Deconstructed – Voices of a Distant Star

There are so many things that conjure up emotion…
The softness of dirt in Spring…
Clouds in the Summer sky…
The smell of the Autumn wind…
The sound of raindrops on a silk umbrella…
The chill in the air on the way home from school…
The scent of the chalkboard eraser…
The sound of a distant truck driving away in the night…
Or the safe and comforting feel of a convenience store late at night…
I just wanted to share all these feelings with you…
For the rest of my life.

Sometimes, you read something and it resonates with you. This is the introduction to a Japanese comic (manga) called Voices of a Distant Star. Each time I read it, it touches off a strange nostalgia in me, and a longing to share those special moments with someone. How can something so simple have such a huge effect?

My curiosity as a writer gives me no choice but to deconstruct it. I’ll be doing a series of these over the next few weeks–picking out my favourite excerpts, then pulling them apart to see what works. This can be subjective, as what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. But it’s my hope that in analysing the tools others use, it will help you find what you can use in your own writing. So without further ado, let’s begin!

There are so many things that conjure up emotion…
From the beginning, we’re primed to relate to the following lines emotionally.

The softness of dirt in Spring…
This is a small, simple thing that most people can relate to, and it’s drawing on our sense of touch. It makes me think of being in the garden, picking up handfuls of dirt and letting it run through my fingers like sand. Back in the days when I wasn’t deathly afraid of earthworms, that is.

Clouds in the Summer sky…
It draws on our innate expectations of a bright summer day with blue skies and the emotions associated with it. Then it reminds us of the joy of a lazy afternoon lying on the grass and staring at the clouds.

The smell of the Autumn wind…
Another sense, here. It’s so easy to forget that we can appeal to all five senses through writing.

The sound of raindrops on a silk umbrella…
There’s something comforting about the sound of rain, and the distinct little thud each drop makes on an umbrella. I admit, I’ve never used a silk umbrella, but even the memory of rain on a normal umbrella gives me the warm and fuzzies.

The chill in the air on the way home from school…
Oh wow, memories of after-school activities here. The sun would be setting, the day would get colder and I’d pull my blazer or sports jacket around me to ward off the chill. But there would be the pleasure of having achieved something with my friends–whether it was building a contraption to sort different kinds of balls, coming out of a musical rehearsal, or getting to the end of a torturous extra-maths course.

The scent of the chalkboard eraser…
There’s something unique about the smell of a chalkboard, isn’t there? And in Australia at least, the only place you’ll find those big boards is at schools. I loved how it used something so specific to a school to take you to that setting, yet it does it subtly. No “smell of a school classroom” here!

The sound of a distant truck driving away in the night…
This gives me an impression of being safely at home, lying in bed. For that’s the only time the house would be silent enough to hear such a thing. Another brilliantly subtle way of using the uniqueness of the situation to draw memories of a comforting place. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I love more than being wrapped up in my blankets late at night, ready to doze off.

Or the safe and comforting feel of a convenience store late at night…
Perhaps this makes more sense if you’ve been to Japan. I’ve found that the residential streets tend to be dimly lit… save for the convenience stores that dot the area. They’re a beacon of light and warmth, and there’s nothing like popping into one at some insane hour of the night when there seems to be no other life around. Not to mention, the food they have is pretty good!

I just wanted to share all these feelings with you…
For the rest of my life.

This is the clincher for me. The narrator isn’t talking about big, emotional events like celebrating a wedding, having a child, or going on holidays. No, he uses small, common events that leave an indelible mark on us–the everyday events we take for granted. It’s the small joys we experience every day that he wants to share with the person he loves… and that, more than anything else, speaks volumes of just how much he loves her.

Voices of a Distant Star reminds me of all the small joys I’ve experienced in my life, and makes me long for them–especially those I’ll never experience again. It subtly evokes a bittersweet nostalgia, perfectly setting the tone for the comic.


Leanne Yong is an aspiring author who is working on her second young adult novel. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and a journal chronicling her latest foray into novel writing.
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One thought on “Deconstructed – Voices of a Distant Star

  1. Pingback: Deconstructed: Star Wars Revenge of the Sith | Magnificent Nose

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