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Ink & Pixel: Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind

Sep. 12, 2013by:

Ink & Pixel is a source of pride and joy for me as a writer and as such, Iím always striving to take this column further for those who read and enjoy it. If you yourself, or anyone you know, helped to make any of the amazing feature animated films found within this column, I would love to talk to you to further my knowledge. Please contact me at steveseigh@joblo.com so we can discuss it further.

This September got off to an unfortunate start as word came around that acclaimed filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki, is indeed making moves to retire his career as one of the most profound and influential forces within the world of animation. Aside from the fact that the man stands at the ripe old age of 72, the decision to retire happened shortly after Miyazaki's latest film, THE WIND RISES, fell under a curtain of fire from Japanese political activists. These angry individuals claim that Miyazaki's portrayal of the aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi sheds a negative light on how Horikoshi's designs for fighter planes were used during the second world war.

Can we say that these actions are the direct result of his retirement? Probably not. However, I'm sure it lent weight to his making the decision to live out the rest of his days away from the daily pressures of the industry. I for one feel that Miyazaki has more than earned his retirement. After all, his films are a shining example of how to make an animated feature using strong characters and stories that run the gamut of our entire emotional spectrum.

But let's move on, shall we? I thought that perhaps this week we'd take a look at the film that more or less put Miyazaki on the map as being one of the world's premiere animation directors. So it's with that in mind that today we'll explore NAUSICAń OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND.

NAUSICAń OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND is the 1984 Japanese animated post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and was created and produced for the big screen by Isao Takahata for the Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co. and Hakuhodo (the longest standing advertising agency in Japan). It's known that when Miyazaki first crafted the story of Nausicaš that he had absolutely no intention of ever bringing it into an animated format. However, as the demand to see this wild tale of nature versus science up on the big screen increased, Miyazaki eventually committed to bringing his most ambitious project at that time to the animated screen.

NAUSICAń OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND shares the story of Nausicaš (Sumi Shimamoto), a young and spirited princess of the Valley of the Wind, and her fight against Tolmekia, a kingdom on the verge of creating an ancient weapon that will destroy a race of misunderstood, gargantuan insects. As a gifted, young woman, Nausicaš, is able to communicate with these creatures. And in understanding their pain and rightful place within the circle of life, she and her friends, Master Yupa (GorŰ Naya) and Asbel (YŰji Matsuda),stand firm against an army outfitted with the weapons and intent on wiping the species from the earth. It's a spirited tale of survival, belief, and the eternal battle between nature and mankind.

When writing NAUSICAń OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, Miyazaki was inspired by many works of literature including (but not limited to) Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea. Earthsea is a fictional realm comprised of hundreds of islands set within a mass of uncharted ocean waters. Originally created for the short story ďThe Word of UnbindingĒ, published in 1964, this series later evolved into a six book series of which contained a fully functional world of wizards, creatures, and magic. Other inspirations for NAUSICAń include Brian Aldiss' ďHothouseĒ, Isaac Asimov's ďNightfallĒ, and, believe it or not, J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. And though Miyazaki's Nausicaš is a wholly original character, it's been said that much of her predilection toward adventure (and even her name) were inspired by Phaeacian, a character found within the pages of Homer's Odyssey.

Staying on the subject of inspiration for another moment or two, it is also known that one of the reservations Miyazaki had when bringing the story of Nausicaš into animation was how to approach the process of animating the giant insect race called the Ohmu. It was Miyazaki's wish to design these creatures so that they bore a striking resemblance to a species of insect known as the Pill bug. Pill bugs, or Armadillidiidae as is their proper name, are a species of woodlice, and are considered a terrestrial crustacean group belonging to the order of Isopoda. Often referred to as doodle bugs, or roly polies, a pill bug's most distinct feature is their hard, shell-like exterior. This protective casing,when touched, causes the pill bug to retreat into itself Ė which then forms a protective barrier between the bug itself and any would be predators.

In wanting to keep the pill bug design, Miyazaki and his animation staff went to work on giving the Ohmu a distinct way of traversing the land. By animating the bug's many arms and legs to dig into the earth and sand Ė the creature would then pull itself across any terrain that it encountered. Miyazaki himself has said that animating the Ohmu was one of the first great challenges presented to he and his team during the making of the film due to the Ohmu's many moving parts. But they're professional animators, you say? True. But it's important to remember that this was Miyazaki and crew's first ďmajorĒ project, and as such, animating insect limbs that move independently of one another took a bit of doing. It's also to note that none of this would have been possible without the influence and intricate design work of Miyazaki's friend and artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud. Contributing to the inspiration for the film's design, Moebius lent heavily to the enigmatic nature of NAUSICAń's world.

