I’ll start off this post with a link and video. When I really enjoy a film or series, and I also happen to enjoy the music and/or identify it strongly with the work in question, I typically feel compelled to write sheet music for it. Maison Ikkoku is certainly no exception. So here is some sheet music for a piano arrangement of “Kanashimi yo Konnichiwa”.
And here is a video of myself playing the piece:
Now, let’s continue on to the general music review. Maison Ikkoku is an older series, so the music may sound a bit outdated at times. For example, there are several string pieces that I think are quite good compositions but the older recording gives them a somewhat harsh quality. But the melodies retain a wonderful nostalgic charm. This is especially notable through several background music tracks involving piano, flute, and various other instruments. Without a doubt, however, the most moving pieces of music are those based on the melody of “Kanashimi no Konnichiwa”. In terms of songs, there are a few songs which I think stand out and I will mostly be going over these ones specifically.
Kanashimi yo Konnichiwa
I believe it was with “Waltz” from Honey and Clover a few years ago that I began to really appreciate the kind of effectiveness that songs could have. Before that, I didn’t really listen to anything other than either classical music or film scores, and I associated the term “songs” or even just contemporary or popular music with the sort of vapid stuff you’ll find on American top 40 lists. But “Waltz” was a song that contributed so much to the show it appeared in, embodying the bittersweet happiness of the series itself. But it isn’t a one-way relationship. Songs can add to a show, but the show also adds a lot to the song by being identified with it.
Kanashimi yo Konnichiwa (Hello, Sadness) is in a similar sort of position. When I hear the song, I think of Maison Ikkoku, not any specific scene or character, but the essence and tone of the show itself. It embodies the journey of the show and it’s characters and the slightly bittersweet tone that exists throughout. The melody and music itself is not sad in a direct way – I would guess most people would describe it as upbeat. But the lyrics are what lend it a rather, though the english translation can sound a bit stiff. The overlay of those introspective lyrics with the music is a very interesting combination. A translation is posted here
The lyrics of the chorus in particular I find very effective, especially as the singer says “when sadness comes again, I’ll smile, just like I’m welcoming a friend.” I don’t know how I can properly explain my reaction to it without rambling, but there’s something very moving about that line and the general tone of the song’s lyrics. Musically speaking, the end of that line (is where the chord progression resolves to a minor seventh, which is a very ambiguous chord and I think it really supports the sentiment very well. The general theme expressed is one similar to the predicament of Kyoko as she lives with the memory of her late husband while still desiring to find happiness – but without abandoning that sad memory as something to be ignored.
I don’t think any other song or opening sequence ever really matched this one, and it remains, to me, the musical representation of Maison Ikkoku itself.
Sunny Shiny Morning
This is the second opener I’ve decided to mention here – if “Kanashimi” was the embodiment of a generally bittersweet emotion, “Sunny Shiny Morning” carries all the pure joy and happiness of the series. The fun, the laughter, and the satisfaction. It represents the joy of friendship, innocence and love. I do genuinely enjoy this song, and a lot of it has to do with the singer, who I think puts a lot of real personality into the song through his very…”personable” voice. (strange description, I know). I also love the very playful chord progressions. As for the opening sequence, what can I say? It follows the playful trend with characters appearing in light-hearted poses as the song carries on, and a hilarious image of Godai and Kyoko looking embarrassed near the end.
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