Makit’s Dream, Reality and Childhood’s End Theory
(Note that while I state my assertions as if they are absolute fact, what I really mean is that they are true according to my theory. I also apologise if come off as pretentious, that’s just sort of how I write.)
This theory will argue that the ‘Lights’, ‘Sky’, ‘Digital’ and ‘Art’ themes, as well as the character ‘You’ in many songs, are synonymous with the theme of ‘Dreams’, and conversely ‘Me’, ‘Ground’ and ‘Analogue’ are synonymous with ‘Reality’. By extension, Cassandra is a metaphor for Sparkles* making his dream a reality. This theory does not explain many other aspects of Digital Haunt and mostly only applies to All The Lights in the Sky, but hopes to try and guess the meaning of a few aspects and themes.
Much of All The Lights in the Sky, is centred around the opposing ideas of ‘Dreams’ and ‘Reality’, and so naturally I’ll begin with the song Dream & Reality. The opening line of the song presents these ideas,“Dreams or realities”, the “or” creating a clear separation between the two. The song then goes on with “You mean so much to me”, a statement seemingly irrelevant to the previous line. However, they are both linked by having contrasting nouns at either end of the line, Dreams/Realities and You/Me, which thereby links “Dreams” with “You” and “Realities” with “Me”. Here Sparkles* is indicating that this ‘You’ is a dream, as opposed to ‘Me’, who exists in reality.
This is further evidenced later in the song, “I see when I close my eyes”, the closing of one’s eyes suggesting sleep, “Your smile is brighter than the lights in the skies”, in other words, ‘I see you when I am dreaming’. We also see similar ideas in other songs, “In my dreams I feel I’m running/Towards her shining light” in Knightmare/Frame, and “In dreams I’m coming to find you”. In both cases, ‘You’ or ‘Her’ is being sought in dreams, and in K/F, she is also shining.
So how do the ‘Lights’ and the ‘Sky’ fit in? Well Heaven-Piercing Giga Drill tells us that “All the lights in the sky are stars” and Bōsōzoku Symphonic Movement 4 tells us that “All the lights in the sky,/ Are falling to the ground.”. So the lights in the sky are stars, and the stars are falling, creating the image of a shooting star, which you traditionally make a wish upon. Therefore the ‘Lights’ and the ‘Sky’ represent wishes or dreams. In the Narrator’s dreams they are running towards this ‘Light’, this ‘You’ that is his own wish, a wish so great that it is brighter than all others.
This then takes us to Tokyo House Party, “Rising through the clouds into light/ That’s from the stars; now you fall/ Down into my arms”. Here, ‘You’ falls to ‘Me’, and once again You/Me is used to highlight two opposing ideas, the ‘Sky’ and the ‘Ground’, where ‘Me’ is. This is also seen in Movement 4, “All the light in the sky/ Are falling to the ground”, presenting the Sky/Ground at the ends of consecutive lines, followed by “The chains that pull me down”, associating ‘Me’ with ‘Down’ and so the ‘Ground’, and “Slacken off when you’re around”, associating ‘You’ with the the lessening of how much they are being pulled down, and so the ‘Sky’.
From this we can take away that the ‘Sky’ represents ‘Dreams’ and the ‘Ground’ represents ‘Reality’, and therefore a shooting star is a wish, the convergence of Dream and Reality symbolised by the falling of a star. And furthermore, ‘You’ falls to the ground in Tokyo House Party, showing ‘You’ to be a wish. Following this, after ‘You’ has fallen to them, ‘Me’ introduces themself, stating “This is where we are from/ The town where nothing goes on”. This “town” is ‘Me’s’ reality, the real world which is dull and uninteresting. This idea is repeated in Cassandra, Pt. II, wherein ‘Me’ says “I’ll come around/ Pack up, log on and leave this town/ And we’ll run around and live in secret worlds”. They will leave the town, reality, and enter this dream world. What is significant here is the use of “log on”, bringing in the theme of ‘Digital’, and through this line associating it with Dreams by saying that they’ll log on and leave this town, this reality. I shall return to Cassandra, Pt. II and the Digital/Analogue theme later in the theory, as there are first a few other things that need to be addressed.
