"Oh Guardian Tree of Life, bring us health and happiness"
The world of Windaria is split into three distinct cultures: the kingdom of Lunaria is based on the coast and lives off the sea, The kingdom of the Shadowlands which is based on industry, and "The Valley", where farmers live and plow. The varying interests of these three regions drives the plot. As the story begins, Lunaria and Shadowlands are at odds because the former is denying fresh water to the latter and are negotiating for its renewal, Izu and Marin are taking their produce from The Valley to the Lunarian market, and a figure in a mask has a mysterious plan for everyone.
Also called Legend of Fabulous Battle Windaria and Once Upon a Time, this is a Japanese animated film produced by Kaname Productions and Idol. The film was directed by Kunihiko Yuyama and written by Keisuke Fujikawa. It was released theatrically in Japan on July 19, 1986. In 1987, Harmony Gold licensed Windaria for release in the United States, changing the title to Once Upon A Time and trimming the movie from its 101-minute running time to 95 minutes. The English version included a new script, an altered plot, scenes switched around, violent and adult-oriented scenes removed, and the entire cast given Western names. The uncut Japanese version has never been officially released in this region; however, before DVDs and the popularization of anime in the States the un-cut version did make the SF convention circuit and was available in the US on laserdisc.
It's based on a novel of the same name, authored by Keisuke Fujikawa, the film's screenwriter. In the Japanese version of Windaria, portions of the novel are read over the beginning and ending of the film as narration by the protagonist.
- Arcadia: The Valley, also known as "Saki". It's the region where people farm. It's a beautiful place with friendly people.
- The Atoner: Alan, in the re-scripted version, spends the bulk of his life rebuilding the world after he helped ruin it.
- Batman Gambit: Lagado turns Alan into his Unwitting Pawn by exploiting his desire to protect The Valley. If Alan said "We're moving" instead, the plan would have collapsed then and there.
- Big Bad: The king of the Shadowland appears to be this but it's actually Lagado.
- Bloodless Carnage: Averted. Even the English version clearly shows the death of the Red Shirts on both sides; some of them are gruesome and all of them bloody.
- Bigger Stick: Shadowland's military has tanks and machine guns while Lunaria's has hovercraft and crossbows. When the war starts, the former marches more or less unopposed to the latter's capital.
- Determinator: Marie, who defies death itself to wait for Alan to return.
- Downer Ending: The original Windaria.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The re-scripted Windaria.
- Dub Name Change: All of the characters for the Once Upon A Time dub received Westernized names, with Izu, Marin, Jihl and Ahnas all being renamed Alan, Marie, Roland, and Veronica respectively.
- Evil Plan: Lagado who wants to take over Lunaria and is the one who gets Alan involved.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Played straight in the original version and inverted in the re-scripted version. In the re-scripted version Alan is called a hero and a savior for rebuilding Windaria, and he is responsible for it, but Alan never saw himself as such because of his guilt.
- Foregone Conclusion: The re-scripted story is narrated by Alan after he's gone old and grey and so a number of things are clear from the start: 1. Alan survives the story. 2. Marie does not. 3. The world has recovered from the damage about to unfold. 4. Alan has done something so terrible that not even being lauded as the hero who rebuilt the world can ease his guilt. The how of the story is not even alluded to and no other character is mentioned so there are still plenty of surprises.
- Gambit Pileup: The shadowland king wants Lunaria's water, Roland and Veronica want peace, Lunaria's Queen wants more money from Shadowland king, Lagado seeks more power, and Alan wants to protect his homeland.
- Happily Married: Alan is so happily married that thoughts of his wife can repel evil spirits.
- Hope Spot: Zigzagged. Alan fears his wife is dead because of the war but doesn't see any signs of battle and thinks that the war didn't reach The Valley, then he notices his neighbor's houses in ruins and thinks his own is the same. Then he gets home and sees it is in ruins, but his wife is alive. Then she turns out to be a ghost.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Alan's justification for flooding Lunaria to stop the war and save The Valley from being a warzone, which then becomes
- My God, What Have I Done?: when he realizes the magnitude of what he's done and how many lives he destroyed.
- I Will Wait for You: Juilet to her lover and the promise has prevented her from "achieving enlightenment" and passing on.
- I Gave My Word: Neither Prince Roland nor Princess Veronica want to fight, yet they swore they would on their parent's deathbeds.
- Karma Houdini: Lagado and Selenia. Both of them apparently get away with their evil deeds.
- Lost Woods: Haunted Woods to be precise. It looks creepy enough but evil spirits live there too. They prey on fear and can lead to death and confusion.
- The Lady's Favour: Marie gives Alan a precious heirloom she inherited from her father before he leaves. It's a dagger, and meant for practical value but the sentiment is definitely there.
- Macekre: Original script thrown out, check. New one written from scratch, check. Characters renamed, check. Downer ending replaced with something "more palatable to American audiences", check...
- Obviously Evil: Lagado. He wears a black cloak with a face mask and calls someone off the road from behind a rock for a suspicious plan.
- Our Souls Are Different: When people die they turn into red light shaped like birds and fly to this airship in the sky over the ocean.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Big Bad quotes the trope name when speaking about Alan.
- Posthumous Narration: The re-scripted story begins at Alan's funeral and is told by him after his soul has left his body.
- Proper Lady: Marie is a grand example of an honest and wholesome young lady. She's also Alan's Housewife, except she helps him sell their vegetables at market.
- Rebellious Princess: Defied. Veronica is set up to be this but reluctantly carries out her mother's will.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Both Warrior Prince Roland and Badass Princess Veronica personally lead their armies.
- Shadowland: One of the three areas is called just this but it does provide a Foil for The Valley in that it is dirtier, darker and based on industry instead of agriculture.
- Polluted Wasteland: Alan even states that farming is impossible in the Shadowland and drinking the water is lethal or insanity producing.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Roland and Veronica, the heirs of the countries at the brink of war. It looked to be subverted as the Queen of Lunaria hoped a marriage between them would neutralize the possible war but they ended up fighting.
- Take a Third Option: Veronica can't break her vow to her mother, nor can she fight her true love, so she kills him and then herself.
- Tareme Eyes: Marie's eyes are noticeably rounder and more down pointed than Veronica's or Selenia's.
- Those two are Tsurime Eyes instead.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: The key to Lunara's floodgates is guarded by an old man who sleeps most of the day in a guardhouse without a door. At the start of the film, a guy just walks in there, takes the keys and no one realizes anything until he opens the flood gates. Considering this could have flooded the entire city, it merges with Too Dumb to Live.
- To be fair, this is the cause of the hostilities, so it's probably a case of, what are the odds before this point. Later on, Alan opens the floodgates as well, which by this point, should have been heavily guarded.
- The Vamp: Selenia is ordered by the Big Bad to seduce and then kill Alan. He's so taken with "every beautiful inch of her" that it almost works.
- Together in Death: Alan's goal is to reunite with his true love in the afterlife. The opening shows he's succeeded
- Alas this is probably a good example of a Macekre in which there is no such bittersweet ending. The original ending was a subversion; Izu (Alan) is given the chance to rejoin Marin/Marlin (Marie) and doesn't have the guts to go through with it, pulling himself back from the edge of the cliff Marin's spirit lead him to at the very last second. This leaves him, the broken betrayer, the only survivor at the end of the film.
- World Tree: The "Tree of Life" in The Valley. Its huge, referred to as the region's "Guardian Spirit" and is prayed to by the inhabitants for health and happiness.