Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Anime Fun!! "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds"
It doesn't usually take me 20 years to see a movie but with this one, it did.
OK I am little behind the cultural trends. "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds" was released by Studio Ghibli in 1984, based on a manga series that ran from 1982-1990. I got it from NetFlix with special features including a history of Studio Ghibli that was...not terribly exciting, except that it showed how many cigarettes Japanese men can smoke in a day - the overflowing ashtrays, the guys talking with cigarettes dangling from their lower lip, it was apparently a very smoky era for the anime movie.
Nausicaa is a great role model for girls, except for the fact that she appears to have given up wearing underwear.
She talks to trees and animals, she is utterly fearless, she collects botanical samples, she hates violence, she flies a glider with the skill of Luke Skywalker, and she saves the world.
The creature with the multiple eyes up above is called an Om, and when angered its eyes glow blood-red. The Oms on the march in this movie are visually stunning, as indeed is everything else about it. It is old-style drawn animation and has a peaceful beauty about it that digital animation lacks.
Set in a post-nuclear world like so many other films, this one shows a fragile culture kept non-toxic by the gracious winds which sweep in from the sea, and by a forest of trees who are hard at work cleansing the earth of toxins. The forest is misunderstood and feared by everyone except Nausicaa, who finally discovers its secret and thereby the key to saving human civilization.
There's a sad quality to the film: Nausicaa is battling against the inherent violence and aggression of humanity, and she almost loses the fight. We get a sense that another time, it might have gone differently, and we would all drown in a toxic sea of hatred and environmental poisons of our own creation.
Very pretty movie though and the award-winning sound track of ghostly themes and haunting songs is lovely too.
Studio Ghibli (pronounced zhee-blee, as they carefully explain, because "Gibbly sounds like a noise your stomach makes!") also produced many other blockbuster anime films in the 1990's including "My Neighbor Totoro", "Princess Mononoke", and more.
Years ago my younger son went through an anime phase and "Princess Mononoke" came and went through our lives but I paid no attention. What was I thinking? I missed a great chance to connect over Japanese films and lady heroes.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May you have many anime days.