Blu-ray Review: Nausicaä Of the Valley of the Wind

Turns out director Hayao Miyazaki had an earlier impact in the United States than the release of Princess Mononoke in 1999. But the American audience didn’t get to truly experience his film since a lot was lost in translation and the splicer. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was released in Japan back in 1984 and arrived in the USA a year later thanks to New World Pictures. The distributor renamed it Warriors of the Wind, sliced away 22 minutes and rearranged things to alter the plot and attitudes of characters. It was not a satisfying moment of Miyazaki which let to him demanding this film were never butchered to appease international markets. Nausicaa Of the Valley of the Wind gives viewers the full experience that the audience in Tokyo saw.

Nausicaä (Drag Me to Hell‘s Alison Lohman), the princess of the Valley of the Wind flies around her kingdom as she tries to deal with the balance between humans and animals along with fertile jungle and toxic wasteland. A thousand years before there was an apocalyptic war that ravaged so much. Among the after effects are massive bugs that look like massive armadillos. One night a huge airship flies through the valley towards a rival kingdom. Nausicaa notices a single passenger of the ship before it meets a disastrous fate. in the wreckage, the survivor begs the princess to destroy the cargo. Turns out they were shipping an embryonic bioweapon that had been used during the war. She doesn’t kill it which is a bad move since shortly thereafter, the land is invaded by the rival kingdom led by Princess Kushana (Pulp Fiction‘s Uma Thurman). She will stop at nothing to get the weapon. This leads to Nausicaä doing so much to save her kingdom and keep the giant bugs from crushing things.

Hayao Miyazaki creates his own universe in Nausicaa Of the Valley of the Wind. He had written the original manga (Japanese comic book) so this was not him attempting to adapt another’s vision. He dared to create an animation that wasn’t geared just to small kids using the Disney animate for success model. This mixture of science fiction and fantasy in animation put him on the same platform as Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards, René Laloux’s Fantastic Planet, Martin Rosen’s Watership Down and Heavy Metal. At the same time, Nausicaä is approachable for young kids who can handle the fact that the characters aren’t going to break out into a musical moment. Nausicaä is an enthralling character as she flies around the sky and interacts with the big bugs. Even in a post-apocalyptic world, she’s still enthused on the screen and not worn down.

The English language cast is top notch beyond Lohman and Thurman. We get to hear Shia LeBeouf before he got completely weird. Among those behind the microphone is Patrick Stewart (Logan), Chris Sarandon (The Princess Bride, Edward James Olmos (Miami Vice) and Mark Hamill (Corvette Summer). The voice match well with the characters. Nobody sounds like they’re making a kiddie movie. Hopefully people who once saw Warriors of the Wind on VHS will give Nausicaa Of the Valley of the Wind a second chance to see what they should have viewed all those years ago.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the beauty of the hand drawn animated post-apocalyptic world. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 versions of both the original Japanese cast and the English cast. There’s a 2.0 mix of the French voices. It sounds fine on all tracks. The subtitles are in English and French.

DVD with movie and some bonus features.

Feature Length Storyboards lets you see the rough of the movie with the final soundtrack.

Original Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots (8:16) gives a sense of how the film was promoted in Japan with the action and romance angles emphasized. This includes a lot of singing.

Audio Commentary with Hideaki Anno and Kazuyoshi Katayama

Interview with Toshio Suzuki and Hideaki Anno (42:32): “Nausicaä and Evangelion! The Whereabouts of the Giant Warrior?” is an audio interview with them that includes English subtitles. This was produced for radio back in 2009.

Behind the Microphone (7:46) covers the new American dub tracks. We get to hang with Mark Hamill in the sound studio. Alison Lohman gets to talk about her big role. Uma Thurman sports pigtails. Patrick Stewart looks scruffy.

Creating Nausicaä (11:32) has Miyazaki discuss how he began Nausicaa as a manga adventure that he worked on after a long day at the animation studio. Eventually he was given an offer to turn his pages into an animated feature.

12-page Booklet with Producer’s and Director’s Statements.

Shout! Factory & GKIDS present Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind. Directed and Screenplay by: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring: Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, Chris Sarandon and Edward James Olmos. Rated: PG-13. Running Time: 116 minutes. Released: October 31, 2017.

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