Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind : 4 of 5
I've known the name of this movie for years, since the best website for Miyazaki information is Nausicaa.net, but I never had a chance to see it until Disney released their latest wave of Studio Ghibli masterpieces on DVD. This is a beautiful film with an environmental message (much like the themes in Miyazaki's other works), which takes place in the far future after civilization has been nearly wiped off the earth. There are small "kingdoms" of people, with technology such as aircraft (especially gliders), who are fighting the spread of the "toxic jungle", a vast area of poisonous plants filled with insects, such as the giant, majestic Ohmu (like a potato bug the size of a skyscraper!). Nausicaa has a connection with animals and living things (including insects), so she ends up leading humanity to a peaceful co-existence (while stopping a war between kingdoms in the process). The visuals are stunning - besides the usual Miyazaki-style characters, the insects and bizarre plants are wonderful, as well as the terrific airplanes (everything always looks like it would really fly). The DVD includes a nice documentary on the history of Studio Ghibli (only dubbed, unfortunately), plus the entire film in storyboard form (only a serious student of animation would watch storyboards for two hours!). The English voice work is probably great, but I always stick to the original Japanese. I'm looking forward to the other new Miyazaki DVDs!