on 7 September 2006
Channel four recently put a Studio Ghibli film into its 100 films to see before you die, and it was Princess Mononoke, which is a great film, but in my opinion this is the film that should be there instead. Credited as a Studio Ghibli film is was not made by Ghibli, but by the people who would eventually become Ghibli when they made the second film, Laputa. First seen in the west as a butchered film called Warriors of the Winds, it sank beneath the waves until the recent interest in Ghibli with the release of Spirited Away and it was released in an uncut form with new voice talent. It is based on a Manga that Miyzaki had been writing for 13 years until he bought it to the screen.
It shows a world devastated by mans folly 1000 years before in a war in which burnt the world. Survivors now live in isolated communities seperated by the Sea of Decay, a poisonous forest inhabited by giant insects, chief of which are the Ohmu. Nausicaa is a Princess who lives in The Valley of the Winds. A peaceful place until it is shattered by a aircraft from the warlike people of Tolmekia, which crashes into there valley. Closely followed by a resuce party from Tolmekia it is discovered that the crash ship carries a weapon left over from the old world, with which the Tolmekians plan to destroy the Sea of Decay and reclaim the earth for man. Needless to say it goes a little pear-shaped.
The film, despite being made in 1984, is beautfully drawn and is superior to anything that Disney produced at the time. Its plot could be confusing to younger children, but the action keeps flowing and the storyline is intelligent to keep the adults engrossed. A great film for both young and old alike, as it show that animation is not just for children.
on 19 February 2006
Whilst not a genuine Studio Ghibli film (it was made before the company was formed and it was this film that led to the formation of Ghibli) this is certainly one of Miyazaki's best.
Although made in 1984, Nausicaa's animation is top notch (although understandably it does seem a litle dated when compared to the likes of Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle) and the storyline engrossing, exciting and magical.
There is certainly a lot more action in this film than in any of the later Ghibli movies. This includes tank and plane battles and a horde of 'Ohmu' laying waste to various cities. All of this is shown tastefully and never goes over the top.
Musically, the film does show its age as the soundtrack is comprised of a lot of 80's electronica. However, the composer was Joe Hisaishi, the man responsible for the composition of many other Ghibli soundtracks including Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle as well as great non-Ghibli anime such as The Venus Wars. Fans should probably check out the Nausicaa soundtrack if they haven't already!
I would probably put this as my favourite Miyazaki film with Spirited Away a very close second. It is certainly more enjoyable than the, at times ponderous Princess Mononoke.
Whether you are an anime fan, a Miyazaki fan or just a lover of good films the Nausicaa is a film that you should not be without. It is truly an amazing achievement in every sense of the word.
on 16 March 2007
This film is technically a "pre-Ghibli" work: Ghibli as such didn't exist when it was made. You can, however, clearly see where Miyazaki's style and preoccupations came from. I am a part-time science-fiction fan, and it has always saddened me to see that while reams of intelligent SF are published (consider "Grass", "The Sirens of Titan", "A Fire Upon The Deep", "A Requiem for Homo Sapiens", "The Cyberiad", Cordwainer Smith and many more) Hollywood generally takes the line that SF on the screen either means Star Wars (lots of whizzy spaceships, weird aliens and battles) or Alien (horrible monsters picking people off one by one.) Both of those are good films, but they have been far too much imitated because of their success, and the other things that written SF has to offer never seem to have made it to the cinema. "Nausicaä", however, is an exception. It is a film which, like a good SF story, always has something to reveal, introduces you to a well-designed and fascinating world, and plays out through the actions of properly-developed characters. If you want to see space battles and mindless action, or people being horribly murdered by alien creatures, this is not the film for you, but if you'd like to see some SF written for the heart and the mind instead of just the senses, I can't recommend it too highly--except to say that "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" may be even better.
on 29 December 2005
I love anime films. Especially Studio Ghibli films. Tending to be a bit drawn towards the more cutesy stuff, I was originally put off Nausicaa, until I had watched most of the others. Thankfully, I finally bought it the other day.
