Winter and Snow in Anime
By: Zorez Shahzad
No matter how you put it, we must all accept the fact that Japanese people see this world a little differently. Japanese people give a lot of importance to the smallest of things, and these things also include weather change. Weather change, whether it be a drop of the first dried up leaf in fall, or drop of the first snowflake in winter, is given a lot of significance by the people. In Japan, it is not out of the ordinary to see people make a prediction based on the weather. Snow is viewed differently in different parts of Japan. Some consider it to be the most beautiful blessing, whilst others, not so much. For the most part, however, snow is referred to as “Yuki” in Japan. The word Yuki roughly translates as, “Winter’s beauty”. If you are a fan of Japanese anime, or Japanese dramas/movies, then you might have seen characters (especially female) named Yuki or something similar to Yuki. Winter and snow are seen as such a blessing, that people are naming their children after it.
Today, we will take a closer look at the deeper meaning of snow in anime. I will be breaking down the winter scenes from some amazing anime. Also, before we get started, this post will contain spoilers.
Let us first get started with the anime “5 Centimeters Per Second”. This anime has a very deep message behind its story. 5 Centimeters Per Second shows us the reality of life, about how this reality is most of the time, uncontrollable. It’s a story about the struggle of two lovers, who eventually wind up getting further and further away from each other. This beautiful masterpiece uses the weather quite masterfully in order to convey its story. When the show starts up, we are greeted with beautiful cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms actually represent youth and energy in Japan. The spring season is used to show us how young love is blossoming between the two kids. The two kids are young and naïve and believe that they will be able to stay together forever. The first time we see snow in the show is when Takaki and Akari try meetup with each other one last time before moving away. In this part of the movie, we see heavy snowfall and fast winds. Stormy winds are used to represent hopelessness whilst the snowfall, shows a glimmer of hope. We see how the whole air is filled with hopelessness, but Takaki still manages to get to Akari. In my personal opinion, this part of the movie defines the whole show through just the weather. The stormy winds are telling our protagonist that there will be hardships in life and he can’t avoid them, no matter what. At the same time, the beautiful snow shows a glimmer of hope. If both the protagonists had really tried, they could have ended up together. But eventually, they (especially Akari) start to accept this separation as the reality of their life.
Now, let us consider the example of Naruto, or more precisely, “Naruto Movie 1: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow”. This anime movie also uses snow as a way to convey subliminal messages. First of all, the name of the female main character, Koyuki, tells us a lot about her importance in the movie. The name roughly translates as, “little snow”. As the ninjas are going into a land of heavy snowfall, bad luck also follows them. The show depicts the heavy snow as, being dark, whilst the female main character Kiyuki, the little snow, is seen as a glimmer of hope. At the end of the whole show, we see how all the heavy snow, suddenly just fades away, whilst Koyuki, the little snow, remains. This shows us that things always tend to work out! No matter how dim the ray of hope may be, there is always a good way in which the whole situation can end. In this movie, the ray of hope is very dim, as it is portrayed through the character with the most hopeless personality in the entire movie. But with his spark, Naruto makes everything turn out ok. The depiction of snow here is actually the same as its depiction in 5 Centimeters Per Second. But here, we see how the protagonist never gives up and always chases after that small spark of hope.
Next on our list is Erased. Erased is a brilliant mystery anime focusing on the story of Satoru. In this show, the mysterious vibe is represented through snowfall. This show actually uses the snow to showcase an ominous and dark tone. Whilst Satoru is trying his best to find the killer, the snow is in a way giving him a cover, hiding him from Satoru. This is another example of heavy snow being used to depict darkness. At the same time, however, the snow is also used to represent beauty. No matter how bad the situation got, Satoru never lost hope. The same goes for Kayo. The beautiful moments that Satoru and Kayo shared in the snow really helped them to keep ongoing. This anime shows us that everything can appear as good or bad. Where the heavy snow is ominous, it is also beautiful. Similarly, in life, every situation can be viewed as positive or negative, it is all truly up to the viewers perception. At the end of the whole show, after everything has been fixed, we see snowfall again. This time, the light snowfall actually represents beauty and hope. No matter how hard it gets, there is always a way for things to turn out okay! This show represents this fact throughout its entire run.
At last, we have the brilliant masterpiece “Your Lie in April”. Your Lie in April is an extremely emotional show, which uses the force of nature quite well. In the start, the cherry blossoms are used to show the enthusiastic spirit of Kaori. The spring season is also the season in which Kosei, slowly, starts to get out of his shell. Now, what about the winter season? The winter season and snow are also used quite beautifully in the show. The beginning of the winter season is also the time when Kosei starts to feel sad again. A girl suddenly came in Kosei’s life, changed everything for him, made his like better again, and now, she was on her deathbed. Kosei did not know about the true severity of the whole situation until one day he went to the hospital to give her a visit only to see her in such a bad condition that she had to be taken to the ICU. The snow represents how Kosei’s spirit is being taken away from him yet again. For Kosei, the snow is creating a very dark and ominous tone. On the other hand, Kaori is also scared. She does not want to die. She wants to spend the rest of her life with Kosei, but sadly she can’t. Kaori still tries to lie to herself and find beauty in the snow, which she does. Kosei also manages to find light in the darkness, when he remembers that there are other people counting on him as well. He can’t just give up on everything Kaori taught him, just because she’s leaving him. As Kosei plays the piano, this hope is shown in the form of spring yet again. Your Lie in April really used snow to convey a very gloomy tone.