Although not technically part of the Studio Ghibli canon, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is very much reminiscent of the studio’s output. With some of the most beautiful hand-drawn animation and featuring a roster of highly engrossing characters, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is one of the most impressive films ever produced. With an overriding message about the environment and man’s impact upon it in, the film strives a level of maturity not often found within this specific film genre, culminating in a genre-defining, special film deserving of acclaim.
Nausicaä (Sumi Shimamoto in Japanese/ Alison Lohman in English), a young and much adored princess, is thrust into the political turmoil of two conflicting city states and their opposition to dealing with an infestation of oversized insects and toxic spores. One night, with grand sword master Lord Yupa (Goro Naya in Japanese/Patrick Stewart in English) visiting her quaint village, the princess witnesses the crash landing of a supersize warship, carrying the catastrophic weapon that decimated her world 1000 years ago. With the war-crazed Tolmekian and the selfish Pejite both holding different ideologies on how to turn the tide of their dystopian landscape, Nausicaä takes it upon herself to find the method with the least amount of casualties. Aided in her conquest by the young fighter Asbel (Yoji Matsuda in Japanese/Shia LaBeouf in English), the two young protagonists explore the toxic jungle and its dangerous inhabitants.
Based on an acclaimed manga, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is a perfect example of source material being adapted well. Captivating and deep, the film allows its narrative to be drip-fed to the audience. Before its time in focusing on environmental damage and pollution, the film rewards its audience with a brilliantly realised fantasy, science fiction and war-torn landscape from which its deep premise is driven. Although the opening seems to push exposition through internal monologues and narration, the second half frees up its dialogue to deliver powerful moments of animation. With the quality of this production of such a high standard, it is not surprising to find Miyazaki, and his creative studio, holding as much acclaim as they do.
With some of the best animated character development, the film constantly develops throughout its 2 hour duration. With highly appealing personal story arcs, the film cements its message relayed through an impressive narrative. Through presenting these characters and many others in a working fantasy landscape, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind feels huge throughout. With a retrospective feeling that resonates in the real world, through real world consequences, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is one of the most deep and meaningful films ever produced. A founding moment within Studio Ghibli’s past, the film delivers something special in almost every frame.