SPOILER WARNING: READ THE OTHER PARTS FIRST! Sakura no Kaze goes somewhere in the imaginary tier list of "Top 5 worst game cut versions of all time". If you have any kind of preconceived perception of this song from the game cut it's best you leave them behind as it will do you no favors here.
Here are the links to the other parts
The MASTER SEASONS series of CD Albums tells a love story in 4 parts across 4 seasons, separated by several years. The first album came out in August 9th 2017 and the final part of the story was released on April 14th 2018. All 4 songs feature lyrics written by Mori Yuriko and feature the kanji for wind 風 (kaze) in the title. Together they represent one of the most unique collections of literature in all of Cinderella Girls. Sakura no Kaze (literally "cherry blossom wind") is the 4th and final part of the epic seasons saga. It is both chronologically and release wise the final part.
Sakura no Kaze is composed by Hidekazu Tanaka. Most recently they made Demolish, other recent works include Joker, although they're probably most well known for iconic anime tracks like M@GIC☆ and Star!!
Wind is flowing, the me that cut my hair is...
From the commuter train, gazing at distant days
Gaze at the phone's pictures. After shutting out the memories
On the opposite platform, a resembling person is looking down
Much like 2/3 of the other songs that we've seen so far, the song begins with an introduction that tells us about the location and the scene. However, unlike the previous songs, there is no introduction line (Gin no Iruka, Akikaze) or chorus excerpt (Twintail), instead we go straight into the meat of things.
Speaking of twintails, they're gone. The character has cut their hair, and we can infer it's likely the girl because it uses the gender neutral "I" in this song, which is the same as in Akikaze. The iconic feature of the girl that survived three entire songs is no more. But the important question to ask is why is this detail here. In this case, the cutting of hair is also symbolic representation of the end of a phase. It seems like sometimes girls have this thing where they would change their appearance, or simply cut their hair to represent the end of a specific phase of their life. This sort of symbolizes the shedding of the burdens of past events and moving onwards.
Also there's something being mentioned about the wind flowing. This is explained in the 2nd line where it gives us the location, a commuter train. So the flowing of the wind refers to the train traveling at speed cutting through the wind on its way to the destination. In some aspects, you may be lead to believe that the part talking about gazing refers to the act of looking out of the train and observing things fly by, but this isn't the case.
That part is meant to connect with the next line, the act of looking at pictures stored in the phone. The distant days are a callback to the events of the previous songs. Now, do you happen to remember what the 3rd line of the chorus of Akikaze was? Its "でも想いを封(と)じ込めて黙った" and if you recall the discussion we had regarding this line regarding the meaning of 封じ込め (written) vs the meaning of the read version 閉じ込め, you'll realize something very similar in this part, where we're looking at the verb 閉じる acting on the noun for memories 想い. Both verbs are talking about sealing or closing off something, and in both songs it's talking about thoughts/memories. This part also ties in to the first segment about the new haircut representing the implied closure of the past events that happened up to this point.
But of course, closure it was not as we soon discover, something interesting happened on this fateful train ride. Now it's not quite obvious whether the character was planning to alight on this stop, or that she had gotten out of this train. I suppose they leave it up to your imagination for that. Perhaps in addition to looking at her phone she was also looking out of the window. Now what exactly the "opposite platform" means in this context really depends on the design of the train station. In the simplest of train station designs, there is either the case where the platforms are divided by two train tracks in the center of the station, or the opposite case where the train tracks circle around the station meaning the opposite platform is just across without having to take a detour. Of course, the minute you add more trains and more complicated multi level structures, you're going to rapidly approach shibuya station levels of complexity where you could make any number of philosophical arguments what it means to be the opposite platform.
Don't you find this last line rather peculiar? Just one song ago in the timeline, the guy's face was described as distant. Despite that in this song, for the very little time afforded to spot someone on the other side of the platform, the girl was able to recognize someone similar to the guy. She may have just revisited the photos that she has, but it doesn't make it much easier to spot someone in a small time.
