Windaria is a beautiful anime film with wonderful art and a rich and gripping story. Basically, the premise is that two kingdoms engage in a senseless war, and Prince Jiru of Paro and Princess Ahnas of Itha must fight each other, despite being starcrossed lovers. A simple farmboy named Izu gets caught in the middle, being hired as a go-between and a spy for both kingdoms, and he ends up creating a huge mess that he can’t undo.
This was one of the best anime films I’ve seen in a long time, because it tells a lot about our society. I literally found this because it was in my recommended section of Youtube, and when I watched this, I was really sick, so you can imagine that it was a good experience. (I mean, who doesn’t love a sick day, right? Right? Who?)
I felt so blessed that I got to see such an obscure film, and obscure it was; when I went back to look up Windaria, I was surprised to see that such few people remember it. It was a rare 80s gem. I was happy to see the film and was even happier to see that there was an English version of it still alive somewhere! Even fewer people remembered that, but I was like “I gotta see it! I gotta see it! I have to see how they dubbed it!” And I hurried over to Amazon to get it--there was one left, thank God. When I traveled back home to Ohio Thanksgiving 2015, I was so excited I nearly crapped my pants. (Well, not really, that’s just a figure of speech. I haven’t had to crap my pants since I was, like, two.) I jammed the lost DVD into the player and watched the English dub of Windaria.
When I tell you I have never been more disgusted in my life, I really wasn’t. There was thing after thing after thing wrong with the English version of Windaria. First of all, they didn’t even call the movie Windaria, they called it “Once Upon a Time.” Durr? Do you know how hard it was for me to find an old anime movie called “Once Upon a Time on Amazon?” Heck, there’s a television series by that name, there’s an old animated movie made in the 90s called “Once Upon a Time”--(actually, I just found out it was called Happily Ever After, but oh well, it’s still generic) Everything’s called “Once Upon a Time,” I’m called “Once Upon a Time!” “Once Upon a Time” is the most trite and cliched and overused title I’ve ever heard!
My second beef with “Once Upon a Time” is that they trimmed significant portion of the movie, making the original movie that was a hundred and forty two minutes long only ninety minutes long! They cut the violent scenes short, and when I went to find out in an outrage, I found it was to “market the movie to a younger audience.” Like what the heck? If your kids cannot handle the bloodshed in this ANTI WAR film, have them go sit in the corner. Really. I mean, Windaria was not made to be a little kids’ film, but you couldn’t tell that from the artistic style. Heck, if you go to look up some pictures of Windaria right now, you’ll see a bunch of storybook-like, colorful characters in a fantasy world. And I was proud of those animators and those art directors, because it shows that just because a film is a dramatic, antiwar piece, that doesn’t mean it was to look all dingy and gray and depressing. But no, Streamline, the company that dubbed Windaria, thought it would be a good idea to basically undermine the plot to “market it to a younger audience.” I mean, what the heck? Why is it always in America, you know? Where are all the stories of American cartoons being brought over to Japan and Japan trimming them to “market it to a younger audience?” Oh, that’s right; there is none. Because Japan knows their cartoons, and they know that cartoons are for people of all ages, not just for a “younger audience.”
Strike three is with the soundtrack; I could have sworn that Streamline redid the soundtrack to Windaria during some scenes! This baffled little old me, because I had seen the scene where the guy from Paro opened the gates to Itha, flooding the city with water and practically washing it away, and I’ve been entranced time after time with the music during that scene. And when I tell you, that music was the chizz. Like, I’d listen to it when I was walking home from school or doing homework, that’s how magical that OST was. It was called “Overflow of the Ipa River,” and it had bells and chimes and it sounded like something that could’ve been in the movie Interstellar. However in the English version, I was horrified to realize that during the scene where Itha was almost washed away and Izu raced to close the gate, they used some old tired crappy stock suspense music you’ve probably heard a billion times. The scene had a completely different meaning. Subbed vs. dubbed was like “Wait, what’s going on, what’s happening, why” vs. “hold on, civilians, the hero’s coming to save you!” So I was ticked about that.
Fourthly, the voices were unright. When we were watching the English version, I told my dad the voices sounded dopey and old and he agreed with me. In Windaria, the voice actors sounded their age, they sounded passionate and young and energetic and like they were happy to be there. In Once Upon a Time, the voices were loud and crusty. They over-acted, they sounded cheesy, they made this tragic tale of love and war sound like a kindergarten afterschool special. They even had the audacity to add a narrator to explain things, even though there originally wasn’t even supposed to be a narrator. This narrator made the ending seem a little more rosy and hopeful than it was originally supposed to be. Nothing in Izu’s voice made it seem like he was sympathetic, made it seem like he was sorry; Jiru sounded slow and off, Ahnas sounded stupid and slow as well. It’s like what the heck? Is it that hard to find voice actors the same age as their character counterparts? What’s wrong with getting real 17-25 year old voice actors? I know it’s not that they charge more; voice actors don’t get paid very much, so what’s your excuse, Streamline? Hm, Streamline? Hmm?
And what’s worse, the English version of Windaria did everything in their power to pronounce all the names in the movie wrong. They had their characters say “Wind-AY-ria” instead of “Wind-AH-ria.” I know how it’s pronounced; I watched the subbed version like fifteen times. So, cringe. And the English dub apparently thought that it was too much effort to pronounce the Japanese names the way they were supposed to be, so they just changed all the characters’ names to Western ones. Izu became Allen, Marin was Marie, Jiru was Roland and Ahnas was Veronica! What kind of crap is this? And also, the kingdom of Itha was renamed Lunaria and Paro turned into the Shadowlands. Like, are you serious? Where they do this at? I guess at Streamline. It’s funny how when we dub anime, we change and arrange the Japanese names up and down and all around to suit a Western audience and to “appeal to kids.” If I were a kid and I found out that I’d been lied to about my favorite character’s name because the company was too lazy to pronounce it correctly, I would feel betrayed. Heck, that’s exactly what happened with Pokemon. Remember Ash from Pokemon? I just realized a few years ago that his real name is not Ash, but Satoshi, and I felt dirty for calling him Ash all these years. For everyone who’s like “they had to do this, you know, Streamline was thinking of the kids, Americans can’t pronounce foreign names--” Forget that! Learn to pronounce. It’s called culture.
And if that isn’t bad enough, to add insult to injury, this inept company had the audacity to misunderstand what the entire movie was all about. You can find the 30-second trailer for the English version of Windaria on Youtube, and they totally false-advertised it. I mean, they made it seem like Itha and Paro started fighting because of a “war over water.” That is not true; Paro and Itha remained at peace for over a century, until Paro turned into a big greedy country and tried to flood Itha because they wanted their resources. They were not fighting over water at all; Paro started this and Itha fought back. Paro wanted to be greedy and selfish and this is the result… Well, I don’t wanna give away too much, I still want you to see for yourself!
Overall, I was shocked and dismayed and altogether flabbergasted at this pitifully attempted Westernization of Windaria. This is why so many anime-lovers don’t even bother with the dub, because there’s too much that America gets wrong. Watching that sham made me realize that this is probably why Streamline went out of business--because they suck at making English dubs. Yeugh, I have a bad taste in my mouth just talking about it. Please go and watch the subbed version of Windaria. It’s such a wonderful movie. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, it has a great message, it’s a great watch for kids (not the little little kids who really did expect a peachy-keen storybook romance, they'll bawl their eyes out). The movie helps children and adults learn the dangers of senseless violence, and it teaches them that war is a lose-lose situation for both sides. Stay far away from the dub. That shouldn’t be to hard--it’s gone out of print for a reason.