Windaria is a Studio Gallop film from 1986. Yes, the same studio that did the early episodes of Rurouni Kenshin.Like many of the other films I’ve reviewed during this year’s film festival, it’s not based on anything. It’s also one I’d never heard of prior to browsing random anime films. So, was it worth dredging up? Let’s take a peek and see.
We open with a young couple, Izu & Marin, taking their cart to sell their wares in the kingdom of Isa. Their idyllic time is ruined when someone tries to flood the city. An attempt which gets thwarted by Izu’s intervention. Turns out, the nearby kingdom of Paro has its sights set on the lands occupied by Isa. Izu and Marin find themselves in an awkward situation, with their village between the two countries. To make things more complicated, Prince Jill of Paro and Princess Ahnas of Isa are romantically attached. What will happen to these young pairs of lovers when war breaks out? Yes, it’s one of those stories.
There are a lot of problems with the narrative in this film. First of all, the warring kingdoms are both inexcusably stupid. Paro starts this whole conflict after clearly planning an offensive but they’re also completely unprepared and undisciplined. They probably do as much damage to themselves through complete incompetence as Isa does to them. What kind of imbecilic leader gets into a rough situation with bugger all preparation? Putting King Trump aside, Isa is just as bad. After the whole near disaster at the beginning their “defence” against someone unauthorised messing with the gates that could flood their city comes down to giving one old guy a spear and some armour. Yes, Isa, that will keep your flood gates closed. It’s a much better solution than proper guards working rotating shifts. Fecking morons. The film also suffers from adding completely pointless fantasy elements. We have a ghost ship that we see floating across the sky at different points. It contributes nothing. There are unicorns for, like, five seconds. There are spirits that we see take to the sky without actually doing anything. There’s a forest with illusions which could be removed from the film completely without losing anything. You get the impression that Gallop wanted to craft a massive world with a lot of lore behind it, but the writing is too incompetent to do it well. There’s also a general issue with the film taking a tired concept and not really adding anything of value to it. It’s not horribly written, but the execution behind it is pretty bad.
The characters are actually a pretty big issue here. This type of “lovers torn apart by conflict” narrative needs strong leads who we want to see find happiness in order to work. This film, however, gives us two pairs of really boring, flat characters. Maybe Fujikawa Keisuke thought that the potential for tragedy was a guarantee and he couldn’t be bothered to flesh out the characters or their dynamics. Whatever the case, the consequence is that what should be a tragic tale transforms into watching a bunch of morons we have no investment in scramble around.
The artwork actually does look, for the most part, pretty good. There are some awkward facial expressions and movements here and there. Which is kind of to be expected of anime from that era. Actually, the fantasy elements of the film might solely exist to make the thing more visually interesting rather than as an incompetent attempt at world building. The action sequences are a bit weak too.
There are some decent actors in this. Matsui Naoko (Dorothy Catalonia), Furuya Toru (Chiba Mamoru), & Inoue Kazuhiko (Yuki Eiri) have all given strong performances before. This is not one of those times. Listening to the acting in this is roughly equivalent to listening to a Junior High school theatrical production where they know the lines and they seem to be trying but they aren’t very good. The music is pretty decent.
Honestly, this film doesn’t have strong enough character dynamics for any of them to seem romantic. No, not even the main het ones. We just know they’re supposed to be romantic because the film outright says it and shows the occasional kiss.
Windaria is a pretty bad film. The narrative takes an old idea and combines it with poor execution. The characters are beyond bland. It’s just generally a bit of a mess. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. That’s all for this year’s film festival week. Next Wednesday I’ll look at Iria: Zeiram The Animation.