a review by Nalini Haynes
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Nausicaa is a princess who lives in a rural community located in the Valley of the Wind. Nausicaa has an unusual gift of empathy for creatures; one could say she is a ‘whisperer’. Lord Yupa is a wandering sword-master who accidentally enrages an ohmu (enormous insect) who lives in the toxic jungle. Nausicaa rescues Yupa by stunning and then charming the ohmu to return to the jungle. Back in the valley it becomes clear both Yupa and Nausicaa are well loved in the community, where they work with people to care for one another and survive the spread of the toxic jungle.
Their lives are changed when an air ship from a neighbouring kingdom, Tolmekia, crashes in the valley bringing with it toxic spores that infect the valley, a dying princess from the kingdom of Pejite wearing shackles, a huge ohmu and the heart of a legendary giant who was one of several responsible for destroying the world 1,000 years previously. A Tolmekia warlord princess invades the valley, taking Nausicaa captive before the Tolmekian ship is shot down, crashing into the toxic jungle. Nausicaa rescues the Tolmekian princess then the Pejite pilot, Asbel, who shot them down, only to fall to the bottom of the toxic jungle where she makes a monumentous discovery.
This is an engaging family friendly movie for all except the youngest viewers, rated PG, with environmentalist themes contrasting with the petty human warmongering that almost results in the destruction of three remaining human kingdoms. Originally released in 1984, Nausicaa was well ahead of its time.
Nausicaa the princess is likeable and although her emotional state seems a bit changeable for Westerners, she is not unstable like other anime characters, for example, Pokemon characters who can be pleasant then screaming in the next sentence. The voices are well done and, for a cast of stars, not overpowering to the story. Voice actors include Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, Edward James Olmos, Shia LaBeouf and Mark Hamill to name a few.
In this era of computer generated graphics, it’s refreshing to watch Nausicaa, made in 1984 with hand painted images. The landscapes are gorgeous, especially the images of the toxic jungle that seem to be based on a blend of existing weeds like dandelions and sea creatures. One scene has Nausicaa and Asbel standing beside the wall of an airship with bullet holes. The wall and the holes are beautifully detailed and artistically painted. The characters, animals and objects that move, such as the sails of the windmills, aren’t painted in the same style. Instead they are the more traditional cartoon style, but this does not detract from the story or the imagery. I would love to have some of the landscapes framed for display on the walls of my home.
Extras include promotional advertising from the original release, a storyboard version of the movie, and The Birth of Studio Ghibli. The Birth of Studio Ghibli is quirky and interesting, but it’s subtitled and sometimes the English subtitles are superimposed over Japanese subtitles making it difficult reading.
This is a family movie well worth watching, highly recommended.
© 1984 Nibariki – GH