Like a clock coming alive
Changing fate, must hurry
Above the clumsy me
The cherry blossom wind blows
Is it a Cinderella story if there isn't a clock involved? The first part ties in to the second line first half, just like the structure of the very first verse. So it really talks about changing fate like a clock coming alive, and there's nothing more symbolic of this in the series than the whole cinderella analogy. If you recall all your cg anime lore, then you might remember that the clock is only ever seen moving on screen when the characters successfully take a step towards the ball. In the same sense, this is describing a transformative moment that offers the character the opportunity to change their destiny, and this is very much what this is. In order to do this however, they must hurry.
For the next part, it is time to return to talking about the language of flowers (hanakotoba) once again. We've talked about other flowers before in different writeups, but for the case of the Sakura, it refers to the purity of the soul and an elegant woman. It also is the national flower of Japan. In context it could symbolize a number of things, like the purity of the girl's intentions and desires, or it could be about how time has allowed her to mature into a refined lady. Cherry Blossoms are also known for having a very short blooming window, where they are in their full glory for only a very brief period of time. This probably ties into the existing theme of urgency and specific timing.
Meet eye to eye and run
[I] want to grant [my] wish
For that reason anyone would
Surely become adults, that's why
With the sense of urgency we jump straight into the 2nd chorus. It starts right off with a cliche eye to eye meeting romantic scene, but then it turns into a discussion of something more interesting quickly. Answers.
Do you remember one of the questions in Akikaze? One of the things the girl was pondering over? 「My dear 教えて おとなになるって ねぇ変わることなの？ 何もかも」is the introduction to the 2nd chorus of Akikaze, and discusses what it really means to become an adult. Fast forward however much time later between those two songs, and this section reveals that she's found an answer to what becoming an adult is about. Perhaps it is not a complete answer, but it is at least something when she had nothing before.
The sentence structures used here are also fragmented which means that the real format of the last line is a bit more like "Adults yeah, surely to become that's why". If you slip the sentence ending ね which I translated into a casual sentence ending "yeah" in the above case (there isn't a good 1-1 unfortunately), the fragments gives of a meaning awfully close to "because we surely become adults", which really sounds like its hinting us towards a specific direction here...
The charm I'm also wearing today is
The necklace given on that day
The silver dolphin is laughing
gaze at the smile of [the] couple
The first sentence is also fragmented and really is "Today also doing, charm is" when looked at literally. This is common in Japanese where a clause is used to describe characteristics of a noun, but results in whacky translations that sound absurd in english.
Isn't it interesting that even after they have supposedly ended the relationship in Akikaze, and the girl has supposedly shut out her memories of the past events, that she's still wearing the charm from all the way back then? Looks like there's some things she can't quite let go off.
This also represents the first reference in the song to Gin no Iruka to Atsui Kaze, the first song of the series. Up to this point, all the past throwbacks have been to Akikaze and Twintail.
If you take a look at the album art, you'll also notice that all 3 of the characters are wearing the necklace from Gin no Iruka. It is interesting that the charm only features on two of the album covers, the first and the last.
The smiling face from the bottom of the heart is
Blooms next to the person you like doesn't it?
In spring and summer and autumn and winter
In the wind
[it] will surely bloom
Using flower related ideals and the concept of blooming is something common in Japanese literature when describing love. In this case, we talk about the smiling face or laughing face. It's one of the more obvious things in this song, but it means that when someone is next to someone that they like, it will make them smile and make them happy.
In line 3, we go through all the seasons in order, because this is the concluding part of the series we now have the power to transcend all the seasons and not just be limited to the one that we're looking at presently. The sentence structure of using も to separate each season tells you that the verb in the sentence applies to each individual case. It's not quite the exact same nuance as the english "and", because the more you use it, the more there becomes an emphasis on how things are constant, unchanging and it slowly approaches the idea that the speaker is trying to drill home the point on how universally the case applies to.
In line 4, we look at a phrase "in the wind". What has the wind really been all this time? In the meta sense, the wind refers to the story that is being told, the series name is of course tied together by 風. In other senses it represents something more literal, the blooming of flowers in the wind. Against the elements of the world, regardless of the adverse circumstances, this flower of love, the flower of the smile of lovers will bloom wherever and whenever.
Before we conclude the first chorus, I want you to take a good look at these 5 lines. Not just because the song could have concluded right here and called it a day, but because the structure used here will become relevant later.
