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Once Upon A Time
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 03/11/2004

Alan and Marie are a young peasant couple who are very much in love. They don't have much in terms of material things, but they are happily married to each other. On the flip side, Veronica is the princess of Lunaria, while Roland is the prince of the Shadowlands. Veronica and Roland are also very much in love, but what they have is forbidden because their kingdoms are at war. One day, a strange man tells Alan that he can do something to stop the war. Alan decides to set out on a journey despite Marie's feeling of foreboding. What Alan doesn't know is that his journey would subsequently decide the future. The stories of these four people are intertwined in a world where deception, greed, and jealousy reign... a world called Windaria.
I had no idea what to expect when I bought a copy of the Windaria VHS tape several years ago. It was on sale at Sam Goody in New Orleans and I was quite anime-deprived back then since there weren't exactly barrages of DVD releases back in the mid-1990's. Snapping it up was the only thing to do. Surprise of surprises, it's actually going to see a DVD release this month (under the title "Once Upon a Time"), which prompted me to revive the tape from my dusty old shelf.
Windaria, or rather, Once Upon a Time, is what I'd like to call a faux fairy tale. It's got everything a fairy tale usually has, a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, sprawling castles, haunted forests, etc. However, the story is not what children's dreams are made of. Roland and Veronica's romance is a formulaic Romeo and Juliet situation, something which I found to be very clichéd. It ended abruptly to boot, with next to no effort exerted in trying to make it work. Then there's Alan, the unlikely hero. Most of the events herein are triggered by his actions. What starts out as a journey to stop the war becomes a falling-from-grace experience for him. Poor Marie is the victim of circumstances, eternally waiting and waiting for Alan to return from his journey. It's all very bleak and depressing, and even after all is said and done supposedly for the greater good, I just could not find anything to be happy about.
The art and animation are pretty good, especially when you consider the fact that this anime dates back to 1987. Since Windaria is set in a time of war, there is a variety of fighting scenes. The English dubbing is passable as well.
In the end, Once Upon a Time is one blown-up sad story about some very unfortunate people. It has its moments, but it simply revolves on tragedy at every turn.
Windaria is one of the first anime video tapes I ever bought.

Once Upon A Time
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Review Title:
Once Upon A Time
Alternative Titles:
Tales of Windaria
100 Minutes
General Rating:
3 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Older Children
Action, Drama, Fantasy,
Romance, Sci-Fi
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