We watched Nausicaa for the first time a week or two ago. At first, I wasn’t too impressed: even before watching it, I’d already half made up my mind that I wouldn’t like it as much as Miyazaki’s other movies, because of comparisons with other works of his: the manga version of Nausicaa is much more elaborate than the movie, and Miyazaki had revisited environmental themes in other, later movies (Castle in the Sky, I should watch that one again, and Princess Mononoke). So I figured it would be a sort of journeyman work with interesting ideas that ultimately didn’t get their due.
And when I started watching it, my opinions started to solidify: the animation is pretty basic compared to his later work, and the idea of forests and insects evolving in order to clean the world for humans makes me roll my eyes. But somehow, by the end of the movie, I found myself really enjoying it. And Miranda has watched it twice since then, and I’ve been perfectly happy to be in the room with it on.
I think what’s going on is that I’m a sucker for big picture mysticism, driven by charismatic leaders. (Not by any means all charismatic leaders, but Nausicaa certainly qualifies for me.) Castle in the Sky, if memory serves me well, had some neat ideas and pleasant characters, but was lacking on those fronts; Princess Mononoke did better, but wasn’t as simplistically optimistic as Nausicaa. (Optimistic probably isn’t the right word, but I’m not thinking of a better substitute right now.) Don’t get me wrong, I don’t advocate simplistic works in general, but sometimes they have a certain purity which can tweak me in happy spots.
All things considered, I’d probably rather be watching Princess Mononoke, but it was a pleasant surprise given the way my opinions towards Nausicaa had begun. Good thing, too, given that Miranda is way too young for Mononoke, and right now wants to watch Nausicaa every few days.
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