“A thousand years have passed since the collapse of industrialized civilization. A toxic jungle now spreads, threatening the survival of the last of the human race.”

“A thousand years have passed since the collapse of industrialized civilization. A toxic jungle now spreads, threatening the survival of the last of the human race.”

These words are uttered by the narrator after we see Lord Yupa another village consumed by the toxic spores. This is our introduction to a world where humanity is on the brink of extinction and its only salvation comes from the unlikeliest of sources.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is one of the first films directed by world renowned Hayao Miyazaki. Released in Japan in 1984 Nausicaa was a huge success leading to the creation of the studio called Ghibli and the rest is history. The film was dubbed in English several times including infamous movie called “Warriors of the wind” released in 1985 and the vastly superior version by Disney in 2003 (the best version to watch).

Of the twenty-one films that studio Ghibili has produced Nausicaa ranks at the top. Let’s dive into Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Two disclaimers before starting; there will be some spoilers here but there will be a companion non-spoiler review go along with this.

Read: Get The Run Down #1 Nausicaa of The Valley of The Wind

This will be an analysis driven discussion and will not follow the traditional review format. The focus will be to discuss why this film is great and is worth everyone’s time.

Nausicaa

The main character’s name is Nausicaa who is the princess of the valley of the wind hence the title. Nausicaa’s character is the film’s biggest selling point and for good reason. She’s smart, brave, kind and a fantastic leader. Her best qualities are: her uniqueness, relatability and leadership abilities.

Having strong traits of traditional male protagonist while not sacrificing what makes her a woman, Nausicaa has the best in both worlds. Nausicaa loves and cares for the planet and all living things on it, and this love fuels her acts of bravery.

Nausicaa’s intelligence should not be overlooked either. She was able to figure out that the soil was toxic and the trees themselves could be grown to produce non-toxic spores. This is a significant discovery because everyone in the film believes that destroying the forest will prevent the toxic spores. When in reality the people would be safe if the trees were grown in non-toxic soil. Finding a cure for her father was the motivation for this discovery.

Nausicca belongs on a top ten list of the most relatable characters in anime. Nausicaa genuinely wants to save the world and is not concerned about awards, recognition etc. She has unique beliefs that lead to conflicts with other people, but yet she stands strong even if alone. Everyone has faced that situation whether it be with family, friends, and coworkers etc.

Nausicaa is the princess in her “kingdom” but due to her father’s illness she is practically queen. Having this responsibility at a young age may be too much pressure however, Nausicaa is not affected by it. She is calm under pressure and gives very clear commands. After her dad is murdered by the Tolmekians Nausicaa at first shows her rage and attacks the Tolmekian soldiers. Yupa stops and urges her to not fight the Tolmekians. Nausicaa is able to then regain control of the situation and prevents a blood bath by convincing her people to cooperate with the Tolmekians.

The moral of one’s troops can make or break his or her actions. Nausicaa treats everyone with respect and dignity. She values everyone’s opinions and does not brush people aside when it is convenient.  Before leaving as a hostage with the Tolmekians three young girls go to Nausicaa in tears. Despite the guards demanding Nausicaa to get in the ship, she gives them a hug and a thoughtful goodbye.

A leader should not command her troops to do something that she herself would not do. Nausicaa throughout the film has been willing to put herself in harm’s way for her people. The two best examples are being a willing hostage by the Tolmekians and at the end of the film where she stands in front of the Ohmu knowing she is going to get run over. Nausicaa is very passionate about protecting the environment and the creatures in it.

Nausicaa is explaning real cause of the toxic forest
Nausicaa was kind to these girls eventhough she was in a hurry
Nausicaa is standing in front of the Ohm charging eventhough she knows they will run her over

Environment

This film is a well-made pro environmental vegan antiwar movie. The main conflict in this film is between the Bugs and the humans. It is discussed throughout the film how humanity has tried to get rid of the bugs only to fail. Only Nausicaa and her people have realized that the path to survival is cooperation with the bugs not waging war.

The Ohmu are the main bugs and the first creatures that are shown when Nausicaa finds its sheded skin. Large, terrifying, angry, and mindless are the first impressions of these creatures. As the film progresses these creatures are revealed to be caring, intelligent, compassionate and even show forgiveness. After the baby Ohmu was rescued by Nausicaa it heals her. Prior to the rescue the baby had nails punctured into its body to help attach it to the flying device with a rope.

The Ohmu at the end of the film heal Nausicaa and return to the forest in peace even though they were provoked with the theft of their child. In fact, the only time that the Ohmu ever get angry is when their home is attacked. Something people can relate to. The Ohmu have a couple other unique traits; they understand some English and they can interact with the subconscious of other living things. The Ohmu are a metaphor that one should not judge people by outward appearances.

The Ohm healing Nausicaa
Baby Ohm healing Nausicaa after its treatment
The Ohm is first shown as an angry creature

Characters

No story is complete without great characters and this film has a great cast of characters. One interesting thing to note is that the villains are ambiguous and it’s not obvious by the end of the film how they feel.

Kushana is interesting because she wanted to unite the kingdoms and destroy the forest. But she needed to overpower the people of the valley to do so. She also tries to come across as noble or heroic by suggesting to Lord Yupa that they should use the ancient weapon. Why? Because their enemy will use it if Yupa does not. Kushana conveniently leaves out that they did not have start resurrecting the weapon.

