I feel a little unfair pushing this movie into Anno August, because of it’s more of a launching for Hayao Miyazaki and his films then it is for Hideaki Anno. After this film, Miyazaki’s films used a lot of concepts that were used in Nausicaa and twisted them around in whatever direction they feel like. It’s proof that Miyazaki is a genius and should be able to do whatever he wants. One of the few peple that should be given that free reign. Especially when he was told that he couldn’t make this film without source material, so he made his own manga just to allow this film to exist. (Man, I really need to read it at some point.) Plus, Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind was the first time that Joe Haisaishi’s soundtrack was used in Miyazaki’s works. This film really is a massive crossroads to future works, isn’t it? It’s kind of stunning how ground breaking this film is.
Hideko Anno is connected to this film because he showed up when Miyazaki was asking for animators. Hayao was completely impressed by Anno’s previous work, so Miyazaki gave Anno the job of working on the most complicated part of the film, the God Warrior Sequence. Something tells Anno showed Miyazaki his Daicon 4 work because who wouldn’t be impressed by that. This also kick started a lifelong friendship between the two great figures of animation history. (I say this because I don’t think Miyazaki would allow Anno to voice the main character in The Wind Rises if that wasn’t a case.) All of that happened because of this fantastic film. Ok, maybe I just spoiled my opinion of it right there. Who cares though? It’s Miyazaki movie.
Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind is a story that happens 1,000 years after an apocalyptic event. A massive apocolyptic event called the Seven Days of Fire, a war between giant bugs called Ohms and the human made death creations called the God Warriors ended up in a poisonous forest that is slowly eaking up humanities very existence. This film is called the Valley of the Wind, because that’s where Nausicaa’s home village is located at. It’s a quaint village that has a sea breeze which pushes the poison of the forest away from them so they could all live. A village that has a prophecy of a savior in blue saving them all. I bet you can figure out who that is, though the local sage thinks it’ll be a male. Yeah right. The plot seriously starts when a Tolmekian plane with a Pejite prisoner/princess crashed in that village while carrying a God Warrior Embryo. Ummm, uh oh. Nothing good can happen from this point onward.
After that, the village ends up in a lot of war between two countries and as the center of another apocalyptic event until it isn’t. Pejite and Tolmikia are two nations at war with each other. Tolmekians are imperialists that try to conquer whatever land they can with military might and brute force. They started the war with Pejite through their standard operation procedure, invasion. Of course, Pejite used the same sort of brutal force and harsh tactics against Tolmikia to get their revenge. Even if Pejite was in the right originally, they kind of lost that authority when they started putting the lives of innocent people aside without question for their revenge. Tolmikia invades Our Friendly Valley near the beginning of the film and Pejite has no qualms in sacrificing that entire village, with an Ohm invasion, just to get revenge. Such irrational hatred there. Not even the God Warrior, or what is left of it, helped out with that.
So far, I’ve talked about war and tragedy within this film, let’s talk about something else. What about nature and characters? In this conflict, I feel like each member of royalty represents the thoughts and feelings of their founding countries/villages. Nausicaa is the Princess of the Valley of the Wind and is incredibly in tune with nature. She knows her way around the poisonous swamp to scout for goods that will help the valley in some way. She also knows how to fly on a glider and can tame angry forest creatures. Nausicaa is also endlessly kind and self sacrificing, but I can’t call her perfect because of that. Her emotional investment goes into everything she does. That means helping her people, helping others, or killing strangers that just killed her already dying dad. She’s still human after all. I can’t help but admire her for what she does though. Also guidance from their Sword Master, Lord Yupa, helps them out as well.
Then we have the other two members of royalty in this story that help push things along. For Tolmekia, there is Princess Kushana. It’s easy to call her the exact opposite of Nausicaa, but there is so much more to her then that. She is a princess that has only ever known war and conflict represented by how she has false arms and other parts of her body that weren’t mentioned. She’s also incredibly petty. When Kushana and Nausicaa worked together, Nausicaa took charge easily because she knew how to get everyone out of that situation and all Kusahan could do is point a gun and say, “I am in charge”. Of course, nobody listened to her. Would you? The Tolmekians had that sort of person leading the invasion of the Valley of the Wind and use a god warrior to fight against the ohms. Of course, they did, because they and Kushana know nothing but how to use brute force. Maybe there was a moment where Kushana and her second in command felt like breaking away from their duties and living a life with the village, but their duty call unfortunately.
Joining into the confusion by piloting a Pejite Interceptor, Prince Ashba enters the fray by attacking a Tolmekian convey heading home with Ashana and Nausicaa in tow. Once again, showing that he inherited the anger for revenge and hatred of his people. The difference is when Nausicaa and Ashba meet up with each other, Nausicaa can show him her point of view. About how beautiful nature is, how horrible killing just for revenge is. (I don’t think they have enough screen time to establish a relationship, but they have the chemistry for it. That’s just like Pejite itself. The male members of that society, except for Ashba, are ready to eliminate The Valley without a second thought while the females allowed Nausicaa to escape to warn her village and hopefully save it. It’s such a wonderful film with complicated thoughts and concepts.
All of those story elements are aided by Miyazaki’s great visual direction and style. This is an early 80’s film and the age of the art and animation is visible, but I can’t help but think that this film has aged incredibly well. Miyazaki is such a perfectionist that all these aspects couldn’t help but hold themselves up or just look incredibly charming. Because of that, I can’t help but say that art, animation, and character designs are fantastic. You know who each character is easily and the villages, technology, forests, and so on have so much heart and life to them. Then there are all the technical aspects/flying machines in this film. I can’t say that I think the planes would be able to fly in real life, but they do look and feel like they would. Also, the claustrophobic insides of the airplanes are such an incredible touch to add to that sort of setting too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Miyazaki had an airplane mockup, then plotted out the arrangement of the rooms himself. Of course, he would do that.
From this film, two sequences of animation need a little bit of spotlighting. The first one is the God Warrior sequence near the end of the film. Not only because Hideaki Anno worked on it, because that fact should be obvious, but because of how cool it is. The Laser beam destroying some of the army of Ohms, the god warrior’s body falling apart as it does it, and so on. It’s just so gross and well detailed that I can’t help but love it. You can see part of where Evangelion comes from in this sequence. The second sequence is just the Ohm walking cycle. Now this isn’t as detailed or as thought out as the previous sequence, but I love how slow it moves like it has some real weight behind it even though it moves insanely fast. The shot that it’s shown is just one part of the Ohm’s side moving at a time, but I can’t help but love it anyway.
I really love Nausicaa Valley of the Wind. I said that in the first paragraph, but I feel like repeating it for consistency. There is just a lot to like about it. From its art and animation to everything else about it. What’s also amazing about this film is that it’s able to fit so story beats and elements into a two-hour film. There are tons of lore that needs to be explained and established first. Then there are a lot of characters from three different countries to establish, a forest to explore, and so many other things too. How a two-hour film can have all of that in and make it work is extraordinary. It’s an efficient and effective film. Maybe this could have been something like a cour or two anime series, but I am pretty happy with this film. Besides, there is still the manga to explore if I want more. Hmmm, maybe I do. So yeah, highly recommend. What else is there to say?