Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind–Anime Review

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4 Stars
Technically this wasn’t made by Studio Ghibli but most people think of it as a Studio Ghibli film, since this was the movie that got the studio started.

Hayao Miyazaki had worked on the 1978 anime TV show Future Boy Conan (director, character designs and storyboards.) This was a lightweight series with a rather simple-minded plot, set in a post-apocalyptic world.

In the early 1980s Miyazaki tried to get funding for an animated feature film that would also have a post-apocalyptic setting but with a more sophisticated story. Unfortunately, no one seemed interested in financing an animated film that was not based on a successful manga or light novel series.

Toshio Suzuki, the editor of Animage magazine, encouraged him to develop the story as a manga, which was serialized in Animage. The manga was a big hit, and suddenly financing for an animated movie became available. The success of the film exceeded all expectations, paving the way for Suzuki, Miyazaki and fellow director Isao Takahata to start Studio Ghibli.

This is one of Miyazaki’s earliest films. I wouldn’t say that it’s his greatest work, but it’s still well worth seeing. Many of the standard trademark elements of a Miyazaki film are visible, including ecological and anti-war themes, dramatic flying sequences, fantastic flying machines and a dynamic young heroine.

  • Original Title
    Kaze no Tani no NAUSHIKA
  • Genres
    Science Fiction, Adventure
  • Languages
    English, Japanese with subtitles
  • Contents
    116 minutes plus bonus material in a 2-DVD set.
  • Based on
    A manga by Hayao Miyazaki
  • Director
    Hayao Miyazaki
  • Screenplay
    Hayao Miyazaki and Kazunori Itou
  • Art Director
    Mitsuki Nakamura
  • Animation Director
    Kazuo Komatsubara
  • Music
    Joe Hisaishi
  • Producer
    Isao Takahata
  • Animation Studio
    Studio Ghibli
  • Released
  • Region 1 Publisher
    Walt Disney Home Entertainment

The initial fate of the movie outside of Japan was not as happy. It was licensed in America by New World Pictures, which released a horribly hacked-up dubbed version under the title Warriors of the Wind. About one quarter of the original material was cut out and the dub was rewritten in a way that altered the meaning of the story. This abomination was redubbed in other languages and released in a number of other countries.

Hayao Miyazaki was sufficiently annoyed that all subsequent licensing deals for Studio Ghibli films have included a strict “no edits” clause.

Fortunately, sleazy quick-buck artists tend to sign short-term licensing agreements. After New World’s license expired the movie was licensed by Disney, which released an uncut and faithfully translated version in 2005.

Parental Advisory

The movie includes a material likely to be frightening or disturbing to young children, including combat scenes, monsters and the deaths of sympathetic characters. It should be OK for most viewers aged 10 and up.

Premise and Characters

Giant Warriors1,000 years before the story begins, Earth’s civilization was destroyed in a cataclysm called “The Seven Days of Fire,” during which the cities were burned by gigantic bioengineered robots called Giant Warriors or God Warriors [1].
SkeletonsEventually they destroyed each other. Their towering skeletons can still be seen in the deserts that cover much of the world.
Sea of DecayMost of the rest of the world is covered by a giant swampy forest called the Sea of Decay. It is an eerily beautiful place, but deadly. The air is filled with toxic spores that will quickly kill any human who is not wearing a protective breathing mask.
InsectsGiant insects swarm to attack anyone who disturbs the forest.
OhmuThe most frightening of the forest’s defenders are the gigantic ohmu. When enraged they will swarm over the surrounding countryside, destroying everything in their path. In the aftermath of the destruction the Sea of Decay will spread further.
The Valley of the WindThe Valley of the Wind is a small human enclave, fairly isolated due to its proximity to the borders of the deadly forest. Strong winds from the ocean blow continuously through the valley, keeping away the toxic spores from the Sea of Decay.
JihlLord Jihl, the ruler of the valley, was once a mighty warrior. Now he is crippled and bed-ridden due to the long-term effects of exposure to the forest’s poison.
NausicaaThe people of the valley have invested most of their hopes for the future in his daughter Princess Nausicaa [2]. She is a bright, courageous and intelligent girl; a capable fighter but with a gentle soul.
Teto and NausicaaShe has a natural rapport with animals. In an early scene we see her tame a fierce little “fox-squirrel” which she names Teto.
Nausicaa with MehveAn accomplished pilot, she can perform amazing aerobatic feats with her “mehve”, a sort of jet-assisted glider.
YupaNausicaa has been trained by Lord Yupa who is a renowned swordsman and an inveterate explorer.
Nausicaa with Test TubeInspired by his example, Nausicaa has made many trips into the Sea of Decay, seeking to unlock its mysteries. She has long since surpassed her teacher in her understanding of its flora and fauna.
MitoMito, who seems to be the castle steward, has known Nausicaa since she was a baby. He worries when she goes to play in the deadly forest and wishes she would be more cautious.
LastelOne night a huge aircraft from the Tolmekian Empire crashes in the valley.
Nausicaa manages to pull a badly injured survivor from the wreckage: a finely dressed young woman in chains. This is Princess Lastel of the small kingdom of Pejite, which was conquered by the Tolmekians.
Nausicaa and LastelThe dying Lastel warns Nausicaa to burn the ship’s cargo. Nausicaa reassures her that it is already on fire.
Giant Warrior EmbryoHowever one part of the cargo does not burn: a massive red pulsing object. Lord Yupa suspects that it is the embryo of a Giant Warrior, preserved for over 1,000 years in the ground beneath Pejite.
WarplanesShortly thereafter an invasion force from Tolmekia arrives in a fleet of huge aircraft and occupies the valley.
Tank with Prisoners
KushanaThe commander of the invaders, Princess Kushana of Tolmekia, intends to revive the Giant Warrior and use its power to burn away the Sea of Decay.
OhbabaWise old Ohbaba warns that using the ancient weapons can only bring disaster, but Kushana ignores her.
KurotowaKushana does not fully trust her second-in-command Kurotowa, a sly and ambitious young man from a commoner family.
AsbelLastel’s younger brother Prince Asbel of Pejite is determined to take vengeance on the Tolmekians.

The Manga

When he started work on the movie Miyazaki had completed only two volumes of the manga. Afterward he continued to work on the manga, completing it in 1994 with a total of seven volumes. The story in the movie is thus a small part of a much longer and more complex story.

Many fans have asked whether Miyazaki will ever do a sequel covering the rest of the manga, but he has firmly ruled this out. Apparently he found the process of cutting down the first two volumes to movie length so painful that he refuses to contemplate doing it for the rest of the manga.

The seven volumes of the manga are available in English from VIZ Media.


ANN Encyclopedia entry.

Wikipedia entry for the movie.

Wikipedia entry for the manga.

Movie page on, an English-language Miyazaki fan site.


[1] kyoshinhei “great god soldier.”

[2] The DVD packaging and most English sources spell her name as “Nausicaä” like the princess in the Odyssey. Since the name is not given a Greek pronunciation on either the Japanese or English soundtracks, the use of the dieresis seems like a pointless affectation.