Jesse shared this video short with me. I love it.
On Your Mark
Ghibli Experimental Theater
The deliberately non-linear, enigmatic and cryptic style of the music video was intended to stimulate the imaginations of its viewers and their interpretations of the music video.” Miyazaki offered an interpretation of the angel as “Hope” and to protect hope could paradoxically mean “to let it go where no-one can touch it”. Dani Cavallaro, an author of books related to anime, reflected 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 said that in the music video’s setting, humans live in an underground city after the surface of the Earth has been contaminated with radiation, creating a sanctuary for nature.Miyazaki did not find this believable, though, as humanity would suffer on the surface instead. Miyazaki intentionally misinterpreted the lyrics to reflect upon the vision of a world filled with disease and radiation and people’s reactions to that world. Cryptically, he implied the two policemen might not be able to return to their old life, but offered no reason as to why.
Cavallaro noted that the lyrics of the song include “ryuukou no kaze”, which translates to “flu” and is also an idiom for “the flu of fashion.” The author further interpreted 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 suggested that despite the feminine appearance of the “angel”, it could be of a “preternatural order”, making gender or sex distinctions irrelevant. Miyazaki referred 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 noted another visual correspondence to Only Yesterday with the oppressive urban environment and the freedom of open spaces.
During their April 1999 lecture series on manga, anime and the works of Miyazaki at the University of Dallas, Pamela Gossin, Professor of Arts and Humanities, and guest instructor Marc Hairston, research scientist in the William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences, discussed On Your Mark in their lecture, “In the Coda On Your Mark and Nausicaa, and drew parallels to the Nausicaä story, its titular character and its conclusion. Gossin and Hairston interpreted the release of the winged girl at the end of the video as Miyazaki setting free his character in a manner reminiscent of William Shakespeare‘s symbolic liberation of his characters, through Prospero‘s release of his servant Ariel in his play The Tempest. The final volume of the Nausicaä manga was released in January 1995. Miyazaki started creating On Your Mark that same month.
McCarthy highlighted similarities to different works and real life found 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.Nausicaa.net stated the production occurred prior to the police raid following the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in March 1995. McCarthy also noted that the film’s scientists’ 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 which was entombed in concrete following the Chernobyl disaster.
Miyazaki scholar Seiji Kanō observed that the urban settings have a China Town style and resemble the cityscapes of Mamoru Oshii‘s Ghost in the Shell animated film adaptation, in production at the time. While Miyazaki has been non-committal about the nature of his winged entity in On your Mark, Kanō noted that the manga Seraphim: 266,613,336 Wings, an unfinished collaborative effort by Oshii and Satoshi Kon, with its Angel Disease theme, was still serialized in Animage at the time Miyazaki was creating On Your Mark in 1995.