On Your Mark
|"On Your Mark"|
|Single by Chage and Aska|
|from the album Heart|
|Released||July 15, 1995|
"On Your Mark" (オン・ユア・マーク On Yua Māku ) is a song by the Japanese rock duo Chage & Aska. The song was released in 1994 as part of the single "Heart". In 1995, Hayao Miyazaki wrote and directed the music video for the song as a side-project after having writer's block with Princess Mononoke. The anime music video is non-linear, providing multiple reiterations and alternate scenes to depict the events. The music video added sound effects to the audio track, but contains no dialogue. Miyazaki purposely misinterpreted the lyrics to present his vision of a world where the surface becomes inhospitable and humans live in an underground city. Miyazaki purposely made the video cryptic to evoke creative interpretations among viewers.
The film follows two policemen who raid a religious cult and find an angelic being only to have her taken away and confined to a laboratory. Haunted by the fate of the "angel", the two men formulate a plan and break into the laboratory. Fleeing in an armored truck the three plummet into an abyss after trying to force past a police aircraft along a narrow suspended roadway. After a montage of the previous scenes, the armored truck suddenly rockets into an apartment complex, allowing their escape. The three escape to the surface, ignoring the radiation and danger signs, emerging near an encased nuclear reactor. The two men set the "angel" free and she flies off into the sky.
The music video was well received and praised for its animation and attention to detail. It premiered as a short before the movie "Whisper of the Heart" and has since been released on Laserdisc and DVD as part of All Things Ghibli Special Short Short. It has not been released outside of Japan.
The video begins with shots of a vacant village, overgrown with weeds, and the concrete sarcophagus of a covered-over nuclear reactor in the background. As the music begins, the scene changes to a sci-fi style nighttime military-style police raid on a cult. Futuristic flying troop transports crash through the windows of a tower topped by the gigantic neon-lit eyes and occupied by armed defenders. The policemen exchange gunfire and grenades with cultists whose hoods depict an enormous eye. The victorious police begin to sort through the bodies of the cultists, two policemen find what appears to be a girl, lying unconscious, with large feathered wings on her back.
The scene changes again, now to bright daylight and blue sky. Two men are driving an old Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider passo corto down an empty road. One of them helps the girl up; she spreads her wings; he holds her hands as she gains confidence. With a nudge she is airborne, but she seems hesitant and afraid as he lets go.
The scene changes back to the discovery of the girl in the tower and the identity of the two men revealed to be the same from the previous sequence. The two men carefully carry her out and offer her something to drink, and are encouraged when she sips. A team of scientists wearing radiation suits arrive and quickly takes the girl away after placing her into a container.
The two men are haunted by the fate the girl will suffer and formulate a plan to rescue the girl. They break into the laboratory and free her from confinement, but the lab's alarms are triggered. They escape in an armored truck and drive along a narrow suspended roadway over what appears to be a domed city built in a crater. Police hovercrafts are in pursuit, and one of them comes very low to the roadway to block the fugitive's trunk. The roadway collapses when the protagonists try to force their way through, sending the truck plummeting. The winged girl refuses to let go of the hands of her rescuers, and the three of them fall into the abyss.
A brief montage of previous shots follows: the discovery of the girl, the girl flying through a blue sky, the two men rescuing the girl from the laboratory and stealing the truck, the truck plummeting amidst the wreckage of the roadway. But this time, inexplicably, the truck fires stabilizing thrusters and makes a short flight into the side of an apartment building. After their escape, the three are seen in an old Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider passo corto racing through a dark tunnel underneath signs which bear radiation symbols and read (in kanji) "Beware Of Sunlight" and "Survival Not Guaranteed", then finally they emerge into daylight. They drive past nuclear cooling towers and a sign which reads "Extreme Danger" and continue down the road.
One of the men helps the girl up, she spreads her wings and gives them a grateful smile; he kisses her hand, and the other winks in farewell. Soon, she is gone drifting upward into the sky. Briefly, a major urban cityscape is seen beyond the trees. From a bird's-eye view, we see the shape of the car veering off the road and slowing to a stop in the grass.