[I'm] way too happy. [I] wavered in anxiety however
Even though [you] wear a necktie, [your] eyes haven't changed
Like the gently changing seasons that [I] repeatedly lamented
You mutter "I wanted to meet [you]" and blush
In the first line, there's an interpretation discussion on whether the "being too happy" verb is actually a modification clause for the second half of the sentence. The example above interprets them as separate, but if you look at it as a single piece it translates to "[I] Wavered because I was too happy it made me anxious" which gives the idea that the happiness is the cause of the anxiety. This is somewhat open for interpretation.
There was something before about not changing in Akikaze. In that instance, the kindness of the guy was used as an example. In this case it says that his eyes also haven't changed despite the different appearance. Also if you recall in that very same part, it was this different appearance that made the guy feel distant, but all that seems to have changed now. The more important part about the 2nd line is this talk about a necktie. It appears that our guy is now a salaryman. All the subtle cues building up to this point has been trying to tell us this, that our characters have grown up to become adults. If the characters were in their teens back when they were in Akikaze, this is many years later, more than 5, maybe even more than 10 years. The significance of them still being able to recognize each other after all this time is something that's quite marvelous.
The 3rd line here is the most complicated one to translate in the whole song. Just in case I screwed it all up I'm going to break it down part by part so that if you come up with some kind of alternative interpretation, more power to you. There's two major parts, the first part is "repeatedly lamented seasons" and "in a manner that is gently changing". The 2nd part is describing the manner of subsequent line using a metaphor. The first part is then acting on the 2nd as a description of the properties of the verb "changing". All of this makes sense, but the most difficult part is finding a phrasing in english that isn't overly fragmented. What this part really means is that she has made some decisions that she regretted, and the changing seasons represents the flow of time to get to this point. It sounds like she regrets saying farewell at the end of Akikaze.
But in the same way, it looks like our guy also is of a similar opinion, and he's also been yearning for the reunion. This is evident from the mannerism described in the 4th line. The blushing is a bit of a throwback to Gin no Iruka, where a very similar phrasing is used in the 2nd chorus. (The line from that song is 呼び捨て なんだか照れるけどね)
Instead of continuing the prechorus buildup just like what the first verse set us up for, this song now is about to throw that idea right out of the window and do something entirely different instead.
Ding Dong Ding Dong チャイム鳴って
Ding Dong Ding Dong, the chime sounds
We peeked into the same page didn't we?
Do you remember the sequence of events? This intermission like part is like a review of the timeline up to this point. Starting off with Twintail no Kaze and the location in which they first met. The major elements of the song, the Ding Dongs and the peeking into the same page are all the elements that we're revisiting here. This is like the part of a JRPG final chapter where you revisit all the old areas of the game for the final time or something.
On the musical side, it is important to note the instruments used in this part, because you will notice...
Hot wind and aquarium
The light of summer where name was called
As we go into a different season, the arrangement switches up slightly and introduces more elements into the song. This technique gives a feeling of progression and builds up tension over a prolonged period of time. In this part you can tell that the electric guitar shows up at this point.
Now we're looking at Gin no Iruka to Atsui kaze. The elements we're looking at here refer to the location of their first date. Also if you recall the 2nd chorus of Gin no Iruka we had a long discussion about the symbolism and the significance of name calling, and this throwback segment thinks of it as a very important element in that song.
The day tears were shed in the autumn wind
We go into another throwback section and this time it's Akikaze ni Te o Futte. The major element of the song is the crying, the breakup and the event that stagnated their relationship for the longest time.
That is the ups and downs, the detoured youth
And in one final buildup of tension we round out the revisiting of the timeline with the summary. The pair have been through a lot over many years. At that time they were still youths. They may not be anymore, but they still have their love for each other. Now they will even be able to appreciate the ups and downs of their relationship, and cherish that with them as they embark on a new chapter.
Like all good Apple events, there is just One More Thing...
There is another song that's written by Yuriko Mori, composed by Hidekazu Tanaka (and Takizawa Shunsuke from Twintail no Kaze) that goes through all 4 seasons in order and introduces instrumental variation with each one just like this song. Do you happen to know what it is?
