One thousand years have passed since the Seven Days of Fire, an apocalyptic war that destroyed civilization and created the vast Toxic Jungle, a poisonous forest swarming with giant mutant insects. In the kingdom of the Valley of the Wind, a prophecy predicts a saviour "clothed in blue robes, descending onto a golden field, to join bonds with the great Earth and guide the people to the pure lands at last". Nausicaä, the princess of the Valley of the Wind, explores the jungle and communicates with its creatures, including the gigantic, armored trilobite-like creatures called Ohm. She hopes to understand the jungle and find a way for it and humans to co-exist.
One night, during a visit by the Valley's swordsmaster Lord Yupa, a cargo aircraft from the kingdom of Tolmekia crashes in the Valley. Nausicaä tries to rescue a passenger, the wounded Princess Lastelle of Pejite, who pleads with Nausicaä to destroy the cargo before dying. The cargo is an embryo of a Giant Warrior, one of the lethal bioweapons that caused the Seven Days of Fire. The Tolmekians, a military state, seized the embryo and Lastelle from Pejite, but their plane was attacked by mutant insects and crashed. One of the insects emerges wounded from the wreckage and seems poised to attack the frightened villagers, but Nausicaä uses a small bullroarer to calm it and guides it away from the Village on her jet-powered glider.
The next morning, Tolmekian troops, led by Princess Kushana and Officer Kurotowa, kill Nausicaä's father and take the Giant Warrior embryo. Kushana plans to mature the Giant Warrior and use it to burn the Toxic Jungle. Nausicaä kills several Tolmekian soldiers before Yupa intervenes. Kushana announces her decision to leave for the Tolmekian capital with Nausicaä and five hostages from the Valley. Before they leave, Yupa discovers a secret garden of jungle plants reared by Nausicaä; according to Nausicaä's findings, plants that grow in clean soil and water are not toxic, but the jungle's soil has been tainted by humankind.
An agile Pejite interceptor shoots down the Tolmekian ship carrying Kushana and her detachment. It crash-lands in the jungle, disturbing several Ohm, which Nausicaä soothes. She leaves to rescue Asbel, the Pejite pilot and twin brother of Lastelle, but both are swallowed by quicksand and arrive in a non-toxic area below the jungle. Nausicaä realizes that the jungle plants purify the polluted topsoil, producing clean water and soil underground.
Nausicaä and Asbel return to Pejite but find the capital ravaged by insects. A band of surviving Pejites reveal that they lured the creatures to eradicate the Tolmekians, and are doing the same in the Valley to recapture the Giant Warrior. They capture Nausicaä, but with the help of Asbel and his mother, Nausicaä escapes on a glider. While flying home, she finds a team of Pejite soldiers using a wounded baby Ohm to lead a furious herd of thousands of Ohm into the Valley. The Tolmekians deploy tanks and later the Giant Warrior against the herd, but their tanks' firepower cannot stop the Ohm, and the Giant Warrior, hatched prematurely, disintegrates.
Nausicaä liberates the baby Ohm and gains its trust. Her dress stained by its blue blood, she and the baby Ohm stand before the raging herd and are both run over, seemingly killing Nausicaä. The herd calms, and the Ohm use their golden tentacles to resuscitate her. She walks atop the hundreds of golden Ohm tentacles as through golden fields, revealing Nausicaä to be the saviour from the prophecy. The Ohm and Tolmekians leave the Valley and the Pejites remain with the Valley people, helping them to rebuild. Meanwhile, deep underneath the Toxic Jungle, a new non-toxic tree sprouts next to Nausicaä's lost aviation goggles.
Hayao Miyazaki made his credited directorial debut in 1979 with The Castle of Cagliostro, a film which was a distinct departure from the antics of the Lupin III franchise, but still went on to receive the Ofuji Noburo Award at the 1979 Mainichi Film Concours. Although Cagliostro was not a box office success, Toshio Suzuki, editor of the magazine Animage, was impressed by the film and encouraged Miyazaki to produce works for Animage's publisher, Tokuma Shoten. Miyazaki's film ideas were rejected, and Tokuma asked him to do a manga: this led to the creation of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Miyazaki began writing and drawing the manga in 1982, and it quickly became Animage's most popular feature. Hideo Ogata and Yasuyoshi Tokuma, the founders of Animage and Tokuma Shoten respectively, encouraged Miyazaki to work on a film adaptation. Miyazaki initially refused, but agreed on the condition that he could direct.
