Music in Anime – Yamazakura (Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop)

I’ve had this song on loop for a while now as I write this. If you don’t understand Japanese, I recommend looking up the English translation and giving it a read as you listen. I guarantee you will cry tears of sweet happiness as you do.

Full disclosure – I had so good a time watching Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop I’m probably going to end up harping on about it for a good while. Expect a fair number of blog posts from me about the movie, on the off chance you’re one of the, like, five people consistently checking back here.

Prod-wise, Words Bubble Up is amazing. I could talk at length about the visuals – and I will, don’t worry – and how they give life to these young teens and their precious summer. The soundtrack, composed by legendary Kensuke Ushio is equally praiseworthy. Today, though, I want to give a little shoutout to a special track – Yamazakura, a romantic eighties-inspired ballad by Taeko Onuki.

The entirety of Words Bubble Up’s fantastic soundtrack is sleepy electro pop save for Yamazakura. Slow and dreamy, the song narrates feelings from a summer long gone. Taeko’s soulful lyrics call out to an unseen lover, asking them to spend the next summer and the summer after that together with them, watching cherry blossoms bloom as they bask in the feelings they first felt all those years ago.

What I really loved, though, was how they made use of the track. The best tracks aren’t just played over the movie for the sake of having music. RADWIMPS’ Sparkle is used to hammer home hard the incredible feelings of longing felt by Mitsuha as she tries in vain to remember the name of the boy she’d fallen in love with and forgotten. Words Bubble Up takes this one step further with Yamazakura. Not content with simply using the song, the movie weaves Yamazakura right into the narrative of the movie so beautifully and so deftly I guarantee it’ll leave you in tears. Memories rush forth in the mind of the amnesiac Mr. Fujiyama as he recalls a summer long ago, watching fireworks from the rooftop of the old record printing factory together with his late wife. As he does, Cherry and Smile try desperately to see each other on the eve of Cherry’s departure from their countryside home. Their feelings spill out, and beneath the fireworks of the Daruma Festival, the wistful lyrics of Yamazakura playing on loud megaphones, they share their own, quiet summer memory together.

Yamazakura may not fit in with the movies’ themes of supportive love and getting over ones’ insecurities. As an embodiment of all that this one summer month has meant for Cherry and Smile, though – and perhaps what it will come to mean for the two of them for many years to come – it is the perfect fit, tying together the whole movie in a way that will leave you feeling warm and good inside.

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