That song is the 5th Anniversary song EVERMORE. In that song, as we go through season by season, it introduces a unique instrument to represent each season. The piano in spring, the electric guitar in summer, the cello in autumn and some shaker percussions in winter. The main difference between these songs is that EVERMORE is significantly more Cinderella, and every season has a strong connection to various elements of the franchise. While EVERMORE was released a year before the first installment of the Kaze series even came out it bears a mark of resemblance in this specific segment.
Connect hand to hand, naturally
Next to you
I don't belong anywhere else isn't it?
A music detail to note is that when something romantic is being said in this song, it quietens down to give it that atmosphere and to also give the words some space to breathe. It's like the music is giving the couple some privacy and space.
When it comes to handholding, the last time this was actually discussed was in Gin no Iruka to Atsui Kaze. That's because there was explicitly no handholding for Akikaze. For the girl, the extended period of time has made her discover that she's found where she truly belongs.
Also this is actually the 2nd chorus. It uses the same patterns here but its much quieter because this song really isn't a fan of doing the same thing the same way over and over and always seems to have new variations to introduce.
Let's walk, connected hand in hand
In order to connect over again
The whole time with fingertips entwined
The first line of this part represents a return to the first date. That's where we had the notion of walking together. Time has appeared to pause, this is their moment together and the reunion that will allow the destiny of these two to converge. Or maybe if you want to take the interpretation in the more cinderella route, the stopping of time and the stopping of the clock would represent a spell that lasts forever.
But that obviously doesn't work because The Clock of the Cinderella Never Stops! If you recall at the beginning of the song it talks about a clock coming to life and a sense of urgency from that moment, but here the tension is all gone. Time has stopped because in some ways it's like stopping a countdown before the timer finishes and that release of tension is whats captured here.
The depths of the intimacy between the couple here is reflected with the whole finger intertwining description. It's clearly something that is supposed to reflect how close the two are in terms of relationship.
Memories floating in that distant sky
That day when [we] changed seats
That day when you declared you liked me
Did you think that we would be done with flashbacks? Of course not. This part goes back through the events that they've been through together in sequence. The first question to ask here is what are the memories that are floating in that distant sky are, what does it refer to? One of the ways to look at it is that these memories are floating in a distant sky because it's the memories of the past, the significant days that are described in each individual song.
Another thing that it could be is to imagine a comic illustration or manga if you insist, and think of the image of a thought bubble. Such a thought bubble would probably be drawn floating in the sky. It could be a symbol of them thinking through their past together.
Also the very last line is incredibly short, truncated and kinda just blows by, which is why structurally and in terms of the pattern it is quite different from the previous two lines. This could just be due to the song structure and how the existing lines fit into the phrasing of the composition, leaving only a short bit of around a measure to squeeze in the last line, or it could reflect the reduced emphasis on the sad and pain points of the relationship.
The dolphins knew didn't they?
The way of our love
In spring and summer and autumn and winter
In the wind
Constantly the whole time
Lets be by [each other's] side
And with the relationship restored, we can finally consider the road traveled to reach this point. The couple has had an eventful relationship through the seasons, but through all of that the necklace has served as a guide and the binding thread that would see them returned to each other. The symbol of the connected dolphins represented how their relationship started and ended, and how they will return to each other. The phrasing here is absolutely wonderful, because to say that "the dolphins knew (continuously up to the current point)" makes it sound like all the way back in the 2nd chorus of Gin no Iruka to Atsui Kaze, the whole first half, about the dolphin summer, their summer and the prank-like group of fishes comes off as the couple getting teased by some aquatic creatures with the ability to see the future, and it comes off that way with the following line, because it was from that point that they walked their path of love up to the present. Through the many years, and through each and every season.
The tension continues to build with the repetition of the various seasons, this is a callback to the very first chorus of this song, where a very similar structure was used. Do note however, that while the structure is being borrowed, the arrangement is entirely unique to this part. The only part that kinda repeats in this song arrangement wise is the chorus right before this one, which borrows from the first chorus, but is subtly hidden by the quiet chorus intro and further hidden by the variation in lyrical structure. You'd have to listen very carefully to notice it.
