Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Review/Synopsis

by: Grace Lin

In Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, the world that Nausicaa, princess of the Valley of the Wind, lives in has been almost destroyed 1000 years ago by the Seven Days of Fire. Since then, the Sea of Decay has been consuming everything. Nausicaa tries to find the reason behind the spread and origin of the Sea of Decay in an effort to find a cure for the ones who are dying from the toxins spread by the plants and insectsin the Sea of Decay. There are other countries such as Torumekia, however, which seek to destroy the Sea of Decay, and will stop at nothing to achieve their goal, including resurrecting the last God Warrior, the artificial beings that plunged the world into the Seven Days of Fire.

This is commonly considered Miyazaki Hayao's masterpiece, and the film does the title of masterpiece justice. Written and directed by Miyazaki, produced by Takahata Isao, and music done by Joe Hisaishi, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a must-see for all Ghibli lovers, nay, all anime lovers.

Presented by the World Wildlife Fund when it was released in 1984, the movie has strong undertones of environmentalism. Nausicaa considers all life forms precious, and will go to any length to protect them. The plot itself is a minute portion drawn from the manga of the same name also done by Miyazaki. Some elements are changed from the portion taken from the manga to make the story complete in the short time of the movie. The mysteries of the Sea of Decay are also simplified.

Joe Hisaishi, as usual, does a breathtaking job of the music. Woodwinds convey moments of peace with haunting melodies, brass and percussion accompany tension, and the theme song of the movie is done in variations by both instruments and voice. In the especially moving scene at the end of the movie is a ensemble of both orchestra and voice, Joe Hisaishi demonstrates why he is the sole composer of Miyazaki's movies.

The art of the movie is spectacular. Almost every object in the movie is coloured with at mulitple shades, and even the walls are done with meticulous attention. The characters' colouring, however, are usually done with only two colours. This doesn't take away from the animation and believability of the characters, though. Miyazaki did his job well!

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind has all the elements of Miyazaki and Ghibli at its best. Watch the movie a couple of times to catch the details, and for those who just can't get enough of Nausicaa, read the manga!