Julien Neaves, Editor
The year is 1984. Women wore mini-skirts, men and women wore muscle shirts, and Studio Ghibli released fantasy anime film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Written and directed by the legend himself Hayao Miyazaki and based on his 1982 manga, Nausicaä follows the titular princess of the titular valley who seeks to protect her home from the warring Tolmekia kingdom and keep peace with the gigantic insects of the Toxic Jungle.
This one was another winner from Ghibli and Miyazaki. The animation, while lacking the modern technological polish of the later films, is still bursting with creativity and imagination. The vast and bleak Toxic Jungle with its creepy residents, including the gargantuan, trilobite-like Ohmu, are a highlight. The character designs are also detailed and full of personality.
Nausicaä makes for a very strong protagonist. She is highly skilled with her jet-propelled glider and has an otherworldly connection with animals, including the mysterious and highly dangerous insects of the Toxic Jungle. But her best attributes are her fearlessness and sacrificial nature, frequently putting her life on the line for both man and beast. Besides Nausicaä my other favourite characters are the stoic and deadly Lord Yupa and the part-metal Princess Kushana.
The film also features a good share of action, from aerial battles to tank warfare to hand-to-hand combat. There is a particular scene where Yupa shows off why he is the best swordsman in the land that was most satisfying. And the image of a swarm of Ohmu descending upon the Valley of the Wind was quite thrilling.
The narrative includes an environmental message that is subtle but effective. The climax with the ancient Giant Warrior was a tad anticlimactic but it is a minor issue in a truly excellent film. And while I prefer the iconic Princess Mononoke, which Nausicaä reminded me slightly of, over it the film still flies high almost four decades later.
Editor Jules’s Score: 8.5 out of 10
So are you a fan of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind? And you can check out more great Studio Ghibli content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.