I waited this long. It’s time.
What is it?
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is the second feature film made by Hayao Miyazaki and is generally credited with kicking off the whole Studio Ghibli thing.
What kind of story is it?
Many centuries after a devastating global catastrophe, few pockets of humanity remain in the face of an encroaching “sea of corruption,” a toxic forest filled with miasma and bugs. An aggressive neighboring nation takes control of the peaceful Valley of the Wind for mysterious purposes. The young princess of that valley tries her best to save everyone she can from total destruction.
Why do you like it?
I freely admit that a lot of my joy in re-watching Nausicaä stems from pure nostalgia. A chopped-down dubbed version made its way to HBO in the mid-1980s and (not knowing how bastardized it was) I watched the hell out of this odd-looking, distinctly un-subtle fable.
But come on, can you blame me? This movie features crazy airplanes, gigantic insects, daring rescues, and ancient relics with phenomenal powers the likes of which mankind was not meant to tamper.
Oh, also gorgeous and creative scenic environments. Let’s not forget those.
What might one not like about it?
Unlike the later, more sophisticated Princess Mononoke, this movie doesn’t have much of what you’d call a moral gray area. The people in the Valley are generally good, the people from Torumekia are generally greedy and nasty, and the environmentalist message is front-and-center during the entire presentation. Some may find this off-putting.
Other thoughts about it?
There’s one good bit from the otherwise-terrible old dub that I wish had survived to the later Disney dub. It’s from Kushana’s devious second-in-command, Kurotowa, during a peasant revolt when he instructs his soldiers, “Let’s teach these insurgents a lesson in crowd control: Drop a bomb on them.” The delivery is delightfully slimy.
(Not that I listen to either dub anymore, mind you. But if you like dubs: More power to you! Patrick Stewart is in this one!)
This movie is a big part of kicking off what I now (jokingly) refer to as my “heroine addiction.” It’s also the first thing I watched where I really became aware of anime as a distinct thing, creatively. I’d watched Robotech on TV but it was just a show. I didn’t really understand the background and provenance yet. After seeing Nausicaä I started getting into this stuff in earnest.
Can you blame me?
Where can I watch it?
Do yourself a favor and buy the Blu-Ray. This thing is a feast for the eyes, even all these years later.
Also, if you’re inclined along such lines, check out the manga series which initially predated the film but continued on until the mid 1990s. It takes the plotline into darker, more interesting places, and serves as an interesting portal into Miyazaki’s thinking (when he’s not working on lighter, kid-friendly animated features).