The first time I watched this I perceived it as an enjoyable ride, but profoundly inferior to the otherwise excellent Ghibli features. After viewing it again I've changed my opinion rather fundamentally and in this review I'll try to explain why, while trying to maintain a quick and basic approach.
Storywise, Nausicaa combines the environmentalism that was so prominent in Princess Mononoke with a theme of pacifism as we're introduced to a setting 1000 years after civilization was destroyed by Giant Warriors. As toxic gases fill the air and insects have mutated into huge beasts, humanity has succumbed into smaller countries in the few habitable areas. One of these countries is the peaceful valley of the wind, home of Princess Nausicaa.
The story is very elaborate with several countries wanting to use the last remaining Giant Warrior for their own purposes. At the core of the warfare that follows the conflict is Nausicaa; a young pacifist who desperately tries to save the rivaling countries from annihilating each other. The narration is a varied mix of lighthearted humor, emotional extravagance and all the other aspects that are required to structure a Ghibli movie.
If you're familiar with Ghibli you probably know that you can expect visual splendor even from their older titles. Nausicaa has managed to remain artistically pleasing and presents fluid movement, classical character designs along with frame after frame of memorable creatures and sceneries. The insects in particular are very well animated.
Joe Hisaishi didn't quite top the scores he's made for other Ghibli features but the soundtrack in Nausicaa is still impressive. Emotional moments are enhanced almost perfectly with beautiful tunes that go along very well with the solid voice acting.
Several different entities with different motives clash together in a battle of stupidity that's likely to ruin any hope of survival for humanity. An intellectual heroine tries to make them realize their mistakes by offering her life in the name of peace. The extremely loveable Nausicaa reaches the peak of her performance when she approaches a ship that constantly fires at her, while stretching her unarmed hands into the air in a plead for ceased fire. Along with other women like Kino (Kino's Journey) and Oscar (Rose of Versailles) she's the best lead Ghibli has ever dashed out, and her characteristics have been copied into nearly every single other protagonist in their movies ever since; for a good reason it seems.
I have no idea why I initially thought of this as inferior to other Ghibli movies. I may not hold it as dear as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, but its emotional impact is impossible to deny. When Nausicaa sheds tears for the misunderstood Omhs (insects that, when provoked by humans, go rampage) it's like she sheds tears for humanity itself. Do yourself a favor and watch this!
Interesting enough, a little contrived. The story is good, but has the same 'don't make nature mad or it will come get you' idea as a lot of other films and parallels can be drawn with Princess Mononoke.
Very well made. Excellent considering the age of this animated feature. Did a lot to create the signature Ghibli style.
The vocal performance is very good. I particularly enjoy the performances put in by thebig name dub actors. The music fits well and adds to the films atmosphere throughout.
Good characters, go against stereotypes. No character is what you would expect from an animated feature of this age. This is one thing that Hayao Miyazaki does extremely well. You are unsure how each character will act before they are properly introduced. Also since they are not playing out over-used stereotypes, their unpredictability makes them more life like and approachable.
Very good, worth a watch. Being the first Ghibli film makes it a must see for any die hard fan, and a good place to start for those who wish to start a collection.
The early 80’s was a time for war dramas to appear and along with Barefoot Gen and Hokuto no Ken, came around the same time this movie. It is the first of numerous family oriented movies made by Hayao Miyazaki, another colossus in the hall of fame, along with the other dudes I mentioned in previous entries. His take on the subject is far more fantasy based, without taking away the actual feeling of dread with what has happened to the world.
Miyazaki pretty much brought Disney level of quality in Japanese animation. Sure, Osamu Tezuka in the 60’s had already been influenced by Walt and even surpassed him in thematics. Still, anime productions were up to that point low-budget productions, hardly looking eye-candy enough for mass audiences who demand good visuals. Sounds superficial but it is true that good visuals make good advertisement and most people won’t pay a ticket to go watch a movie with mediocre artwork.
To be honest, those two Momotaro movies back in the 40’s easily matched Disney film quality but they were also founded by the military, which never repeated again after the war. And no company wanted to fund so much money into making an animated feature for the still rather small audience of Japanese animation. It wasn’t even close to the several millions of faithful audiences, parents and children going to the cinema in order to watch eye-popping visuals and funny characters.
