Once Upon A Time

Alt title: Windaria

Movie (1 ep x 105 min)
3.144 out of 5 from 759 votes
Rank #13,721

In a land filled with magic and mystery, two rival kingdoms are readying for war: Isa, the beautiful water-laden city, and Paro, the industrialized wasteland. Windaria follows the tale of two sets of lovers: Marin and Izu, a young pair of farmers who are devoted to one another, and Ahanas and Jill, princess and prince of the rival kingdoms. With war approaching, these star-crossed lovers will experience the true depth of tragedy as they struggle to survive.

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Windaria is one of those movies that really turned people to otakus back in its time. It was different, it was grim, it was sad, it was full of magic, it didn’t have a forced Walt Disney f*ing ending. It was gooood! Yet, its major problems are also trademarks of its time. It looks aged, as technology has gone to the moon and back since then and production values were generally low for its time. So, you can’t help but think that the scriptwriters were not given enough time to depict everything smoothly and properly and the animators had to work with short scenes. The result is still superbly good and if you are not some ungrateful prick, you can easily enjoy the movie despite its years. The action scenes are almost a legend of their own as you rarely get to see armies of normal people fighting in anime. Voice acting is just decent and nothing to write about. Yet, the music and the depiction of the world are very atmospheric and quite similar to a fairy tale (a sad one). So, yes, the external shell does win your interest although it loses you in the finer details. In the story department you get a rather simple and linear plot. There is a war going on between two kingdoms because of water reserve exploitation. In a Romeo and Juliet fashion, the prince of one kingdom and the princess of the other are in love but their families force to wage war against one another under the pressure of politics and national needs. There is also another couple, where the young male wants to become rich and famous thanks to his war achievements and secure a happy life for his sweetheart. He descends to inhuman acts in order to achieve that.Although the premise sounds simple, it is actually quite multi-layered while watching the movie. The story involves lost ideals, tragic romances, war drama, political intrigue and lots of metaphysical symbolisms around life, harmony and happiness. The major problem is the short duration. You can’t show all the magnitude of such a story or the dramatic escalation of the characters in only two hours. It needed more. The plot moves too fast for you to bind with the characters or feel the tragedy of the story. So, although the story is masterful on paper, in practice it is running so fast that you lose the feel of the moment. Being a character-driven story, the shrapnel damage even them, as you get the feeling everyone moves mechanically and dualistically. Although they are all quite tragic and do get plenty of character development or die by the dozens, the fast plot makes them change moods too quickly and act almost predictable. Of course, if you don’t know the story is not a fairy tale and you haven’t watched many shock-effect anime, you are going to be surprised plenty of times; as I was the first time I watched it as a little kid. The whole setting is quite fairy-tailish and leaves plenty of room for a dozen side stories and sequels. You get huge magic trees, haunted forests, steampunk cities, beautiful running water towns, a flying fortress gathering souls in the shape of glowing birds, action scenes, war scenes, you name it. If you look at the entire world from afar, it looks gorgeous. Still, as I said already it does hurt that almost nothing is exploited further than its basic use and many things are left unexplained. What the hell was that flying fortress? Honestly, this is a one-time to watch movie. It is so linear that there is nothing more to gain from a second viewing. Plus, it does feel somewhat similar to Romeo and Juliet and nothing to brag in comparison to other war dramas or tragic romances. Still, it is quite magical and can easily become memorable for a one-shot, quick watch (despite being about two hours long). SUGGESTION LIST Sirius no DensetsuGall ForceChoujin LockeAnd now for some excused scorings. ART SECTION: 9/10 General Artwork 2/2 (well done) Character Figures 1/2 (generic) Backgrounds 2/2 (fairy tale-ish) Animation 2/2 (good) Visual Effects 2/2 (magical) SOUND SECTION: 7/10 Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series) Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series) Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess) STORY SECTION: 8/10 Premise 2/2 (interesting) Pacing 2/2 (fast) Complexity 2/2 (a lot of stuff in it) Plausibility 1/2 (so-so) Conclusion 1/2 (so-so) CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10 Presence 1/2 (generic) Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded) Backdrop 1/2 (generic but it’s there) Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there) Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there) VALUE SECTION: 6/10 Historical Value 1/3 (still remembered by some as an interesting retro title) Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of the simple plot) Memorability 4/4 (extremely tragic to the point of forever remembering it) ENJOYMENT SECTION: 9/10 Too bent on shock factor and makes little sense but does great on the emotional level. VERDICT: 7.5/10

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