Hayao Miyazaki’s first film as writer-director, and by a staggering cosmic coincidence, the first film I got from Amazon DVD rental. Having read and liked some of his blockbuster manga telling this story, I was keen to see this. Was I disappointed? Not at all, but I wasn’t overwhelmed either. The problem I had is that Miyazaki’s themes and concerns and tropes run so true through all his films, so Nausicaa didn’t feel quite as fresh as it must have done in 1984.

The film has a capable girl heroine, an ecological theme, a concern with aerial war and its effects. The resolution lies in understanding and embracing the laws and cycles governing the film’s universe, not in trying to defy them. The villains are not precisely redeemable, but the film doesn’t offer any catharsis by killing them off either. Even before you get to Miyazaki’s wonderful draughtsmanship and design sense, these are all things which make his films a stark contrast to Western animated movies. However if the last five cartoons you watched were all also Miyazaki’s, Nausicaa through no fault of its own seems less of a standout.

So I’ll just mention a couple of crasser things I noticed:

1) The synth-rock soundtrack is really boshin’!

2) The sequences in the jungle with the gently falling spores and sad music really really reminded me of the equally haunting foresty-Deku Tree bits at the start of Ocarina of Time, so much so that I wonder if they were a direct inspiration. I don’t know enough about anime or games to assert this more confidently though.