The theme song for Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering with You anime asks tough questions and gives important answers in the wake of the deadly arson attack on Kyoto Animation.

If you’re an anime fan, it’s been an incredibly emotional week. Early on, the big story was that Friday, July 19, is the release date for anime director Makoto Shinkai’s Tenki no Ko/Weathering with You. Shinkai’s first project since Your Name propelled him from otaku darling to internationally acclaimed filmmaker three years ago. Weathering with You has been marketed, as Your Name was, with relatively few critical story elements revealed, and to say audiences have been looking forward to seeing the finished film is a major understatement.

But then on Thursday morning, one day before Weathering with You’s premiere, a man, reportedly upset that the contents of a novel he wrote had been “stolen,” walked into a studio of Kyoto Animation and set the building ablaze, killing 33 employees of the anime production house.

The same day, Japanese band Radwimps released their official video for Weathering with You’s theme song, “Ai ni Dekiru Koto ha Mada Aru Kai?”, and it’s quickly been adopted by those saddened by the tragedy as a tribute to Kyoto Animation’s employees who were victims of the attack.

To clarify, Kyoto Animation wasn’t involved in the production of Weathering with You, which was produced by CoMix Wave Films, the same studio for all of Shinkai’s feature films. Nor does Shinkai himself, or Radwimps, have any professional connection to Kyoto Animation. Nevertheless, the melancholy yet pure-hearted sound of “Ai ni Dekiru Koto ha Mada Aru Kai?”, which translates to “Is There Still Something that Love Can Do?”, perfectly encapsulates the emotions that many fans are sorting through, and even more so when you look at what some of the words being sung by vocalist Yojiro Noda translate to.

“The magic of courage, of love, of bonds
With no way to put them to use, adults turn their eyes away”

As the video opens, Noda is seated at a piano on a damp sidewalk, next to train track. He stands up and stats walking, passing by a few other musicians. No one joins him though, and he keeps walking alone, as the clouds get thicker and rain starts to fall.

“But even still, you, on that day, and even now
You’re at the center of what feels right to me”

When he gets to the chorus, Noda asks the question posed by the song’s title, plus one more.

“Is there still something that love can do?
Is there still something that I can do?”

Neither of those have easy answers, and Noda’s confused soul-searching shows, with the subtle, bittersweet change to the past tense when talking about this person who gave his life meaning.

“Because you gave me this courage, I want to use it for you
Because I shared this love with you, if it’s not with you, it’s meaningless”

Eventually, Noda takes shelter from the growing storm by stepping into a building. But while he’s out of the elements, he’s still racked with painful doubt.

“Is what we call fate just a roll of the dice?
Are the gods just being capricious, like always?”

Even the protection of the structure is breached, though, as snow drifts in through an open window.

“Unfulfilled yearning and a reunion that never comes
Misunderstandings that never get untangled and hatred that piles up”

Rather than shut the window, though Noda slips on a new, dry shirt and steps into another room, from where he sees a lightning storm raging in the skies outside and above.

“Voices of mutual forgiveness and hands that clasp each other
Today, these are still the things that cradle this world as it goes on living

Is there still something that love can do?
Is there still something that I can do?

Taking a pair of roses from a vase, Noda keeps moving, leaving the room and heading up a flight of stairs to the roof. Throwing open the door, he finds his bandmates, engrossed in the music and unfazed by the rainfall. Noda joins them, but he still has questions.

“Why did you let us dream, puny as we are?
Why did you let us have hope, in this life that will one day end?

Why do all the things you give us slip through our fingers?
Does it make us wretched, how we try to cling to them all the more?
Or does that make us beautiful?

Answer me”

And then the camera spins around, and for the first time, we see the rays of the sun.

But just because there’s sun doesn’t mean the skies are sunny, and Noda’s words reflect that imperfection. He even seems to reflect on the possible pointlessness of the passions that he, and Shinkai, have dedicated their lives to.

“Love songs have been sung to exhaustion, and movies have talked about it exhaustion
I was born in that wilderness, and so were you

And yet…”

“There are still things that love can do
There are still things that I can do”

And with that, the storm is over, and so is the song.

You’ll notice that at no point do the lyrics offer even a single specific suggestion of what love, or we, can do, and it’s hard to think of that omission as anything other than entirely intentional. The world we share is a big one, and that size means that within it you can find unfathomable malice and ugliness.

But at the same time, there’s also room for kindness and compassion. Almost every comment left for the video includes some variation of “rest in peace, Kyoto Animation” and “pray for KyoAni,” and while those sentiments won’t do anything to bring back those who are gone, there’s still meaning in the dreams and hope their creative works provided others with, and there’s still meaning in continuing to love, despite how violently, pointlessly cruel life, and especially those who have given up on love, can be.

So really, maybe the song does answer the questions of “What can love do?” and “What can I do?” The answer is right there at the end, after all: Something. Finding exactly what that something is up to all of us, but the first step is always remembering that yes, there are still things that love, and especially you, can do.

Images: YouTube/radwimpsstaff
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