(Before I proceed, I must say again that there are gaps in this theory, and many parts of songs and even whole songs will not be spoken about at all, partially because I have no explanation, partially because I think some things are implicit, and partially for the sake of brevity. Yes, this bloody thing could actually be longer. Also, this theory mostly only pertains to All The Lights in the Sky. Also there shall be very minor Gurren Lagann spoilers from this point onwards.)
The key to the story of All The Lights in the Sky, lies in its name. It is a story of fulfilling an impossible dream, but also of maturing as a person. This we can take from the origin of its name, the second half of the anime Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, called All The Lights in the Sky Are Stars, following the show’s first half Childhood’s End. I believe it is named after the show because the story of the Album follows a similar structure to the show and contains similar themes.
The Album opens with System;Start, the ‘activation’ of Cassandra. But this is not the beginning of the Album’s story, but mirroring the opening to Gurren Lagann, takes place in the second half, probably just after or before Cassandra, Pt. II, and as such I will talk about it later.
Vectors opens speaking of “A restless sleep through an IV high”, suggesting uneasy dreams, or the inability to dream. Similarly, Euphemia talks of “Memories of fallen dreams” and Knightmare/Frame how the Narrator “[tries] to sleep” and how they “can’t seem to sleep”. I believe this is speaking of a state of disillusionment about childhood dreams, since the Narrator finds themself unable to dream anymore. This is stressed particularly with the line “Memories of fallen dreams”, with the line a few lines later “Robbed of my eternity” seeming to reference Paradise Lost, where the ‘fall of man’ is where the characters become mortal, ‘robbed of their eternity’, and is also symbolic of the loss of innocence, the Narrator’s “fallen dreams”. Similarly, in Knightmare/Frame, when the Narrator finally does sleep, they dream of “falling” and as they try to chase his dreams in the line “In my dreams I feel I’m running/ towards her shining light”, ‘You’, the light, the dream, “fall[s] away”.
The opening three songs are full of images of destruction and loss, symbolising the Narrator’s loss of innocence and childhood dreams. Despite this, they try to hold on to their dreams, since their solution is to “Regress into a child again”, and they state that they “can’t stay awake”, indicating an unwillingness to stay awake as opposed to the physical inability to sleep suggested by the word “seem” in “I can’t seem to sleep”. This is all due to the fact that this is the first half of the Album’s story, the ‘Childhood’s End’ half. Hence the two anime they are based on (*Code Geass and Elfen Lied spoilers*), in Elfen Lied, Lucy literally regresses into a child, and the part of Code Geass referenced in Euphemia and Knightmare/Frame is about one of the most innocent characters committing genocide.
Which is why the next song, Tokyo House Party, is based on FLCL, an anime entirely about loss of innocence. Just as the Narrator can neither sleep nor stay awake in Knightmare/Frame, they try to be an adult in the opening lines of THP, but they know that it will “never work out/ So it shouldn’t even start/ Cause I’m just a kid at heart”. Furthermore, as the title of the song suggests, they are at some kind of party, drinking in an attempt to be more adult, but they “hate the bitter taste”. In the Narrator’s drunken state, they begin to dream once more, of his dream, ‘You’, falling from the sky, the dreamworld, down to where they are, the town where nothing goes on, reality. A place where whatever dreams you had, you must instead adhere to the “Production line values” and wait for your dreams to waste away, “Waiting for our special moment to die”. The song overall continues the theme of moving into adulthood and still longing for his dream.
Shi No Barado in brief is about the Narrator coming to the conclusion that he cannot live without his dream, ‘You’ again symbolising his dream, literally saying “You’re all I ever wanted”, and that they will continue to try and achieve it, “I’m not afraid and I’m not alone/ Because you’re with me in my dreams”, “So look into the skies”. This is also the end of the ‘Childhood’s End’ half of the song and the beginning of the ‘All The Lights in the Sky are Stars’ half.
