Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is not a Ghibli film, but it is still directed by Hayao Miyazaki. I wasn’t all that attracted to Nausicaä. I thought the thumbnail on the DVD set was blurry, blue and above all just really fuzzy (and to be fair it really was). Even so, it doesn’t entirely make sense, because the thumbnail showed Nausicaä riding on her cool glider, a menacing Ohm pursuing her from behind. It’s clearly an exciting, awesome scene, but younger me just couldn’t find the appeal in Nausicaä. Younger me obviously had no idea what she was missing out.
You could arguably say that Nausicaä is a Mary Sue. She’s remarkably talented, kind, a princess… you get the drill, but I wouldn’t say she is one. Although she may have a Mary Sue-ish facade, it’s still important to remember that it doesn’t mean that all lovely-mannered female characters are immediately shoved into that category.
There’s something too real with Nausicaä. She may have talents beyond us all and is gifted with a title and a beautiful appearance, but you can see her struggle. Struggling not only in the sense of getting jobs done, there are silent, still moments full of gratuitous motion, a common thing in Ghibli movies, she also struggles to keep up her calm and gentle character. In some parts of the movie, you can even feel the tension and you expect her to snap, but she does not have untouched innocence. She knows of war and destruction, and she understands the reasons for war. Even so, she can’t help but hope that there are more peaceful ways to resolve conflict. Being kind and good are the core values she sports, but it is clear that she’s tired of fighting, even if it means she won’t give up.
The world of Nausicaä is contaminated, and that contamination, as the story tells us, is only growing every day. Spores from poisonous plants will eventually take over the entire world, leaving no place inhabited by humans untouched. Along with the spores come the insects that despise the noise and interference that humans bring. The world is doomed, but Nausicaä believes it not to be the case. To her, humans and insects can co-exist, and the plants will hold no harm if they do not draw their water and nutrients from poisonous water in the first place (she has enough reason for this, having experimented on these plants and noticing that the insects mean no harm when you don’t provoke them).
What Nausicaä wants above all is to maintain peace, to stop war and save nature. A reasonable enough request, but are people willing to listen? The truth is that there will always be those who would rather conquer and take all they can control rather than share. In times like these, this strikes more true than ever. However, despite their stubbornness and their selfishness, Nausicaä still believes in peace and in maintaining harmony not only between the insects and humans, but even solely between humans too.
Overall, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is a great science fantasy that focuses on compassion and the conflicting natures of human nature. A person focused on destruction and fighting may seem the “villain”, but they may have their own motives, to protect their people for one. There are also those who are keen on acting upon their own desires, yet are restrained by their fear or by the need to obey the authority, which is an interesting point.
Nausicaä is a wonderful movie that I overlooked for other classics like Laputa: Castle in the Sky, which has a similar vibe to Nausicaä.
Have you watched Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind? How did you find it? Were you just as astounded with the beautiful imagery as I was?