Review of “On Your Mark” (1995)

Moving picture, 7 minutes

Suzuki Toshio (producer), Miyazaki Hayao (writer-director).

Heavily armed police forces in pink airplanes strike against a sinister cult inside a vast underground city. Two of the cops find a malnourished girl in the cult’s headquarters. She has angelic wings, but the biohazard division quickly steals the girl. One of the cops is despondent and devises a plan to steal her back and bring her to the supposedly irradiated surface where she can spread her wings.

Music video for mainstream pop-rock duo Chage & Aska’s song by the same name. An uneasy mix of relatively upbeat mood and colours with extreme brutality in a poisonous dystopia. Released theatrically with Whisper of the Heart (1995), because the original plan to release it on TV did not justify the money spent to make it.

The two cops are vaguely similar to the real duo. The chronology is creative: failure simply brings a new attempt. Otherwise, it’s an uninspired use of uninspired music in a bad setting. Why does the underground city contain so many enormous skyscrapers with lots of free space, how come the rural surroundings of the encased nuclear power plant seem perfectly normal—neither overgrown nor damaged—and so on. The action sequences are oddly realistic for Miyazaki and the Nausicaä comic’s techno-priesthood outfits have a cameo. The linguistics are as weird as in Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989): Chinese, English, Russian and Japanese signs, I think. The happy pink English arch shouting EXTREME DANGER is a funny worldbuilding miss.

animation fiction Ghibli Japanese production moving picture music video