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Review: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

I’m a very new fan of Hayao Miyazaki—in fact, I’ve only seen two of his films to date (though I have two more borrowed at the moment waiting to be watched). My first experience was with My Neighbor Totoro, and while it was cute enough, I wasn’t very interested in seeing any others after that.

However, after viewing Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Im certain that I want to see more. The tale of environmentalism and a strong and fearless princess who will do anything to protect her people, it’s really a fantastic film that depicts what could happen if humans destroyed the earth. Unlike many of today’s post-apocalyptic films, however, it was made over twenty-five years ago.

The story takes place a thousand years after the “Seven Days of Fire,” a week of events that destroyed the world and left behind very little life. The few humans that did survive are separated by the Toxic Jungle, a place full of giant insects that hate the humans—mainly when provoked or attacked—and pose a huge threat. The spores from the Toxic Jungle make it poisonous for the humans, and they have to wear masks when near it.

The movie’s hero and title character, Nausicaä, is the princess of her people. Peaceful and humane, she has the ability to communicate with the giant insects, is brave enough to explore the jungle on her own, and even discovers the secret to rendering the jungle’s toxicity into harmlessness. In the end, she saves her people from war and destruction, and she helps them learn about taking care of the environment—including the jungle—respecting it, and allowing it to heal itself.

Seeing the movie, I was reminded by Lord of the Rings and Hobbiton when I saw the Valley of the Wind. A place of peace and friendship, its eventual destruction mirrors the destruction of the world itself that caused its current condition in the film. This shows just how close the world came to annihilation before the princess united the peoples of earth back together in peace.

Considered to be the beginning of Studio Ghibli, Nausicaä has won several awards, including the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize. Though, as I’ve done with many anime films, I was left muttering about better creatures and a call for a live action film, the story and its messages are just as relevant and moving as they were in the 1980s. It truly was a fantastic film to see, and I would recommend it to anyone—anime lover or not.

Nausicaä's English-dubbed cast includes the talents of Alison Lohman as the princess, Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart and Shia LaBeouf.