But as I said, the 80’s were the era of change for both the east and the west. Disney started to lose its place at the top as its movies were beginning to not be as interesting as they used to and many had already come into contact with Robotech and a few other anime with interesting concepts and were ready to try something different. Miyazaki finally managed to get his funding as well and eventually created on of the highest budget featured films of that era; the adaptation of his own manga, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
Now before I go on, I must make clear that his original work was still in the making and this was only supposed to be a summary of it. The actual story in the manga is far more elaborate and complicating, longer in duration and far more philosophical than what the movie ended up showing. But for that time it was still the most mature family-oriented animated-movie, and that was enough to deem the project a success.
So what is Nausicaa? Is it just a war drama between two nations at war? No, it is also about the shape of the world as well, having turned into a huge poisonous jungle, full of gigantic insectoids that attack humans when provoked. It is also about the relics of an ancient humanity, whose weapons still are found and used in war. It is also about the struggle of a single girl to maintain order and discover a way for mankind to survive the ever growing jungle. Although the way the plot unravels feels simple to grasp for those who lack long-span attention, the themes and symbolisms the movie is filled with are numerous and provide food for thought for those who pay attention to the details.
If I could sum the movie’s premise, I would say it is about nature getting angry with mankind and its constant wars and a girl tries to find a way to stop all the impending destruction. So yeah, one could easily label this film as nothing but anti-war propaganda for tree-huggers with a rather simple take on the whole problem. Which is true as far as the plot is concerned but in reality it is a lot more. First of all, having direct messages like “war is bad” and “be good to nature” in a family-oriented film is just fine and expected. Plus, back then such themes were hot topics with the Cold War and the fear of the Amazon forest being levelled in a few decades. So you can’t really blame the film for showing the deepest worries of its time. Plus, it is not exactly happy-go-lucky in its plot either, so one can’t label it kiddie stuff either. Many people in it are killed in rather horrible ways out of human folly and even the villains have their reasons for being… well, not exactly evil but ruthless. It is a savage world after all and each tribe wants to get resources from the other tribe; how hard is it to see it happening? And even the so-called angry nature, it is not presented as good-natured as most western films do. It is in fact shown to be completely neutral and amoral, reacting to humanity’s actions only to prevent further destruction. All that are much more realistic that, let’s say, the plot in Avatar. Visuals aside, that movie had less depth than a rain pond.
Thematics aside, there are many other elements to notice in it. Like for example Nausicaa, the main heroine. WHY IS SHE A GIRL??? Surely, back then having such a dynamic character was a role reserved for males, yet all of Miyazaki’s main characters are always girls. So what, is this also some propaganda in favour of feminism as well??? Not at all, Miyazaki loves having young girls as heroes, because it brings out easier the antithesis between their innocence and the cruel world they live in. The most shocking moments in it is when Nausicaa herself, being up to that moment a happy girl trying to help others, is suddenly being taken over by murderous intension after watching her people and family being attacked and killed by invaders. At that moment you really see the shock she goes through and the pain she causes to others in the same way others caused to her, a thing that would feel almost natural and expected if she was a boy. So no, Nausicaa is a great Miyazaki archetype exactly because she IS A GIRL.
Also, unlike most of everybody else, Miyazaki never sexualizes her to feel like a thing of male lust. In fact, nobody in the entire movie seems to have a role specialized for his or her genre. Even the invading general is a woman for example and it doesn’t feel weird or sexual to anyone. Miyazaki manages to subvert the whole gender role fuss that is so stereotypical in almost any other story and uses it purely to transmit messages. Heck, we might as well see everybody as asexual, which is again interesting on its own. And he managed to do that by simply giving them all buggy clothes that hide their actual body figures. Everybody in the film wears clothes that he can almost swim in, or really bulky armours, all with the in-story excuse that they protect the body from the dangerous gasses.
Gender roles and baggy clothes aside, the very setting of the world is wonderful in a spooky way. The way the poison jungle is depicted and the way the insects in it move and communicate is just special in its own way. Also, Miyazaki loves the feeling of flight, and thus there are numerous scenes where Nausicaa and many others fly in the sky with quite interesting looking flying machines. Thus the entire movie shows a scary world and the wish to escape from its sadness by flying free in the skies.
