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Anime / Windaria

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"Oh Guardian Tree of Life, bring us health and happiness"

The world of Windaria is split into three distinct cultures: the city-state of Itha, which is based on the coast and lives off the sea, the kingdom of Paro which is based on industry, and 'The Valley', where farmers live and plow. The varying interests of these three regions drives the plot. As the story begins, Paro and Itha are at odds because the former is denying fresh water to the latter and are negotiating for its renewal, Izu and Marin are taking their produce from The Valley to the Ithian market, and a figure in a mask has a mysterious plan for everyone.

Also called Legend of Fabulous Battle Windaria and Once Upon a Time, Windaria is a Japanese animated film produced by Kaname Productions and Idol. The film was directed by Kunihiko Yuyama and written by Keisuke Fujikawa. It was released theatrically in Japan on July 19, 1986. In 1987, Harmony Gold licensed Windaria for release in the United States, changing the title to Once Upon A Time and trimming the movie from its 101-minute running time to 95 minutes. The English version included a new script, an altered plot, scenes switched around, violent and adult-oriented scenes removed, and both locations and characters had their names changed. The uncut Japanese version has never been officially released in this region, however, before DVDs and the popularization of anime in the States the un-cut version did make the SF convention circuit and was available in the US on laserdisc.

It's based on a novel of the same name, authored by Keisuke Fujikawa, the film's screenwriter. In the Japanese version of Windaria, portions of the novel are read over the beginning and ending of the film as narration by the protagonist.

Windaria provides examples of:

