I couldn’t sleep, so have Kitazawa Yuuho of the peggies talking about Stand by Me, the ending theme of Sarazanmai. The interview is actually a bit longer, but I only translated the relevant parts.
‘I thought it would be interesting to write about the doubts and loneliness we feel before losing someone’
It’s the song that fits the image of a grown-up the peggies the best. How did you come to write it, seeing that it’s now the ending theme of an anime series?
It was written specifically for the show. I composed it back when there was no script, but had received the broad story, concepts and character profiles to use as material. I wrote quite a lot…and it was all over the place, but we just couldn’t settle on one good result. It was because it came right after I had composed ‘Kimi no sei‘, a rather memorable song.
Having listened to the entire song, I can say the hook is also pretty catchy. You can remember it even if you only listen to it once, and you can tell it’s peggies as soon as you hear it.
I think the peggies’ songs are extremely catchy and easy to remember for everyone. That makes me really happy, so I wanted to meet their expectations. That’s why it takes time until the whole team finds a middle ground. Either way, ‘Fortune‘ was also originally written for Sarazanmai.
That’s right! Now that I think about it, you did say that you wrote it when you were wandering by the Kanda River in Asakusa at night.
Exactly. I wrote it with the images of the Sumida River and the Kaminarimon in mind. I also wrote many other songs, but this one was the very last, like one last effort before the end, since it was also the last song written before the deadline. ‘Stand by Me’ was made by everyone and it was the first song in a long time I wrote starting with the title. We all put a whole lot of effort into it and it is very dear to us, since it was so difficult to compose.
The hook is as catchy as the one in ‘Kimi no Sei’, but the lyrics make it feel like it takes place after the album.
That’s right. The album comes between ‘Kimi no sei’ and ‘Stand by Me’. It was only natural to have an album that combines the fresh loveliness of the peggies with an emotional feeling of sadness and transience and I believe I was able to write those lyrics thanks to it. As always, the lyrics are easy to understand after just one listening, but there are some words I chose more carefully, in order to convey our particular style.
Is it closely connected to the anime?
There’s nothing that references it specifically, but just hearing that the title of the first episode was ‘I want to connect, but I want to lie’ I thought it ironised the Internet culture nowadays and couldn’t help but strongly agree. It looks like we’re connected, but we actually aren’t, but we also want to reach the other. I figured I should write about feelings I usually have as well, but I didn’t delve in too deeply. Also, the key word in the lyrics was ‘tsubasa’ [wings], but I decided it would be better to evoke the flow of a river rather than the sky.
Since it’s a story about kappa and otters.
Right. It’s ‘Sarazanmai’, so I wanted to include the word ‘sara’. ‘Amazarashi‘ would have been too simple, so after some thinking, I ended up with ‘Namida ga ame ni sarawareteiku’*.
It works properly in hiragana. Both those who watch the show and those who don’t can understand this phrase. What is the relationship between the ‘you’ and ‘me’ in the lyrics? They are separated, aren’t they.
The song talks about the loneliness and the doubts one has just before they lose someone – I am sad I lost you, but were we ever connected at all? I’m sure that everyone has had their moments in love when they asked themselves whether they had been properly connected before. That is why you can’t help but have doubts regarding the past and you end up extremely sad and depressed, since there’s nothing you can do about it anymore. This kind of endless worrying…when you want someone, but you can’t step forward and you lose them in the end. It really is something you can’t help, so I wanted to write about these feelings which are so common in real life.
If the ‘you’ and ‘me’ in this song were a couple, for example, they used to be together, right?
Then there is that sense of distance – and yet can we say we really were together? They didn’t make a step forward out of fear that they would be hated by the other. Even though they noticed that, they let it be and in the end it was all over, they lost each other. I wanted to write about an ambiguous and unclear sense of distance.
Let’s say you have a light bulb that keeps flickering and even though you think it’s going to extinguish, you leave it alone, certain this isn’t going to happen now. However, before you know it, it goes out and the room is all dark. The verse also mentions this, and I thought it characterised this type of relationship really well. The sense of security that it will not go out, even though this might happen the very next day, that later turns into an intense loneliness.
Why do you say both ‘stand by me’ and ‘stand by you’?
One of the anime’s key phrases is ‘Don’t let go of your desire’. The desire to be wanted, to be appreciated is definitely at the base, but even though you actually want something, you are vexed that you are unable to ask for it. I’m sure that everyone can experience discomfort or all sorts of troubles, even though they might not notice. That’s why wanting to have someone by your side isn’t the only root of all your worries, but wanting to be by their side and yet being unable to fully love them. It’s unexpected that people don’t notice that, but it’s one big example of desire. There’s also wishing you could want someone as much as you want them to want you, but not being able to do it**. I think both definitely exist. Not only wanting someone by your side, but also the pain of wanting to be by someone’s side and trying to understand why you can’t do it. I figured I would be able approach those feelings more easily in the form of a song.
*[My] tears are washed away by the rain
**Irrelevant, but this phrase sounds as terrible in JP as it does in ENG.