Disclaimer: Hoshi no Koe/Voices of a Distant Star is the brilliant intellectual property of Makoto Shinkai and licensed to ADV Films.  The story of Saishu Heiki Kanojo, "SaiKano", and its characters belong to the creator Shin Takahashi and GONZO studios.


Noboru looked to the sky and saw the cloud trails of the incoming Tracer envoy.  He had waited nine long years for this day, and though he was a little excited, his heart beat steadily in his chest.  Straightening his hat and dress uniform one more time, he entered the military base and made his way to the landing pad where he would meet the heroes of the first mission to counter the Tarsian threat.

There was one Tracer pilot there that was no hero in his eyes, just a girl that he wanted to be with.  Mikako would be proud of him.  He grew up, he joined the military and rose through the ranks to be a lieutenant of the UN Space Forces.  But to achieve all of those accomplishments, that meant he changed.  He changed a lot.

A bitterly doubtful feeling struck in his chest, dampening the tempo in him.  He wasn't the Noboru she remembered him to be.  Would Mikako still love him?

Could they still enjoy sitting in the bus shed in the rain, or whimsically take bike rides through the suburbs?  Now that Mikako actually flew in space, would she even go on pretending that she could fly?

Noboru looked up.  The side by side formation of the five battleships was growing larger.  Five cloud trails moved closer to his location, followed by little dots in a ceremonial formation; the Tracers flew with the ships, looking like the proud vanguard coming home.

It seemed like the nine years he waited for were being repeated again as the black dots shifted into the mechanoid shapes of the Tracers.

He felt a vibration coming from the inside pocket of his uniform jacket.  Reaching inside, he pulled out the cell phone that he had kept since she left.  He didn't want to get a new one, he didn't even want to change it while she was away.  Turning on the screen, he saw a simple message:

I'm home now - Mikako

Immediately, tucking the phone away, he turned his eyes to one random Tracer.  He just knew it was hers, and his heartbeat seemed to skip a bit.

Ba-bump.  Ba-bump.

Like that.


As they lowered themselves more, as soon as he could feel the wind being emitted by their jets, Noboru promptly saluted.  It was as much a sign of respect as it was to keep a hold of his hat.

He could almost see her eyes widen and brim with tears.  Maybe he was the Noboru that she had remembered.  Maybe she didn't see a man, but the boy who she used to go to class with and who waited for her after track practice.

The lieutenant couldn't help but smile.

Through time, through space... they waited.

His eyes were still fixated on the sky.  Dozens of streaks of light shot across the sky behind the envoy, as if the shooting stars were a fireworks assortment to the homecoming.  But then the lights grew more quickly and took on a shape that was familiar to them.

Tarsian ships.

An entire fleet of them.

That's when Noboru's eyes widened in horror.  He looked around in confusion and saw that everyone was scrambling to their battle stations before the klaxons started blaring.

He wanted to stay and wait for Mikako, but he had to fight to protect his home... He didn't know what to do!

The Tarsians didn't even bother to send out their swarms of fighter ships to match our Tracer forces.  They began to activate their laser cannons and aim for the Earth's face, a complete orbital barrage.

He glanced up again and saw that a Tracer broke formation and was diving straight for the base.  It was nose-diving right for him at breakneck speeds, just hurtling towards him.  He could see Mikako's face become more detailed as she sped closer to him.

"Mikako!" Noboru screamed.

The Tracer continued to fall, its arm reaching for him just as he was reaching for her.

He swore that her lips were just as wide and her eyes just as terrified as his... he could see his reflection on the view plate, and that disappeared as Mikako's fully appeared to him.

Noboru could hear no sound anymore.  The sirens, the shouting, the explosions, they were mute.

Kami, she was just as he remembered her. 

Everything on her face went wide - her eyes, her mouth, opened wide in an unheard scream.  But he could tell it was his name she was calling out.

The only sound in his ears was the blood pounding in his body.  And that sound was doubled by a higher pitch of a steady beat.  Two beats at once.

Suddenly, a sickly burst of light flared from behind her and blinded him.  He saw an absinthe green overcome Mikako and then him.

And he saw no more.

Ba-bump.  Ba-bump.

"Dohki.  Dohki."

He opened his eyes to find himself looked up at the sky.  From what he could tell, he was reclining back against something... This seemed like the roof of his high school... But he never remembered the sky looking so clear before.

When did he ever do this before?

Staring upwards still, he lost himself to the view of clarity above him.

Faintly, the door leading to the roof opened and closed, then a delicate set of footsteps approached him.

"Gomen ne... They didn't have enough juice so I had to get one milk."


Blinking in surprise at saying such a thing, he turned his head over.  He saw her leaning forward with two drink boxes in hand.  One white, one orange.

Trailing his eyes downward, there were no band-aids on her knees.

"Chise?"  When did he ever know a Chise?  He knew Mikako Nagamine and no other girl after her.  But Shuuji felt that he knew the girl before him in such a strong way that it meant something that went beyond love.

Shuuji?  He wasn't Shuuji!  He was Noboru Terao!  But he was Shuuji too!

