I am pimping a thing, because I love it so. :(

Once upon a time, there was a man named Revo, who started his own doujin band and called it Sound Horizon. It started relatively small, releasing self-produced CDs at conventions that were primarily instrumentals that told stories, but didn't have vocals. Along the way, though, it picked up actual singers, and Revo himself started singing parts (usually the main male lead of a given story). Sound Horizon (nicknamed SanHora) eventually grew in popularity and star power, to the point where actual seiyuu that the casual anime fan would recognize (Midorikawa Hikaru, Ohtsuka Akio, etc) began to have speaking(/singing) roles. They do lives and they have concerts where they have costumes and sets and act out the stories of individual albums. To date, they have seven full albums, the most recent being Märchen. I have been a fan forever, but the seventh album is the one I want to talk about, SO I AM GOING TO. :(

First: イドへ至る森へ至るイド
Then: Märchen

At its core, these two albums tell the story of a murdered boy who, through the power of his mother's love (for him) and hate (for the world) conducts revenge plays for those who die unjustly, which in turn gives birth to the scenarios of several well-known fairytales (specifically Hansel and Gretel, The Hanged Man From The Gallows, Snow White, Mother Hulda, Sleeping Beauty, and Bluebeard). As the seventh full album, Märchen follows the seven deadly sins, the stories of seven unjustly-killed women, progressing from twilight to dawn.

There are translations for IdoIdo and Märchen on Anime Lyrics as well as a different translator for videos on YouTube (this is the first song; the rest are in the sidebar).

イドへ至る森へ至るイド (Ido e Itaru Mori e Itaru Ido, "The Well That Connects The Forest To The Id/Well," abbreviated IdoIdo) sets the scene in a Germanic country sometime shortly after the Black Death. The implication exists that those who have died with unfinished business or resentments have gathered into a single kind of hivemind entity (an "id," if you will) that manifests its presence within a water-well (the
pun is that イド, "ido," is the Japanese word both for "well" [of the water-drawing variety] [井戸] and "id" [イド] of the psychological type; the fact that the title doesn't use kanji is probably significant in this aspect--both versions of "ido" are referenced in the songs of IdoIdo and Märchen). Around this time, a young by and his mother are living in the forest near this well. The mother, Therese von Ludwing, is a wise-woman who serves as a healer to atone for her past sins (which are never explored in detail); the boy, März (nicknamed Mär), has only one friend in the world--a little girl named Elisabeth von Wettin, the sheltered daughter of a noble family. It is implied the two met when Elisabeth's mother brought her to Therese on the brink of death, begging for Therese to save her life.

Therese, however, eventually decides that she and März have lingered for too long, and decides to move--though she gives him an extra day for him to say goodbye to Elisabeth, who gives him a doll to "take with [you] in [my] place," and asks for him to come back for her someday. However, he runs into a couple of bored townsfolk shortly after, and being unused to the nature of human deceit, willingly brings them to his mother when asked. They push him into the well to his death, and Therese, furious over her son's murder, attacks them and is arrested and condemned to die as a witch. As she burns, she decides to embrace this moniker--"Then I will become a true witch who curses the world."

IdoIdo's story isn't told chronologically--März's death is explained in the first song, Elisabeth's feelings for him (and her situation years after his death) are explored in the second, and Therese's backstory, first meeting with the von Wettin family, and death are told in the third.

Märchen itself takes place some years afterward. The characters of Märchen von Friedhof and his doll, Elise, act as narrators for this album, and it is pretty obvious from the get-go that Märchen is März, whose spirit has comandeered the body of a man named Idolfried von Friedhof--a sailor who died in the same well as März--and that Elise is the doll given to him by Elisabeth, possibly possessed by Therese's vengeful spirit (it's also interesting to note that the roles of the evil stepmother/witches throughout the entire album are sung by the same woman, who also played Therese's part). Märchen himself cannot remember his past life ("I feel like I loved someone [... and] I feel like someone loved me" "ah, but that's just your imagination"), but he knows he's bent on revenge, and so calls upon the seven princesses whose stories begin in the graveyard ("all fairytales begin in the graveyard, Elise").

Each song begins with Märchen encouraging the girl to tell her story, and ends with him and Elise discussing the situation; each ending is distinctly cynical from Elise's point of view. In another neat trick, the titles of the album are for the most part symmetrical, so that when stacked in order, they form the sideways view of a church.


火刑の魔女 [Kakei no Majo, The Staked Witch -- Hansel and Gretel -- Gluttony]: A young nun is murdered by the mother who abandoned her years before, when the old woman, mad and paranoid from hunger and years of persecution, doesn't recognize her daughter and attacks her. "A child's grudge should be dispelled by a child," Märchen decides, and so together with the young woman lead Hansel and Gretel to the old woman. Gretel, being very young, is terrified of how fat her brother has become from the old woman's indulgence, and decides that she must be a witch, and so kicks her into the oven. She and her brother take the "witch's" money for their own, secure in thinking they've escaped a terrible fate.