In the early stages, Isao Takahata, credited as executive producer, reluctantly joined the project even before the animation studio was chosen. An outside studio to produce the film was needed because Tokuma Shoten did not own an animation studio: Miyazaki and Takahata chose the minor studio Topcraft. The production studio's work was known to both Miyazaki and Takahata and was chosen because its artistic talent could transpose the sophisticated atmosphere of the manga to the film. On 31 May 1983, work began on the pre-production of the film. Miyazaki encountered difficulties in creating the screenplay, with only sixteen chapters of the manga to work with. Miyazaki would take elements of the story and refocus the narrative and characters to the Tolmekian invasion of Nausicaä's homeland. Takahata would enlist the experimental and minimalist composer Joe Hisaishi to do the score for the film.
In August, the animation work began on the film and was produced by animators hired for the one film and paid per frame. One notable animator was Hideaki Anno, who later wrote and directed Neon Genesis Evangelion. Anno was assigned to draw the challenging God Warrior's attack sequence, which according to Toshio Suzuki is a "high point in the film". The film was released in March 1984, with a production schedule of only nine months and with a budget equivalent to $1 million.
Miyazaki's work on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was inspired by a range of works including Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea, Brian Aldiss's Hothouse, Isaac Asimov's Nightfall, and J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Dani Cavallaro also suggests inspiration from The Princess Who Loved Insects folktale, and the works of William Golding. Nausicaä, the character, was inspired in name and personality, by Homer's Phaeacian princess in the Odyssey. While a connection to Frank Herbert's Dune is often made there is no confirmation apart from the name "Ohmu" being a syllabic rendition of the English "worm". Miyazaki's imagination was sparked by the mercury poisoning of Minamata Bay and how nature responded and thrived in a poisoned environment, using it to create the polluted world of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Ian DeWeese-Boyd agrees, "Her commitment to love and understanding—even to the point of death—transforms the very nature of the conflict around her and begins to dispel the distorting visions that have brought it about."
The most prominent themes are the anti-war and environmental focus of the film. Nausicaä, the heroine, believes in the value of life regardless of its form and through her actions stops a war. Loy and Goodhew state there is no evil portrayed in the film, but the Buddhist roots of evil: greed, ill will and delusion. Fear is what drives the conflicts, the fear of the poisoned forest results in the greed and resentment. Nausicaä, in addition to being a transformative force, leads people to understand and respect nature which is portrayed as welcoming, spiritual, and restorative for those who enter it peacefully.
The film was released, in 1984, with a recommendation from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). On 30 July 1995, a subtitled version of the film was screened at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, in London, as part of the "Building Bridges" film festival, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In her 25 March 2013 presentation at Colorado College, on "Tapestries of Apocalypse: From Angers to 'Nausicaa' and Beyond", Dr. Susan J. Napier places the film and in particular the tapestry, depicted underneath the opening credits, within the tradition of artistic representation of apocalypses and apocalyptic visions. She explores the role such expressions play in understanding apocalyptic events and post-event recovery.
The film was released by Toei Company on 11 March 1984. The film would gross about 1.48 billion yen at the box office, sell 914,767 tickets and make an additional 742 million yen in distribution income. Home releases include the original April 1984 Laserdisc release and as part of Juburi ga Ippai Sutajio Jiburi LD Zenshuu (Ghibli Complete Collection: Studio Ghibli Complete LD Collection) from August 1996, the original March 1984 VHS version by Animage and re-release by Buena Vista on 19 September 1997. Three DVD sets were released in Japan with a regular DVD and figure set released on 19 November 2003 and a collectors set following on 7 December 2003.
