Otakus & Geeks Essential Anime Episode 12: Windaria (Once Upon a Time)

By Justin D Williams

Once Upon a Time (1987) began as Kunihiko Yuyama's ecologically themed tragedy Windaria (1986). Carl Macek and a crew at Harmony Gold recut and rewrote the film, to the chagrin of anime purists. The story focuses on happily married farmers Alan and Marie, and on Roland and Veronica, the star-crossed prince and princess of the rival kingdoms of Lunaria and the Shadowlands. Their unhappy romances are played against a war for control of the local water supply. In its present form, the feature is ponderous and uninvolving, due in large part to the flatness of the narration and the vocal performances: declarations of love, infidelity, and war sound like someone reading a shopping list. At a time when American viewers want to re-create the original experience of anime as closely as possible, Once Upon a Time feels like an anachronism. (Rated 13 and older: violence, alcohol and tobacco use)