Nausica of the Valley of the Wind poster (Image via Disney/Studio Ghibli)
Many people know and love Hayao Miyazaki for his family-friendly, nature-focused films. My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke, for example, glory in an abundance of green plants and wise nature spirits.
Miyazaki is also rightfully hailed for his use of female protagonists. The women and girls in films like Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle (to name just a few) are strong and intelligent without compromising their dignity. And, of course, practically none of the women in Miyazaki’s films are objectified, sexually or otherwise. It’s an unfortunately rare but very welcome development.
That said, it may strike you as a surprise to learn that Miyazaki is not only a nature-loving filmmaker, nor is he solely devoted to fantasy. He’s also worked in the realm of science fiction.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind follows Nausicaä, a young, brave princess who lives in a post-apocalyptic world. Her community and other human settlements are threatened by a an awesomely large and very toxic forest. It doesn’t help that the forest is also populated with large insect-like creatures known as the Ohm.
Furthermore, the Valley of the Wind people are in conflict with the militaristic Tolmekian kingdom. Their plan is to fight back against the Ohm and the Toxic Jungle. They’re unafraid of causing another “Seven Days of Fire”, the term for the previous apocalypse. The Tolmekians are even planning to use a “Giant Warrior”, a bioweapon that could destroy the Toxic Jungle and pretty much everything else.
At the heart of this is Nausicaä. She is brave in the face of looming war and tragedy, never breaking down and letting another person take over for her. She’s also vastly intelligent, using both her nerve and her brains to forge a new way of life for humanity.