I have to say...this is probably the best film I have ever seen. There is a lot of violence and stuff similar to Princess Mononoke, but this is perfectly balanced by grace and beauty in form of Princess Nausicaa. From the very beginning I was really impressed (especially as she has a cute little sidekick).
This film is really emotional as well as being insanely capturing. Because it was originally released in 1984, the music is quite techno and amusing, but this doesn't really affect the quality of the movie.
I was absolutely taken with this film, and if you enjoy any anime's and animations at all, especially Studio Ghibli, I recommend this.
First, the bad news. Yes, you are going to need to upgrade your Studio Ghibli DVD collection. I played Optimum's new Blu-ray alongside the same company's 2005 DVD release and the differences left my mind recovering from a heavy session of boggling. Maybe I'm speaking in hyperbole (I don't think I am) but the Blu-ray brings the artwork of Miyazaki's masterpiece to life with sharp edges and dazzling colours on top of details hidden from DVD viewers. Even when upscaled through my Blu-ray player, the DVD now looks like a VHS copy by comparison.
As is often the case, the audio isn't such a headline grabber, but the lossless LPCM 2.0 stereo does offer a degree of improvement in clarity nonetheless. Subtitles are given the usual extra sharp definition from 1080p. As before, the English dub is a highly commendable effort with star turns from Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman and Mark 'Yes, as in Luke Skywalker' Hamill.
Optimum has fleshed out the bonus section of its DVD release to include a feature on the recording of the English dub as well as the feature commentary from Hideaki Anno and Kazuyoshi Katayama from the recent Japanese release. As far as the latter goes, while they're amiable enough hosts, reading the subtitles for a Japanese commentary while watching a Japanese film is something for the hardcore, truth be told. It's not something to buy this release for, put it that way.
Disney handled Nausicaa's native Japanese release and it should come as no surprise that the packaging for that version is far more stylish and desirable than what Optimum has come up with. Indeed, this Blu-ray packaging is nothing more than a re-sized replica of the five-year-old DVD release. Regardless, Optimum has delivered where it matters most and Nausicaa has to be considered an essential addition to your Blu-ray collection if you've made it this far into my review.
As for the film itself, 26 years and several Miyazaki classics later and its majesty remains undiminished. Like all the Ghibli greats it treats children like adults and adults to a second childhood. And thanks to this latest release, home viewings just got a bit more special. You may have thought there wasn't much that Blu-ray could do for a film like Nausicaa but that's because you've never seen Nausicaa on Blu-ray before.
on 23 April 2007
After being blown away by `Princess Mononoke', `Spirited Away', `Howl's Moving Castle' and a couple of other Studio Ghibli movies, I was really looking forward to viewing this earlier offering from that same studio. And in only a couple of ways does this film show its age and mark `Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind' as being one of the first films in this studio's collection- (1) The soundtrack is pure 80's techno, which I found to be the perfect accompaniment to the ecological/adventure plot and (2) Not only is the story as originally scripted as you would expect being one of Miyazaki's first stories, but it's also a fantastic adventure to boot. Somewhat surprising is that the animation is not one of the areas where this film appears dated- as I watched I found it incredible that this film could have been animated over twenty years ago. I don't know whether it's been digitally re-mastered, or if it's simply the transmission on DVD, but the animation is truly superb.
If you wanted to be brutally honest you might say the occasional scenes involving movement are a little flatter in comparison with some of this director's most recent works, but in truth it's eye-poppingly glorious to view throughout and I especially marvelled at the insect creatures brought to life by the animators (the ominous `Ohmu' are particularly powerful). Strangely the DVD credits make no mention of the English speaking actors, perhaps because these voices were dubbed in 2004 with the release of this DVD, but still I would have expected some reference to their participation, especially since they're so proficient and well cast- Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart and Alison Lohman stand out among them. A nostalgic breath of fresh air, unashamedly enjoyable.
on 13 August 2005
I came accross this movie by accident many years ago and it inspired my great love of Japanese manga and animation. It is wonderful news that Studio Ghible are finally about to release the original to the UK market.
