You know … yesterday when I finally had the courage to write again, I have a bit of trouble to present the post as I used to present all of my writings of the last year. But fortunately, I still love editing —even though I’m so bad at it— and figuring things out just add the twice of fun.
Anyway, I asked anyone who read the previous post to tell me what anime should I watch and review, I waited a whole day and there’s still no suggestion added in the comment section. So, I decided to just write whatever. And since I have lost track of what series I was working on, I thought to just review an old movie of which I never watched before. And so I stumbled upon this 80s movie from Hayao Miyazaki; it’s called the Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä.
Taking place in a future post-apocalyptic world, this anime movie tells a story of the young princess of the Valley of the Wind named Nausicaä. Everything centres in a huge disagreement between the Valley of the Wind and a kingdom that tries to use an ancient weapon to eradicate a jungle of Mutant Giants.
One thousand years ago, there is an apocalyptic war that destroyed civilization and created the vast toxic jungle known as the Sea of Decay, a poisonous forest swarming with Giant Mutants insects. In the kingdom of the Valley of the Wind, a prophecy predicts a saviour clothed in blue robes, descending onto a golden field will save them from this harming Earth. Nausicaä explores the jungle and commune with its creatures including the gigantic, trilobite-like armoured; Kings of the Insects. She hopes to understand the jungle and find a way for them and humans to co-exist together.
Coming from a distant kingdom, Princess Kushana of Tolmekia led her soldiers to invade the Valley of the Wind, execute Nausicaä’s father, and capture an embryo of a Giant Warrior; one of the lethal, gargantuan humanoid bioweapons that caused the apocalyptic war a long time ago. Princess Kushana plans to mature the Giant Warrior and use it to burn the toxic jungle. Blinded by revenge and doesn’t want to understand the nature, she cannot see the fact that every plant in the jungle shouldn’t be toxic if not because of the pollution caused by us people who tainted the soil.
Similar to almost every other movie from the Ghibli studio, the story always revolves around the imbalance between the Earth nature and the upturn of technologies that slowly destroying our Earth. This time is no different, even the untold background story is based on a war that devastated the Earth, one that referred often in the movie as the Seven Days of Fire. The creator of the movie even, Hayao Miyazaki himself, had gotten the urge to make this movie after he witnessed the mercury poisoning of Minamata Bay —a real-life tragedy about how nature responded and thrived in a poisoned environment, happened in 1956.
The story in the movie is … not as beautiful as I expected it. Because I’ve seen My Neighbour Totoro which is another movie from Ghibli that’s released around the 80s as well, and it amazed me as one of the best family movies of all time; it’s engaging and beautiful, it’s unique despite having a quite simple storyline, and I was just invested throughout the whole movie. And so I have that same bar of expectations when I curled up against my body pillow, started watching Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
It’s sad to say that … I was actually bored.
I noticed no plot twist throughout the movie, and if there’s actually one, the movie is that too monotonous to the point where I didn’t notice any. From one scene to another, there is just a plot turn after another plot turn, obstacles to just step over it and move forward; the movie is that dull without any noticeable variety of options or something that would make our characters reassess everything they have done. I noticed only one storyline, and our main character is moving forward in that direction, and nothing else.
You may ask, “why is it sad to say that you were bored?” Well, truth to be told, the material source is actually so rich and the background story should be capable to back the current story that the movie tells. But the run time is almost two hours long, and it really feels like I was watching a full two hours movie.
And while there are so many things happened from one scene to another, which most of them are the interaction between the characters and the interaction between one or two characters with the ature itself. It’s almost made me clapped, considering that I still felt … bored after all that.
Seriously, they have the supposedly great characters introduced as Princesses who represent their Kingdoms and yet the movie have wasted this opportunity to develop the characters further; our main character in this movie is just too perfect and too simple, and made her easily the least likeable character of all Ghibli movies I’ve watched so far. The movie could also give a more detailed explanation of how destructive human can be using their own made weapons, could even explain the Giant Warrior more deeply rather than just mentioning the weapon of mass destruction over and over again without telling much of it, and then showing it only for five seconds almost at the end of the movie.
