May 20, 2014

"On Your Mark" - A Look At Hayao Miyazaki's Venture Into Music Videos

Even the likes of Hayao Miyazaki ventured into music video making at some point, sowe're glad to have finally found a high quality version of his animated music video for On Your Mark to share with you guys. Created in 1995 as an animated accompaniment to the Japanese rock single by Chage & Ashka, On Your Mark represented a side project that came at an opportune time for Miyazaki, who was dealing with a serious case of writer's block during the writing phase of Princess Mononoke.

A curious aspect about this music video had to do with the lyrics of the song, which Miyazaki intentionally misinterpreted as an opportunity to share his lingering opinions about the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. We're clued into this at the beginning of the music video, a pristine outdoor scene until we notice passengers driving through the countryside in a protective vehicle with a nuclear symbol on it and a structure resembling the infamous Chernobyl 'Sarcophagus' (The makeshift protective casing built to contain the radiation) in the background. Eventually we transition into a futuristic subterranean city where humanity now resides.

The duration of the music video is non-linear, presenting us with multiple reiterative scenes to depict the plot. The story follows two policemen tasked with raiding a religious cult, only to find an angelic being held within it's premises. When she's taken away by a group of mysterious men, the two friends eventually hatch a plan to free her once and for all..on the surface. In the grand finale, which is hinted at towards the beginning of the music video the police men eventually exit into the dangerously irradiated outside world to give this angel a fresh start, perhaps at the cost of their own lives. We're left to wonder what their fate is.

Regarding the production of On Your Mark, Miyazaki was fortunate enough to use this side project as a chance to get experimental and incorporate computer animation techniques into the traditional hand drawn cell process, which he would eventually incorporate into the Princess Mononoke pipeline at a later point. It's cool to think that something as inopportune as writer's block would eventually contribute to helping Miyazaki improve one of the studio's most epic animated films, but it's the beauty of the artistic learning process. Taking your eyes off a project that you've been focusing too much on for a wheel can typically be the remedy to any roadblock you might encounter. Loved the message of the music video as well.

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