Also, the fight scenes are quite good on their own. There is great variety in the way people and monsters fight, from swords and shields, to muskets, to airships shooting at each other, to crustacean beasts running amok by the thousands and trampling anything in their path, to huge demon machines firing laser beams that level several kilometres in their path. All accompanied with numerous simple to understand dialogues around why people are constantly forced to fight even if they know it is only causing grief. You won’t find this stuff in a typical kiddie movie.
By the end of the movie, you actually have managed to understand why everything happens as it does, what are the roots of the problem, and even up until the last minutes you have no idea how all this mess can be solved. You get to understand how everybody feels and acts and why he or she acts as such. It is quite easy to direct your sympathy towards them for all they are and all they try to accomplish, each on their own way.
The ending may feel far fetched but in the context of the film it is somewhat excused and if you don’t overthink it, you may actually love the feeling of sadness and hope it is so filled with. It is a really powerful one and it is not about the good hero duelling the evil tyrant or something like that. This movie never befalls into that mediocrity. Thus after all the things you have seen throughout the film, with the scary jungle and the nations at war, and Nausicaa soaring the skies in a quest for redemption, thousands of monsters marching and demon machines rising to turn everything to dust… you get an equally powerful ending which is no longer about the power of weapons or fear or hatred. It is something a lot more buddhistic if I may say and I liked it for what it is all about.
Although the movie pales before the manga, it is still a very powerful piece of art that is good to watch no mater how old it becomes. To be blunt and biased about it, Avatar is similar in themes yet complete bull before it. And so are most other movies who try to transmit messages but do it too artificially or in an average way. So yes, I like this movie for all it is and for all it never tried to be.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 9/10
General Artwork 2/2 (well-made)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (well-made)
Animation 2/2 (good)
Visual Effects 2/2 (good)
SOUND SECTION: 9/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (good)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 3/3 (good)
STORY SECTION: 8/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 2/2 (good)
Complexity 2/2 (a lot)
Plausibility 1/2 (a bit forced but otherwise ok)
Conclusion 1/2 (a bit forced but otherwise ok)
CHARACTER SECTION: 9/10
Presence 2/2 (strong)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (simplistic but it’s there)
Development 2/2 (a lot)
Catharsis 2/2 (a lot)
VALUE SECTION: 9/10
Historical Value 3/3 (all-known)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high as it has a lot of things going in it)
Memorability 4/4 (you betcha!)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 7/10
Assuming the pretenciousness doesn’t kick in, it is a wonderful movie.
Its time to go back in time to 1984 to review Nausicaa Valley Of The Wind! A movie that was released before Studio Ghibli production but became a part of it in 1994 when the manga was finally finished.
Okay, so the graphics arent the best but but the soul is there. Possible one of the best movies from the past, maybe better than Ghost In The Shell ((wot wasnt that bad?)) but not as good as Dominion Tank Police.
What i enjoyed about this movie was that there was awesum looking bugs, posionous air, killer spores and american leaders-! I meant idiotic leaders. Same thing really.
So a nice blast from the past. The story of it. A princess loves her valley but when a neighbouring countries plane falls on there land, not only did it cause trouble, it bought it.
A example of man kind vs. mother nature, this movie is deeply moving when thought about afterwards.
Though it makes me wonder, there was alot of technolgy that by now should be possible, but why havent we got them? Like that Glider thing. Though no soruce of power was made clear.
Also there are black chocobo' in it u like Final Fantasy. lmao. No joke. There really it.
Nausicaa of the valley of the wind is a very compelling movie, set in a post-acopalyptic world meant to represent the earth in its future. It tells the story of a young princess from the valley of the wind who tries to save mankind from their potential extinction. In the world she lives in the earth is turned into a giant wasteland, where the majority of the land has become what seem slike and endless desert. The rest of the land is more or less covered in a toxic jungle where only insects can live as normale, due to their resistance to the toxic spores and the polluted air which exists in and a far hundred if not thousands of meters above it. The sea and a number of lakes in the dessert and in the jungle still exists. Though of the water is polluted and is dangerous to humans, so they use wells as a primary water source, as water far under the earth cant be reached from the toxins.
