The film tells the story of Nausicaä (Shimamoto), a young princess of the Valley of the Wind who gets involved in a struggle with Tolmekia, a kingdom that tries to use an ancient weapon to eradicate a jungle of mutant giant insects. Nausicaä must stop the Tolmekians from enraging these creatures.
The film was released in Japan on March 11, 1984. While created before Studio Ghibli was founded, the film is considered to be the beginning of the studio and is often included as part of the Studio's works, including the Studio Ghibli Collection.
A thousand years have passed since the Seven Days of Fire, an apocalyptic war that destroyed human civilization and gave birth to the vast Toxic Jungle, a forest swarming with giant mutant insects in which everything is lethal to humans. Scattered settlements exist wherever the Toxic Jungle relents. The Valley of the Wind is one such settlement. The Valley's settlers have a prophecy about a person, "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 agile, cheerful and peace-loving princess of the Valley of the Wind, has managed to befriend the Toxic Jungle. She explores the Jungle and communicates with its creatures, including the gigantic, armored trilobite-like creatures called Ohm. She often travels on a compact jet-powered glider in order to find out about the origins of the Toxic Jungle, understand its nature, and even find a cure for both humans and the world.
One night, during a visit by the Valley's swordsmaster, Lord Yupa, a large fixed-wing cargo aircraft from the kingdom of Tolmekia crashes in the Valley. Nausicaä tries to rescue an on board 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, lethal genetically engineered bio-weapons that caused the Seven Days of Fire. The invading Tolmekians seized the embryo and Lastelle. The Tolmekian plane, however, was attacked by mutant insects before it crashed. One of the insects then emerges wounded from the wreckage and seems poised to attack the frightened villagers, but Nausicaä uses a small bullroarer to create a high-pitched tune that helps calm it and after mounting her jet-glider, guides the insect out of the village to safety.
The next morning, Tolmekian troops, led by Princess Kushana and Officer Kurotowa, enter the Valley and secure the Giant Warrior embryo, killing Nausicaä's sick father in the process. Kushana plans to mature the Giant Warrior and then use it to burn the Toxic Jungle, even though history warns of fatal consequences. After witnessing her father's death, Nausicaä goes berserk and kills several Tolmekian soldiers before Yupa intervenes. Kushana announces her decision to leave for Pejite with Nausicaä along with five hostages from the Valley. Before they leave, Yupa discovers her secret garden of jungle plants. According to Nausicaä, plants that grow in clean soil and water are not toxic. The jungle's soil, however, has long been tainted by humankind.
Kushana and her detachment are unable to reach their destination, as an agile Pejite interceptor shoots down the Tolmekian ship. Nausicaä, her fellow hostages and Kushana crash-land in the jungle, disturbing several Ohm, which Nausicaä soothes. She then leaves to rescue Asbel, the Pejite pilot and the twin brother of Lastelle, but both are swallowed by quicksand and end up in a non-toxic world below the jungle. Nausicaä realizes that the jungle plants purify the polluted topsoil, producing clean water that remains hidden underground.
Nausicaä and Asbel return to Pejite, only to find it ravaged by the insects. While boarding a single plane, the surviving villagers reveal that they lured the creatures to eradicate the Tolmekians and are doing the same in the Valley to recapture the Giant Warrior. To prevent any intervention, they capture Nausicaä. Later, with the help of Asbel and his mother, Nausicaä escapes on a glider. While flying home, Nausicaä finds a team of Pejite soldiers using a wounded baby Ohm to lead a furious Ohm herd numbering in the thousands into the Valley. The Tolmekians deploy tanks and later the Giant Warrior against the herd, but to no avail: the tanks' firepower is nowhere near enough to harm an Ohm, and the Giant Warrior, having been hatched prematurely, soon disintegrates, despite successfully destroying a few waves of Ohm.
Nausicaä liberates the baby Ohm and gains its trust; in the process, her pink dress becomes stained by its blue blood, turning completely blue. The two attempt to stop the raging herd, but are run over, with Nausicaä seemingly killed. The herd, however, calms down, and the Ohmu use their golden tentacles to heal Nausicaä. She awakens and starts to dance on top of the hundreds of glowing golden tentacles. Clad in blue and walking as through golden fields, Nausicaä has fulfilled the prophecy. The Ohmu and Tolmekians leave the Valley afterwards, while the surviving Pejites remain with the Valley people, helping them rebuild. Meanwhile, a new tree is beginning to grow underground.
|Characters||Japanese voice cast||English voice cast|
|Nausicaä||Sumi Shimamoto||Alison Lohman|
|Asbel||Yōji Matsuda||Shia LaBeouf|
|Kushana||Yoshiko Sakakibara||Uma Thurman|
|Master Yupa||Goro Naya||Patrick Stewart|
|Obaba||Hisako Kyōda||Tress MacNeille|
|Kurotowa||Iemasa Kayumi||Chris Sarandon|
|King Jihl||Mahito Tsujimura||Mark Silverman|
|Mito||Ichirō Nagai||Edward James Olmos|
|Gol||Kōhei Miyauchi||Frank Welker|
|Gikuri||Jōji Yanami||Jeff Bennett|
|Muzu||Mahito Tsujimura||James Taylor|
|Lastelle||Miina Tominaga||Emily Bauer|
|Mayor of Pejite||Mugihito||Mark Hamill|
|Lastelle's Mother||Akiko Tsuboi||Jodi Benson|
- English: Newell Alexander, Rosemary Alexander, Tom Amundsen, Steve Apostolina, Mitch Carter, Robert Clotworthy, David Cowgill, Wendy Cutler, Ike Eisenmann, Jean Gilpin, Nicholas Guest, Bridget Hoffman, Sherry Hursey, Rif Hutton, Edie Mirman, Richard Miro, Peter Renaday, Lynnanne Zager, Paul Butcher, Ashley Edner, Molly Keck, Ashley Rose Orr, Jordan Orr, Aimee Roldan, Grace Rolek, Ross Simanteris
Additional Voices (Uncredited)
- James Taylor - Young Soldier, Additional Voices
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