The production of the music video began because Miyazaki was suffering from writer's block on Princess Mononoke and needed another project to distract him. Miyazaki wrote and directed the music video for "On Your Mark", although the song has previously been released in 1994 as part of the single "Heart". Despite the popularity of the work, Toshio Suzuki told McCarthy that Studio Ghilbi had not given "100 percent" focus to the music video. There is no dialogue in the music video and the two policemen are loosely modeled after Chage and Aska.
The deliberately non-linear and enigmatic work was purposely made to be cryptic in order to stimulate the imaginations of the viewers and their interpretations of the music video. Miyazaki did offer one interpretation of the angel as "Hope" and to protect hope could paradoxically mean,"to let it go where no-one can touch it". Cavallaro reflects on this by proposing that hope retains its purity and authenticity when it is ephemeral, evanescent and elusive. Hope may cause exertion and possibly pain, but denying hope is to deny the feasibility or and vision it provides. Miyazaki also notes that in this setting, humans live in an underground city after the surface of the Earth has been contaminated with radiation, creating a sanctuary for nature. Miyazaki also realized that humans would not live like that should such an event occur; believing they would suffer on the surface. Miyazaki also reveals that he intentionally misinterpreted the lyrics, to reflect upon his vision of a world filled with disease and radiation and how people will react to living in it. Miyazaki also implies the two policemen might not be able to return to their old life, but offers no reason as to why.
Cavallaro notes that the lyrics of the song include "ryuukou no kaze", which translates to "flu", but it is also an idiom for "the flu of fashion", interpreting it as "I always feel the urge to make a fresh start." Suggesting this could be the "bleak acceptance of the ideological and economic codes that mold our lives in accordance with the imperative of planned obsolescence, or as a hopeful embracing of the genuine prospects of renewal and change." Cavallaro also suggests that the despite the feminine appearance of the "angel" the could be of a "preternatural order", making gender or sex distinctions irrelevant. Miyazaki also refers to the angelic creature as "tori no hito" or "a bird's person" which is the nickname of Nausicaä from his Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga and film. Cavallaro also notes another visual correspondence to Only Yesterday with the oppressive urban environment and the freedom of open spaces.
McCarthy highlights similarities to different works and real life throughout the film, remarking that the opening city sequence could be an homage to Akira or Blade Runner and the attack on the religious cult could be a reflection of the Aum Shinrikyo movement. Though the Nausicaa.net says the production occurred prior to the police raid, which occurred after the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in March 1995. McCarthy also notes that the film's scientists in decontamination gear look like the hero of Porco Rosso and the rescue scene is reminiscent of Princess Leia in Star Wars. The encased or "box" structure in the film is an homage to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant that was to be entombed in concrete following the Chernobyl disaster.
The music video has been well received. Dr. Patrick Collins, a science writer called it, "the most perfect short science fantasy film I've ever seen." McCarter of EX Magazine praised the films attention to detail that brought the world to life. THEM anime praised the music video and went so far as to justify the purchase of Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short for this music video.
The music video was released theatrically with Whisper of the Heart' in July 1995. Chage & Aska would also use the film in concerts. It was released on Laserdisc. The film is included on the All Things Ghibli Special Short Short DVD with set to both the original "On Your Mark" and "Castles in the Air". "Castles in the Air", has the same melody, but different lyrics, it was included on the English-language album One Voice: The Songs of Chage & Aska. The music video has not been released outside of Japan.
- McCarthy, Helen (1999). Hayao Miyazaki Master of Japanese Animation. Stone Bridge Press. pp. 211–214. ISBN 1880656418.
- Cavallaro, Dani (2006). The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. McFarland. pp. 112–113, 196.
- On your mark interview (plain text), Nausicä.
- On Your Mark FAQ
- "THEM Reviews 4.0 - Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short". THEM Anime Reviews. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- "FAQ // On Your Mark". Nausicaa.net. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- "THEM Anime Reviews 4.0 - On Your Mark". THEM Anime. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- 日本語タイトル: ジブリがいっぱいSPECIAL ショート ショート/ アニメ (Ghibli ga Ippai Special Short Short ) (DVD). Buena Vista Home Entertainment. 16 November 2005.
- On Your Mark at the Internet Movie Database
- On Yua Mâku at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- On Your Mark (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia