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Anime: Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Title: Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind
Age Rating: PG
Company: Optimum Asia
Genre: Fantasy
Running Time: 116 mins approx
DVD Region 2

The great decay engulfs the earth, what are mankinds chances of survival?

Ah Ghibli once the name is mentioned legions of anime fans across the world take notice. And while Nausicaa itself was actually made before the legendary studio was founded, it's still considered one of their films. Ghibli is the happy smiley face of anime. The face that you can show to your family knowing that things like excessive violence and sexual content won't be there. While I do like many Ghibli films, I think they are perhaps not quite as deserving of the high praise they receive.

Originally made in 1984 (the year I was born *gasp*) Nausicaa, directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki focuses on environmental struggle (a subject Miyazaki seems very keen on) in a similar vein to the more recent Princess Mononoke. Earth is in trouble, a forest full of lethal and deadly insects and filled with noxious fumes is covering the planet. It is known as the "Great Decay". A few human settlements remain out of the decay, and many of these civilizations have plans to take back the earth. Nausicaa is a young princess, who lives in coastal town known as "The Valley Of The Wind" a brave strong and skilled girl who frequently ventures into the Great Decay (wearing an anti-toxin mask) and actually sees beauty in the dangerous environment. Nausicaa is perhaps the typical Ghibli heroine we have all now gotten used to, very independent and likeable. Nausicaa lives in peace with her father and fellow villagers, however when a plane crashes near the village holding a mysterious cargo things soon get out of hand. A violent kingdom invade the valley, enslaving the villagers and making plans to destroy the Great Decay. However, Nausicaa knows that their plans may well backfire and result in the destruction of mankind instead. Nausicaa takes it upon herself to save humanity.

Looking at the cast after viewing it's only really Nausicaa that receives anything in the way of character development and even she remains pretty pre-set in her "treehugging" ways from the start. You have the female villain and leader of the military force set on destroying the Great Decay, who is pretty embittered by the fact the insects who dwell in the forest have eaten bits of her. This results in her being a rather angry individual which to be fair makes sense, and I certainly see why she doesn't listen to Nausicaa's "We must make friends with the insects" type behaviour as quite frankly the girl sounds like a nutcase. The rest of the cast really aren't of much note, there's a guy who helps Nausicaa who fits into the "generic hero, without any screentime" role and a rather skilled old man called Lord Yupa who has some good fight scenes. The insects that dwell in the forest are perhaps the most striking thing in the film in terms of characters. They vary from horrific to bizarrely cute looking, and while originally painted as deadly predators, it becomes clear by the half-way point of the series the insects may well be not as bad as some of the human cast.

Lots of the film is spent battling and escaping insects, as well as some impressive fight sequences involving humans and aircraft. When I went into the film I wasn't expecting much action, but there was surprisingly high amounts and while not spectacular enough to be adrenaline pumping, the fight sequences were well crafted. Nausicaa thrives mainly because of its great lead and spectacular settings and battles rather than on its plot. While the plot "is" good it is very crammed together with little attention plays to secondary cast members and details. Nausicaa has a manga series and I feel the story is far more fleshed out in this (although I haven't read it myself) than in the film. It is the "crammed in" feeling of the film that is certainly it's main weakness as it directly effects other aspects.

Looking at the animation of the show, it is nothing short of superb especially as it was created in an era where CG wasn't around. Everything is smooth detailed in seamless throughout and jaw-dropping at times. The Japanese track (which I watched) is perhaps one of the best sounding and most dramatic voicing for a film I have heard, and if your a dub fan there is a dub voiced by professional film actors present here as well. Extras wise Optimum have included a featurette, storyboards and the like all of very high quality and a must for Ghibli fans. Finally the packing while pretty basic is adequate enough and not exactly bad. The cover image is the same as the one on the DVD itself.

Overall Scores

Contents: 7.5/10
Marred by a bigger story being crammed into a short film. But still good.

Animation: 9/10
Very impressive, breathtaking.

Audio: 9/10
While I haven't heard the dub, the sub track contains some of the best acting I've heard.

Extras: 8/10
Interesting for those interested in them. As usual!

Packing: 5/10
Average, but not that bad.
posted by Mangaminx On Thursday, November 24, 2005  
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