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Archive for November, 2012

Nausiccaä of the Valley of the Wind

This is movie is generally considered to be Hayao Miyazaki’s first masterpiece, and I can see why. The art is exquisite, rendered in the detail we have come to associate with Miyazaki’s work. We also have plenty of flying contraptions of various kinds. This may also be his most overt (at least until Mononoke Hime) environmental movie.

A thousand years or more into the future, the earth is still suffering from the effects of the Seven Days of Fire. Most of the earth is still poisoned and ruined. Humanity lives in small pockets. The valley of the wind where Nausticaä lives is one. Hers is a peaceful kingdom leaving her plenty of time to explore and investigate the toxic jungle, but that peace is shattered when outsiders come to the valley. One group is after the Giant Warrior,  a relic from the seven days of fire. Another group in retaliation plans to enrage the Ohmu and have them stamped and destroy everything in their path.

I like Nausticaä. She is adventurous, caring, and smart as demonstrated by the fact she goes into the toxic jungle to try and find a cure for her father. There are several fun characters besides her, including Prince Asbel and Master Yulpa. There is plenty of adventure, politics, even a few philosophical and romantic moments (not necessarily at the same time). If you are a fan of Hayao Miyazaki, this is one you must see.

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Kiki’s Delivery Service

This is an alternate world where there are witches and airships. Apparently it is customary for a witch to leave when they are thirteen and live on their own for a year. Kiki is very excited to do this, though her familiar isn’t so sure. Kiki insists on leaving sooner than expected since this night of the full moon is clear. It ends up raining later and girl and cat take refuge in a train. The next day they come to a city by the ocean. Kiki thinks it is perfect, especially once she figures out there is not already a witch there. She runs into a boy named Tombo who she at first is mad at because she thinks he is rude. He just loves flying in any form. At first things are a bit awkward, but when Kiki helps a lady who runs a bakery she gets an offer of room and partial board for helping around the bakery. She also gets the idea of setting up a delivery service since she isn’t very good at any magic except flying. The first delivery is interesting – Kiki gets attacked by crows and looses the delivery and so her cat has to act as a stuffed animal till Kiki can find the real present. In so doing she runs into an artist who lives in the woods. Kiki helps her out in return for the present back. Later, Tombo convinces Kiki he may not be all bad and he invites her to an aviation meeting. Kiki also gets a delivery. Unfortunately, the delivery isn’t ready. Kiki helps with the baking, but ends up going through a storm to make the delivery, which is not appreciated at all. Kiki ends up getting sick. She spends time with Tombo, but when some friends come by, specifically girl friends (and one of those girls was the one who wasn’t happy about her gift the night it was raining), Kiki furiously goes home. To her dismay, she discovers she can no longer understand what her cat says and that she can no longer fly. Fortunately, it is at this point that the artist comes by because she wants to paint Kiki’s face. She takes Kiki back to her house for a break and assures Kiki that her power will come back. The next day Kiki has a delivery (she does it the ordinary way) but then hears that the blimp that Tombo had been so excited about is in trouble with the wind. Tombo ends up hanging from a rope dangling from it! Kiki grabs the nearest broom she finds and manages to fly again. She saves Tombo and the town is now much more accepting of her and her confidence has come back.

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