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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika) (1984)

"The jungle's poisons are taking their toll."
- Lord Yupa (Patrick Stewart)

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: February 21, 2005

Stars: Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, Edward James Olmos, Mark Hamill; Sumi Shimamoto, Goro Naya, Yoshiko Skakibara, Ichiro Nagai, Mugihito
Other Stars: Chris Sarandon, Shia Labeouf; Iemasa Kayumi, Yoji Matsuda
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

MPAA Rating: PG for violence
Run Time: 01h:58m:20s
Release Date: February 22, 2005
UPC: 786936175240
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-A-B B

DVD Review

The brainchild of revered animator Hayao Miyazaki, Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind is a grand adventure, marking the beginnings of Studio Ghibli, and setting the tone for the kinds of thematic material that would prevail throughout much of the director's later works. Akin to Princess Mononoke (this film seems to be the test run), Nausicaš is a story of humanity vs. the forces of nature, delivering messages of environmental responsibility. Set amidst a superbly detailed post-apocalyptic world, this is an imaginative, captivating tale.

Princess Nausicaš is a free spiritóa headstrong, independent and fiercely opinionated girl with the leadership qualities of a hardened general. Also an admirer of nature, Nausicaš is committed to protecting her home, the Valley of the Wind, from the squelching toxins of the Sea of Decay, the consequence of man's pollution and disregard for nature. She is not willing to do so at any cost, however, constantly looking for the most harmonious pathóone that will heal the wounds of years past, bringing peace between humanity and the natural forces it so willfully abused.

Despite her best efforts, human nature does not change easily. Caught amidst a war between the Torumekians and the Pejite, the villagers of the Valley of the Wind become pawns in a dastardly plot to destroy the Sea of Decay, and regain control of the world. The weapon of choice? A resurrected Giant Warrior, a creature of pure evil that led to the destruction of the world a thousand years ago. Nausicaš must face the bitter Torumekain leader Kushana and uncover the true relationship between the Sea of Decay, humanity, and the fierce insects that guard it. The future of the planet is at stake.

Does the plot sound familiar? It should. The more successful Mononoke would explore many of these same issues some years later, but with a decidedly more spiritual angle. Nausicaš is by no means a flash in the pan, showcasing a beautifully rendered civilization and its technologyóa stylish blend of medieval and sci-fi elements, thrown among the giant, slimy bugs and tentacles we've all become intimately familiar with in Japanese anime. The cheesy '80s synth music and sound effects are the only things that really date this picture. Some of the exposition here is a bit heavy handed, shoving the obligatory save-the-trees bits down our throats, but that's the aim of the piece: to educate and entertain through a fantastical, imaginative world with colorful characters. Miyazaki succeeds, though I wouldn't let very young kids watch this due to some violent content.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Disney's DVD showcases a remarkably good image for a 20-year-old film, exhibiting solid colors, minimal grain, and only some edge halos around black lines.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Japaneseyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is available in the original, slightly brighter Japanese stereo track (with optional literal subs) and a newly created English stereo track starring the talented likes of Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, Edward James Olmos, and Mark Hamill. Though I tend to prefer the original language track, this is a rather good dub of the film, only slightly rewritten to make the English dialogue flow. Too bad there is no 5.1 track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English (captions & literal subtitles) with remote access
5 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bambi: Special Edition, The Incredibles, Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind/Porco Rosso/The Cat Returns, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray Double
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Disney has seen fit to release another wave of Miyazaki 2-disc sets. Nausicaš's extras begin on Disc 1 with Behind the Microphone (07m:46s), a brief look at the English dub cast, featuring interviews with all the big names. Next is the Japanese-produced The Birth of Studio Ghibli (27m:44s), which examines the formation of the now-famous animation studio. Instead of subtitling this documentary, Disney has unfortunately dubbed it over with an English narration. This is kind of a unique piece, featuring reenactments (!) of historical events that led up to the studio's creation. Odd, yet informative. Next is a section of original Japanese trailers and TV spots (a "special preview," TV spot, three theatrical trailers, and a "promotional film"), all subtitled in English. Sneak Peeks at the other titles listed above round out Disc 1.

Disc 2 contains the entire film in storyboard form (01h:56m:55s, anamorphic, 24 chapters). Audio is available in either Japanese or English. This is a fine bonus, but I'm not sure who would want to view the film in this fashion.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Miyazaki's early epic foreshadows some of his later, greater, environmentally-friendly works. It remains a visually stunning, captivating adventure. Disney's set is excellent.


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