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“Windaria” is a 102-minute movie from 1986. Edited to 95-minutes, with an altered storyline, it was released under both the original title and a new one, “Once Upon a Time”, by Harmony Gold and Streamline Pictures, in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The movie opens at a man’s funeral. In the original version, this man is one of the many farmers who inhabit the Village of Blossoms, a valley between two kingdoms on the brink of war; but in the altered version, this man is our protagonist, Alan/Izu. After many years of rebuilding that which he had destroyed during the war between the two adjacent kingdoms, he has finally earned redemption, and, in death, the chance to be with his true love, Marie/Marin. His soul flies off to the ever circling Ship of Souls, while the Valley’s guardian agrarian totem, the Tree of Windaria, silently looks on. From here, the altered version flashes back in time to right before the war, and the original version linearly continues with the story.

King Drako, lord of the almost uninhabitable, eternally dark, inland, technologically advanced, country of Shadowland/Paro, seeks to seize control of the light, costal port city-state of Lunaria/Itha. With the failure of his latest scheme to sabotage the Lunarian/Ithan tide gates and flood the city having been foiled (ironically by Alan/Izu), he orders his son, Prince Roland/Jill, to train his country’s military, and wage war. Though a tactical genius, Roland/Jill is in love with Lunaria/Itha’s Princess Veronica/Ahnas and hopes for a peace treaty. Untrustworthy of Roland/Jill’s motives and weary of another attack, Lunaria/Itha’s Queen Ginevia raises a citizen army which blindly engages the Shadowland/Paro Air Force in a neutral border village, the Village of Blossoms. Stuck between two warring kingdoms, the Blossom inhabitants evacuate the area. Alan/Izu, ill content to be just a farmer and let the two nations destroy his home, and seduced with promises of rewards, has already left to ally himself with Shadowland/Paro. Marie/Marin dutifully stays and waits in the middle of a war zone for his return.

With the Lunarian/Ithan forces having unexpectedly beaten back his army’s first foray, Drako viciously attacks his peace-seeking son for treason. Roland/Jill unintentionally kills his father in self-defense. Plagued with guilt over this patricide, Roland/Jill acquiesces to leading his country’s troops into battle. Meanwhile, overwhelmed by her stressful responsibilities, Veronica/Ahnas’ mother is bedridden and pleads with her child to take charge of their troops. Having received no response to her missive to Roland/Jill (the carrier bird, Coo-Coo, having been carelessly killed), and overcome by familial guilt, Veronica/Ahnas heads out to meet Roland/Jill on the front lines. While the war tears apart his homeland, Alan/Izu, motivated more by his own greed than by love of country, is sent by Shadowland/Paro to end the war-- by accomplishing that which he initially thwarted: flooding Lunaria/Itha and drowning the entire populace.

“Windaria” is a beautiful anime which features the talents of Director Kunihiko Yuyama ("GoShogun", "Leda", "Ushio & Tora", and Pokemon), Character Designer Mutsumi Inomata ("Leda", "Utsunomiko", and "Weathering Continent"), and Art Director Geki Katsumata ("GoShogun", "Queen Millenia", "The Humanoid", and "Yotoden"). Unfortunately, it’s overly preachy, and there are problems in the pacing. It goes off on purposeless animated tangents, and it suffers from hap-hazard cutting between the four main characters, losing momentum and focus, and making it, at times, tedious and boring. Though the story is basically the same, the American edit focused on how humanity must atone-- how everyone must make personal recompense for their own evil actions and deeds; while the original work ultimately ended with how the dreams, hopes, or the greedy, vile, and horrendous acts of Man are as nothing… to the everlasting cyclical timeline of nature.

 Windaria 01

 Windaria 02

 Windaria 03

 Windaria 04
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Gallery Created: 1/21/2004

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