Out of all of the Hayao Miyazaki films I have known and loved, only one has remained my favorite over the years: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Nausicaä is famous for a number of reasons, not least of which is for being the film that more or less is the reason Studio Ghibli got off the ground, as its success led to the formation of the studio. It is also the first feature-length film that Miyazaki based on an original property, following his entry into the Lupin III series, The Castle of Cagliostro. In Nausicaä, several motifs and themes that would dominate Miyazaki’s work would be established: flying, an inclination toward pacifism and eco-consciousness, a strong female protagonist (and antagonist in the case of this film). All of these things would be featured repeatedly in Miyazaki’s films, but Nausicaä featured them first.
But the most curious thing about Nausicaä is how it has existed in the US. There have been three distinctly different portrayals of the property, each with their own quirks and interests, that have been given to American audiences, and it’s worth examining what each of them represent.