I just won’t feel rewarded if I cared so much about it. And the truth is, I’m glad that I didn’t care about the Giant Warrior that much even though it’s literally the Death Star (a galactic superweapon from Star Wars) of this movie. In the end, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind failed to capture my interest, and that just made the movie looks bad even more.
You know what? I have to say also that I noticed- or should I say, I could see the idea of sacrifice plays out heavily in this story … but it didn’t. I mean, the movie is not made entirely to be a family movie; it’s rated PG-13 with the death of our main character’s father in the first part of the story, and then Tolmekians who are led by Princess Kushana try to colonize the Valley of the Wind, and so the villagers should submit or they will be slaughtered.
So I don’t understand … even the dialogues revolve around hostages, people’s attempts killing each other, and the war between human’s cruelty and the karma of nature. There are lots of scenes that would make us believe that our main character is just a human, that she has flaws and can get hurts, and she does get hurts at the end of the movie —she gets hurts badly. If only I was the director, I would add the element of sacrifice to the story narrative and develop it very well.
But the concept of sacrifice won’t play well in the story narrative if our characters aren’t developed well, so let’s talk about that despite I have glassed over my opinions about the characters in between the long paragraphs above. So let’s.
From the documentary book titled “Hayao Miyazaki Master of Japanese Animation” by Helen McCarthy, it is said that one of the previous works that inspired him while in the making of this movie is J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. So I guess this is one of the reasons why the world building in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is so noticeable. It is a plus point but also a lack in another department because unfortunately, it’s so apparent to the point where it outweighs the character development. Oh no!
This matter is so noticeable when there’s a piece of background music as we explore the landscapes of the Village of the Wind for the first time, and lovely music every time we focus on nature’s surroundings such as plants blowing their spores and we see them raining like snow. But on the contrary, there’s no music when we introduced to the villagers for the first time, there’s no music when we see our main character for the first time, and there’s no music in the background that should be helping in building up the scene of our main character flying for the first time, saving someone from being killed.
I have to point this out because this unbalance approach of character and world development continues until the very end of the movie. Maybe that’s why despite the hard effort of our main character trying so hard to resolve all the problems, I hardly cheered for her. Maybe that’s why despite she being hurt a lot and plays a heroic role from the beginning to end, the concept of sacrifice just doesn’t work on her.
Our main character is named Nausicaä, and this movie is pretty much an origin story of this heroine. The movie tries to tell about self-discovery, it tells about character growth, defeat and loss, tells about the one who still looking up and rises for betterment even after all the tragic experience happened to her. The movie is pretty much a hardcore origin story of Nausicaä; her father killed, her village burned, her people being held hostage, and she must find a solution inside herself to fix all that.
But let me remind you that the movie interested more about its world development rather than her character development. So let’s just scrap all that very rich material from our face, because you will only relate very little to her character. She’s introduced since the beginning as a perfect girl; always know what she’s doing, always smiling even when she cries, already beloved as a princess, and even the worlds of both people and nature already gravitated and kind toward her.
So which character’s trait that needs to be constructed? Maybe there’s none because despite she gets hurts a lot, I couldn’t see her as a vulnerable character; she’s still the perfect, flawless princess.
Then in about the middle of the second act of the movie, the story introduces a new character, and the movie touches the area of “boy meet girl” kind of situation. But of course, just like any other introductions of an idea beforehand, the movie doesn’t expand this idea further. Even in their first encounter, the boy manages to destroy a plane and maybe killed the people who are on that plane. Nausicaä witness that happen, and there’s a possibility that her people were killed as well. But then when they finally meet, they suddenly very friendly with each other because you know … Nausicaä is that perfect as a character, and the boy knows she’s not a bad person because you know … Nausicaä is pretty and always smiling and all that.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie did give Nausicaä enough deficiency as a character, that’s the only reason why I see this movie as her origin story even though the movie failed to present so. She gets very angry when she sees her father killed, but not long after that, she’s able to calm herself. I didn’t even see a drop of tears in this scene, but she does cry when she wakes up and realize she’s at such a beautiful place. So yeah, the movie has a wrong list of priorities, at least that’s how I see it.
visual and arts.
