(1984) dir. Hayao Miyazaki
Interestingly, I saw this film when it was initially released in the United States as Warriors of the Wind back in 1985. Japanese animation was much less pervassive back then, even virtually obscure. And though I had actually had some prior experience with Hayao Miyazaki, I had never heard of him nor knew any significance of his work. It wasn’t until My Neighbor Totoro (1988) was released in the 1990’s that I finally caught up and realized my familiarity with the best feature length animation director of all times and one of the best overall filmmakers ever.
It’s taken me still all these years to get around to seeing Nausicaä again, and of course, I had only seen the highly edited version that had been released in the U.S. previously. I personally think that it’s great that Disney has picked up the rights to these films and distributed them more widely in this country. Miyazaki is amazing and his work would be wonderful to spread more broadly in place of the junk that is produced as animation and narrative overall.
Nausicaä reckons heavily of Princess Mononoke (1997), another science fiction/fantasy world where environmental issues threaten humanity. The films have a spirituality to them and are not simply annoyingly over-the-top in their political leanings. Nausicaä, the title character is a princess of a village whose connection to the monster insects that terrorize humanity, lead her to understand that the insects are responding to the destruction of the environment. She comes to realize that the part of nature that is poisoning humans is actually at work to detoxify the planet.
The war-like states seek to resurrect some apocalyptic power of a giant robot to attack the creatures and one another. Miyazaki’s films often also lean toward anti-war themes as well.
The narrative and adventure are excellent. The animation and design are beautifully executed. It’s an excellent film. That said, I think that his work has matured since this period. This is the first of his feature-length films to really feel like a Miyazaki film, adapted, I believe from a manga of his own creation.
I think that every time I see one of Miyzaki’s films, I am energized to drink to his health and hope that he will continue to make great films. And I vow to raise my kids watching his work.