Reviews of “On Your Mark” (1995) and related work

“On Your Mark” (1995Moving 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.

A 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, it was 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, as in “Cause and Effect” (1992). Otherwise, it’s an uninspired use of uninspired music in a bad setting.

The rural surroundings of the encased nuclear power plant seem perfectly normal, neither overgrown nor damaged, which is realistic. The action sequences are also oddly realistic for Miyazaki. 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, like the enormous skyscrapers with lots of free space in an underground city.

animation fiction Ghibli Japanese production moving picture music video

On Your Mark — I Purposely Distorted the Lyrics for This Film” (1995Text)

Miyazaki Hayao (interviewee).

Read in Starting Point.

References here: Starting Point: 1979–1996 (1996/2009).

document Japanese production non-fiction text