Lord Yupa is an interesting character. He is the best sword fighter in the land, an excellent strategist, super suave, and owns every scene he is in. The scene of Lord Yupa returning to the Valley gives a similar feel to Gandalf returning to the shire in the “Fellowship of the Ring.” He is a good example of the classic sage and legendary warrior trope. With a unique design Lord Yupa is one character that will not be forgotten anytime soon.

Asbel is a Pejite youth who is first introduced when attacking the Tolmekians ships. He manages to take down several planes down before being defeated. Much like the bugs Asbel is first shown to be violent and full of rage. Asbel is far from that, he is actually quite spiritual and only wants to protect his people. We learn that the Princess Lastelle of Pejite who was captured by the Tolmkeians was Asbel sister hence why he attacked the Tolmekian ship.

Asbel risks his life on several occasions to help Nausicaa even going as far as to betray his own people. This is the best Asbel quote; “Why is it that everything that’s good for you tastes so bad?”.

asbel shown here as a nice person
Kushana's design
Lord Yupa

Art, Music and Sound

Production values are always something to discuss in films. In anime production this takes on a new level. Because beyond the story, acting etc the art of the film is a thing all by itself. This film’s art, music and sound brings this fantastic story to life.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is an old film that came out in 1984, so the art is old fashion but not of poor quality. The characters all have a unique design. Lord Yupa’s design is special having aspects of a cowboy, wizard and medieval knight all combined into one. He has an epic beard to boot. Kushana has interesting design to her look in both her hairstyle and attire. She wears a traditional royal outfit with robotic parts on some of her limbs. This film does a great job in making the three factions look distinct to eliminate confusing them.

The art style of mixing modern technology with knights in armor is a nice touch. The team spent awhile on Nausicaa’s glider and it shows. It is a technical marvel and is the best aspect of the film. The bugs show expression despite no face articulations that are like animals. A good comparison would be to Darth Vader in the film “Return of the Jedi” when, the emperor is shocking Luke Skywalker with force lighting while Darth Vader looks on. The camera angle and the lighting reflecting in Vader’s mask show that he is in conflict about what is happening. The mask had no articulation but it is understood what he was thinking at the time.

The film’s sense of scale is impressive for its time. Here are some examples; The returning to the forest at the end, Nausicaa looking back at all of the Ohm charging towards the Valley from her glider, the scene where the Ohm are moving from the forest with the flies above them. The flies are the size of people but in comparison to Ohm are comparable of the size difference between people and fruit flies.

Nausicaa’s dream sequences are great and authentic. In the scene where her father is holding Nausicaa as a child, he looks strong and powerful, which is how most children see their parents. The drawings on the tablets during the opening credits tell legends of the valley through pictures.

There is not much use of music in this film but when it is used its great. The music of the ending scene creates a sense of accomplishment and paints a picture of hope. The girl singing in Nausicaa’s dream sequence is a favorite. The song used in the glider chase sequence really worked.

From characters walking, gun shots, etc. the sound is on point. The voice acting is fantastic one cannot go wrong with either Japanese or English dubbing (stick to Disney’s version).

a scene of the Ohm returning to the forest
This nausicaa's father as shown in the dream sequence
a scene of the Ohm returning to the forest

The film’s relevance today and final thoughts

For a movie that is now celebrating its 35th anniversary one would think that the film is outdated and no longer relevant. Well nothing could be further from the truth. This film tackles the issues of: environmentalism, feminism, might makes right, and nuclear war.

Global Warming is a widely discussed topic and has been the center of political discussions for years. This entire film is a possible outcome for failing to preserve and take care of the planet. Veganism has shot in popularity in the last four to five years. This film emphasizes protecting animals as much as it does for the environment. Nuclear war may not be the center of attention but its still a contentious topic. The resurrection of the warrior from the seven days of fire is this film’s version of Nuclear weapons and the danger they pose on the world.

Feminism has evolved in the last decade which has led to studios to create more female protagonists. This film was ahead of its time having two female leads that are both in positions of power. The women in this story have strong leadership skills, are brave and strong – but don’t sacrifice what makes them women. The ultimate form of feminism.

There are so many great qualities of this film here are just few examples. The Pejite mayor is great because he was voiced by Mark Hammil. The resurrected warrior firing at the Ohm is the best action scene in the film. The story is simple and easy to follow. The film’s length is perfect it provides enough time to immerse in the world without dragging on.

This is the film's way of showing the dangers of nuclear war
the major of pejite is arguing with Nausicaa
two Females Lead This Movie

For those who have never watched anime start here after all Miyazaki did. The film’s ideas and topics are so interesting and relatable. In ten years from now this film will be even more relevant than it is today. For those that are still on the fence learn from this film’s greatest message and do not judge a book by its cover. Anime is weird to some but its one of the greatest achievement’s mankind has created.

Have you seen or will see Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind? Who is your favorite character and what is your favorite scene in this movie? Also tell what part of the film interests you the most. Let me know in the comments. If you want to read more interesting insights on anime join the reading list to stay up to date.

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Mymediachops is a blog created by a life long anime fan. My goal is to prove that anime is for everyone. I focus on created content to help new fans get into the medium while also discussing anime that made a big impact on my life.