This then takes us on to Cassandra, Pt. II. In this song the conflict between Dream and Reality is still present, “In dreams I’m coming to find you/ And when I wake I want anyone else/ ‘Cause I don’t love you/ It’s what I’m telling myself”, in other words, ‘I still have my dreams, but I doubt whether they can be achieved, and try to tell myself that I can give up on them and be an adult’. The song opens with their disbelief that they could have ever given up on his dream, “although it doesn’t really matter now/ I can’t believe it; that I got so far/ I got so far behind”. Then the narrator begins to address ‘You’. Here, ‘You’ is Cassandra, and this song provides some explanation as to what Cassandra is. Cassandra is the very embodiment of duality. She stares with “omnivorous eyes”, eyes which are both carnivore and vegetarian, she has a “double life”. Outside of the song, she is often depicted as an anime character, anime being a modern, Eastern medium of storytelling, but has the name of an ancient Western poetic character. System;Start and many theories suggest that she is some kind of cyborg or android, both of which are often used to represent duality, being both human and machine at the same time.
The Narrator cannot sleep, cannot stay a child forever and live in a dream world nor can they stay awake, cannot bare to become an adult and face reality. So they shall be both and neither, “A digital haunt in an analogue life”. This is what Cassandra represents, becoming an adult, facing reality, while still retaining your childhood values and chasing your dream. Cassandra, Pt. II is about the Narrator realising that this is the way forward, but still having his doubts.
Next then is Dream & Reality. This song is the Narrator’s resolve to achieve Cassandra, how they are close to their dream but still anxious. Skipping over the lyrics we looked at in the first part of the theory, the Narrator will go so far as to “Brick up the windows to black out the world”, the “windows” symbolising their eyes, often referred to as the windows to the soul, and they are ‘bricking them up’, an emphatic way of saying that they will keep their eyes completely shut and go on dreaming as long as it takes, ‘blacking out’ reality. The chorus then tells us that “this feels better than the best thing”, “this” referring to the idea Cassandra, his dream, but describes it in impossible terms, as being “better than the best things”. They view Cassandra as something impossible, but this is partly why the Album is named after Gurren Lagann, which is all about ‘kicking reality to the curb and doing the impossible’. The Narrator also acknowledges that this isn’t the same childish idea of their dream that they once had, since “we’ve grown from all the things we’ve been through”. Finally, the last line of the song that isn’t a repeat of an earlier one is “Let’s make these dreams reality”.
The album climaxes in Heaven-Piercing Giga Drill, named after the same show that the album is. This is to conclude the message of the album, of fighting to achieve your dream even if it seems impossible, it tells you “Look up!” to the stars, to your dream, and “Reach out with your fist!”, take it by force, even if it is all the way up there. At last, “We are complete, our souls are fused”, the Narrator has achieved Cassandra, become this double entity of both dream and reality.
How it relates to Sparkles* and Area11
Although the literal events of this story did not literally happen to him, All The Lights in the Sky is about Sparkle’s* dream of becoming a musician. Bōsōzoku Symphonic Movement 4 is about Sparkles* himself, and his own journey, hence why he “break[s] with the concept, although it’s central to the piece.”.
Sparkles* is a musician, yes, but he has yet to fully realise his dream and create Cassandra. He isn’t where he wants to be yet, saying “once I’m where I wanna be”, as if it’s something that has not happened yet. Additionally, he talks of “the chains that pull me down”, him being kept on the ground, away from his dreams, and then repeats it in emphasis, “They pull me down!”, saying that this is something happening right now. However, he is on the way to achieving his dream, “All the lights in the sky/ are falling to the ground”, the convergence of the sky, the dream, and the ground, reality, has begun, but has not yet happened. Also, “the lines begin to blur”, the lines between dream and reality.
I believe that the three parts to love represent, again, his dream, he lost his initial childhood innocence, but received, as an adult, the ability to achieve his dream.
So what are the chains pulling him down and the hooks in his skin preventing him from growing as an artist? On his Medium Sparkles* talks about cliches in modern music, and how he is guilty of falling into that trap. Also, in a press release about his second album, he states he wants “to create music which stood as a unique pillar in the ever homogenising house of rock and roll.”, and that “we turn not to a corporate machine for investment” (relating back to the “production line values” in THP), and "fighting hard against the pressures to give up on our ambitions" (making his dream a reality). He feels constrained by cliches and the corporate nature of the music industry, symbolised by the chains and hooks. He felt that “Once I’m where I wanna be/ You’ll be far behind”, that he won’t truly be able to achieve his dream, but then resolves “I’m not leaving you, I’m not leaving you!”