黒き女将の宿 [Kuroki Okami no Yado, The Dark Landlady's Inn -- The Hanged Man From The Gallows -- Greed]: A girl from a rural town is sold into servitude after most of the men in her village leave for war and few return. She works for an old landlady (specifically named as such, though the narration says true age and gender are unknown) who realizes that the specific liver dish she prepares has the potential to become very popular. Determined not to be poor and hungry again, she kills her serving-girl for her liver, to which Märchen says, "If it's something taken from you, you must take it back." And she does, returning to knock on the old woman's door and demand her liver back.

硝子の棺で眠る姫君 [Garasu no Hitsugi de Nemuru Himegimi, The Princess Sleeping In A Glass Coffin -- Snow White -- Envy] A straightforward adaption of the original Snow White myth, for the most part; Märchen's only part is to send the prince in Snow White's direction. The prince also happens to be a necrophiliac, because while he admires and loves all women, he just can't seem to find a living one that interests him--but boy is he into that dead body. :') Like the original fairytale, the song ends with the stepmother dancing to death in red-hot shoes.

生と死を別つ境界の古井戸 [Sei to Shi o Wakatsu Kyoukai no Furu Ido, The Old Well That Divides The Boundary Of Life And Death -- Mother Hulda -- Sloth] Also a fairly straightforward adaption of the Mother Hulda (Holle) legend; Märchen and Elise exist basically to provide the tasks for the young girl in question to obtain Mother Holle's attention and be taken in as her serving-girl. Fandom speculation is that Idolfried, the dead man whose body Märchen is using, is the father of the girl for this song--she specifically mentions that though her father was a sailor, he somehow died in a well, and so she doesn't like them very much. Idolfried's design lends credence to the theory, as well as the girl of this song being the only one (other than Elisabeth) that Märchen shows any sense of recognition towards.

薔薇の塔で眠る姫君 [Bara no Tou de Nemuru Himegimi, The Princess Sleeping In A Tower of Roses -- Sleeping Beauty -- Pride] The story is fairly close to the original Sleeping Beauty legend, but further ties in to SanHora's first major album, Elysium. Märchen sends this second prince to Sleeping Beauty, and his song specifically has lines that recall Elysium (every other song of the album begins with a man wondering, "Could she be my Elys?" -- whereas the prince confidently declares that "surely she is my Elys," using the same language and structure in Japanese). Furthermore, at the end of the story, Sleeping Beauty banishes the witch who originally cursed her, Alterose; in retaliation, Alterose casts one last curse on Sleeping Beauty, the end of which results in a newborn princess being abandoned in the forest. In Elysium, there is a beautiful young maiden who guards the gates of the underworld named Lafrenze, who was abandoned in the woods and raised by a witch named Crimson Old Rose. Alterose is "Old Rose" in German and in her design wears a red hood--the same sort that Lafrenze is depicted wearing.

青き伯爵の城 [Aoki Hakushaku no Shiro, The Blue Earl's Castle -- Bluebeard -- Lust] Again, nearly the same as the legend--the petitioner in this case is one of Bluebeard's previous wives, the one before the wife whose brothers eventually kill Bluebeard. She admits that she genuinely loved--and still loves--her husband, though she knows he never loved her in return, because there was someone else whom he couldn't forget. Bluebeard himself claims that he cannot forgive a world that would declare this certain someone to be a witch and wonders if his sanity died at the same time his first wife was killed; general fan speculation is that the woman in question was Therese, März's mother. The dead wife acknowledges that her husband is a terrible person who must be stopped, because sadness cannot erase the sins of hatred, and Bluebeard is killed by his next wife's brothers.

磔刑の聖女 [Takei no Seijo, The Crucified Saint -- Elisabeth -- Wrath] Is not based on a specific fairytale, but picks the story back up of Elisabeth von Wettin, being informed that her brother has picked a fiance for her. She refuses because of her love for März, and as a result is ordered to be crucified. Märchen comes to her and offers his help for revenge, which she refuses--because she recognizes him, even with how much he's changed, and is satisfied that he's come for her, just like he promised. She reminds him of their childhood days together and tells him she is neither a von Wettin (a daughter of nobility) nor a von sachsen (any sort of noblewoman), she is just a single woman, Elisabeth, who loved him and only him.

After she vanishes, Elise panics, begging Märchen to ignore everything Elisabeth says and telling him they still have so much left to do, so much more revenge to have, that they have each other and that's all they need--but in the end, Märchen sets her aside and tells her, "It's enough, Elise."

The last full song is
März/Märchen coming to terms to the things that have happened and the words Elisabeth left him with. With seven phrases from the seven princesses, he fashions an epitaph, then says that they'll meet again in a different time and place, without hate or grudges--he has found "light" and is now at peace. At the end, he murmurs, "Mother, the light is so warm," and drops his book.

Anyway the albums are kind of fantasy-rock in style, with random bits of jazz, pop, snippets of Vocaloid (Miku sings Elise's parts, though an actress does the speaking role), and also Ode to Joy and In The Hall Of The Mountain King.

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