Nausicaä Remembered

Based on a one-off tweet from Roger Ebert the other day – one which led to his blog on the Chicago Sun-Times site – I completely jumped down the early adolescent memory rabbit hole.

You owe it to yourself to watch the video and read the essay re-printed there so I won’t steal it’s thunder.

For the uninitiated, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was Hayao Miyazaki’s first feature film and if you haven’t experienced it (or his other works), you’re missing out. As Mr. Ebert says in his tweet, “Some people haven’t seen a Miyazaki film. They should start here.”

Several of Miyazaki’s films are on Google Video and here’s an embed of Nausicaä to make it easier for you:

I first saw a snippet of the movie at a comic convention where it was playing from a tattered VHS along side a similar quality copy of the Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie. One of the two left a lasting impression on me.

Later during that same timeframe (middle school is, thankfully, a blur) I caught the bastardized international version on HBO. I was struck by the glider Nausicaä flew and the goliath “Ohm” creatures.

Watching it again as an adult – with the new voice talent for its re-release – I realize how brilliant and beautiful the story is. Miyazaki isn’t just an amazing animator or brilliant inventor of worlds, he tells very deep, emotional stories too, ones that transcend his chosen medium.

I’ve been going on ad nauseam about the movie to Jenn the past couple of days and I would really like Raelyn to watch it if we can track down a copy somewhere. I’d rather see it together on a bigger screen instead of a laptop, but I’ll take what I can get.

We’ve already watched Spirited Away together and, though she didn’t quite get what it was about, the fact that it was something the two of us shared together as father and daughter was really special. Plus, I like the fact that Miyazaki’s heroes tend to be heroines and that they show much more than just the courage and bravery of standard male heroic characters.

I want Raelyn to learn those lessons but also appreciate cartoons as an art form and not just a distraction (though we both enjoy Phineas & Ferb and Spongebob Squarepants, much to the consternation of her mother).

Seeing the movie reminded me of the wonder of animation and the power of childhood memories. Spirited Away hits more of the notes of the movement of child to adulthood, but something about Nausicaä really sticks with me. Maybe it’s the earnestness and conviction of the titular character. Maybe it’s just a damn fine film.

Either way, enjoy!

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