Here’s another question I often get from other bloggers as well as a few acquaintances, “What made you like anime?”. And while I could go on about how anime has a greater ability to captivate and excite the viewer than ordinary shows/cartoons my answer is quite simple, Hayao Miyazaki. For those who have never heard of him before, he is the guy behind Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howls Moving Castle among other works, all being brilliant anime masterpieces. When it comes to anime, this is the guy with the Midas Touch (everything he touches turns to gold). Now let’s get back to the question at hand, the first anime I had ever seen was Princess Mononoke, while flicking through channels (a very long time ago) I came across it and being used to the average run of the mill cartoons at the time I was hooked. The rush of emotion ranging from joy, sadness and anticipation had me enthralled from start to finish and from that moment I knew I had to find more movies like that, and so began my search that lead me to be the anime enthusiast I am today (Quite a long into huh?).
While I intend to review all Miyazaki’s movies, for today our target is Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic era where Industrial civilization has been destroyed by nature. And by nature I mean huge indestructible bugs pissed at humans after years of waging war and destroying the planet. And after those bugs are done wreaking havoc they simply lay there, die of exhaustion and from their body grows forth a forest, toxic to humans and practically every other animal that isn’t a “toxic-forest” insect. The remaining humans, slowly being wiped out by said forest gather in small communities, surviving by farming and possessing a mixture of ancient and modern technology.
The plot revolves around a small community and its young princess who incidentally gets smack-dab in the middle of the fight between other regions and the rapidly spreading toxic jungle. The princess constantly working to achieve peace between the insects of the forest and the humans goes through hell and back in order to save her village and in extension the human race. Personally I think the plot in itself is a work of art, it’s how Walt Disney would have imagined his princess stories if instead of a drawing board his parents bought him a gun for Christmas.
Now, while every Miyazaki movie out there is a must watch for all avid anime fans I’m sure not everyone appreciates the sight of our furry 4, 6 and 8 legged friends we call insects (bugs, arachanids etc), especially when they are portrayed as well… larger than life. There’s also the fact that this was released over 25 years ago and whilst the animation is wonderful in its own way let’s be honest here, in comparison to the best we have now….. It falls short.
Music, this is a hard one, while it sounded a bit raw maybe it was just my poor audio. It did complement every moment of the show perfectly though, there were no irregularities or overuse and it never failed to emphasize the desired feel of each and every scene where it was played.
Each character played his/her/it’s role well and the conclusion was brilliant. While one may have a question or two about the after effects caused by the turnaround at the end (trying to be vague so I won’t spoil anything) I believe our dear Midas intended to let our imaginations draw the after story. All in all this is a brilliant movie (almost) unaffected by time and if you don’t mind seeing giant insects destroy everything in their path then you should definitely put it on your to-watch list.