Odd Future by Uverworld
(Featured in My Hero Academia)
For my song analyses, I prefer to choose songs that I enjoy, and that have elements of storytelling built into them. Occasionally, I will choose a song that is not good in order to break down what is wrong with it and why it is terrible. For this one, I chose a good song from an anime I appreciate.
Parsing out the meaning of a song written originally almost completely in Japanese is not easy. To help, I will analyze several English versions, including one literal translation and two with more artistic license. The problem with literal translations is that they typically do not convey metaphorical meaning and the feel of the original music. I do, however, think that it is worthwhile to consider the literal translation because that is what artists who try to sing English versions of the song have to deal with. Besides, the literal is one layer of any story and of any song, and it should be studied for its own merit.
Keep in mind this analysis is based entirely on my interpretation of the lyrics, which may or may not be accurate. I do not know Japanese, and I am no expert. I am relying on translations done by others.
The lyrics I am using, including the ones in direct quotations, come from this website, called Otenkiame Translations. I will be pulling lines from the lyrics, but I will not analyze the whole song.
The song starts by asking if we are ready, building anticipation. From the first section of the song, my favorite part is the phrase:
You’ll have room to enjoy the contradictions.”
What’s being advertised here is not a form of doublethink, as in George Orwell’s 1984. In that novel, characters held contradictions in their mind as a result of political indoctrination. It is not a form of mental syncretism, but rather the acceptance and acknowledgement that contradictions exist and can be appreciated.
It reminds me more of Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury by Charles Williams, in which a character has characteristics of both Christ and the Devil. The character does not seem contrived at all because of it–instead, it makes for a richer text.
There’s no worth in an unending today.”
This quote I see as saying that we have to allow the present to subside into the future. If we can’t let go of today and are afraid of the future than we won’t be able to move forward with life. A future, even an odd one, is better than being without a future and a destiny.
The square sky’s unable to fill the gaps in my heart.”
This reminds me of all the times I have heard people say that you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. The fact that even something as broad and endless as the sky is not sufficient nor is it the right thing to fill all the broken parts of a human person resonates with me. Someone’s heart cannot be filled even by what seems infinite.
we’ll have days we’ve bragged there was nothing we wanted to be.”
This part is so true! So many people will brag about not caring, about not knowing what to do. It’s like the cool thing these days is not to care about anything. Kind of like a stereotypical bad guy/bad girl attitude.
Dark pasts I’ve built up like they grow on trees.”
That is beautiful imagery. Having a past with darkness that seems only to grow is like that of one of the Byronic heroes–heroes with a past, who brood and struggle. The Batmans of real life.
I keep my ideals.”
This is like the soul of the song, the focus. Keeping one’s ideals in a world that is less than a perfect, before a future that is, well, odd–to say the least.
The Amalee Version
The lyrics I am using, including the ones in direct quotations, come from this website, Musixmatch.com. I will be pulling lines from the lyrics, but I will not analyze the whole song.
Even if you fall take one step.
You can breathe again in one step.
It can be that easy in one step, and that’s it!”
I feel like the meaning of these lines did not come across in the literal translation. Taking life step by step is not a bad approach. There is plenty of times I just think in terms of hours–just make it one more hour, and everything will be fine. Then resetting–just one more hour, and it will feel better.
You can’t rewind these days but you can change your direction.”
Yes, you cannot change the past, but the future is not set in stone. You can change trajectory, altering your course through an odd future.
And we see we can be the heroes straight out of our dreams.”
I’m guess Amalee got this line by comparing the original lines and watching the anime to get a feel for what it is about. I have included a link to Amalee’s process for translating songs at the bottom of this page if you are interested. It changes the focus from being a distinguishable individual to being more than that–a hero.
I like this version of the lyrics as well. I think it fits the anime better while staying true to the song itself. I will embed 30 seconds of the song below, but go to Spotify or Youtube for the whole song.
The Natewantstobattle Version
The lyrics I am using, including the ones in direct quotations, come from this website, AZLyrics.com. I will be pulling lines from the lyrics, but I will not analyze the whole song.
Everything is like dust escaping me.”
This is kind of interesting imagery. The feeling of being deflated of substance.
What’s going on? I gotta guess.
I’m a bit different from the rest.
And this was all just a test for me.”
The rhythm of this song is great, but it doesn’t have many unique lines or what I would call a serious poetic style. Sure, it sounds good, but it doesn’t have the depth of the literal translation or the Amalee version.
Does it Fit the Anime?
Sure, I can see it. The My Hero Academia series is all about how Midoriya is supposed to become the number one hero. It’s moving from a measured past to a definite but undoubtedly very different future. Each of the members of Class 1-A are very individual, all “a bit different than the rest.” Obviously the hero portion from Amalee’s fits the anime. Most of all the concept of keeping one ideal’s in the face of a odd future fits this anime, as Midoriya strives to uphold his ideals and those of All-Might.
If I had to find a meaning in this song, it would be that no matter what, be who you are and embrace your odd future and whatever it brings. Don’t be shortsighted, and if you feel like your heart is broken and nothing will fill it, you are not alone. This is an anthem of individualism and the human condition, kind of like This is Me by Keala Settle.
- Odd Future Original Version (Japanese and literal English version)
- Odd Future Natewantstobattle version
- Odd Future Amalee version
My Hero Academia Version