Okay, so this is my first review, and my second favorite anime. I'm a Miyazaki fanatic, so take that into account if you must.
BACKGROUND: The most important thing to know when watching this is that this anime is from 1984 (ironic, right?) and that this is Miyazaki Hayao's second time directing (the first being Lupin III The Castle of Cagliostro, arguably the best Lupin film ever created.) Miyazaki and his producer Suzuki Toshio first met up because Suzuki, the editor of the magazine Animage, wanted some comments from Miyazaki about Lupin and Miyazaki basically told him to stop bothering him. After a while, however,
Miyazaki began talking more with Suzuki and told him ideas that would eventually become two of his greatest stories; Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke (1997).
Now, I have heard two versions of what happened next. On the Nausicaa DVD bonus features it says that Miyazaki, who had intended to make an anime from the get go, was denied because he did not have a comic to back the feature up, and that the manga was created because of this. However, other sources such as the famous Nausicaa.net (Ghibli's #1 English Fansite), say that Miyazaki intended this to be a manga originally, and that the anime was almost forced upon him. I don't know which one is true, however I would note that Miyazaki's manga continued to run long after the movie was created. If his true intentions were a movie, why make the manga into something so much longer? (Note that the Nausicaa anime adapts the story until midway through the second volume of the manga. There are seven volumes in total. Viz Media makes an excellent English version.)
Either way, the Nausicaa film was Miyazaki's first story that he had written and directed. It should also be noted that after Nausicaa was made, Studio Ghibli was established from the staff who created Nausicaa.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was not an anime I expected to like. When I stared at the DVD case and the home screen of the DVD menu, I thought Nausicaa looked like a vulture and that this wouldn't be a fun anime at all, but, you can guess, I was very wrong. My dad and I started watching this kind of late and we didn't realize how long it was. Dad was tired and went to bed halfway through, but I couldn't keep my eyes off the screen.
STORY: The story was unlike anything I had ever seen before. We all know of post-apocalyptic stories set in the far future where man kind has almost been destroyed, but somehow this world was nothing like the other ones I had seen. Instead of mechas and advanced governments, there are giant insects, forests you can't breathe in, and kingdoms with both armored knights and airplanes. The setting is truly bizarre, but so interesting, you almost wish you were there. The theme Man vs. Nature is clearly distinguished in this movie whereas good vs. evil is almost shunned.
ART: I really respect the artwork done in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. I am not going to compare this to modern day animation, because that's just not fair to the movie. This film was created without the help of a single computer, and it still looks this good. The action scenes are detailed enough to keep me satisfied. However, I can't give full points for art, as I laugh myself silly every time I watch the scene where everyone runs over to Nausicaa and hugs her. You see, the little girl wearing pink and red clothes, or strawberry shortcake as I like to call her, runs by about five times. XD Still, I give it a pass.
SOUND: Not much to say, I think that the seiyuu are wonderful in this. The musical score is done by one of my most favorite modern composers, Hisaishi Joe, and I really don't think that it feels eightys -ish at all. Sure we hear a few synths, but I feel it actually kind of works for the movie :) The insect music is really fitting. Although I do believe that this score is not as solid as I would have liked, something that Hisaishi gets better at throughout Ghibli's movies.
As for the Dub, I am not generally a fan of dubs, but this one is done very well. I especially enjoy Shia LaBeouf's voice as Asbel. The only thing I really resent is the pronunciation of Pejite. Peh-gee-teh, not kryptonite Pejite.
CHARACTERS: I mentioned before that my initial impression of Nausicaa felt very unpleasant, but this was the most incorrect judgement I had about the movie. Nausicaa is, in reality, a incredibly wonderful human being. She is benevolent and gentle, the scene where she first befriends Teto is one that I still hold my breath when watching. She is determined to protect what she deems important, but is level headed enough to asses situations thoroughly. However, she is not a saint. She is frightened and angered in the same way as everyone else. I think the best word to describe Nausicaa is human. I believe that Nausicaa herself does grow throughout the course of this movie. If you look at the scene earlier in the movie where she goes berserk at the Torumekian soldiers and compare that to the final scene with her and the Ohm, you can just tell.
Other than our peacemaker/heroine, the rest of the cast is excellent as well. Asbel, Yupa-sama, and Mito are an excellent supporting cast. Yupa-sama is one of the coolest swordsman I've seen, and he is one of the few who really understands how Nausicaa thinks as far as intellectually. Mito and Asbel are less like Nausicaa in nature, as they are prepared to blow up a few ships and kill enemies, but not without cause.
We also have what might be called the "bad guys," Kushana and Kurotowa. However, you might remember me saying earlier that the idea of good vs. evil is shunned in this movie. I stand by that statement because I have seen these characters. Kushana is very human, she has her dedication to her army and her country. Its unfortunate we don't see more of Kushana like we do in the manga, but that can't be helped. Kurotowa may be the funniest character on the set, his slyness truly makes me laugh. These characters show that even those who are branded as "evil" can never really be called that.
ENJOYMENT/OVERALL: Over all, it is a great treat to watch Miyazaki's first story unfold. Miyazaki Hayao, you've done a great job with this movie, even if you weren't satisfied :D It has become my second favorite anime movie.
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Synonyms: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa, Warriors of the Wind
English: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
German: Nausicaä aus dem Tal der Winde
Spanish: Nausicaä del Valle del Viento
French: Nausicaä de la Vallée du Vent
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Mar 11, 1984
Producers: None found, add some
Duration: 1 hr. 57 min.
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
Score: 8.361 (scored by 217302217,302 users)
1 indicates a weighted score.
2 based on the top anime page. Please note that 'Not yet aired' and 'R18+' titles are excluded.