In the midst of all this, a handful of diffrent kingdoms exist. All doing what they can they can to survive, even declaring war against other kingdoms if they feel threatened or seek something the from them. Instead of trying to stand united in a time where they are all threatened to be extinct. Blinded by their great ambitions, they somehow seem to fail to realize what they should have learned from the past.
When it comes to the characters, i must say that their development and depth worked really well. Nausicaa is a courageuse girl which seem to have a gift in form og being in-tune with the nature. She seems to have a way of communicating with animals and even the insects from the toxic jungle that allows her to stop potential disasters. She might seem naive and foolish heroic from the eyes of the other characters even though she always manages to "save the day". Despite this most people finds a hard time trusting her even though they seem to know that she doesnt mean them no harm and even wants to risk her own life, but instead they turn to their own plans, which they either know or dont know the consequences of.
Lord Yupa is a old and wise man, skilled in the art of swordsmanship. Even he is concerned for Nausicaa several times during the movie, though he admits that she has some sort of gift. He also manages to calm Nausicaa down when she gets blinded by fury by acting calm and wise. He never turns to violence unless absolute neccesary, despite his exellent swordsmanship. Though its also because of that skill that he is highly respected amongst some of the characters including Kushana especially.
A recurring creature in the film is the gigantic insects known as the Ohmu(which actually reminds me of Lavos from the game Chrono Trigger, due to its sheer size and the shell around it. They also seem to be a symbol of destruction, like lavos, due to the amount of damages they can do against a kingdom. Like laying waste to entire cities.) Though Nausicaa seems to be the only one to understand that they as all other animals only act on their instincts, and wont do any harm if left unprovoked. Though they are feared amongst the humans, so they seem to see it as a threat no matter what.
Since its an post-apocalytpic theme you might assume that there will be an underlying sublime message about the enviorments and how the humans affect it, and supposedly destroys it and in that threatens our very own existence. Though this may be the case you never feel that is being bashed into your head. It simply shows us a very diffrent world from ours, and not neccesarily how things will be if we dont stop chopping down the rainforest or use less fossilized fuel. I think it simply tell us that nature has evolved so that everything in it can fit in. Nature is basically a realm where everything exists in harmony, because everything that didnt would get cut off or nature would just adapt. Its a complex process in which everything gets refined over and over in and endless cycle untill its perfected.
It migth be hard for a human being to understand this, as we only struggle to survive and furfill our ambitions. But we must know that every thing we do, will change the enviorment. And that will set it out of balance forcing it to refine itself over and over, even if it means that it must seemingly turn hostile and dangerous to us humans. Though we must not forget that nature is not a a being or an entity with a will. It is simply a force, which acts according to its law. Its not something to fight against or fight for, but simply to live in. And adapt according to it, without forcing it or act against it. And perhaps this film will open your eyes a little when it comes to that point.
What really grips me in this story is that even a small "innocent" kingdom which has found a way to live in harmony with nature. Eventually gets involved in, and even suffers greatly from the actions of the other kingdoms, even though they only sought peace for themselves and never was a target for the other kingdoms either, nor even a threat. Its a strong reminder, that the actions of a nation or even just one human being can affect us all, even those who is yet to come into existence. And we will be held responsible, even if we meant no harm or didnt know the consequences. Simply put its better to not act at all, than act if we dont know the outcome of our actions, as they might be so great that we cant bear the responsebility.
All in all, this is a really strong film. As we might expect from Hayao Miyazaki. Read some complaning about the music, though I think it fit in well, and added the atmosphere in the movie. The animation is pretty good, and its an old movie so it didnt blow my expectation, though it didnt disappoint me either. The plot holds through and the visualisation of the world Miyazaki must have pictured in his mind is really excellent. He never ceases to amaze me when it comes to the diffrent worlds he shows in his films. The characters seemed original and perhaps is what you expects them to be.
Though i believe that Miyazaki wasnt too satisfied with the happy ending-style the movie took. As he released another movie, which has many of the same themes and concepts as NTVW. Namely Princess Mononoke. Which ive also seen. For those reason ive chosen to give it a rating of: 8.9
Feedback and constructive critizm welcome. :)