Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Review

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Review

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind anime movie cover art

Nausicaä the Bug Tamer

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä / 風の谷のナウシカ) was the movie we watched for May’s Discord Movie Night event. And I’m sorry to say that this might be the most overrated “Studio Ghibli” movie I’ve seen.

I believe this is also the first “Ghibli” movie I’ve seen that’s not an original movie. It’s based on a manga, and I’m pretty sure the movie doesn’t cover the whole thing. I guess that was a trend in the 80s because it’s what happened with both this (1984) and Akira (1988).

There are probably other 80s anime movies this applies to. But those are the only two I could think of off the top of my head.

Anyway, let’s start this review by going over the part I liked most: The beginning of the movie.

Nausicaä leading a giant bug back to the forest from the anime movie Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaä leading a giant bug back to the forest

The beginning of Nausicaä is pretty cool because it follows the titular character, Nausicaä, as she explores what looks like an alien world. However, it’s actually supposed to be Earth, thousands of years in the future after a nuclear apocalypse. But the planet isn’t a wasteland, as you might expect.

A jungle-like fungus is spreading across the globe and forcing humanity into smaller and smaller pockets of the world due to its poisonous spores. But within this jungle, there’s new life. Giant insects rule the jungle, with the largest of them all being the mighty Ohm.

And it’s in this jungle that we first meet Nausicaä as she searches for materials to scavenge. This whole opening sequence does an amazing job of building an interesting world in a short period of time. If the whole movie followed Nausicaä’s explorations and taming the giant insects of the jungle, I would have loved it.

Nausicaä the Wind Princess

As the movie progressed, I got less invested in it. Bug tamer Nausicaä is cool. But what about wind princess Nausicaä? She’s not as cool. There’s just something about Nausicaä being the princess of the Valley of the Wind that I don’t find interesting.

Nausicaä came out before Studio Ghibli was actually a thing. So, I can understand why it’s different than most Ghibli films in this way. But Nausicaä being a princess rather than your average person feels wrong. Part of what makes Ghibli films special is how they’re about normal people (kids) exploring the world around them.

Does being a princess add anything to Nausicaä’s character? I don’t think so. You could argue that her sense of duty to protect her people comes from being a princess. However, I’d argue that she could have discovered that sense of duty even if she was a normal girl.

Nausicaä talking to some children from the anime movie Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaä talking to some children

I’m also going to go on the record saying that the Valley of the Wind isn’t a very interesting location. If this is where the movie began before Nausicaä headed out to explore the jungle, fine. But that’s not the case.

Instead, the movie starts in the jungle, which is a very interesting location, and moves to the Valley of the Wind. It’s a large valley with a small village in it. The only unique thing about it is its connection with the wind. But Nausicaä, as the princess, is really the main character who does anything wind-related.

Other characters from the valley talk about the wind. They can read the wind and stuff like that. So, the wind is clearly a big part of their culture. But we don’t actually see it much, so the village feels empty and bland compared to the jungle.

Nausicaä the Messiah

If you’ve seen the recent Dune movies, you’ve kind of already seen a better version of Nausicaä. These series have a lot more in common than you’d expect. Nausicaä and Paul Atreides are both royals who tame the largest beast on an inhospitable planet before leading revolutions.

The big difference is that I was invested in all this stuff happening in Dune, but not in Nausicaä. Once the war arc of Nausicaä started, I didn’t really care about what was going on. The whole “battle for the existence of my people (and the planet)” thing is in a lot of series.

Maybe that was a more interesting plot development 40 years ago. Or maybe I’d have enjoyed this part of the movie more if the movie adapted the entire Nausicaä manga. It’s definitely possible that this war ties into more interesting developments later on in the series.

Nausicaä with an injured baby Ohm from the anime movie Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaä with an injured baby Ohm

For example, by the end of the movie, there’s still a bit of mystery surrounding the Ohm. These massive creatures are the protectors of the jungle. When humanity does anything to harm nature, the Ohm cause destruction. That’s how the antagonist nation can use the Ohm as a weapon of war.

But why are the Ohm like that? Did they simply evolve to punish humans for their destruction of nature? Were the Ohm and the jungle fungus somehow man-made? Are the Ohm actually sentient creatures? None of this was explored that much in the movie. Instead, they’re simply used as the final “catastrophe” Nausicaä has to save everyone from.

Ultimately, this war arc felt like the final few episodes of Violet Evergarden. If you’ve seen that series, you should understand what I mean. There was some random action shoved in at the end that didn’t quite work.

Final Thoughts

I ended up giving Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind a 5/10. I can see why people like this movie. But I have a feeling that the manga is the better way to experience the series. So, I’ll read the manga at some point this year and come back with another review of the series then.

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Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about the perks of supporting this blog, check out DoubleSama.com/support.

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