This is an early Miyazaki movie (1986 ?) embracing all his now familiar hallmarks - superb illustration, great storey, intelligence and imagination, not to mention the best crazy flying machines you'll see and a heroine you couldn't help but fall in love with.
I was stunned when I first saw it and have watched it over and over (I dont generally watch a movie more than once - I'm 35 after all!) Its probably still my favourite animation, despite some fierce competition from the Japanese animation houses.
I can only find one very minor criticism: the move departs from the original cartoon series (reprinted by VIS in 7 volumes). Miyazaki's vision of Nausicca's world is far greater than the movie portrays and the storey far more complete and impressive.
Watch this, its simply the best.
And if you like the movie, dont miss the books :)
on 29 August 2006
When I first saw this film it was called Valley of the Winds. I looked for this film on and off since first seeing it in the 1980's. Then amazon suggested a film to buy. I looked the desciption and disovered it was the same film, with a different title. This is a wonderful imaginative film and seeing it again after all these years is great. I have shown it to my children and they all love it. The story line for a lot of Studio Gibli films are far superior to anything else you will see.
on 14 March 2007
Although less well-known than later Ghibli films such as Spirited Away, Nausicaa is (in my opinion) just as good as these films, and probably better in some respects.
For those who didn't know, Nausicaa was originally a manga by Miyazaki, which he was persuaded to make into a film. The manga is actually very different to the anime, so is well worth checking out if you enjoyed the film but were put off the books due to fears of buying the same story (which I have done with some "film comics" in the past...)
The first thing that struck me about this film was the quality of the imagery. It was made in 1984, and back then the art hadn't really been developed very far, plus the team was on a tight budget, so what they have managed to do is very impressive, and still stands up to scrutiny today. The opening shots are very effective at setting the tone of the film, with ruined villages offset by lush jungle and sweeping barren plains. The art style is consistent throughout, although occasionally the characters seem a little too cartoony against the more detailed backgrounds.
The story is quite complicated, and I didn't get all of it the first time around. The film is set 1000 years after a global war that destroyed almost all of civilisation. The few remaining humans have survived alongside the Sea of Decay (Poison Jungle in some versions), that covers most of the planet, and is ruled by giant insects called ohmu. The titular Nausicaa is the princess of the Valley of the Wind, a small, peaceful kingdom by the sea. It is the wind blowing from the sea that prevents the jungle's spores coming into their land, and the people lead happy, safe lives alongside the Sea of Decay. However, one day an airship from another kingdom, Torumekia, crashes in the Valley, and (without spoiling the plot), is found to contain something that has been proven to have the power to change the future of the Earth, which the Torumekians plan to use to their own end.
Although you will probably lose track of who's from where (another kingdom called Pejite gets dragged in as well), the plot is thrilling, awe-inspiring and thought-provoking. Be sure to sit through the credits, as they play over some shots depicting the events after the film, and help to bring it to a satisfying, if slightly clichéd, conclusion.
The sound in the film is passable, with the opening theme being the only piece that really stands out. The American dub is alright, but some actors seem awkward in their roles, and the script is (like most dubbed anime) changed quite a bit, although the same general messages come through.
The film is rated PG, but there is quite a bit of senseless killing, and some scenes would be scary for very young children. There is a never-dying rumour that Nausicaa isn't wearing any underwear, and there are a few shots of her bare behind, but she is actually wearing pale-coloured trousers, and the skirt-type garment is just her coat (everyone else is wearing one in later scenes).
