Image from: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

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Reviewed by ddahoui BG / Joined ddahoui 2014
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Japan, 1984, 117 minutes Adventure, Fantasy, Animation, Anime, Childrens
Although technically not the first film by Studio Ghibli, it was the starting point for Ghibli, which is why they include this film in the canon.

Nausicaä is where you see the emergence of the style and themes we most recognise in Hayao Miyazaki’s works, from flying scenes (with Nausicaä flying a special wind glider), and themes of anti-war, environmentalism and survival. It was a hard film to make, especially with the small group of animators, and yet you can see all the love and effort put into every bit of the film. The world feels epic within the steampunk environment, mixed in with fantasy and supernatural as well, seeing how the Ohmus, the giant-bug creatures, have a strange magical presence to them, and the Toxic Jungle (or Sea of Decay) is like a strange scientific phenomena with a mystical appearance.

With all that said, however, my only real issue with the film is that it’s so thematically driven that the characters aren’t that great by comparison. They feel like they’re just meant to play their roles in the story, and their dialogue is focused on the plot events surrounding them and how they can solve it... either that, or they talk about our protagonist Nausicaä. While none of the characters are stereotypical or dislikeable, I wasn’t as connected to them as I was with the characters in other Miyazaki films.

The exception may be Nausicaä herself, who is the first of many interesting female leads in Miyazaki's works. She’s the peacemaker in the story, and feels more like a role model than a real person, which is a bit of a problem since I can’t relate to her as much as I want to, but even with that said, I still like Nausicaä. I like her eccentricity, as it’s unusual for a girl to be so interested in insects. I also like how she allowed to be both girly and tomboyish in her own right, and that she’s a princess AND a warrior AND a pilot AND a scientist! Now that’s awesome!

As much as I like and respect this film, I see this more as a first-draft to the much superior Princess Mononoke, though that does not mean that people should enjoy Nausicaä any less. The themes are interesting, the animation is amazing for its time, the concept and visuals are unique, and I admire Nausicaä for her strength, kindness and wisdom. One of Miyazaki’s masterpieces, I highly respect this film. After all, this is the film that allowed Studio Ghibli to happen in the first place!
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