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I believe lyrics are shown to both the first opening and ending songs of the tennis anime, Baby Steps. Here is a partial shot from the ending:

shot from end credits illustrating lyrics and possible notation

You can see that the normal credits are single rows of characters. However, the lyrics at the bottom include a row of a few mini-characters above the main ones. What do these additional markings (characters?) indicate? I am not asking for a translation, just what their purpose is.

I vaguely remember seeing them in another series or two, but this is the first time they really caught my curiosity. I'm assuming right now that they are related to the music, perhaps how the song may have modified pronunciation of certain words. It appears too sparse to be some sort of full musical notation. There is only one voice in each song, so it is not the simultaneous words of a second singer.

In the English Wikipedia there is an article called Shakuhachi Musical Notation related to Japanese music. It did not seem to help, though I don't know much about the topic. (I.e. I didn't see any pictures showing the double-row lyric thing.)

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The markings above the kanji are furigana, which indicate the pronunciation of the respective characters. I'm not an expert, but I recall seeing this (sometimes for all kanji, sometimes only for some) in karaoke-related videos on YouTube before. (Examples: 北酒場, for some kanji; 長崎の女, where significantly, is read as ひと.) Wikipedia singles karaoke as a notable case in which furigana appears, and it makes sense that furigana may be provided for some songs even when they're not explicitly made for the purpose of karaoke (for instance, for a children's show where viewers might sing along).

  • I'm currently on mobile, so I'm having some difficulty adding examples, but I'll try to remember to later. – Maroon Feb 3 '17 at 21:20
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    Looks like Baby Steps airs during child-friendly hours (around 5-6 pm depending on which station), so it makes sense that it'd have furigana on its lyrics. Log Horizon also aired in a similar time block, and also had furigana on its lyrics. – senshin Feb 3 '17 at 21:27
  • @senshin I knew I remembered seeing the furigana before, but couldn't remember where. Thank you for the Log Horizon reference, which uses it during the ED. // Today I noticed Baby Steps also uses it on the episode names, as well as they lyrics. It is amazing that the Japanese learn 3 alphabets (2 native + Roman) plus Kanji. I'm not sure I would have gotten past 5th grade. – RichF Feb 4 '17 at 6:36
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    Be careful, though, because there's a trend in manga and anime to use kanji to convey a particular meaning then put incorrect furigana to show what's actually being said. For example, the Japanese title of "Interviews with Monster Girls" is "Demi-chan wa kataritai", but "demi" is written in furigana against the kanji for "Ajin" to show that "Demi" is the new, culturally sensitive version of "Ajin" (i.e. demi-humans). – ConMan Feb 5 '17 at 23:44

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