Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 38 ~Forest of Hope~ (Pikmin)

Origin: Pikmin
Plays In: The Forest of Hope
Status: Original Composition
Composed by: Hajime Wakai

Whenever I hear the Forest of Hope, I'm there. I'm there in the sunbaked Japanese countryside I dreamed of as a little boy, swallowed by trees and creeks. They whisper endlessly, their shaded bases and sunken pebbles holding as much allure as Kirby Super Star's backgrounds, as much gravity and significance as the greatest of Super Mario's battles and the fainted nostalgia of EarthBound's streets.

But I cannot relax for long, as a memory calls for me.

I'm walking down an obscured dirt path, the leaves crunching beneath me as I sink further into a tunnel of trees. The road is endless, the sun shining through the mass overarching of leaves no matter how long I walk. What I seek is here, but it slips further and further out of my grasp. I can feel it: the knowing prodding from the deepest recesses of my memory growing ever more quiet. I stop and observe my surroundings, absorbing the futility of it all.

Do I even remember what I'm looking for?

Just as I'm about to take another step, movement catches my eye. Emerging underneath from a decayed leaf arrives a lone Yellow Pikmin, hopping excitedly at my presence. As I crouch down to meet its level, it dashes over and gibbers in its alien language. With a sideways glance, it points giddily to a nearby crowd of shrubbery and runs off, making motions for me to follow.

Has it been waiting for me?

Letting it take the lead, I watch as it's swallowed in a sea of green before taking cautious steps forward. Am I afraid I'll squish my new friend in the mess of flora, or am I simply not ready for what I'm about to find? I quiver in fright until the shrubs shake, the Pikmin protruding its head and motioning to me again before diving back in.

I hesitantly step into the brush, and then I remember.

Long ago, just outside of my cousins' backyard lied an urban dirt road. To the right lied a small patch of woods by the neighbors, and within was a small playhouse. It was homemade, wooden with chipped, white paint and a red roof. It hadn't been used in a long time: strewn inside were dusty chairs, tables and windows, and Daddy-Long-Leg spiders hid within the cracks of the walls.

What was it doing in Japan? I don't know, but maybe it was there all along.

I keep walking. Pushing aside branch after branch and leaf after leaf, the memories gradually piece themselves together. How I walked out of my cousins' house without a word, opening the gate to leave and find my hidden playhouse. How I always wondered who it belonged to, who played within its tiny confines, how no one ever noticed my silent occupation inside.

How, someday, I never managed to find it again.

And then, there it lies.

Situated just outside a spacious clearing, the playhouse is bathed in a ray of light. A side window is host to a fallen tree branch, and perched on-top is the Yellow Pikmin. It waves silently before hopping through the empty pane,

Holding my breath, I stride over, crouch down slightly to meet the door size, and walk inside.

It is just as I remember it, dust and all. But a gentle aroma fills the air; two warm cups of ocha tea sit on the old table, one much smaller than the other. The Yellow Pikmin sits opposite of the cup and, turning to face me, points to its larger counterpart. Another gift. I make my way over to a chair and wrap my fingers around the cup handle, lifting it to gently clink our glasses together.

We sip from our cups and turn to watch the sun set over the clearing. The euphoria settles within both of us, words not needed as what we've waited our entire for lives sinks in. The reminder that so many other abandoned memories remain unsolved prods in my brain, yet for now, the catharsis of salvaging this one moment rises above all.

But it's not for long, because it is already time for bed.

Final Thoughts: If the above narrative hadn't implied it, this is one of my gaming comfort songs. What are some of yours?

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