I've always wondered about where Miyazaki gets his inspiration for all of his wonderful films. I mean, if you stop and think about it, so many of them are built on themes of how mankind and mother nature are continually at odds with one another. An Idea for that sort of heavy handed material doesn't just appear out of thin air. There has to be a reason, a spark to light the fire if you will. In the case of NAUSICAń OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, Miyazaki was inspired by the poisoning of the Minamata Bay. The Minamata Bay is an area of land located on the west coast of Kyūshū island, found in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan.

This bay was heavily polluted in the 1950s and 60s by an abundance of mercury laden wastewater, which seeped out of a nearby industrial building that belonged to the Chisso Corporation. The contaminated water polluted the shellfish that lived inside of the surrounding area, and in turn gave birth to what became known as Minamata disease. This disease infected more than 10,000 people. Miyazaki, as tragic as he found this incident to be, found within its circumstances the makings of a cautionary tale that would eventually become NAUSICAń OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND.

Since the film's release, NAUSICAń has served as a source of inspiration for many other projects beyond the silver screen. It's influence reaches from helping to create characters that are a part of the widely popular Final Fantasy video game series as well as the Japanese RPG Crystalis in the year 1990. NAUSICAń OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND is hailed as one of the best animated films to ever come from Japan and helped put Miyazaki's genius on the map. Due to its powerful messages, affecting characters, and cinematic grandeur, NAUSICAń's success with fans and critics alike helped pave the way for the opening of Studio Ghibli back in 1985 - Miyazaki's very own animation house. Since its foundation, Studio Ghibli has gone on to create such films as MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, SPIRITED AWAY, A GRAVE OF FIREFLIES, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, as well as many other animated classics.

In closing, Mr. Miyazaki has had one hell of a career. His everlasting influence continues to inspire filmmakers all throughout the world and there's no telling where Studio Ghibli will take us next as the company continues beyond his retirement. It's my guess that his son, also a filmmaker Gorō Miyazaki, will continue the family business of delivering highly entertaining animated features. Gorō already has three directors credits under his belt with TALES FROM EARTHSEA, FROM UP ON POPPY HILL, and the yet to be released H‘J‘KISHIKI. And yeah, I tried like hell to find the English translation of that title, but alas, I could not.

So if you've never experienced NAUSICAń OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND I highly recommend it. It's a hell of a film that has a lot to say and lays the foundation for all of the Miyazaki magic that was to follow throughout the years. Every film, video game, manga or otherwise owes its roots to one thing or another, and NAUSICAń's roots run deep. Check it out.

Extra Tidbit: NAUSICAń was recently re-released on Blu-Ray and featured an English speaking voice cast including stars such as Allison Lohman, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, and Patrick Stewart.
Source: Joblo.com

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2:48PM on 09/14/2013

jeny

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my co-worker's sister makes $71 hourly on the internet. She has been out of work for 9 months but last month her paycheck was $18885 just working on the internet for a few hours. more information...
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10:37AM on 09/12/2013
Whoa, I don't mean to be misinterpreted in what I said about Moebius.
Moebius had no input on the movie at all. He was neither hired nor consulted for the movie at all. Miyazaki used Moebius's artwork and style as the primary influence for every design. For example: Nausicaa's glider is based on Arzach's pterodactyl. Moebius never drew or designed the glider. Miyazaki took the concept and overall look of the pterodactyl, and turned it into a mechanical glider. Another example are the bugs.
Whoa, I don't mean to be misinterpreted in what I said about Moebius.
Moebius had no input on the movie at all. He was neither hired nor consulted for the movie at all. Miyazaki used Moebius's artwork and style as the primary influence for every design. For example: Nausicaa's glider is based on Arzach's pterodactyl. Moebius never drew or designed the glider. Miyazaki took the concept and overall look of the pterodactyl, and turned it into a mechanical glider. Another example are the bugs. Moebius never drew or designed any of them, but if you look at a lot of Moebius's monster designs, they look EXTREMELY similar to the bugs in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and that's because Miyazaki loved Moebius's designs, and was heavily heavily influenced by them. Also the clothes are heavily influenced by Moebius's peculiar designs. Take a look at his character Arzach; he looks like he would fit right in the world of Nausicaa. His hat, tunic, and boots are very unique, and Miyazaki borrowed heavily from that style.

But don't take my word for it. Take a few hours, and look through this collection of Moebius's artwork. You'll begin to see the uncanny inspiration Miyazaki pulled from Moebius's art and style. [link]
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12:19PM on 09/12/2013
It's all good. No worries. That's what quick edits are for. The beat goes on. Thanks so much for reading.
It's all good. No worries. That's what quick edits are for. The beat goes on. Thanks so much for reading.
8:36AM on 09/12/2013
I'd take Hayao Miyazaki's news of his retirement more seriously if he hadn't done this twice before: he announced his retirement after finishing PRINCESS MONONOKE in 1997 but then unretired to make SPIRITED AWAY. He retired again after making HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE but then unretired *again* to make PONYO after his son Goro's film TALES FROM EARTHSEA became a hit. I suspect Miyazaki Senior will be back.

