Headline: Studio Ghibli Review 1
Originally posted October 4, 2014
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This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of reviews on the different films made by Studio Ghibli. Just to let you know, these reviews will be based on the English Dubs/Subs of these movies. Also, rather than reviewing the films in the order they were released, I will be watching them based on the numbering system of their DVD covers – I don’t know what they represent, but it makes for good variety. After this, my next Studio Ghibli review will be on The Cat Returns.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is set in a post-apocalyptic future, where mankind is close to extinction, and the world is ravaged by toxic plants and giant insects. One valley is protected by the winds of the sea, and its people look to the guidance of their young princess, Nausicaa, for a better future.
Like most Studio Ghibli films, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind uses a universal subject as the basis of its story, and presents it in a way that’s both creative and original for the audience to understand. In this case, we’re given an environmental message, and the movie allows us to see what our future may look like if we continue mistreating the planet.
One thing that really drives the story forward is the portrayal of it’s main character, princess Nausicaa (voiced by Alison Lohman). The movie focuses on the decisions she makes and the other characters look up to her with great admiration. Far from being a typical feminine princess, Nausicaa is daring and strong-willed, with a passion for protecting her valley and maintaining peace. Despite her youth, she’s skilled in a variety of things and her leadership makes her seem wiser than most people twice her age. She also has an air of cheerfulness to her, whilst suppressing a silent rage – which can suddenly turn her into an aggressive killer.
Being all these things, it’s little wonder why Nausicaa’s name is in the title of the movie. She’s the first of many strong, female leads to be featured in the Studio Ghibli films, and she almost sets the standard for what a heroine should be.
The only issue with there being so much focus on Nausicaa in the story, is the other character seem to be overshadowed. Obaba is the wise old woman of the valley, though Nausicaa is wise herself; Lord Yupa seems to be a mentor, though Nausicaa is independent; Tato (the fox-squirrel) merely acts as a pet and does nothing but look cute; and Asbell is just there…because. As a result the story feels weak and linear at times, with little happening between the few action sequences.
The story can also be a little confusing when it comes to distinguishing friends and foes. There are two different groups of people featured in the film, other than those from Nausicaa’s valley: the Tolmekians and the Pejites. Even after watching this film several times it’s still hard for me to tell the two apart.
Another thing I’d like to mention is the music. Some pieces, like the main theme, are memorable because they have a mystical feel to them and fit the story perfectly. But others just sound like they were taken from a video game.
Finally, its worth mentioning the actors who took part in the movie’s English Dub. These include Star Trek actor, Peter Stewart (as Lord Yupa); Shia LaBeouf (as Asbell); and renowned voice actor, Frank Welker (as Gol). One of my personal favourites though is Chris Sarandon – his performance as Kurotowa is just so memorable and funny.
What’s interesting about Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is that some people don’t consider it Studio Ghibli‘s first film. Although it’s made by Hayao Miyazaki and the rest of his crew, the company itself wasn’t officially created until two years after the film’s release. But since the DVD has the Ghibli logo, I’d say counts.
Whether Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is officially part of the Studio Ghibli collection or not though, there’s no doubt who made it. It was the first true masterpiece of a great company and set the standard for all other Ghibli films to follow. If you’re a fan of Hayao Miyazaki and his work, then it’s defiantly worth seeing the film that started it all. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of my Studio Ghibli reviews. Stay tuned.
Like Moon Phase and Sword Art Online, I wanted to do a series of reviews on the different Studio Ghibli movies. Spirited Away and Whisper of the Heart were the reason I got into anime and I wanted to show my appreciation for the studio. Unfortunately, the series didn’t get off to a good start.
Looking back on it, the problems with this review were clear from the beginning. Instead of briefly mentioning this was the first in a series of reviews, I explained how I planned to review the movies and in what order. This was both confusing and unnecessary. Also, the summary was short and only revealed the story’s set up, rather than the actual plot – there’s a serious difference between not giving spoilers and completely leaving your reader in the dark about everything. The rest of the review fared no better with its vagueness. I said many things about the story and characters, but didn’t provide any solid examples.
Overall, this review feels very weak. The parts about what the movie represents and Naussica being a strong female lead were told well enough, but that’s about it. Everything else is either rushed or a jumbled up mess.
Admittedly, this was one of those reviews where I was trying to get things done as quickly possible – partly because it was my second review in one day – but I realise that’s no excuse for poor content. Even the headline (Studio Ghibli a Reviews 1) was uncreative. Fortunately, my later Ghibli reviews would improve.