I first bought this DVD in KL years ago. Probably like ten years ago? I recently stumbled upon a concert of music from Miyazaki Hayao’s Ghibli works conducted by Joe Hisaishi himself. Memories of watching Miyazaki’s older films came flooding back and I felt that I should revisit the DVDs once again. I haven’t bought the blu-ray as yet so this old DVD just have to do.

I started off with his first Studio Ghibli[1] film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind 「風の谷のナウシカ」 which was first released in 1984. The story was written by Miyazaki himself and centred around a world devastated by a great war called the Seven Days of Fire a thousand years ago.

What remains now is largely desert and containing toxic wasteland with massive insects and fungal spores that are detrimental to humans. Nausicaä’s people live in a green valley (kaze no tani – Valley of the Wind) that is somehow protected from the wasteland by virtue of its geographical location.

The lives of Nausicaä’s people were disrupted when a large aircraft from the military state of Tolmekia crashed in the valley, which carried within it an embryo of a God Warrior, genetically engineered giants created for war which led to the Seven Days of Fire, taken from the kingdom of Pejite. At the site of the wreckage, Nausicaä stumbled upon a dying Pejitean princess who warned her to destroy the embryo.

Just as they were trying to do something about it, a squadron of Tolmekian aircraft arrived in the Valley and occupied the area by force. The Tolmekians were planning to destroy the toxic wasteland using the God Warrior so as to save mankind. Nausicaä and four of her countrymen were then taken as hostage and en route to Tolmekia, they were attacked by a Pejite fighter plane, piloted by Asbel, the twin brother of the kidnapped Pejitean princess who perished in the plane crash. Nausicaä managed to commandeer a small aircraft to escape as did her other kidnapped countrymen. After landing in the waters of the wastelands, Nausicaä had to part from them as she was concerned with a swarm of marauding Ohmu, large mutant insects which are reminiscent of trilobites, and left on her mehve[2] to investigate.

In the process, she came upon Asbel who had also crashed his plane, and both of them ended up underground, only to realise that the toxic wastelands flora was actually detoxifying the planet as the air was breathable and its waters clean. They then left for Pejite only for Nausicaä to be held captive again after she discovered that Pejite actually caused the stampede of Ohmu to attack the embryo which is currently still in the Valley of the Winds. Nausicaä then has to find a way to stop this stampede and prevent what is basically a stand-off of sorts between two warring nations with her land caught in between.

Despite the somewhat lo-fi quality of the anime by today’s standard, this seminal work of Miyazaki had a superb storyline which touched on major issues that we face from war to environmental issues. I loved how Miyazaki borrowed several forms of artwork during the opening sequence showing tapestries depicting the Seven Days of Fire that had styles of medieval Europe and even what looked to me like ancient Mayan.

Nausicaä’s post-apocalyptic world was somewhat Final Fantasy-esque, and the technology they used invoked memories of watching Honneamise no Tsubasa, another superb film. And the music. Man, Hisaishi-san’s composition in this opus is just majestic.

At the end of the film, I also note another familiar scene. This film predates The Matrix and I wonder if you find this scene in this screencap reminiscent of a particular event that occurred to Neo in the third instalment of The Matrix.

Next Miyazaki film to watch – Laputa: Castles in the Sky 「天空の城ラピュタ」.

[1]Nausicaä actually predates Ghibli but was considered the start of it, hence its inclusion in the list.
[2]A glider that has a small jet propulsion system.