Made before the creation of Studio Ghibli, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s first films, and foreshadows many of the themes that would appear in his future ones.
The story takes place on a post-apocalyptic earth where humanity is in a state of constant war, either with the giant bug-like Ohm from the Sea of Decay, or with each other.
Nausicaä (Sumi Shimamoto) is a princess living in the Valley of the Wind who hopes for peace, communicating with the Sea of Decay and the Ohm in search of a solution.
However, her attempts for peace are quickly shattered by an invading army that gets her peaceful valley embroiled in the wars that plague the landscape.
From here, the story kicks off with Nausicaä trying to put an end to the fighting, interacting with numerous characters on all sides of the conflict, revealing the films themes about the horrors of war and environmentalism.
These would later become staple themes for Miyazaki.
Nausicaä herself is a pretty great protagonist with some especially enjoyable moments towards the end of the film.
My favourite character though would have to be Lord Yupa (Goro Naya), a wise and respected warrior and adventurer who, although serving a minor role, steals every scene he is in.
As for the animation of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, it is great for 1984, laying a template for what Studio Ghibli would go to create.
The film does have a couple of issues though, mainly with the Giant Warrior and the Tolmeikan.
The Giant Warrior is hyped up for quite a bit of the film and, while it does serve a role thematically, its presence at the end is incredibly minor, despite all of its buildup.
As for the Tolmeikan, their actions during the credits scene left me pretty confused, especially in how some of the crimes they commit in the film is never really addressed again.
Also, the film makes a point of introducing an animal companion for Nausicaä but it has no point other than being cute.
And then there is Nausicaä’s character design, oh boy.
I remember my jaw dropping in the first twenty minutes of the film when the wind blew her skirt up to reveal her bare bottom for all the world to see!
Thankfully, after doing some research, it does appear that Nausicaä is actually wearing pants.
They are just the exact same color as her skin and have a butt impression, so, whenever we get a low angle shot of her, it appears she is wearing nothing under her skirt when she actually is.
However, I had no idea about this when watching the film so there were numerous times when her skirt flew up that left me feeling pretty uncomfortable.
Why they didn’t change the coloring of her pants is baffling to me because, even knowing this, it ruins some scenes because of what it looks like.
Despite these issues though, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is still a very well done anime film that laid the groundwork for the fantastic films Miyazaki would make in the future.