How Can Ayano's Theory Of Happiness Help You?
Updated May 09, 2019
Reviewer Ema Jones, LCSW
Ayano's Theory of Happiness is part of the Kaerou project or the "Heat Haze Project" which is a mixed media project in Japanese. It is a combination of anime and vocalisms like the song and spoken word created by artist Jin. The storyline follows a group of teenagers who have powers relating to their strange red eyes. There are 7 "novels" within the story and also an anime adapted version called Makakucity Actors.
Ayano is voiced by actress Mai Nakahara. It is one of the only slow songs in the project and has a very different feel than the others. The song is number 20 and it connects to episode 17, Ayano no Kofuku Riron when Kido, Kano and Seto have been adopted by the Tateyama's and the group forms the Mekakushi Dan which makes them happy.
After Akaya dies Kenjiro goes mad and plots to kill the siblings. Hoping to save them after discovering his work Ayano commits suicide to enter the Heat Haze and gain powers from her eyes. The song is sung before she comes back during episode 18 (Otsukimi Recital) when Momo is attempting to cheer Hibaya up from Hiyori's death.
Ayano's theory of happiness is a song sung about herself in the role of a big sister to others in the Dan. It talks about their life together in a house with bright red bricks and the shared past which was happiest as the Mekakushi Dan. The girl reassures the others not to be scared or worry no matter what happens. She frequently refers to the color red to make them smile, ostensibly because it's both a lucky color and because it will be the color of her eyes once she returns with powers. She implores the others to wish for happiness no matter how sad they get and that it will always be their secret together.
She tells her sister that she can't tell anyone about her feelings because it feels like happiness is going to end and their future will be destroyed even if she is successful. She hopes she can try and save happiness even if it's just pretending but she remains lonely. The song ends with the vocalist talking about when she disappeared from her sister's life and reminding her of the happiness they shared with a hope that the sister can love and be happy once more.
The translation does have some variations from the original Japanese and many of the pronouns are ambiguous which makes it hard to determine if she's speaking to a specific member of the Dan or the group as a whole.
Themes Within The Song
Much of the lyrics within the song refer to being able to continue after a traumatic event or something which robs you of your future happiness. Grief, such as that over a death or the loss of a relationship which may have colored your "expected" future, often creates a world which is before and after. The song is sung while a person is contemplating that after world and trying to persuade the listener that it isn't so bleak and that they can be happy if they pretend. This is actually a common tool of grief counselors who encourage patients to fake feeling happy even if they're not at the time.
Red is a lucky color in Asian culture and it's also considered to be a strong color. Colors have been shown to have an effect on people's moods and their perceptions. By wearing your favorite color or appreciating things that are your favorite color more you may feel happier just like the singer advises. She talks about a red scarf and reminds her sister of how much she enjoyed wearing it. When you're feeling down often something as small as wearing your favorite piece of clothing can make you feel better for a while. This is also used by therapists for people who have depression to encourage them to feel happy even over small things.
Eyes have long been consider "the windows to the soul" and are one of the most expressive non-verbal types of communication. Looking someone in the eye may be threatening or may simply be an act of confidence. In the song, she says that "red is the color of the hero" to reassure the others in the Dan and wraps herself in a red before the club dyes their clothes "madder red" where she tells the others that it's like having a super hero costume to reassure them.
Red is used as a sign to cheer up and see the brighter side of things, another construct frequently used by depression therapists where people are encouraged to look for things that make them happy to feel better.
This is a rather outlying theme that may be disputed. The Japanese word for menstruation (Gekkai) is nothing close to the word for Happiness (Kofuku) except for having the same number of characters. However, the red symbolism in the song, plus the reassurance of what the younger children will experience which can be traumatic in a before/after setting is something that is often true of teenagers who are approaching menstruation. A time of change, into puberty where they may struggle with low self-esteem and depression where they may be feeling like they will never be happy again.
Ayano knows that if she goes into the Heat Haze, she may not return at all. It is a risk. That is why she implores the Dan to try and be happy after she's gone. Being faced with a loss can be tough, and it can leave you feeling like something is missing, especially if it is the loss of a loved one.
How Does t Help?
- The song is about keeping going when you're sad at its basic. Ayano gives very sage advice which anyone who is feeling down or depressed can follow. Her concept is to look for the little things which make you happy and then if that doesn't work to pretend that you're happy anyway hoping that eventually, you will be. Both of these are used in therapy for depression and other sadness disorders, so it is, in fact, good advice. By listening to the song, you can get ideas for things which you can do in your everyday life to make you feel happier.
- For teenagers who are struggling to move on from sad events or who need reassurance, the song sets the perfect tone. Anime has an appeal to a lot of younger people because for the Japanese high school and their younger years are the happiest in their lives and contain a certain nostalgia. This makes it easier to empathize with for the younger generation because many of the experience is what they're going through now (such as first menstruation). If you're feeling misunderstood or lonely, the song reminds you that there are probably people around who will be therefore you even if you don't know (in Ayano's case after she has entered the Heat Haze).
- The song may also help if you're missing someone as a reminder that they are watching over you even if you're sad. This is perfect for those experiencing grief because of a breakup or death since (unless you read ahead) there is no guarantee that Ayano will return from the heat haze.
- Another way this song can help is by inspiring you to do something. Often we are ashamed of our feelings so we don't share them or we don't share them in a healthy way. Song and creativity is a great way to get feelings out and to make sense of things. Sometimes writing down song lyrics helps to organize your thoughts. The song is not sung to the other members of the Dan directly but Ayano hopes that they feel what she is putting across in it. Journaling is another way that you can do this if you don't plan on sharing those expressions with anyone and can be just as cathartic.
- You may also be helped into seeking help. Ayano chooses to go into the Heat Haze because she feels it is her only choice to save the Dan. This is similar to the feelings that some people have about suicide -that it is the only choice. On the contrary, most people have plenty of choices and help if they will reach out. If you're dealing with suicidal feelings then it may be a good idea to consider getting help and reaching out as the mentality that it is the "only choice" is wrong and dangerous.
If you're struggling with some of the themes within this song it's important to consider getting help. Grief, loneliness, antisocial feelings, and not being able to move on can all be serious if left untreated. Stagnating in your life and being mired down by feelings you can't seem to work through may require intervention from someone who is qualified like a therapist or counselor.
Finding someone to work with is easy, your healthcare practitioner may refer you or you can look on sites like BetterHelp and browse local therapists. Look for someone who has experience with the issues you're experiencing that you know they can help you.