Confusion wound its way onto his face, contorting into a troubling uncertainty.  His gaze went unfocused, his eyes still on the girl in front of him, but his stare went past her.

A short girlish giggle anchored him back to her.  He looked at her and could see her delicate smile was that of Mikako's and Chise's.

"Noboru-kun, you are Shuu-chan.  Just like I am Mikako and Chise," she explained certainly in her quiet voice.  Suddenly looking a bit startled for a moment, she looked sheepish and blushed.  "Gomen ne..."

"Ahou," he said again, calm now reclaiming his features.  "You don't need to apologize."

Seating herself beside him, she gave him the juice and took the milk for herself.  She rested herself against him, her head placed on his shoulder.  She smiled up at him and then looked up, and he followed, the two of them lazily spending time watching the clouds go by.

Things that Noboru didn't remember came back to him as Shuuji.  He had walked two lives, and that there was only one constant in them.




Why her?

Was it because she had to fight?  Was it because he had to wait?  Or was it because of what survived the war and destruction?

Love.  That was too narrow to define it.  A connection; that was too broad as well.  A link, maybe more accurate.  Whatever they shared, it went beyond the boundaries of mere distance and time.  It overcame such physical limitations.  No space between them could make their hearts forget the other.  Absence did not make the heart grow fonder... it tempered it and tested it, and made it stronger.

Though there were times when they faltered and wavered in their constancy, they were only human, and humans doubt and humans hurt as only they could do in such times.

The things that tested them were no longer there.  There was no war - not with the world, not with the Tarsians.  No separation, no waiting, no infidelity.  They weren't needed anymore.  They were tested and they succeeded, and they had earned their place together here.

Here, which was not physical, yet the world around them was built by their memories together.

Sitting there and sipping their drinks contently, there was no need for words between them.

They were alone and all they had was each other.  And that was all they'd need.

He felt her shift on him, her head sliding down his shoulder to his chest.  Naturally, he wrapped his arms around her slender waist and held her.


But we by a love, so much refined,
    That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the  mind,
    Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
    Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
    Like gold to aery thinness beat.


She recited suddenly in her soft-spoken voice, the poem in its whole entirety, and tagged on the end almost robotically, "John Donne, seventeenth century metaphysical poet.  Baroque period."

Noboru was a little startled at the sudden recitation, but he remembered Chise's academic record.  She excelled at world history, but what good would it do for her to get a career with that?

But that was then and this is... eternity.

That was a recitation.  A recitation of what?  Final libations to the dead?  No, she paid her respects to all the soldiers of war since there would be no more of that after them.

Rather, she paid respect to that profound connection that tethered their souls together through pain and suffering; that which made them revolve around each other like the geometry compass that the poem spoke of.

Rather, a valediction on love, this that was between the two of them.

Mikako and Noboru.

Chise and Shuuji.

Him and her.

He felt head press itself closer to his chest, her ear to his heart.  Her hand slid up from his arm to rest on his chest, beside her head.  She tapped her finger on him, and she sighed.

"Beat... I can hear your heart beat.  It goes... It goes... Dohki.  Dohki."

Mikako's slender hand took hold of Shuuji's and brought it to her chest.

"It beats just like mine.  Together, they go... Dohki.  Dohki."

He breathed deeply and savoured the completeness he felt in knowing that their hearts beat as one.  He felt happiness again.

Holding her closer to him, he hummed an old love song that he thought he had forgotten.

The last love song on this little planet.

The last love song in this little universe.

Dohki.  Dohki.

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
    And whisper to their souls, to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    "The breath goes now," and some say, "No:"

So let us melt, and make no noise,
    No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys
    To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears;
    Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation  of the spheres,
    Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull bulunary lovers' love
    (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
    Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love, so much refined,
    That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
    Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
    Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
    Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
    As stiff twin compasses are two,
Thy soul the fixed foot, makes no show
    To move, but doth, if the th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
    Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
    And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt though be to me, who must
    Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
    And makes me end, where I begun.

- John Donne, "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning"

Author's Notes:
Upon watching Hoshi No Koe and SaiKano, I was struck by the similarities in scenario and theme that both anime depicted.  They gave the old war tale a twist, this time, making the boy wait for the girl's return, and how they explored the depth of emotion that was experienced with such separation.  In SaiKano, they went more into depth of the stresses that war and disaster brought, how it strained Shuuji and Chise's relationship and brought them to realize their greater love for each other.
I included John Donne's poem because it seemed to encapsulate what their love was.  Through disaster, through separation, through all the physical affectations, they would remain fixed and constant to each other in spirit.  Each of them were a fixed mark on the other, a constant that each of their lives revolved around.
Another constant, this one borrowed from SaiKano, is that of their hearts beating; this is the last love song for the two of them, aside from the love song that Shuuji likes to listen and hum to.
There is too much to say about both anime, they are very dense in terms of atmosphere, mood, characterization and symbolism.  If you haven't seen either of them, it's worth the time to sit down and watch them.  And if you're curious for information...
A good information site on SaiKano, with other SaiKano links, is: saikano.black-brollies.net/
And a site on Hoshi No Koe, or rather Voices of a Distant Star: www.advfilms.com/favorites/voices/