Everyone knows of Hayao Miyazaki, the famed Japanese director and animator. He’s best known in the west for films such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro. While he’s rightfully hailed for these wonderful, magical works, Miyazaki has many more films up his sleeve. One of his slightly lesser-known, though no less compelling films is Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
Nausicaä is a daring, curious young woman who explores the jungles surrounding her people’s valley. It’s a dangerous venture, however, given that humans are menaced by giant mutated insects and the jungles themselves are almost entirely poisonous. The jungles are also populated by Ohm, massive arthropods. They’re generally docile but fly into a murderous rage whenever a human dares to hurt one of the insects.
A war known as the Seven Days of Fire nearly destroyed humanity and created the toxic jungles throughout the land. Nausicaä has been working to learn more about the treacherous environment beyond the valley, in order to help humans gain a safer way of life.
This mission becomes complicated thanks to the neighboring kingdom of Tolmekia, a highly militaristic state. The Tolmekians are sick of the ravenous insects. As a result, they’ve acquired an ancient bioweapon and plan to deploy against their enemies.
Nausicaä isn’t entirely on board with this, however. She’s discovered that the toxic plants are just fine when grown in non-toxic soil. She also suspects that the Ohm and the insects are not as blatantly evil as others would have her believe.
Though she goes through considerable struggle throughout the film, Nausicaä manages to avert yet another war and brings about an unexpected peace. Like many of Miyazaki’s films, it has a strong environmentalist message that will give you plenty of hope.