1 Man 365 Films 365 Days – Day 54

#41 / 365 – ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind’ (1984) – 116 mins
IMDb Challenge #24 / 250 – Ranked #247 – Via DVD collection

A thousand years have passed since man destroyed Earth in the “Seven Days of Fire”, a seaside kingdom known as the Valley of the Wind remains one of the few places still populated. Led by the courageous Princess Nausicaä, the people of the Valley are engaged in a constant struggle with powerful insects called Ohmu, who guard a poisonous jungle that is spreading across the Earth. Nausicaä and her brave companions, together with the people of the Valley, strive to restore the bond between humanity and the Earth

I will be honest and for some unbeknown reason to myself, today was the first time I had sat down and watched a Anime film, and yes friends have recently expressed their disappointment in me, guess I was just very late coming to the party – but wow what an introduction this was to the genre.

Director Hayao Miyazaki displays an imagination for all to see, offering us an extremely rich and mature tale of humankind relationship with nature, in a world filled with both danger and wonder. The dynamic animation on display is superb throughout and it’s mid-air flying scenes are beautiful and engaging along with its well-defined characters. The music deserves special mention to from the opening credits, it brings a unique ambiance to every scene.

On this first experience of ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind’ it certainly warrants repeat viewing and am looking forward to discovering more of this genre, especially ‘Spirited Away’ which lies deeper into the IMDb #250 and is one who friends highly speak of when mentioning Miyazaki pieces.

#42 / 365 – ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ (2004) – 119 mins
IMDb Challenge #25 / 250 – Ranked #236 – Via DVD collection

Sophie (voiced by Emily Mortimer/ Chieko Baisho), an average teenage girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome-but-mysterious wizard named Howl (Christian Bale/ Takuya Kimura), and is subsequently turned into a 90-year old woman (Jean Simmons) by the vain and conniving Wicked Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall/ Akihiro Miwa). Embarking on an incredible odyssey to lift the curse, she finds refuge in Howl’s magical moving castle where she becomes acquainted with Markl, Howl’s apprentice, and a hot-headed fire demon named Calcifer (Billy Crystal/ Tatsuya Gashuin). Sophie’s love and support has a major impact on Howl, who flies in the face of orders from the palace to become a pawn of war and instead risks his life to help bring peace to the kingdom.

This was like waiting for a bus, having never viewed Anime before then two come along at once. Howl’s Moving Castle is full of surprises, where things are not always what they seem, nothing is predictable, and every moment is an unexpected adventure transporting you into a world of fun and fantasy, centering all the time around the wonderful curiosity of the castle – a mix of crooked chimneys and turrets, eyes and protruding ledges, that precariously hang together.

In short, even though the striking visuals are astonishing, I didn’t find myself totally engaged by the story or characters, Calcifer aside who is a delight – has much as I was by the ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind’ and certainly wouldn’t rank this Hayao Miyazaki film higher than that piece on the #IMDb 250.

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