New World Pictures produced a 95-minute English-dubbed adaptation of the film, titled Warriors of the Wind, and it was released theatrically in the United States in June 1985, with the VHS video release in December 1985. In the late 1980s, Vestron Video would release the film and First Independent Video would re-release it in 1993 with another minute cut from the film. The voice actors and actresses were not informed of the film's plotline and the film was heavily edited to market it as a children's action-adventure film. Consequently, part of the film's narrative meaning was lost: some of the environmentalist themes were diluted as was the main subplot of the Ohmu, altered to turn them into aggressive enemies. Most of the characters' names were changed, including the titular character who became Princess Zandra. The United States cover for the VHS release featured a cadre of male characters who are not in the film, riding the resurrected God Warrior—including a still-living Warrior shown briefly in a flashback. Approximately 22 minutes of scenes were cut for the film's North American release.
Dissatisfied with Warriors of the Wind, Miyazaki adopted a strict "no-edits" clause for further foreign releases of Studio Ghibli's films. On hearing Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein would attempt to edit Princess Mononoke to make it more marketable, one of Studio Ghibli's production staff members sent an authentic katana with a simple message: "No cuts". Warriors of the Wind also prompted Miyazaki to allow translator Toren Smith of Studio Proteus to create an official, faithful translation of the Nausicaä manga for Viz Media.
In addition to the opening and ending credits sequences, the following scenes were originally removed for Warriors of the Wind, but were restored after Disney's North American DVD re-release.Nausicaä enters the Toxic Jungle. Once there, she discovers a shell belonging to a dead Ohm. While looking at one of the Ohm's eyelids, she is surrounded by spores.
After returning to the Valley of the Wind, Yupa is asked to become the godfather of a newborn girl.
When a villager finds poisonous spores in one of the Valley's fields, another villager destroys it.
Yupa discusses with Mito about preventing the revival of the Giant Warrior. He eventually discovers Nausicaä's secret garden. While there, Nausicaä reveals that she stopped the water supply.
As Nausicaä departs with the Tolmekians, the Valley children give Nausicaä chico nuts as a farewell gift.
While sleeping, Nausicaä remembers an episode from her childhood in which she attempted to protect a baby Ohm from the Valley's leaders.
Most of the scene where Nausicaä and Asbel are in the Toxic Jungle's non-toxic underground.
The Valley citizens destroy their contaminated trees.
After getting captured by the Pejites, Nausicaä argues with the Pejite Mayor about their plans for the Giant Warrior.
Asbel leads Nausicaä through the women's area of the transport brig.
While Kushana and Kurotawa wait for Pejite's assault, they release Gol and the other Valley hostages. Obaba discovers that the wind has ceased blowing.
On 18 October 2003, Cindy and Donald Hewitt, the scriptwriters of Walt Disney Pictures' English dubs of Spirited Away and Porco Rosso, announced that an unedited and redubbed version of Nausicaä was in pre-production, and that Patrick Stewart and Uma Thurman had been cast. Natalie Portman was originally intended to voice Nausicaä, but Alison Lohman was eventually assigned the role.
Nausicaä was released on DVD by Buena Vista Home Entertainment on 22 February 2005 for Region 1. This DVD includes both the English dub and the Japanese audio track with English subtitles. Optimum Home Entertainment released the film in Region 2 and the Region 4 DVD is distributed by Madman Entertainment. A remastered Blu-ray sourced from a 6K filmscan was released on 14 July 2010 in Japan. It includes an uncompressed Japanese LPCM stereo track, an English dub and English subtitles. On 18 October 2010 a Blu-ray version was released in Region B by Optimum Home Entertainment. The film was released on Blu-ray in the United States and Canada on 8 March 2011 by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
Spain first released two versions of the cut film, both called Guerreros del Viento ("Warriors of the Wind") with the first in 1987 and again 1991, and then a version of the original uncut film under the Nausicaä del Valle del Viento title in 2010. France has had both versions of the movie appear with two cut versions named La Princesse des Etoiles ("The Princess of the Stars") and Le vaisseau fantôme ("The Ghost Ship"): the uncut film had a regular and collector's DVD set released on 18 April 2007. In Germany UFA released the 86 minute long cut version on VHS as Sternenkrieger (literally "Star Warriors") in 1986 and Universum Anime released the uncut DVD release on 5 September 2005. The 2007 Hungarian release, titled Nauszika - A szél harcosai ("Nausicaä - The Warriors of the Wind") is uncut despite the title's reference. The Korean DVD release of the uncut film was on 3 March 2004. China has had three releases of Nausicaä: the first on Video CD and two DVD releases.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind received largely positive reviews from film critics. The film is frequently ranked among the best animated films in Japan, and is seen by critics as a seminal influence on the development of anime, as the film's success led to the foundation of Studio Ghibli and several other anime studios. Theron Martin of Anime News Network praised the film for its character designs, as well as Hayao Miyazaki's direction and Joe Hisaishi's score. He also said that the film "deserves a place on any short list of all-time classic anime movies." Common Sense Media, which serves to inform parents about media for children, rated the film positively and cited its good role models and positive messages, but also cautioned parents about its dramatic setting and violent scenes. As of August 2015, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 87% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 15 reviews with an average rating of 8/10.
Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi has cited the manga and film as an influence on his series. As such, the horseclaws in the film were used as an inspiration for the Chocobos in the games. Numerous games have used Ohmu-like creatures, assumed to be reference to the film including Metal Slug 3 Cyber Core and Viewpoint. The game Crystalis, known in Japan as God Slayer: Haruka Tenkū no Sonata (ゴッド・スレイヤー はるか天空のソナタ), shares common elements with the film, including an insect that resembles an Ohmu. Helen McCarthy in 500 Essential Anime Movies praised the animation techniques of Miyazaki, stating that "the real strength of this film is the script, packed with incident, excitement and passion, and the soundtrack" of Joe Hisaishi.
Disney's English dub was well received by audiences and critics, especially in comparison to Warriors of the Wind, with the leading voice actors frequently being praised for their performances. However, in conducting a comparative analysis of the Japanese-language anime with their English translations, Eriko Ogihara-Schuck believes that although Disney's dub eschewed the dualistic, good versus evil worldview of Warriors of the Wind, it also “Christianiz[ed] Miyazaki's animism”. According to her, the translators of the film were working a language suffused with Judeo-Christian idioms not found in Japanese, which they introduce to the text, such as the nature of man's relationship with the environment and animals as seen in Judeo-Christian narratives and cultural practices. Examples of these changes include when Nausicaä describes an insect as a "good boy", a term often used in describing domesticated animals (instead of a "good child", as in the Japanese version), and when Nausicaä converses with the wounded baby Ohm - in Japanese, she does not consider forgiveness from the baby a possibility, while the English version has her asking for it, albeit admitting the difficulty for the Ohm to do so. As a result of these changes, Nausicaä's death and subsequent resurrection by the Ohm herd present her as a Christ figure whose self-sacrifices are for mankind, rather than for nature. Ogihara-Schuck believes that Disney erased animistic motifs almost entirely from the film, even more so than Warriors of the Wind, in order to make it more accessible for American audiences due the film's non-specific setting, since animism was retained in their versions of My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Ponyo, as well as their own production Pocahontas.
Various gliders are seen in the film and the protagonist, Nausicaä, uses a jet-assisted one-person glider-shaped machine with folding wings. According to the accompanying film book released in Japan, the glider is called Möwe (メーヴェ, Mēve, or "mehve" in the English manga), the German word meaning gull. An official scale model lists it as having an approximate wingspan of 5.8 meters (1/20 model measured to be 29 cm), while the design notes indicate it has a mass of only 12 kg. In 2004, the Japanese-led OpenSky Aircraft Project began attempts to build a real-life, working personal jet glider based on the glider from the film. Two full-size gliders with no power source carrying the code name M01 and M02, with a half-sized jet-powered remote controlled mock up called moewe 1/2 was built. The designer and tester of the project refused the official endorsement of the project by Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, noting that he did not want to cause trouble for them if an accident occurred. A jet powered version (registration number JX0122) was finally able to take off under its own power for the first time on 3 September 2013.