  • Arcadia: The Valley, also known as 'Saki', is a neutral, peaceful farming region.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: What we see of Paro's armed forces, at least their infantry and tankers, blows right past Mildly Military into this trope: It's hard to describe the guy at an army encampment who lets Alan drive off in a tank on the flimsiest of pretexts as Drinking on Duty because nobody appears to be on duty, or interested in doing much except getting drunk. It quickly becomes realistic when they march on neighbouring Itha, which appears to be at least three centuries behind technologically but whose soldiers are a lot more professional.
  • The Atoner: Alan, in the re-scripted version, spends the bulk of his life rebuilding the world after he helped ruin it.
  • Batman Gambit: Lagado turns Alan into his Unwitting Pawn by exploiting his desire to protect The Valley. If Alan said 'We're moving' instead, The Plan would have collapsed then and there.
  • Big Bad: The king of the Shadowland appears to be this but it's actually Lagado.
  • Bigger Stick: Paro/Shadowland's military has tanks and machine guns while Itha/Lunaria's has hover craft and crossbows. When the war starts, the former marches more or less unopposed to the latter's capital.
  • Censored Child Death: As Lunaria is flooded, its people can do nothing but stand at the palace steps and watch the water rise. You can clearly hear children crying during this scene.
  • Cerebus Callback: Early in the movie Roland and Veronica meet in a forest for a little time together, during which she playfully steals his gun and prompts him to chase after her for it. Much later, after everything's gone to hell for both their kingdoms, they meet at the same place presumably to run off together. He pulls her into an embrace, during which she takes his gun one last time and kills him before turning it on herself.
  • Determinator: Marie. She made a promise to wait for Alan to come back, and she will keep it.
  • Downer Ending: The original film ends with Lunaria flooded, Saki ravaged by war, and many people dead
  • Driven to Murder: Poor Veronica saw no other way out for Roland and herself.
  • Drunk with Power: Alan seems like a really upstanding guy, but after he was promised silver, gold, a castle, and a woman in return for a sabotage job, he spent the next three months in hedonistic gluttony, completely forgetting about his promise to return home.
  • Dub Name Change: All of the characters for the Once Upon A Time dub received Westernized names, with Izu, Marin, Jihl, Ahnas and Druid all being renamed Alan, Marie, Roland, Veronica and Juliet respectively. The kingdom of Paro was renamed the Shadowlands, and Itha became Lunaria (and was changed from a city-state to a kingdom).
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The re-scripted film ends with Alan reuniting with his wife in the afterlife, after fixing the damage he'd done to the world.
  • Enchanted Forest: The Haunted Woods are home to evil spirits that prey on fear and can lead travelers to death and confusion.
  • Evil Plan: Lagado wants to take over Lunaria. To this end, he gets Alan involved.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Played straight in the original version and inverted in the re-scripted version. In the re-scripted version Alan is called a hero and a savior for rebuilding Windaria, and he is responsible for it, but Alan never saw himself as such because of his guilt.
  • Flying Dutchman: Juliet's lover Banbou is this - he's the one who pilots the ship that serves as a ferry for the souls of the departed. Near the end of the film, Alan offers to take Banbou's place, after having lost everything dear to him; however Juliet tells him that Banbou can't ever leave his position.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The re-scripted story is narrated by Alan after he's gone old and grey and so a number of things are clear from the start: 1. Alan survives the story. 2. Marie does not. 3. The world has recovered from the damage about to unfold. 4. Alan has done something so terrible that not even being lauded as the hero who rebuilt the world can ease his guilt. 5. He dies peacefully knowing that been forgiven by God (or in this case, The Tree). The how of the story is not even alluded to and no other character is mentioned so there are still plenty of surprises.
  • Gambit Pile Up: The king of the Shadowlands wants Lunaria's water, Roland and Veronica want peace, the queen of Lunaria wants more money from the Shadowlands king, Lagado seeks more power, and Alan wants to protect his homeland.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The key to Lunara's floodgates is guarded by an old man that sleeps most of the day in a guardhouse without a door. At the start of the film, a guy just walks in there, takes the keys and no one realizes anything until he opens the flood gates. Considering this could have flooded the entire city, it merges with Too Dumb to Live. To be fair, this is the cause of the hostilities, so it's probably a case of 'what are the odds' before this point. Later on, Alan opens the floodgates, which by this point, should have been heavily guarded.
  • Happily Married: Alan is so happily married that thoughts of his wife can repel evil spirits.
  • Hope Spot: Zigzagged. Alan fears his wife is dead because of the war but doesn't see any signs of battle and thinks that the war didn't reach The Valley, then he notices his neighbor's houses in ruins and thinks his own is the same. Then he gets home and sees it is in ruins, but his wife is alive. Then she turns out to be a ghost.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Alan's justification for flooding Lunaria to stop the war and save The Valley from being a warzone which becomes My God, What Have I Done? when he realizes the magnitude of what he's done and how many lives he destroyed.
  • I Gave My Word: Neither Prince Roland nor Princess Veronica want to fight, yet they swore they would on their parent's deathbeds.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: Princess Veronica has a pet dove that she uses to send messages to Roland. At least until the poor thing is shot down by a Trigger-Happy soldier.
  • I Will Wait for You: Juliet's promise to her lover. This is what has kept her from 'achieving enlightenment' and passing on. Also Marie, who's so determined to wait for Alan to return that she refuses to evacuate the valley even when bombs start falling.
  • Karma Houdini: To add insult to injury in an already depressing film, both Lagado and Selenia apparently get away with everything.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: Except for Izu (Alan) and Cail (Lagado), every other major character is dead by the end credits, and all because of one character's hubris and lack of foresight. Hamlet, eat your heart out.
  • The Lady's Favor: Marie gives Alan a precious heirloom she inherited from her father before he leaves. It's a dagger, and meant for practical value but the sentiment is definitely there.
  • Obviously Evil: Lagado. He wears a black cloak with a face mask and calls someone off the road from behind a rock for a suspicious plan.
  • Offing the Offspring: Defied. The King of Paro tries to kill his son for speaking out against going to war with Itha, but Roland kills him instead.
  • Our Souls Are Different: In this story, the soul takes the form of a bird of red light, and flies off to a mysterious airship over the ocean.
  • Polluted Waste Land: Alan states that farming is impossible in the Shadowland and drinking the water is lethal or insanity producing.
  • Posthumous Narration: The re-scripted story begins at Alan's funeral and is told by him after his soul has left his body.
  • Proper Lady: Marie is a grand example of an honest and wholesome young lady. She's also Alan's House Wife, except she helps him sell their vegetables at market.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: In-universe for Roland's mother. Her kingdom of Paro conquered Itha, but the queen lost both her husband and son.
  • Rebellious Princess: Defied. Ahnas/Veronica is set up to be this but reluctantly carries out her mother's will.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Polipoli, Marie's Whatever it is, it's adorable.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Both Warrior Prince Roland and princess Veronica personally lead their armies.
  • Shadow Land: In the dub, the kingdom of Paro is literally called this but it does provide a foil for The Valley in that it is dirtier, darker and based on industry instead of agriculture.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The song that plays over the end credits is a lighthearted and somewhat bouncy tune, but the first few seconds start playing over the sounds of Alan's anguished weeping.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Prince Roland and Princess Veronica. Her mother had hoped a marriage between them would neutralize the possible war, but they both ended up taking command in their respective armies, and it went downhill from there.
  • Take a Third Option: Veronica can't break her vow to her mother, nor can she fight her true love, so she kills him and then herself.
  • Taken for Granite: Juliet becomes a statue at the very end of the film, after finally coming to terms with the fact that she and Banbou will never be reunited.
  • Tareme Eyes: Marie's eyes are rounded to emphasize her sweetheart nature.
  • Tsurime Eyes: In sharp contrast to Marie, both Veronica and Selenia have sharply cornered eyes.
  • Together in Death:
    • In the rescripted version, Alan's goal is to reunite with his true love in the afterlife. The opening shows he's succeeded. The original ending, however, subverts this; Izu (Alan) is given the chance to rejoin Marin (Marie) but doesn't have the guts to go through with it and pulls himself back from the edge of the cliff Marin's spirit leads him to at the very last second. This leaves him, the broken betrayer, the only survivor at the end of the film.
    • Played straight in both versions of the story with Roland and Veronica (Jihl and Ahnas). because she kills him and then herself immediately afterward.
  • The Vamp: Selenia is ordered by the Big Bad to seduce and then kill Alan. He's so taken with "every beautiful inch of her" that it almost works.
  • Wham Line: In-universe, for Alan:
    Marie: The Ghost Ship is calling me.
  • World Tree: The massive tree in Alan and Marie's valley is the titular Windaria. (in the English version, it is dubbed as "The Tree of Life"). It's referred to as the region's "Guardian Spirit", and is prayed to by the inhabitants for health and happiness.
  • You Did Everything You Could: Discussed by Veronica while she and Roland about to fight each other. She wonders if they could have done a lot more beforehand to prevent where they are. Roland says there's no point to "torture about the past. The present is torture enough."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Lagado quotes this nearly word for word in regards to Alan when ordering Selenia to kill him.