The visual is aight, it is not rich but it does its job considering Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is quite an old movie. But the production quality was very low on score since the movie has a lot of scenes without any music or song, or any musical instrument played in the background. Still the same year of the movie release tho, it was worthy enough to be awarded an Animation Grand Award, the Oufuji Noburou Award at the Mainichi Film Awards. So I guess at that time, a movie with this scale is actually an awesome film.
And to be fair as well, this was Hayao Miyazaki’s second work on directing a film adaptation —his first directorial debut is The Castle of Cagliostro of which he released in 1979, as we have reviewed it here on #moe404. So this movie was still a white rabbit, an experimental work for him. This was the early time when he still encountered difficulties in creating the screenplay, maybe also confronted with unfamiliar choices of which he didn’t know how his decision would determine the way of the audience accepting the movie.
closing – nesha’s final verdict.
In any good screenwriting, a protagonist should have a goal in any given scene to become a part of the narrative they are living in. But in this movie, our main character doesn’t even try to achieve that goal; Nausicaä just flew in the story like a leaf on the flowing water —not in a beautiful way. Even though of course she has a purpose in this story, and eventually she will achieve her goal of which stopping the war between humanity and the Mutant Giants.
But the problem lies in the fact that she doesn’t even try to be that purpose. Since to reach her goal, Nausicaä really dependant on the story. When the villagers become the hostages, she gives herself up. Just because the Mutant Giants are headed to the Valley of the Wind, she tries to stop them with herself, using nothing, holding nothing. So she doesn’t control what will happen to herself next, it’s the story that controls what she will do next.
So considering that her name is literally the title of this movie, and yet her purpose in the movie is very dull and stiff … hmm, I just don’t like it a lot.
It’s hard for me to say this is a beautiful movie too because it’s not that beautiful. Though Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind may be one of the easiest stories to be adapted into a children book, to be one of those coloured books that parents would read to tell a good night story to their children before they sleep. The narrative is simple, nothing is complex. And in the end, there’s always that miracle that saves everyone.
Also, by the way, considering how Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind artistically represented the apocalypses and apocalyptic visions, depicted consequences of treating nature as not how it should be, the movie was released with a recommendation from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). There will be an announcement stating this at the very first second of the movie.
Anyhow, despite the movie has an awesome score in MyAnimeList.net and IMDB, the movie is just aight to me. Maybe because I am now too old, or maybe because I watched too much superhero movies recently. I dunno.
additional pieces of information.
- Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa
Warriors of the Wind
- nesha’s review of an anime movie
- first time premiered in the spring, 11.03.1984
- from the studio of Studio Hibari and Topcraft
- tagged under the genre of #adventure and #fantasy
tagged also under the subgenre of #action, #manga, #military, #mina, #post-apocalyptic, and #science_fiction
- the age-rated as PG-13 – Teens 13 or older
So um, yesterday I was so determined to write all this in one sitting, but I failed. I was reminded about times when I was still able to post about three reviews in a week, so that means I finished a review in each day in the weekend. But I guess … not; that after two paragraphs, I already emptied my mind and didn’t know what to write anymore.
But hei, I finally finished it. This has been a really fun review to write, the first time in a long time. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed all my criticism of this movie.
I mentioned the legendary movie My Neighbour Totoro up there, so in case you want me to write a full review of that movie, definitely let me know. Also if you have any suggestion about anything, definitely let me know. Thanks again for reading this. Glad I could write again.
© written by nesha5971