"On Your Mark" (オン・ユア・マーク On Yua Māku?) is a song by the Japanese rock duo Chage & Aska. At their request, animator Hayao Miyazaki produced a music video for the song. The music video was created in 1995, is entirely animated, has no dialogue, and runs for about six and a half minutes. The song was used in advertisements for NEC.
The narrative is told in a nonlinear fashion. This is likely inspired by the lyrics. Just as the song describes, the two men do not give up in their efforts to rescue the winged girl, no matter how many times they fail.
The video begins with shots of a peaceful but vacant village, overgrown with weeds, with the enormous concrete sarcophagus of a covered-over nuclear reactor in the background.
As the music picks up, 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. Anti-terrorist policemen exchange gunfire and grenades with cultists whose hoods depict an enormous eye, similar to those of the Dorok priests in Miyazaki's Nausicaa manga. The police are victorious; as they sort through the bodies of apparent mass suicide victims, two of them 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 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 (bypassing the original sequence of the raid leading up to this point). Only at this point are the two men revealed to be the two from the vehicle in the previous sequence. The two men carefully carry her out and offer her something to drink, and are encouraged when she sips. But a team of scientists wearing radiation suits arrives and quickly whisks the girl away after placing her into a sterile container.
The two men are shown relaxing later, but thinking about the girl and looking somewhat morose--haunted by the fate this girl will suffer. The two hatch a plan - they are shown working on various aspects of this, then the pair wearing radiation suits and breaking into a laboratory and rescuing the girl. This triggers the lab's alarms, and the three of them escape in an armored truck. They drive along a narrow suspended roadway over what appears to be a domed city built in a crater. Police hovercrafts are in hot pursuit, and one of them collides with the roadway and destroys it, sending the truck plummeting. The winged girl refuses to let go of the hands of her rescuers, and so the three of them presumably fall to their deaths.
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, the truck fires stabilising thrusters and makes a short flight into the side of an apartment tower. The men and the girl escape; they are seen in their sports car 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, passing through a field of nuclear cooling towers and past a sign which reads "Extreme Danger." Besides the green fields and trees, there are no other signs of life. This lush vegetation however hints that the radioactivity may have subsided long ago, allowing nature to take over.
As the car speeds down the road, one of the men helps the girl up, and 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. Hayao Miyazaki implies that the two policemen might not be able to return to their old life, however; whether this is due to the authorities being on their trail or because of potential radioactive poisoning is unknown.
Chage Chage, which we can guess is his name since it's on his coffee mug, is one of the two policemen who rescue the angel girl. As far as we can tell, he's funny, loves taking risks, and knows a lot about technology.
Aska Aska is the other policeman. He is more serious than his partner. It is he who suggests that they save the angel girl. He drives the car whenever they need to go somewhere.
an angel The angel girl may or may not be an actual angel, but she does have two large, white, feathery wings sprouting out of her back. She is found by the two policemen in a religious cult's headquarters. It is possible she was given her wings by the cultists. She is unconscious for nearly the entire film, but in her waking moments, she is revealed to be grateful for what the policemen do for her.
The video was inspired in part by the Chernobyl accident of 1986, in which a damaged reactor had to be covered with concrete and the surrounding area evacuated. The two men are meant to look like the singers Chage and Aska themselves. One of the men (wearing a naval cap) is depicted as brave and caring, while the other (wearing a helmet and dark goggles; apparently Chage as implied by the text on his coffee mug) is depicted as being somewhat goofy, but warm-hearted. This kind of pairing is common to anime.
The winged girl bears close resemblance to the princess from another Miyazaki film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
Alternate Version - Castle In The Air
There is another version of this video which, instead of having "On Your Mark" as backing music, has the English version of the song - "Castles In The Air", which is available on Chage & Aska's English-language album One Voice: The Songs of Chage & Aska. This version of the music video was thought by many fans in Asia to be the intended version of the video, as it was the version publicized originally.
The version of the video on the Ghibli ga Ippai Short Short DVD collection allows the animation to be played with either On Your Mark or Castles in the Air as the backing music.
- On Your Mark at the Internet Movie Database
- On Your Mark (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
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