Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 117
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

By Chris Beveridge     February 21, 2005
Release Date: February 22, 2005


Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
© Buena Vista Home Entertainment


What They Say
From one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of animation and the creator of the Academy Award(R)-winning SPIRITED AWAY (Best Animated Featured Film, 2002) comes Hayao Miyazaki's epic masterpiece NAUSICA─ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND. A thousand years after a global war, a seaside kingdom known as the Valley Of The Wind remains one of only a few areas still populated. Led by the courageous Princess Nausicań, the people of the Valley are engaged in a constant struggle with powerful insects called ohmu, who guard a poisonous jungle that is spreading across the Earth. Nausicań and her brave companions, together with the people of the Valley, strive to restore the bond between humanity and the Earth. NAUSICA─ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. And this spectacuar 2-disc set features exotic settings, impactful music, and a timeless story about courage and compassion in the face of danger.

The Review!
The first of the movies to fall under the Studio Ghibli banner, Nausicaa is a work that manages to stand the test of time..

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its new English language adaptation. The new English mix is done up in a stereo mix which comes across really well and utilizes the forward soundstage quite well. The dialogue and the action effects come across very distinct in this mix. The Japanese track is in its original stereo format as well and was problem free from the couple of checks we did on it. With the English language track, we had no problems with dropouts or distortions at all during regular playback.

Video:
Originally in theaters back in 1984, the transfer for this film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. While I have the Japanese release from last year, I only managed to watch a few minutes of it but loved how that print looked considering its age. This is a transfer where the show really looks like it's a film, it has the right amount of grain to it, the colors are solid without seeming to be overly done and the overall look and feel of things is just what I expected it to be. On our smaller setup, I can see a bit of edge enhancement to things, but on the main setup with the distance I am from the screen it's not apparent at all during regular playback. This movie just filled my screen with a beautiful image that was maintained throughout the entire film.

Packaging:
Released in a single keepcase with a flippy insert to hold the second disc, the artwork for the cover is decent, definitely better than their Porco Rosso release, but still misses something that I can't quite pin down. The illustration shot of Nausicaa in her standard gear and fully armed while an ohmu is off behind her in the distance at least gives some idea as to the show, it's almost a bit too mellow I think. The back cover uses a decent blue for a background and provides a shot of Nausicaa from the film riding her meve alongside a summary of the premise. The discs features and production information is all clearly visible and the technical bits are mostly easy enough to find between the three areas where they are. The insert for this release uses a picture of Nausicaa from the film with some of her countrymen behind her and lists the chapters for the film while the reverse side is boxart adverts for other Ghibli titles.

Menu:
Going with a subdued feeling, the main menu has a distant sky background from the film and uses a brief clip of Nausicaa in her red outfit flying towards the viewer. The navigation is to the right of it and is fairly standard in setup; as with a number of Buena Vista releases, I dislike how they continually separate the audio and subtitle setups into separate menus. It is of course only a few extra clicks but it's just poor layout and design to my mind. Access times are nice and fast and the menus load quickly though they do have to suffer from some brief transitional animations that are the same for each selection. The disc correctly read our players language presets and played it accordingly.

Extras:
While I'm sure there are some who would want even more extras, I don't believe that there are all that many that have been made over the years for the Japanese releases. What's on this two volume set is quite good though and was worth going through each part of. One that I really enjoyed was the entire Behind the Microphone feature where they talk with a number of the "name" actors about their participation, what they think of Miyazaki and how the dubbing process is different from what they normally do. I love seeing these kinds of things at this level since, even though it is fluff, it's fun to see these folks talk up anime and Miyazaki. The other big extra is the Birth of Ghibli featurette which was shown on Japanese TV back around the time of Princess Mononoke (with a few things added at the end to cover other releases) and it shows how the whole thing came together which is really interesting, even if comically done here at times. And in addition to the Japanese trailers, the entire second disc is the standard storyboard version of the film which with a film like this will surely provide a lot of information for those wanting to work in animation.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Nausicaa is a film that has suffered terribly before in its previous US release. It had been cut by something like half an hour and was done dub only with a good chunk of the storyline rewritten. While if you knew nothing about it otherwise it was something that you could enjoy as a child, once you knew what was really behind it you could never go back and only lament that there was no other way of getting a properly translated copy of the film. When I was finally able to see it as meant to be, I was lucky enough to catch it theatrically and see it on as big a screen as any anime movie I'd seen at that point.