Either way, unlike before where the intonation of the seasons was mostly flat, this time the intonation has a bit of a rising tone to it which is part of all the tension buildup and something this song does so incredibly well.
We keep the heightened tension level going into the next line about "in the wind" which is just like the first chorus, but because the tension is higher than before it comes off as something that is same in the appearance but different in the feel. The whole feel of this final chorus is really the gold part of this song, and that's mostly because...
If you remember the pattern of the first chorus, that is exactly how the trap is built. In the very first chorus, it follows a similar lyrical pattern, but in the final chorus it throws you this pattern curveball and instead of resolving the tension like in the very first chorus, it continues to build and gets even more intense. Your brain picks up on the variation in the song where it had initially expected resolution, and this plays into the kind of emotions the segment wants to invoke perfectly. The choice of the line "In the love" matches 75% of the words (and 2/3rds of the Japanese letters) which makes it familiar but different to the previous line, and this repetition of pattern builds tension even though the words itself aren't 100% the same.
And then we go through even more repetition. ずっと means something like "constantly", but the more you repeat it the more it approaches the feeling of "forever and ever" and of course this part continues to buildup the tension of the song even higher than what you would have even expected possible and that's probably what makes this part such a rollercoaster and the entire section still gives me goosebumps to this day.
Finally, we get the resolution and the release of tension right at the end. In the first chorus we talk about love blooming next to the person that they like. In the final chorus we talk about till death do us part. This is the conclusion to their love story, their commitment to walk through the rest of their lives together, through every season, through thick and thin they will forever be by each other's side. And with that dramatic release of tension we get delivered the ending of the song, but there's One More Thing....
Yes, throughout the song you would have occasionally heard the sound of a large bell, something not unlike a church bell. The final chorus right here concludes with the bell chime, a symbol of love, commitment to a relationship and a happy ever after for the couple. It leaves us with the impression that the relationship is settled and finalized.
Under the cherry blossoms
Let's walk out
Finally, we return to something more quiet and laid back, for a bit of romantic talk. To walk under the cherry blossoms, or to go flower viewing in general is a very suitable and nice romantic backdrop that suits the couple very much. If you remember there's some talk about walking out (歩き出した) in Gin no Iruka to Atsui Kaze, and this is once again another sign and symbol of the restored relationship between the two.
Also I was asked to add that it's a very stock scene in anime where highschool graduation seems to happen right when cherry blossoms are blooming, and the walking out under the cherry blossoms is symbolic of their graduation from their youth and into a mature couple, concluding "the ups and downs of detoured youth".
Concluding the 4 part series, the story of various season album songs tells us about a couple's relationship through 4 seasons, through many years of their lives, but it also tells us about their days to come and how they want to journey through not just the seasons before, but the seasons ahead. Change may be something constant, but more important than change is dealing with the changes. Over the years our girl has found an answer and sometimes in life with so many questions, an answer is all you need.
Fun trivia before we end off here, the official release order goes in the perspective of Male, Female, Male, Female but the chronological order reads Male, Male, Female, Female. In the first part of the relationship, it was on the guy to start them off on the right footing and at the end of the story, it was the girl by which they would drop contact and be reconciled.
The storytelling and composition of Sakura no Kaze is an incredible journey. I remember when the preview first dropped in 2018 and I was just looping the first part over and over on youtube, getting emotional hearing the lyrics, while excitedly reading the comments on youtube about people's thoughts and opinions of the conclusion. We didn't know what was in store for us after that first chorus at all, but it was already something that truly captured our attentions as a fanbase. If you want a nice trip down memory lane, feel free to go to columbia's youtube channel and read the youtube comments for all the song previews, as people picked up on the lore pieces and speculated on what was going on and discovered the story together. To this day, Sakura no Kaze remains a song that still brings a tear to my eye, for the conclusion to this story to be so masterfully done.
That brings us to the end of the Kaze series. In many ways this is a conclusion of a major chapter, as this is one of the huge pieces of Cinderella Girl's lyric collection. There are many songs left to explore, but perhaps none quite as big of a blockbuster as this one. Until the next time we meet, I will keep searching for the next song to unpack.
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