While drafting my 2020 reflection post, I was initially going to include a “What I Watched and Read” section in it. That section eventually became far longer than the others to the point that I’ve decided to make an entirely separate post.
I very rarely cry in a drama series or film, especially when they’re marketed as such. I know I may seem like the type of person to get emotional on the smallest details in a story – and I do. But there’s a huge difference between a slight sniffle because you are so proud of what your precious fictional child has achieved and legitimately ugly crying because Everything Fucking Hurts.
It’s been five days and three posts have been posted since I told you about making that movie review-esque musing that’s not a movie review. You might think, “Oh well, she’s not following through with it again, huh?” Well, well, person who even cared for this. Look at this post! I actually made one.
Don’t worry, folks. We’re all shocked here, me included. It has taken long, I know. I felt as if my thoughts regarding the movie was broken into pieces the moment I finished watching it and it is hard to find the strength of putting those pieces back together. But here I am, hopefully satisfying the me who have seen the end credits for the first time. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is set in a post-apocalyptic world where majority of the world is engulfed in the Toxic Jungle, a forest given birth by the apocalyptic war, Seven Days of Fire. It tells the story of a young princess named Nausicaä who gets involve in a conflict with the Tolmekia, a kingdom who attempts to eradicate the Toxic Jungle and its giant mutant insect inhabitants with an ancient weapon.
Hayao Miyazaki is known for creating films in a format commonly driven to the younger demographics–animation. His stories always contained themes such as fantasy and adventure that calls out to any child. And at the same time, he always finds a way to squeeze in profound morals and recurring social or political issues of the present. This film was not an exception.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind paved the way for Studio Ghibli’s place in Japanese animation and later on, with the likes of Princess Mononoke and the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, in the international animation scene. The brilliant Japanese animator has even been compared to Walt Disney.
But what I think differs Miyazaki from the all-famous Disney is that while Disney regards the happiness and hopefulness of his works greatly, believing that the children must be given the innocence and cheerfulness that every child must have, Miyazaki is not afraid of expressing his opinions on major political and social issues while keeping the fun and adventure. Miyazaki is known greatly for his Pacifism and love for aircraft and these are shown in the films that he has created.
The first Hayao Miyazaki film that I’ve seen was Howl’s Moving Castle and this was roughly two years ago! I was told by my sister that we have, in fact, watched Hayao Miyazaki when we were little but I concluded that I might have been too young to even remember. All I could remember from childhood watching TV was the horror I felt whenever I see the Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves turn into the horrifying witch. (Kids these days have it easy when the first thing that comes to their mind when they heard “witch” was Sabrina the Teen Witch or Selena Gomez’s character in that Disney TV series that I have no idea of.) It’s either that or the circular bread with a smiley face in Teletubbies. I even have a framed cross-stitch of Po created for me by my aunt back at my home.
So when I saw Howl’s Moving Castle I was enchanted. Imagine a kid with stars for pupils. I felt that way. And I easily felt even more enchanted with Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. There was no singular element in the story that hooked me with it. It was the entirety of it! The rural princess with the big heart for her people and the insects, the concept of the Toxic Jungle, Princess Kushana, Lord Yupa…I was even hooked with the Ohms! But most of all, I loved the message that Hayao Miyazaki was trying to convey in this film.
Tiring as it may now that almost every post-apocalyptic films, animated or otherwise, have the environmental issues centered around their “profound” themes, the way Miyazaki delivered this message along with the consequences of the selfishness of humanity which creates warring states can all be said in one line: You reap what you sow.
As I’ve said, it’s definitely not a new message now. (Is there even new messages conveyed by both the film and literary industry now? I feel like we’ve all run out of morals to point out.) But what made me like this film was how Miyazaki have used his characters and the settings brilliantly in conveying this moral. Particularly, the title character, Nausicaä. She had such a big heart for someone living in such a harsh world. Ultimately, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, has earned its place among the best Hayao Miyazaki films I’ve watched. Probably fourth, after Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and The Wind Rises. Of course, I love all the films Hayao Miyazaki wrote and directed excluding those that I have yet to watch (the shorts and Porco Russo, mainly). It still saddens me that I will never be able to see a new work of his.
I am excited to watch Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya and delve into Hayao Miyazaki’s short films if I could ever find one.