Nausicaa's movie, though heavy handed with its ecological story, is one that is appealing across the board. Given the greenlight for production only after they produced the manga version that became a huge sensation in Animage, Nausicaa became one of the biggest selling anime movies of the time and I believe dominated the overall movie box office in the year of its release, a challenge indeed considering some of the other high profile anime theatrical releases of the time, such as Macross - Do You Remember Love? And Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer. For me, 1984 is a year of anime theatrical releases that has never really been topped. I can only imagine what it was like for those there at the time, or from the few scenes about it in Otaku no Video where you can really sense their energy over it.

The story of Nausicaa, even pared down from how the manga series went, is one that has become easy to recognize because many of the things that he's done here have carried over into all of his other films. The world has changed considerably in the future due to how mankind abused the world and much of it is covered now by the Toxic Jungle (dub only; the subtitles refer to it as the Sea of Decay). The jungle that continues to spread all over the world is filled with all kinds of massive bugs and insects and plants and spores that when they reach a new area are able to ruin it completely, bringing it into their fold and expanding even further across the planet. The air in the Jungle isn't fit for humanity to breath and it's a beautifully dangerous place to even trespass into.

A number of kingdoms and villages of varying sizes still exist in the world and one of the strongest ones is the Tolmekians. They've set into motions plans to revive something from humanity's past in order to deal with their enemies and the Jungle itself but in their haste to transport it back home, they end up crashing their massive aircraft into one of the most beautiful places left in the world, the Valley of the Wind. Their arrival here, which initially has the residents of the Valley attempting to save as many lives as possible, ends up bringing the entire place under their control as they want to secure their new weapon and look at making the Valley as their new base of operations for the time being. After murdering the king, they take the princess, the bright, bold and adventurous Nausicaa, as hostage and ship her back to their main kingdom so that they can retain control over the Valley.

From there, the events start to spiral as others attack the convoy and Nausicaa finds herself working with a potential enemy in trying to deal with freeing the Valley from the Tolmekians, stopping them from using their weapon and coming to grips with the reality of what the Toxic Jungle is really all about. Prophecies of the past start coming into play as does the realities of present day war between kingdoms all while trying to stave off the Jungle and its encroachment on the few areas that humanity seems to have left to survive on. The story itself has plenty to sell itself with as its laid out slowly and with just the right bit of teases along the way to expand on it, but it's also the visuals and the characters that do an amazing job here.

The film really stands the test of time for its animation in that while it can't do some of the tricks that can be done today with digital animation, the simple fact that this is all hand drawn animation and they do pull off what they do makes it all the more amazing. It's such a massively detailed and innovative looking world that's brought to life here and so rich and full of movement and expression that it just surpasses a number of more recent animated movies. The core concepts of the film are also strong here and pass the test as what Miyazaki has created in Nausicaa is something that he's brought to just about all of his leads with their sense of independence and action, the way they approach problems and set about to just doing what's needed and getting it done.

In Summary:
I know full well that Nausicaa is a movie that I could never properly convey the fascination I have for, not to take its essentially simple story and describe what works so well with it without spoiling so much of it. Even as old as it is, it's been lost to most fans for so many years that it's like discovering a new treasure out of the blue and realizing what had been lost for so long. This film is just something that I consider one of the few really special crossover appeal gems of the anime world and I'm ecstatic that so many people are finally getting to see it for the first time.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Behind The Microphone With Voice Talent From The Film: Alison Lohman; Uma Thurman; Patrick Stewart And Edward James Olmos,Complete Storyboards,Original Japanese Trailers,Birth Story Of Studio Ghibli Featurette

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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