Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Well, thanks to my friend Émilie, it's official! I'm now a true Hayao Miyazaki fan, and I'll have no choice but to try to track down every movie he's made over the years. Truth be told, I was already hooked by watching Princess Mononoke (Canada, USA, Europe). Then came Spirited Away (Canada, USA, Europe), which blew me away. And though it follows more or less the same template as Princess Mononoke with the man vs nature theme, I really enjoyed Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

Though I've always been a big fan of animated features, it's been years since I've really focused on that medium. Not since the Robotech series was released in DVD, I'm afraid. And I now realized that I have missed out on a variety of quality works. Japanese anime series ranked among my favorite TV shows as a kid, and Robotech filled my mind with wonder during my teenage years. In a way, it's kind of weird that I've sort of avoided that medium for so long. . .

Well, the good thing is that I have some great stuff to look forward to! Starting with the rest of Miyazaki's repertoire, even though what's left is aimed at a younger audience. If I can fully enjoy Pixar movies, there is no reason why Hayao Miyazaki's films can't bring out the kid inside of me!

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind takes place a millennium following the Seven Day of Fire, a catastrophe which nearly destroyed human civilization and wreaked havoc in Earth's original ecosystem. The spores of the giant jungle known as the Sea of Decay continue to annihilate the scattered human settlements with their toxic touch. The windriding princess of the Valley of the Wind, Nausicaä, conducts secret experiments in order to discover the true nature of the Sea of Decay. But when an airship transporting a Giant Warrior embryo, one of the biological weapons which brought the world on the brink of doom, crashes into the cliffs near the Valley, their existence will be changed forever. Soon, a Tolmekian fleet under the leadership of Princess Kushana invade the Valley of the Wind and kills its rightful king. The Tolmekians plan to revive the Warrior to destroy the Sea of Decay and rid the world of the giant insects which have become the bane of mankind. It's up to Nausicaä to find a way to prevent the destruction of her beloved Valley of the Wind and its people.

Once again, Miyazaki created an interesting cast of characters for this movie. It's easy to root for the humane Nausicaä, but Lord Yupa, on his quest to find the mythical man from the ancient tapestry, is probably an even more striking character. The supporting cast may not be as strong as those of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, but Princess Kushana and Asbel were nice additions.

While good, the Joe Hisaishi soundtrack sounds more like something from an 80s anime television series. Still, a number of tracks are wonderful, and I may have to begin downloading a few of them!

All in all, if you are looking for good animated features to rent at the video store, Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind come with the highest possible recommendation.

Here's a trailer of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind to pique your curiosity:

For more info about this movie: Canada, USA, Europe

18 commentaires:

saalon said...

I strongly recommend reading the manga series Miyazaki wrote concurrently with making the film. (Well, he started it before the film and finished it after, anyway). It's 4 volumes, and the film takes up maybe 3/4 of the first volume.

It's a lovely and painful piece of fiction, one of the best works in the medium (comic or manga) I've ever read.

If you liked the film, the manga will probably rock your socks off.

Anonymous said...

Like SAALON, i strongly recommend the manga, because the anime describe only a small part of the plot, you don't have any idea about what you miss if you never read the manga...and you miss a lot !


Salt-Man Z said...

Even Miyazaki's kids' stuff is great. You should check out Ponyo while it's still in theaters.

And I highly recommend My Neighbor Totoro. Not much plot there, but like you said, it's got that amazing sense of wonder. And it can feel awfully weighty (if you think about it) for a mere kids' film. There are only a handful of movies that my kids can have on, and I'll just sit down and be completely absorbed in it, regardless of how many times I've seen it. Totoro is one of those.

Todd said...

Have you checked out Castle in the Sky yet? I've been wanting to watch that one. I've only seen Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke a long time ago.

Also...are you watching these in English or Japanese with subs? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

My favorite Miyazaki films are Howl's Moving Castle and Kiki's Delivery Service. Ponyo was the only one of his films I have been able to see in the theater, and I loved it as well.

Matthieu Csernel said...

All Miyazaki are great and I am glad you discovered his filmography.

If you've been disconected from anime for a long time I can't strongly enough recomend those to you:
Hoshi No Koe (a great SF/poetic short)
Blood, the Last Vampire
Vampire Hunter-D
and all things Ghost in the Shell (anime and serie)

Also, if you do not know it the serie Hikaru No Go is a must see (a young boy named Hikaru discovers an old Go board game. The spirit of an ancient player lived inside and teaches him GO which becomes the center of his life). A friend once lend me the 70+ episodes and I found it so compelling that I watch them all during a 3 days weekend.

By the way, you're blog is a great place for me to find out new reading suggestions.

Bryce L. said...

You sold me Pat, I just watched both Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. Both are stunningly brilliant cinematographically and had beautiful plots.

Thanks for the info. Or should I thank Emilie. :)

NulSyn said...

I really like Porco Roso and think it gets looked over way to much.

Unknown said...

Porco Rosso is his best, then Castle in the Sky.

Watch them nao!

They are less fantasy-like except for the pig pilot thing and the floating castle thing; they focus more on the human side of things rather than too much fantasy stuff.

rolemaster said...

my neighbour Totoro is a simple and beatifully told story! You should also give studio gibhlis take on Ursula le Guins books a try. While 'Tales from the Earthsea' doesn't do the stories full justice, nor does it compare to the other films mentioned here as it is directed by Miyazakis son, it is still a solid, entertaining story.
Oh, yeah, Grave of the Fireflies, it's not by Miyazaki, and it's not fantasy, and it'll leave you feeling miserable for days, but I will still recommend it.

Unknown said...

Enjoy animé Pat?

Cannot recommend "12 kingdoms" high enough. It is not finished being translated into English, and some say it will never be done (some delay after CD 10), but for fans of George this should not be a show stopper :)

12 kingdoms is originally a Fantasy saga in Japan not a tv series, or a DVD series and it is fantastic! Give it a try, you will not be disappointed. It is very character driven, and there is no ninjas or robots or vampires or vampire-ninja-robots for that matter, which one finds splashed all over the animé series section on comic and specialised shops :)

Chris M said...

Glad you enjoyed Nausicaä Pat. :) The other titles mentioned by the others here are also worth checking out. Last Exile is also pretty good for an anime series.

enelya said...

I love Miyazaki's already looking forward to seeing Ponyo.

Matthieu Csernel said...

I agree concerning Porco Rosso. I loved that one.
Miyazaki is also behind the Sherlock Holmes anime serie I used to watch when I was a child (where all characters are depicted as dogs).

Jacob @ Drying Ink said...

Haven't seen any of these! Maybe I'll have to give them a go...

Baptiste said...

Since we're clearly talking anime here for once, and considering the usual theme of the blog and I can't help recommanding two series that were already mentioned before.
First Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, the best cyberpunk anime series that I have ever seen and one of the best overall cyberpunk fiction that I was given to watch or read (based on the comics by Masamune Shirow).
And 12 Kinggoms, a fantasy anime based on a novel by Fuyumi Ono that takes its charachter into a fantasy world of chinese inspiration with a level of world and charachter building seldom seen in anime.

Thomas said...

Spirited Away is no nonsense-fantasy. In the opposite. It's depicting a return to conservative japanese virtues like humility and industriousness.
See the traits of avarice and excesses in the society of ghosts and gods that will be healed and along with it the depression of the child.

Unknown said...

Not technically Japanese but have you watched the "Avatar: The Last Airbender" TV Series?