Love Stories Are Also Made Like This: Taiyo No Uta [A Song to the Sun]
[ Before reading on, if you haven't seen the movie yet and you don't intend to come upon any spoilers, then go to crunchyroll.com and watch it first. If you care to know what I think first, read on...]
I have had this copy of Taiyo No Uta [ translated as 'A Song to the Sun' also released as 'Midnight Sun' in some territories] for more than a year now, I think. I never actually got to watching it until recently when i learned that there was a mini-series patterned after it; and thanks to the underground economy, i was also able to purchase the latter.
I have never lost so much tears for a movie, I tell you. And I don't know what is it with me and these kinds of movies these days...
Taiyo No Uta is the story of Amane Kaouru, a girl who suffers from a rare genetic illness called XP or Xeroderma Pigmentosum -a condition that makes exposure to the sun's UV [ultra-violet] rays life threatening and fatal- thus preventing her to live a normal life. Sleeping during the day, she comes out at night bringing her guitar and sings the night away at a park in front of a local train station.
Once, from her window, just before the sun goes up, she chances upon a boy with his surfboard. She would watch this same boy pass by that same bus station everyday just before she goes to sleep. Under these circumstances, they never would have met. But as fate would have it, one night, as Kaouru was singing at the park, she sees the boy and runs after him.
She catches up with him at a crossing by the train tracks and ends up pushing him to the ground. Bombards him with an introduction about her which weirds the guy out. Thankfully a friend, Misaki -the only one she's got, runs after her and pulls her away. Leaving a rather confused teenage boy on the train tracks.
Before we continue, let me just say, this movie kind of takes its time, and i think it helps in the storytelling, establishing the loneliness Kaouru feels of not being able to live a normal life.
Some time later, Kaouru was sitting by the bus stop she usually watches from afar when that same boy, Fujishiro Kouji sees her. They get acquainted, and he then promises to watch Kaouru perform at her usual spot by the park once the summer vacations have began.
However, on that evening, Kaouru's spot on the park was taken over by a rather obnoxious musician and she couldn't perform there. Kouji then takes her to Yokohama where they find a spot for her to perform. The movie features songs sung by Yui, the singer actress that plays Kaouru. The montage at Yokohama features the song Skyline, reflecting Kaouru's longing to soar into the unknown world.
By the sea, on their way back, Fujishiro Kouji asks Amane Kaouru to go out with him. This would have been the perfect evening for falling in love until she realizes that the sun was about to rise on her and she's still a long way from home. Fortunately, she makes it indoors in the nick of time, but now her secret is revealed. Kouji discovers why Kaouru could never go out into the sun, because she could die.
Kaouru gives up on having a relationship with Kouji because she feels he may do things out of pity or may see her as a freak. "I'd be happy if I could just live a normal life, that's all I ask." A self-confessed simpleton, Kouji deals with the situation the way he knows how. Trading his surfboard and getting a part-time job, he works out a plan for Kaouru to be able to share her songs to more people. And in that crossing by the train tracks, where they first met, Kaouru and Kouji share their first kiss -a cute one at that.
I don't know if I read into it that much, but there's something about the use of the train tracks and the pedestrian crossing in this movie. I saw the train tracks as a symbol of movement, of life passing Kaouru by, and the inevitable future. And to share that moment with Kouji, at the place where one crosses the tracks, shows the importance of living in the moment.
But as the summer came to pass, the effects of the disease begin to progress, and Kaouru finds herself unable to play the guitar. [Sufferers of XP face the risk of the deterioration of their nervous system and may never get to live past the age of 20] Kouji encourages Kaouru not to give up singing while hiding his own tears...
Kaouru records her song, and Kouji finally gets to show her his surfing skills when she takes the courage to wear the protective suit her mother had made for her so she can go out during the day.
Kaouru held on as long as she could, with as much love for living as she had for the song she left behind.
I reckon most of us don't have the heart for movies like these. But suffering from a type of solar induced dermatological condition myself, i know how people often never realize how lucky they are, to be able to go out into the world carefree. Kaouru may not have had the chance to live like the rest of the world, but she sure gave her life a good try even towards the end. One can sense this longing within Kaouru to leave something behind when she had passed on. The song 'Goodbye Days' communicate the long wait for life to change, to have some sort of meaning, and to be able to share it. She leaves them this song not as a matter of legacy but a reflection of a life truly lived without any regrets.
There are loves that fuel our very souls, and they bring meaning into our lives however short they may be. Though one never wishes that fate on anyone, i think Kouji was meant to experience this love. To shake him from being the humdrum teenager he saw himself to be, and find a sense of purpose in the world.
If someone asks me for a love story, i'll tell them to watch this movie. Because a love story isn't limited to storybook endings, love stories should reflect the other realities of life, bitter or painful as they are; or else, i don't think that's love at all.
before we end this post, here's a video of song Goodbye Days as sung by YUI in the movie