On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.
A high-school girl named Makoto acquires the power to travel back in time, and decides to use it for her own personal benefits. Little does she know that she is affecting the lives of others just as much as she is her own.
An animated fantasy-adventure. Set 1,000 years from now, the earth is ravaged by pollution and war. In the Valley of the Wind lives Nausicaa, princess of her people. Their land borders on a toxic jungle, filled with dangerous over-sized insects. Meanwhile two nearby nations are bitterly engaged in a war and the Valley of the Wind is stuck in the middle...Written by
As the credits roll we see life returning to normal in the valley: Kushana, Kurotowa and the Tolmekian fleet leave peacefully, after Nausicaä has unheard words for Kushana. The denizens of the Valley of the Wind replant trees in the burned-down forest. Lord Yupa and Asbel ride Yupa's beasts to the Toxic Jungle and explore it. When the text "The End" appears on screen we see Nausicaa's discarded helmet in the forest, alongside a green, non-Toxic Jungle sapling. See more »
The first thing to establish is that this is a science fiction epic. It has more in common with 'Dune' or any number of SF novels - Brian Aldiss's 'Hothouse' springs to mind for one- than it does with a typical western animated children's film. Therefore one's expectations should be a little different, and ultimately it was the SF aspect which gave the movie such a high grade in my books. Whereas it didn't have quite the emotional clout that I look for in an animated feature, it was a stupendously told SF story.
Technically not a Ghibli film (Miyazaki actually used the studio which did most of 'The Last Unicorn', and which more or less became Ghibli when 'Laputa' was made a couple of years later), 'Nausicaa' is a far-future SF story with a princess/warrior/nature-lover heroine and strong environmental themes. There's also an opposing princess/leader trying to use technology to overcome the apparently hostile environment. If you're starting to think 'Princess Mononoke', you'd be on the right track. In some ways 'Nausicaa' seems like an early stab in the direction of 'Mononoke', though the latter would delve far more into spirituality and mythology, eschewing the SF aspects.
There aren't really any major weak points in Nausicaa - unless you count the frustrating 12 drawings per second animation which I constantly complain about in Japanese animation. The backgrounds aren't as amazing and the animation not as good as the last few Ghibli films, but for 1984 it was plenty good enough. I have a fairly trivial complaint in that the character of Kuratowa is drawn in a slightly more 'anime' style, ala Lupin III, whereas all of the other characters are done in a realistic style. He just seems a little out of place, though he's quite delightfully drawn.
The really strong points of the movie are its pacing (at least until the very end. Miyazaki was unhappy with the end too), its story telling, which manages to be sophisticated without being impossibly complex, its engrossing background drawings and settings, - and most of all in the amazing attention to detail in the fully realized post-apocalypse SF-fantasy world in which the story is set. Every little thing is worked out and placed such that you find yourself admiring inventions, ideas, structures, creatures, etc which don't draw attention to themselves, but simply exist as part of the backdrop of the movie. Of course 'Nausicaa' had existed for several years as a serialised Manga, so Miyazaki no doubt knew its universe inside-out.
There's a very clever plot, which I won't give away, but which involves humanity's relationship with the Earth and nature.
It's the sort of movie which you can get thoroughly caught up in, and which will stand repeated viewings. It really is a film which is perfectly pitched at both a young and an adult audience. As Miyazaki's second feature film it is also, rightly or wrongly, usually considered the start of Studio Ghibli, and is arguably worth watching for historical reasons, too.
Not the very best from Miyazaki or Ghibli, but an auspicious beginning.
PS, in case you didn't know, there was a heavily butchered US version floating around called 'Warriors of the Wind', which is universally reviled as a disgrace. Just to make it confusing, some of the Japanese copies are also called 'Warriors of the Wind'. The thing to look for is the 116 minute running length. If you get that, you've got the right one. At the moment the only way you can get the film is in Japanese dialog with English subtitles. Personally I'd go ahead and do that, rather than wait while Disney squats on the US distribution rights (Amazon gives it a release date of 2010 for God's sake). You can always replace it later.
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