We’re sure nearly all of our readers have, at the very least, heard of Studio Ghibli. You’ve probably seen a few — or even most — of their films, but we’d be surprised if many have seen everything the company has produced. But don’t take that the wrong way! We’re not questioning anyone’s dedication. It just turns out there are quite a few rare Ghibli works out there in the wild.
For example, “On Your Mark,” a music video for the song of the same name by Chage & Aska, is apparently unknown to quite a few young Japanese anime fans. But what about you? Have you seen it? If not, it’s definitely one of the weirdest (and most interesting) music videos you’re likely to see this week. And if you have seen it, here’s your chance to watch it one more time!
First, here’s the music video with some unofficial subtitles added by one dedicated Facebook user. The story is (roughly) about two police officers who rescue a girl with wings (who may or may not be an angel) from a cult and then again from their government and escape their industrialized city for the outside world filled with green nature. The story also happens to be nonlinear, with the characters seemingly dying and then starting over to take different actions.
▼ It won’t make much more sense when you watch it, but it sure is pretty!
The video and its history have gotten a bit of attention online in Japan recently after a thread on 2chan featured several users discussing this seemingly little-known video. For one thing, according to these commenters, the video apparently hasn’t been broadcast in over ten years, which has resulted in its obscure status. Since the video was released in 1995, at the same time as Whisper of the Heart, it’s hardly surprising the video hasn’t had much air time recently!
The video was produced by Studio Ghibli while they were still in the early plannning stages of Princess Mononoke, after the musicians approached them. Chage was apparently a fan of Studio Ghibli and Aska had suggested using some sort of animation in their shows. It seems that working on “On Your Mark” inspired Miyazaki to scrap their work on Princess Mononoke and start over completely fresh, which means we have this short music video to thank for how awesome Princess Mononoke is!
▼ A fan’s tweet in celebration of Chage & Aska’s 36th group anniversary
㊗チャゲアス３６周年おめでとう！！(*'∇')/ﾟ･:*【祝】*:･ﾟ＼('∇'*) いつまでお２人は偉大な音楽の先生です☆ASKAさんは焦らずゆっくりとCHAGEさんもマイペースに……いつまでも待ってます！#チャゲアスが好き http://t.co/OY7QrxhYws—
mAsAto@TUG of C&A (@mAsAto_as) August 24, 2015
The video has seen a few official releases by Ghibli in addition to its use in Chage & Aska performances, but the most recent release was in 2005. It was also set to be included in a box set in 2014, but Aska’s arrest for possession of MDMA the same year resulted in delays and removal of the video from the set. However, DVDs/Blu-rays of “On Your Mark” will be shipped to those who can prove proof of purchase, so we hope you saved your receipt!
As you may have noticed watching the video, the story is not particularly direct. It seems that Miyazaki is happy leaving much of it open to viewer interpretation, though he has offered some explanation of the story’s background. Apparently radiation had made the green, open areas unlivable, so people moved into the futuristic cities leaving nature to grow freely, somewhat like Chernobyl. However, he’s not entirely helpful — when asked about the “angel” in an interview, he countered that no one said she’s an angel. He suggested that she might just be a girl with wings, which, sure, Miyazaki, she might be, but is she?!
▼ The video’s main characters
超マンガ速報 (@mangaman07) August 27, 2015
There is obviously a lot more about the video to interpret, but much of it relies on your own imagination. It’s no choose-your-own-adventure book, but, despite being a music video, it feels like entire full-length movie into just six minutes. Better than being too long, right?