And yes, NAUSICAń is an amazing film, definitely up there with Miyazaki's best.
I'd take Hayao Miyazaki's news of his retirement more seriously if he hadn't done this twice before: he announced his retirement after finishing PRINCESS MONONOKE in 1997 but then unretired to make SPIRITED AWAY. He retired again after making HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE but then unretired *again* to make PONYO after his son Goro's film TALES FROM EARTHSEA became a hit. I suspect Miyazaki Senior will be back.

And yes, NAUSICAń is an amazing film, definitely up there with Miyazaki's best.
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8:25AM on 09/12/2013
The first Miyazaki films I saw was Spirited Away because of the universal praise, and friends bugging me to see it. I liked it a lot but it didn't fully win me over. Then several years later I saw Nausicaš on a whim and was totally sucked in. After that I ripped through his oeuvre in no time and became a loving fan, though Nausicaš will remain my favourite film of his.
The first Miyazaki films I saw was Spirited Away because of the universal praise, and friends bugging me to see it. I liked it a lot but it didn't fully win me over. Then several years later I saw Nausicaš on a whim and was totally sucked in. After that I ripped through his oeuvre in no time and became a loving fan, though Nausicaš will remain my favourite film of his.
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8:05AM on 09/12/2013

MIYAZAKI'S REPETOIRE IS ONE TO BE SEEN

Like many anime or animation devotees, I was lead into anime with Akira and that movie always seems to be the launching pad for anyone who is into Anima. And what a launching pad. However, when one takes their delving further into the art form, you cannot avoid and definitely should not avoid any of Miyazaki's films. I believe I've seen them all and all of them are special, unique and emotionally riveting. Usually there is humor, drama and of course major political overtones to all of his
Like many anime or animation devotees, I was lead into anime with Akira and that movie always seems to be the launching pad for anyone who is into Anima. And what a launching pad. However, when one takes their delving further into the art form, you cannot avoid and definitely should not avoid any of Miyazaki's films. I believe I've seen them all and all of them are special, unique and emotionally riveting. Usually there is humor, drama and of course major political overtones to all of his films. Also, to single out any one of his films to be his best would lead to same debates as deciding which Speilberg, Hitchcock, Scorcese or any other great directors efforts. If you haven't taken the time to enjoy a Miyazaki film, you should and you will be hooked tracking down one film after another.
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8:03AM on 09/12/2013
A few things to amend your article:
1. The movie is not based on a manga. The manga is based on the movie pitch/script/concept. The producers refused to finance the movie unless it was supported by a manga. Miyazaki churned out the manga, it did well, then the producers greenlit the movie.
2. Every inch of visual design and aesthetics for Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is based on the artwork of Jean "Moebius" Giraud. Everything about the clothes, landscape, insects, poisonous jungle, and
A few things to amend your article:
1. The movie is not based on a manga. The manga is based on the movie pitch/script/concept. The producers refused to finance the movie unless it was supported by a manga. Miyazaki churned out the manga, it did well, then the producers greenlit the movie.
2. Every inch of visual design and aesthetics for Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is based on the artwork of Jean "Moebius" Giraud. Everything about the clothes, landscape, insects, poisonous jungle, and Nausicaa's glider scream "Moebius!" Miyazaki and Moebius were friends and fans of one another, so yeah. "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" and "The Fifth Element" are probably the most Moebius-ish movies in the world.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is one of my favorite films of all time. Not just animated films, but all films in general. It is incredibly excellent.
One extra thing you should know: The God warriors are what inspired Neon Genesis Evangelion. Moebius inspires Miyazaki; Miyazaki inspires NGE.
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9:43AM on 09/12/2013
Thanks very much, Red4. I truly appreciate your input and have made the necessary changes to reflect the information you've provided. It's incredible how when researching these films that crucial information can sometimes be left out of the sources that I am able to find. I'm glad that you enjoyed the article and were gracious in your corrections. Cheers!
Thanks very much, Red4. I truly appreciate your input and have made the necessary changes to reflect the information you've provided. It's incredible how when researching these films that crucial information can sometimes be left out of the sources that I am able to find. I'm glad that you enjoyed the article and were gracious in your corrections. Cheers!
3:07AM on 09/12/2013

one of my favorite movies

and still my favorite miyazaki movie. saw the heavily cut version warriors of the wind as kid and discovered the uncut proper version in my late teens and i still watch it once year.
and still my favorite miyazaki movie. saw the heavily cut version warriors of the wind as kid and discovered the uncut proper version in my late teens and i still watch it once year.
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2:45AM on 09/12/2013
Hmm, never heard of this movie before but I've got to find it.
Hmm, never heard of this movie before but I've got to find it.
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9:07AM on 09/13/2013
Disney released it on Blu-Ray a couple of years ago. Well worth tracking down, IMO.
Disney released it on Blu-Ray a couple of years ago. Well worth tracking down, IMO.
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