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Nausicaä, the princess of the Valley of the Wind,
Explores the toxic jungle that is spreading o’er the earth.
The girl admires Ohmu, colossal insects, armor-skinned,
Who can be quite aggressive but do have a hidden worth.
 
She saves her friend Lord Yupa from an anger-blinded Ohmu,
And flies upon her glider to announce his soon return.
In their protected valley, her small people built a home,
Content to let fierce kingdoms fight; it’s none of their concern.
 
But soon a crippled airship from Tolmekia appears
And crashes in the valley, killing everyone on board.
The threat of jungle infestation sparks the people’s fears,
And plus, the living cargo is too dire to be ignored.
 
Kushana of Tolmekia soon comes to claim their prize,
A deadly giant warrior, which bathed the earth in flame.
They kill the valley’s king but still they claim to be good guys,
For burning down the forest is their ill-considered aim.
 
The warrior’s developing as Nausicaä is bound
With others by Kushana on a journey through the air.
Their airships are shot down by one small plane that’s also downed.
The princess and Kushana land within a jungle snare.
 
Escaping from an Ohmu nest thanks to Nausicaä’s calm action,
Kushana and the other fly while Nausicaä must stand
To save the shooter pilot who is from another faction
Called Pejite, but the two of them are captured by quicksand.
 
They find themselves below the jungle, where the air is clean,
And realize that the jungle plants absorb the earth’s pollution.
Mankind corrupted all the earth, and now most people mean
To burn the jungle, ruining the planet’s last solution.
 
They fly their way to Pejite, which is ravaged by insects.
Survivors plan to lure the Ohmu to Nausicaä’s homeland
To take out the Tolmekians and all of their subjects
And catch the giant warrior to have at their command.
 
Their ship is ambushed yet again, which lets the princess flee.
She goes ahead to see the Ohmu stampeding toward the valley.
The Pejites have an injured baby o’er an acid sea,
And she succeeds in freeing it before the big finale.
 
Kushana wakes the giant which annihilates some Ohmu,
Before it melts away, too undeveloped to survive.
The baby Ohmu and Nausicaä then stand before her home
In front of the invading insects, rushing to arrive.
 
They run her over but then stop to see this brave young lass;
They heal her wounds and so fulfill an ancient prophecy.
Kushana and her men return back home at this impasse,
And now the earth and all mankind may live in harmony.
______________________
 

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was Hayao Miyazaki’s breakout film as a director. It’s an environmentally heavy sci-fi action film that highlights Miyazaki’s pacifist ideology and his wildly imaginative storytelling. While Disney was working on the likes of The Black Cauldron, Japan was producing animated gems like this.

Technically made before the start of his Studio Ghibli, Nausicaä was a tale that didn’t have much support at first because most anime depends on pre-existing properties in the world of manga (Japanese comic books). Since he couldn’t get funding without an already popular manga, he made one and published Nausicaä in serial form from 1982 to 1994. This earned him the necessary backing, but since only 16 chapters (out of 59) had been completed by the time of the film, the plot encompasses only the part that he had finished. While it was a huge blockbuster upon its release because of the manga, the movie ends a bit abruptly, and it feels like there is more of the story to tell, even though the film is ambitious enough as it is.

The hand-drawn animation is detailed and impressive throughout the two-hour film, especially in the climax, and it has that Miyazaki touch that raises it above most other anime. The voice acting in Disney’s English dub is uniformly good, featuring Alison Lohman, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, Chris Sarandon, Edward James Olmos, Mark Hamill, and the inimitable Patrick Stewart as Lord Yupa. Joe Hisaishi’s outstanding score also grabbed my attention when I first saw it and, not counting the synthesizer segments, is one of my favorite film scores. As for the plot, it’s incredibly detailed, and my above poem only scratched the surface of the layered events, characters, and motivations. With its complex mythology, messianic prophecy, and giant misunderstood insectoid creatures, the closest thing I could compare it to is Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

The environmentalist theme is rather clunky, blaming mankind for polluting the earth’s topsoil and water and building the giant warriors to destroy everything while providing no details about the circumstances. Thankfully, though, the film doesn’t browbeat humanity too much, and when the focus is on the science fiction and the characters, it’s some of Miyazaki’s best work. My VC, who doesn’t care for anime, at least saw and appreciated it for what it was, but, for me, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind remains an influential sci-fi classic.

Best line: (Asbel, after eating some “healthy” nuts) “Why does everything that’s good for you have to taste so bad?”

 
Artistry: 7
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 7
Originality: 9
Watchability: 7
Other (heavy environmentalism): -3
 
TOTAL: 42 out of 60
 

Next: #201 – Murphy’s Romance

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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