Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
It has been nearly one thousand years since the Seven Days of Fire, the apocalypse that mankind brought upon itself in a final, bloody war. Nearly all life on earth was extinguished, and those that survived began to mutate into giant, bizarre caricatures of the forms they once had. An enormous, poisonous forest which thrived on the pollution sprang up and began to spread, killing and engulfing what vestiges of the old life it encountered. For obvious reasons, this forest is called the Sea of Corruption.
Meanwhile, the remaining remnants of surviving humanity have been trying to cope with the Sea, scrimping and desperately trying to survive on what little resources they have. Nausicaä is a young princess of the Valley of Wind with a unique empathy for the strange creatures of the Sea of Corruption, and finds her home suddenly in danger when the Torumekian Empire begins to launch a plan to destroy the Sea of Corruption once and for all -- but at what cost?
This review is going to pretend the wretched Warriors of the Wind never existed, since it interprets the story of Nausicaä just about as accurately as Demolition Man redid Brave New World.
Nausicaä was created by Hayao Miyazaki, a name anime fans admire in more and more the more they explore the medium. Miyazaki has put out a lot of what are considered long-standing classics in anime, and Nausicaä is no exception.
To start off, the art and animation of this flick is truly something that has to be seen to be believed. While it may lack the sheer technical quality of, say, Akira, Miyazaki more than makes up for it in his meticulous attention to detail. All the effects of the Sea of Corruption, the arial battle scenes, and even the simplest everyday objects are fantastically done. The backgrounds and scenery are all a visual treat, horrifying and beautiful at the same time.
The soundtrack is unique, evocative, and subtly expresses the mood of each scene without becoming too obtrusive. The character designs are all done well, and young Nausicaä is a gal you can't help but root for as she struggles with the opposing powers that be. Some characters were vastly overhauled from the manga series for the sake of brevity (more on that later), but the new characterizations are still believable and engaging.
Nausicaä also features a thought-provoking, complex plot with enough nuances and moral questions to probably make each viewing an increasingly more enjoyable exprerience. The story had to be vastly simplified from the manga for the sake of time constraints, but it still manages to address the major issues Miyazaki had in mind when he first began to pen the series. Don't come expecting an action-packed thriller, though. While there's enough action in this thing to satisfy all but the most monomaniacal anime fans, Nausicaä's pace is a deliberate one, moving on to the next point only when it knows the time is right.
I liked this movie a great deal; can you tell? It's too bad this title isn't available commercially right now in the US. It will be interesting to see what a reputable anime distributor will do to this title when it releases it in the US. Hopefully, the product can do this amazing title justice.
The frightening thing is that as great as this anime is, it still pales in comparison to the manga series. If at all possible, get your hands on some of the Perfect Collection graphic novels from Viz. — Raphael See
Recommended Audience: Miyazaki's flicks are mostly good for general audiences. However, this movie does involve war, and quite a few (relativlely clean) deaths happen on screen. Little kids might get spooked by the insects of the Sea of Corruption, and the wind tends to blow a lot, occasionally blowing Nausicaä's skirt up a bit (I guess underwear was one of the technologies lost to the Seven Days of Fire). Should be okay for most audiences, though.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind © 1984 Nibariki / Tokuma Shoten / Hakuhodo / Toho
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