For Reel

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
July 16, 2012, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Following the success of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in 1984, producer Toshio Suzuki and directors Miyazaki and Isao Takahata would found Studio Ghibli, the studio credited with producing many of the Japanese animation masterpieces of the last thirty years. Nausicaä, then, can be seen as the launching pad for Miyazaki’s directorial career (though he had been working in the animation field for two decades previous) and, while it features a number of the key themes and ideas that he continues to explore in his work – environmentalism, optimism, and a particular fondness for female protagonists – it is uncharacteristically convoluted and hectically paced. That is not to say that it isn’t spectacular. The climactic images of a glowing army of stalled trilobite-like creatures is awe-inspiring, working as a sort of primer for the visual mastery of his truly great epic, Princess Mononoke. Still, Nausicaä herself is not quite as captivating as Miyazaki’s best characters, such as Kiki or Chihiro, and as a Dune-like science fiction epic, its lack of subtlety compromises the potential thematic resonance. Lesser Miyazaki, on the other hand, is about on par with the best work of most other directors – though the animation is not as smooth as Ghibli’s later efforts, there are a number of stunning images with a memorable score to accompany them (a minimalist vocal theme proves irresistibly catchy).

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