Monday, May 21, 2012

Fun With References: Windaria; The Downfall of Kunihiko Yuyama

Awhile back I mentioned a phenomenal film I'd recently seen, Leda: The Fantastic Adventures of Yohko, and how much I adored it; I also mentioned that I love references and that they make me all giddy inside and whatnot. I recently spotted another little reference that happened to make me smile, which happens to be another film directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, as well as character designs by the great Mutsumi Inomata. Inomata worked as both a character designer and an animation director, with work in such notable series as City Hunter, Urusei Yatsura and Magical Princess Minky Momo. I still can't believe that the original Minky Momo material remains un-translated, both in manga and anime form; but that's another story altogether, so I digress--and get back on topic. Anyhow, the film at hand here is Windaria, or, the butchered and edited localization title, Once Upon a Time. Actually, the original Japanese title isn't just Windaria, but Legend of Fabulous Battle Windaria, although that title is usually shortened. It's a beautiful, eerie, and stunningly animated film in the same vein of Leda. Oh, and speaking of Leda, that's where today's reference comes from!

See that dog with the red bandana riding on that hover bike with Leda? He talks. And floats. And doesn't know what a walkman player is. But that's okay, because he's Leda's sidekick, Lingum in that superb film. Go watch it--after you finish reading my rubbish blog, that is!

Lingum shows up in a few different frames throughout Windaria, most notably at the very beginning. He sadly isn't pseudo-anthropomorphic or has the ability to hover or talk, but instead acts as a normal, lethargic canine. I'm not quite sure if I ever caught Leda herself amongst the crowd in Windaria, but I wouldn't rule it out, especially since a certain Princess in the film shares a good deal of resemblances.

Windaria is an incredible piece of animation. I really can't express my infatuation for both of the aforementioned films, and especially couldn't provide eloquent prose at this damned hour to justify such a claim. I reckon such a thing may happen in the near future, but I certainly even doubt my own listless nature and procrastination. I blame the large list of things I need to watch. Clearly a good excuse. I did want to talk about something else, though: what the hell happened to Kunihiko Yuyama? I don't understand how you can make such fluid, beautifully crafted animation that stands out amongst most theatrical films of the time and just quit, only to make countless Pokemon specials, mediocre hentai and the completely superfluous Kimagure Orange Road: Summer's Beginning. I just hate seeing directors go into film purgatory, especially if it's self made. It's like John Carpenter or George Romero or Martin Scorsese or blah blah blah; you get the point. It's just sad, really. I guess this is the dilemma of the Anachronistic Otaku.

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