Your Mark is something of a novelty for Miyazaki fans outside
of Japan. It
is a 1995 music video directed by the filmmaking great for a Japanese
pop duo called Chage and Aska. This six-and-a-half minute video
debuted alongside Whisper of the Heart, and by all accounts, the
song was a success for the pop group.
should probably say that it helps if you are a fan of the “J-pop”
sound, but that really isn’t important; you tuned in for the
Miyazaki animation. The video itself is stylish, smoothly animated,
and is remarkably impressive; an entire storyline is delivered in
under seven minutes. Essentially, a seven-minute silent film.
story unfolds as follows: Chage and Aska play two cops, in a futuristic,
cyber-punk world, who lead something of a SWAT team assault on a
religious terrorist cult and make a startling discovery. They find
a girl with large wings, chained to a wall. They nurse her to health
before she is taken away by the military. Later, at home, they reflect
on the event; the film intersects with a sequence of the two, driving
in their convertible, helping the girl to fly. They resolve to rescue
her from her new captors, break into the military fortress, subdue
the guards (in an oddly goofy sequence), grab the nameless girl,
and escape in an armored vehicle.
make their escape on a suspended highway several hundred stories
high. Suddenly they are attacked by armored helicopters. One tries
to block the road, but collides with our heroes; the vehicles crash,
and the armored car plummets off the side.
rest of the film involves flashbacks and reenactments. The collision
on the bridge is repeated, but this time, the car mysteriously flies
away to safety. The film finishes with another refrain of Chage,
Aska, and the girl, driving in the open countryside; the two help
her into the air, she takes flight, and flies away. It’s a
terrific little moment.
what happened is up to interpretation. Did one of the two escape
attempts never happen? Did that tank have the ability to hover and
fly? Did the angel possess unknown powers? Did all three die on
the first attempt, imagining the successful escape as they fell
to their deaths? To quote Dylan, nothing is revealed. One
important thing to note is the empty countryside. The road is littered
with warnings of radiation, and the background reveals an enormous
structure; Miyazaki has claimed that the building contains a nuclear
reactor that has long since melted down. The area is the remains
of a suburban city, long since abandoned due to radiation. So did
the final sequence really happen, or was it only an idyllic expression
of hope? I’ll let you chew on that for a while.
Hairston, a professor from the University of Dallas-Texas, has another
angle on this short film, which I largely agree. On Your Mark was
Miyazaki’s first creative work since finally finishing his
epic graphic novel, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind. This
is his life’s work, an 1100 page saga that consumed his life
for the better part of twenty years. The 1984 Nausicaa
film (adapted from the novel’s first two volumes) led to the
creation of Studio Ghibli and all of its later successes; the novel
itself tackled complex issues so thoroughly that Miyazaki was forced
to change many of his personal beliefs.
assertion is that On Your Mark is Miyazaki’s chance
to say goodbye to his character. Nausicaa fans will immediately
recognize the angel in the video; it’s one of those things
that are stunningly obvious after it’s pointed out to you.
Miyazaki is setting his heroine free.
think it’s very telling that he chose, instead of letting
go, he drove ahead, wrestling with the complex issues and themes
in Nausicaa for his next feature film: Princess
Mononoke. That movie is, in every sense, Miyazaki’s
Ran. On Your Mark, it sees, is his Kagemusha.
Your Mark is destined to remain something of a lost treasure;
it was overlooked for DVD release in Japan, and it almost certainly
will never be seen outside of its home country. Americans will have
to rely on lucky connections, fan bootlegs, and Internet file-sharing
if they want any chance to watch this video for themselves. Consider
yourself fortunate if you are among them.