Despite this, I would recommend this film to everyone, as it delivers everything you would associate with Miyazaki's other films; beautiful imagery, thought-provoking plot, frantic action and engaging slower scenes. No-one can be called a Miyazaki fan until they've seen this original masterpiece.
on 7 November 2010
At last, Optimum Asia are following up with UK releases after Ghibli release them one at a time in Japan. Although Ponyo is already available on Blu-ray here, this is the first of the older Ghibli archive films to arrive on the superior HD format.
At first I had no intentions of upgrading my Ghibli DVD's as I believed that 2D animation couldn't benefit all that much from HD. Well after buying Ponyo on double play Blu-ray/DVD and watching in HD, I realised how wrong I was. I now had both formats to compare side by side. Oh what a revelation that was.
So after seeing Ponyo in HD, and seeing that Optimum had released Nausicaa on Blu-Ray, it was a natural decision to purchase this. And I'm pleased to report that this disc also shows the same leap in quality over its DVD counterpart.
Apart from the obvious leaps in detail over DVD, there are no visible compression artefacts whatsoever. The film's very subtle grain structure has been lessened somewhat, so DNR was obviously used for the UK print - but in animation I don't believe this to be a bad thing. In live action films, grain is a part of the experience, but to get to something closer to the original Ghibli drawings, I can see they'd have to apply DNR. Colour and contrast levels are fine, although there is a very subtle warm hue, similar to what was reported on the Japanese Nausicaa Blu-ray. This is less like a "red tint", as some were saying about the Japanese transfer, and is more like a slightly warm tone. This slight warm tone is nothing near as bad as the transfer of Spirited Away on DVD, for example, which was plagued with a VERY strong, totally unnatural red tint. So nothing to worry too much about about in my eyes. Also, I found setting my TV's picture settings to the pre-set named 'Cool' went some way to correct it, and brought more natural skin tones back to the characters. In comparison to the Japanese Blu-ray, I guess it's a case of horses for courses. If you want grain in your animation, pay £50+ and import the Japanese disc. If you want a very clean, vibrant print that looks far more modern, get this UK one. I won't tell you which is right or wrong as there simply ISN'T a right or wrong decision to be made. It's whatever you prefer. All I can say is that I myself prefer the clean, vibrant look of the UK Blu-ray. Which also suits my pocket a LOT more, as luck would have it.
The only real downer is that they have not remastered the audio in surround sound. So only Lossless PCM 2.0 here (in both Japanese and English, amongst others)...which, although it sounds FAR better to the DVD 2.0 track, was a let-down. However, it wasn't Ghibli's fault. Apparently they DID attempt to get a decent surround field from the master but failed, so rather than offer us a gimicky 'All New Surround Sound' selling point that sounded awful, they instead gave us the best quality lossless version of the original audio track. I find this a very respectful treatment to a much loved film and appreciate their reasons. Apparently Miyazaki himself was not at all big on messing around with it too much, or so I have read on the forums discussing the HD mastering.
Optimum have thankfully expanded upon the DVD's minimal extras, so now the special features are as follows:
Audio commentary with Key Animation consultant and Assistant Director.
Interview with Toshio Suzuki & Anno Hideaki (44mins).
The birth of Studio Ghibli (27mins).
Behind the microphone (7mins).
Original Japanese theatrical trailers.
Studio Ghibli collection trailers.
All in all a HUGE improvement over the DVD release and a no brainer for Ghibli fans with a Blu-Ray player or PS3 and a HDTV. I can't wait for the rest of the Ghibli catalogue to be released. I'm simply salivating at the prospect of Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke in particular. My pocket is also grateful that these will come to us one at a time, as it makes the upgrade from DVD that much more manageable financially. I have heard that Laputa Castle in the Sky will be next on Blu-ray, and judging from the release date Amazon Japan have for the Japanese version, we should get it some time in the spring (going off the time between the Japanese and UK versions of Nausicaa.) Following those, Whisper of the Heart and My Neighbours the Yamadas are said to be next. It's a totally bizarre and haphazard release strategy that makes very little sense to me (doesn't follow any rational chronology), but I'll take them any way I can get them.