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Guest Review: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Thanks to DOKool for this guest review! He writes:
"This Saturday, I received a blessing from a friend. This blessing was to allow me to spread anime to a much larger community, to bring new shows to people who didn't know a world existed beyond Looney Tunes, to create new waves of otaku to spread far and wide into the world.

Specifically, this blessing was no less than 7 boxes, totalling 300+ tapes of 2nd-generation fansubs from the early to mid-90s. Gems include the entire Kenshin series, all of Maison Ikkoku and Fushigi Yuugi, all of KOR, lots of classic Gundam and Dirty Pair, 10 Lupin III movies, and much, much more. This blessing is to be donated to my school's library on behalf of the anime club which I started this past year.

However, while sorting through these boxes to get a rough inventory, my mind was set on one tape alone. Finally, on the top of Box #5, I found it..."
Read on for the rest of DOKool's review!
I had heard long ago about this Miyazaki masterpiece, unreleased outside of Japan. Although some know this movie by the name 'Warriors of the Wind', this was actually a butchering of the original, cutting 30 minutes of plot and changing characters. However, I finally had it in my hands, uncut and subbed by fans, for fans. Digging out the VCR buried under a pile of clothes and hooking it up, I pressed Play and began to watch.

Based off of the manga of the same name (also created by Hayao Miyazaki), Nausicaa takes place in a future where large parts of the world are now a Wasteland of forests infested with poisonous fungi and even more dangerous giant insects. The remaining humans live outside of these forests, attempting to control the spread of the fungi and live their lives.

The plot centers on Nausicaa, the princess of the Valley of the Wind and a budding scientist. In the beginning of the movie she is in a forest, and finds the shell of a giant Ohmu (think a giant, armored slug. Now make it 10 times as big as you think it is). Hearing noise she quickly jumps onto her Mehve (somewhat of a glider with some sort of engine) and rescues Lord Yupa, an elder yet strong swordsman, from the rampaging Ohmu. Nausicaa is quickly shown to have a deep connection to nature, able to tame both the giant insects and small, cute, marketable animals (Teto, the fox-squirrel who also appears in Laputa) alike.

However, when a large plane crashes in the Valley, it all starts to go wrong. An invading force of Tolumekans seizes control of the Valley and takes control of their crashed cargo, a God Soldier that had been buried below the country of Pejite, one of the same God Soldiers who scorched the planet over a thousand years ago.

Nausicaa as a character is fascinating: She is cheerful and optimistic in even the worst of circumstances, and yet at the same time during this point in the movie her anger is shown. Her lone major fight scene is very striking; here we see the seeds that would later become San in Princess Mononoke.

While I won't go on to disclose any more of the plot, I'll take some time to talk about the more technical aspects of this movie. Animated in 1983, this was the Miyazaki film that led to Studio Ghibli being formed. Although the art is dated in this time, it is quite possibly the pinnacle of 80's anime. The forest settings are beautiful, and the characters, both human and insect, are well-designed, especially apparent in the close shots of the insects.

Much of the combat takes place in the air, and while the quality of this animation should also be noted as being phenomenal, what struck me was the way the air combat was paced: These are not superhuman ships able to withstand missiles and still make the hard landing, but rather they are at the whims of nature: A single gunship can decimate an entire fleet within minutes with nothing but several volleys of gunfire. That said, Nausicaa's flying is absolutely stunning and I found these shots to be one of my personal highlights of the film.

The music, however, could use some improvement. It ranges from that orchestral sound (which I adore) to this cheesy synth sound that almost felt inappropriate for the anime. For the time it may have been what they had, but I would be eager to see what Miyazaki would have done with a modern orchestra.

One thing to look out for is near the very end, a scene that involves the revived God Soldier. This scene was animated by Hideaki Anno, the legendary director of Evangelion and founder of Gainax.

Overall, this is an incredible movie and should be on the Must-See list of anyone who hopes to obtain true Otaku status. Nausicaa will finally get a proper North American release on August 31st, so the wait is not long to own a copy. Known as Miyazaki's 'life's work', the manga took over 10 years to publish in its entirety and contains five times as much story as was in the movie. In addition, those of you not satisfied with the ending might be happier with Princess Mononoke, which has much similar overtones to Nausicaa but has the ending that the director originally had in mind. This, however, in no way diminishes the excellence that is Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

I give Nausicaa 5 stars, two thumbs up, and 4 out of 4 pimps.

Guest Review by DOKool

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