Sound And Vision: Hayao Miyazaki

Contributing Writer; The Netherlands
Sound And Vision: Hayao Miyazaki

In the article series Sound and Vision we take a look at music videos from notable directors. This week we look at Chage and Aska's On Your Mark, directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

After yet another Academy Award win for Hayao Miyazaki, this time for The Boy and the Heron, it is as good a time as any to look at the music video he directed. Chage and Aska's On your Mark is a glossy power ballad in typical early nineties style, accompanied by a short that ranks among the best music videos of all time, mostly due to the precise worldbuilding and the world-class designs of Miyazaki.

The story in On Your Mark is deceptively simple. Two cops help a young angel escape from a cult, by brute violent force, and later help her flee from a nuclear facility in which she is also captured. Eventually they set her free in a nuclear wasteland, that is slowly turning into a zone filled with green, a symbol for hope of a future in a destitute cyberpunk world.

There are several quirks tho, that make the narrative slightly more convoluted. Many fake-outs (are the cops dying in a free fall?), flash-forwards and repeated narrative scenes with different outcomes, make the audience wonder what is real and what is not. The effect is akin to something like Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run), Blind Chance or Sliding Doors, where it depends on your preference which of the many narrative strands are the one you consider canon. A Choose Your Own Adventure-Miyazaki, if you will. It fits the thematic tropes about hope vs. violence, nature vs. technology and the earthly vs. the heavenly.

It is not necessarily easy to pinpoint where these themes converge into the other. For instance, the character that represents hope, the winged woman, is only released by brute violence. The heavenly is also represented by the cult that keeps her captured. And while we eventually leave the city scapes for greener pastures, those greener pastures are themselves a nuclear wasteland. And the city, while being representative of technology gone haywire, has many a park on pedestals, as the high rises of the city have forestation on top of them. It's all ontologically quite gray.

It is also a typical Miyazaki-video in its designs. The vehicles, the city scapes, the round blobby costumes. It is vintage Miyazaki, as is the obsession with flight as a symbol of hope. Still the music video introduced another new quirk for Miyazaki, being the first project he was involved in that used computer generated images for some of the backgrounds and vehicles. These were techniques he would later incorporate in Princess Mononoke. It was even during the pre-production of that movie that Miyazaki suffered from writer's block and decided to focus on this music video instead. Suffice to say, Miyazaki's vision of getting out of a funk is making a flight-focused music video about hope, man's relation to the environment, and exploration of the nature of violence. It's a key work that has sadly been somewhat overlooked within Miyazaki's oeuvre.

ジブリ実験劇場 On Your Mark - Chage & Aska (1995) from MrLucasdemassy on Vimeo.

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