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Published on November 28th, 2014 | by Totoro

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On Your Mark

This music video, set to the song “On Your Mark” by Chage and Aska and created by Hayao Miyazaki, is a little-known but amazing work of art. It was shown in Japanese theaters before Whisper of the Heart. The two films are drastically different, similar to the pairing between Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro, but you can tell they were made by the same studio.

On Your Mark is Ghibli’s most famous short, excepting for Mei and the Kittenbus, perhaps. It centers around two policemen (who look like Chage and Aska themselves), and their fight to save a winged girl from a life of experimentation. The film is set in a future city, which is built in a crater to protect it from radiation from the remains of a nearby nuclear plant. The film is probably Miyazaki’s most realistic work, as the plant resembles the remains of the Chernobyl facility. It has been compared to Nausica of the Valley of the Wind due to its foreboding yet entirely possible tone about the future (and also since the angel girl looks like Nausica, only with brown hair).

The short has many themes, mostly Miyazaki’s trademarks, environmentalism and flight. It has multiple endings, causing the viewer to wonder what the “real” ending was. Whether the girl is an actual angel or not is an arguable point. Miyazaki always refers to her as the “bird girl”. She is unconscious for almost the entire video, so we see little of her actions. At the end of the short’s final ending, the policemen watch the girl fly away into the sky, which leaves them on the ground with the radiation and other policemen waiting to arrest them. But it leaves the viewer with a satisfied feeling, since the angel girl is free. Isn’t that odd?

Info & Credits

Title On Your Mark
Japanese Title
Japanese Title (Romanized)
Release Date 1995
Rated PG-13
Duration 6 min 34 sec

The characters

 1 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.
 2 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.
 3 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.

Production Credits

Director Hayao Miyazaki
Screenplay Hayao Miyazaki
Animation Director Masashi Andou
Arrangement Hirosuke Sawachika
Song Chage & ASKA

Voice Casting

Character English Japanese
[Vocals] Chage and Aska Chage and Aska

On Your Mark Trailer

Screenshots from the TV/Shorts
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