Monday, April 6, 2009

Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind) (1984)
JAPAN --- science fiction/animation

Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

An early Miyazaki directorial effort, he explores issues of paficism and an environmentalist stance that he would return to in some form or another throughout his career. This one being birthed from a serialized manga in a magazine run by producer/Studio Ghibli founder Toshio Suzuki . Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind) originally found its way to North American shores through distribution by New World Pictures under the title Warriors of the Wind; a severely cut version of the film.

In an indetermined future land, the earth is slowly succumbing to a fungal virus spreading across the world called the Sea of Decay. Nausicaä is a brazen young princess of the Valley of the Wind. She possesses the uncanny ability to communicate with all creatures of the land, including the gigantic insects that roam the earth. Some of these creatures are infected by the Sea of Decay.

With the assistance of a sage drifter called Lord Yupa, the peaceful seaside village of the Valley of the Wind must protect an ancient giant warrior embryo which was obtained by a flying ship which crash landed. Nausicaä must defend her land from a warring faction of Tolmekians who murdered her father and take her village hostage. They abduct her and force her to help resurrect the giant warrior to destroy the Sea of Decay and everything in it. Nausicaä reluctantly goes along until she can formulate a plot to stop the Tolmekian queen Kushana, to save the giant Ohmus from utter extermination.

A sort of sci-fi precursor or companion piece to fantasy Mononoke-hime (Princess Monokoe), Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind), Miyazaki seems incapable of making anything less than a masterpiece. As anime goes, the western world became enamored by Japan's no-holds-barred, provocative style of adult storytelling that wasn't specifically designed for children. Miyazaki has come along and actually showed us we can still talk to children without talking down to them. Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind), is another testament of Miyazaki's terrific style, with a blend of Jean "Moebius" Giraud style designs through a Frank Herbert storytelling scope, this is one early effort that's not to be dismissed or missed.