fact, the whole of Anthem of the Heart seems to pivot on an idea akin to this idea—where words fail, song may prevail.
“Farewell, my voice / beyond that mountain / into the lake sleeping so deeply…”
“What child is this / who laid to rest / on Mary’s lap is sleeping?”
It’s probably nothing more than a coincidence that “Greensleeves,” the tune used for the popular Christmas song, “What Child is This,” is also the one used for Jun’s final song, but if it is, it’s a nice coincidence for the purposes of this post. In the end, it’s this song that serves as the true moment of catharsis in the film, but it’s more of a celebration than it is an expression of anything else. It’s a relief and a joy and a triumph.
Maybe it’s clumsy and silly to try and make an overt connection between Anthem of the Heart and the Christmas story, but I’m going to try anyways. On the night the Christ child was born, the shepherds are greeted by the song of the angels. And, much like the final song in Anthem of the Heart, the song is both a celebration and something more complex. Of course, the angels’ song was a melody of awe for the Lord, but it was also a song of a savior come to redeem the world—a hailing of the righting of a wrong.
But back to the idea of song serving the heart, expressing those feelings that cannot be uttered. “To sing is to pray twice” is a Catholic idiom sometimes attributed to Saint Augustine that I think acknowledges this truth about the action. And with Jun, the shoe certainly fits, a girl who keeps so many things inside than of course simply speaking would be insufficient to release all she has inside—much like the angels could not help but sing at the birth of Christ.
So those are my clumsy textual connections between Anthem of the Heart and Christmas, but I’ve of course left off the most important piece: the spirit of Christmas. Does Anthem of the Heart embody the spirit of Christmas? I’m going to say “yes,” for the simple reason that the Christmas spirit, to me, is simply about a gesture of love of goodwill toward mankind, and Anthem of the Heart is a film filled with such acts and a firm belief in their power.
And with that, let me say: Merry Christmas! Thanks to everyone who has read along with me during these 12 Days of Anime! I hope you’ve enjoyed my writings, and that you have a blessed day and holiday season with those you love.