ON YOUR MARK – An Interview with Hayao Miyazaki (Animage, 09/1995)

The following interview was originally published in the September issue of Animage, 1995. The interview has been translated by Twitter user @kiirobon © 2017 Wave Motion Cannon

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The music was created to mislead the audience on purpose

Whisper of the Heart is what the people go to see when they see On Your Mark, but they unintentionally get wrapped up in the film, and find themselves moved to the point that they want to see it again. Just what is the message wrapped up in this high density film?


Animage (AM): ‘Police’ and an ‘Angel’ it’s somewhat like a like a work by Mamoru Oshii.

Miyazaki: If it were Oshii, it’d be like, ‘Is the angel going to be born or not?’ And if it’s going to be important, rather than putting on airs, let it come out immediately. (Laughs) More importantly it’s never said if she’s an angel. She might be a bird person. Not that it matters.

AM: It feels like in the midst of a mere 6 minutes and 40 seconds you managed to make an entire movie.

Miyazaki: Many people came into it thinking it was something that needed to be decoded, but really it’s just supposed to be a musical movie so what they took away from it doesn’t really matter.

AM: At the start, there’s a strange building in the middle of a peaceful rural landscape. What is it?

Miyazaki: The explanation for that really doesn’t matter much, but the radioactivity warning sign that appears on the Truck that comes out immediately afterward should somewhat make it easy to understand I think. Radioactivity floods the surface, and so humans can no longer live there. However it is also still quite verdant, so the surroundings are quite like Chernobyl. The Nature there has aged into a sanctuary (Holy land) of sorts. So, the humans have no choice but to make an underground city to live there. Practically speaking they have no choice but to live there because being on the surface will make them sick, or that’s what the thought is.

AM: This anime was made to be a musical animation right?

Miyazaki: The title was meant to mean something like ‘Take your position’, but the subject matter was made to mislead on purpose. Instead it’s more like a story told after the end of the world. Radiation flows everywhere -it’s a world where sickness has spread. Realistically speaking, such an age may not actually ever come, but when I made this I was thinking, ‘What would I say if I were born in such a place?’ With that in mind I created this. With certainty if such an age were to come there’d be much anarchy and criticisms of the world order as well as a great extent of conservatism, right? As such many would think about the things they have lost. Much would end up in nothingness and nothing but anarchy and death on the side of the roads would begin happening. With that occuring, what would be complex would be ‘Drugs’, ‘Pro Sports’, and ‘Religion’ right? This would run rampant. In this kind of era, things that we’d want to talk about would be hidden from the system, and secret languages represented by songs and thoughts would be how people express themselves. This movie has a little bit of ill intent in it, it seems. (Laughs)

AM: For example, the lyric “If you’re always running, you’ll catch the cold going around”…is that supposed to be in reference to the radiation and sickness in the overturned world?

Miyazaki: If you look at the problems of people in the Earth’s history, they’ve all been sort of like a cold going around, yeah? (TL Note: he says this is such a way without confirming or denying.)

AM: …..So the angel that the two officers save is supposed to be the one ray of hope in a world full of disorder. “And even then we won’t ever stop….” Like the lyrics imply, there’s the scenes where they’re unable to save the angel, and keep trying over and over. Though they keep failing, after they do save her, she flies off from the world of disorder and like a single strand saved into the blue sky…but the officers are still left behind on the surface…

Miyazaki: She’s like a messiah of sorts. Her appearance wasn’t supposed to be like a spiritual exchange, but rather the inspiration that one can be their own hope as long as they don’t let their situation hold them back. This is the one thing that one shouldn’t allow others to take from them.

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