Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that a shortened version of this Japanese film came out stateside in the 1980s, but this is a review of the full 117-minute film readily available on DVD. The themes of protecting the environment, living peacefully, and respecting all creatures are very strong here and the heroine, Nausicaa, is extremely admirable. She faces a lot of danger, however, in the form of intense air ship battles with explosions, her people taken as hostages, and her father shot and killed. Nausicaa is also injured by gunfire protecting animals from harm.
What's the story?
It's been 1,000 years since industrialized civilization ended in the "Seven Days of Fire." A toxic jungle has taken over where giant bugs rule, especially the fierce beetle-like ohmu. Humans live in smaller cities and villages now and travel via airship and glider over the jungles. Princess Nausicaa's village is in a valley along the ocean with a steady breeze to keep out the noxious gasses of the jungle. It's almost idyllic, until airships from Tolmekia invade, insisting that "uniting" all peoples and then destroying the toxic jungle is the only way for humans to survive. Nausicaa, who has come to understand the ways of the insects and discovers a secret beneath the jungle, tries to make the Tolkemians understand their folly before it's too late for her village and all of humanity.
Is it any good?
Of course it's beautifully done, it's from Hayao Miyazaki, director of Spirited Away, Ponyo, and many other striking Japanese animated films. And the level of creativity displayed in each crazy giant insect, toxic plant, and battered airship is captivating. Add to that a story with a great message and a very admirable heroine -- one of Miyazaki's best. The dubbing in this version is pretty good too.
Guaranteed many anime fans are thrilled that the original long version is now what's available here -- the one released in theaters back in the '80s was shortened. It does feel a bit long at times, but if kids' minds wander during a discussion of why one village is fighting another they can just stare at the cool animation until they get back into it.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about great heroines. What makes Nausicaa so admirable? What other great heroines can you think of?
Families can also talk about the movie's eco-message. How is the earth repairing itself? Why is aggressive action to destroy the toxic jungle the wrong way to save the human race? What's the right way? How does the movie's message translate to current issues?