The film's score was composed by Joe Hisaishi, while the vocal theme song "Kaze no Tani no Naushika" was produced by Haruomi Hosono (Yellow Magic Orchestra and Happy End member) and sung by Narumi Yasuda. Numerous soundtracks and albums relating to the film have been released.Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind: Image Album <Bird Person> (風の谷のナウシカ イメージアルバム 鳥の人) released 25 November 1983
Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind: Symphony <The Legend of Wind> (風の谷のナウシカ シンフォニー 風の伝説) released 25 February 1984
Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind: Soundtrack <Toward the Far Away Land> (風の谷のナウシカ サウンドトラック はるかな地へ) released 25 March 1984
Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind: Drama Version <God of Wind> (風の谷のナウシカ・ドラマ編) released 25 April 1984
Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind: Best Collection (風の谷のナウシカ BEST) released 25 November 1986
Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind: Hi-tech Series (風の谷のナウシカ・ハイテックシリーズ) released 25 October 1989
Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind: Piano Solo Album <For the Easy Use with Beyer> released 15 March 1992
Miyazaki's manga version of Nausicaä was written over a period of 12 years, with breaks taken to work on Studio Ghibli films. Serialized in Tokuma Shoten's Animage magazine, the first chapter was published in February 1982 and the last chapter in March 1994. Miyazaki adapted and altered the work for the film because only sixteen chapters of the manga were written at the time of the film's production. The manga would continue to be produced until the seventh and final book was released on 15 January 1995. The English localization was initially done by Toren Smith and Dana Lewis of Studio Proteus. After Miyazaki resumed production of the manga, Viz Media chose a new team and continued to release the rest of manga.
Three video games were released based on the manga and the film. All three of the titles were developed by Technopolis Soft and published by Technopolis Soft and Tokuma Shoten. Nausicaä in the Nick of Time also known as Nausicaä's Close Call (Naushika Kiki Ippatsu or Nausicaä Kiki Ippatsu) is a Japanese shoot 'em up video game developed and published by Technopolis Soft for the NEC PC-6001 computer system in 1984. The game marketed as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and known by its title screen as Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä (風の谷のナウシカ, Nausicaä Adventure Game), is an adventure game developed by Technopolis Soft for the NEC PC-8801: it was released in the 1980s, most likely 1984. The third game, Wasure ji no Nausicaä Game (忘れじのナウシカ・ゲーム, Nausicaä's Forgotten Game) for the MSX is the most well-known of the releases and has been frequently and erroneously referred to as a game where the player kills the Ohmu. These games signaled the end of video game adaptations for Hayao Miyzaki's films. The only other games based on Miyazaki films were the LaserDisc arcade game Cliff Hanger and the MSX2 platform-adventure game Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, both of which were based on The Castle of Cagliostro. Luke Plunkett describes these "two awful adaptations" as the reason Miyazaki does not allow further video game adaptations of his films.
An art book titled, The Art of Nausicaä (ジ・アート・オブ 風の谷のナウシカ, Ji āto Obu kaze no tani no naushika) was released by Tokuma Shoten on 20 June 1984. It contains artwork during the early stages of production of the film and commentary of assistant director Kazuyoshi Katayama. Kaze no tani no Naushika Miyazaki Hayao Suisaiga-shū (風の谷のナウシカ 宮崎駿水彩画集, literally "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: Hayao Mizayaki Watercolor Art book") was released by Tokuma Shoten on 5 September 1995. The art book contains artwork of the manga in watercolor, examples of storyboards for the film, autographed pictures by Hayao Miyazaki and interviews on the birth of Nausicaä. The book has been translated in English and French. Two bunkobon volumes containing the story boards were released, on 31 March 1984. In 2001, the Nausicaä storyboards were re-released, bundled into a single, larger, volume as part 1 of the Studio Ghibli Story boards collection. A selection of layout designs for the film was also incorporated in the Studio Ghibli Layout Designs exhibition tour, which started in the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (28 July 2008 to 28 September 2008) and subsequently travelled to different museums around Japan and Asia, concluding in the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (12 October 2013 to 26 January 2014). The exhibition catalogues contain annotated reproductions of the displayed artwork. Tokuma Shoten released a film comic, in four volumes, one each week from 20 November 1990 to 20 December 1990. A two-volume children's version was released on 31 March 1998.