I’m of the mindset that you never forget your first Studio Ghibli film. I have friends who remember watching My Neighbor Totoro when they were kids and wanting to ride a cat bus. I’ve also met people who just loved the environmental message of Princess Mononoke without them realizing there was a lesson being taught. It’s hard not to imagine a lot of anime fans having fond memories of their first Studio Ghibli films because they’re all great.
Well, I do have a lot of fond memories of my first Studio Ghibli film as well. But it’s not because it was a magical experience. I remember it because it was one of the most hilarious things I have seen.
My first Studio Ghibli film is Warriors of the Wind.
Okay, technically, Warriors of the Wind isn’t a Studio Ghibli film. The original name is actually Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Also, the film was created before Studio Ghibli was even assembled. Nevertheless, this was the movie that laid the groundwork for Hayao Miyazaki, the person who wrote and directed Nausicaa, to form the prolific anime studio we know today. I wouldn’t be surprised if they used the profits from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind to actually fund Studio Ghibli! So, for most fans, this is not only a Studio Ghibli film, it is the anime studios first one.
So, what exactly is Warriors of the Wind? Well, in short, it’s the bastardized version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. You have to understand that, when the film came out, Western audiences didn’t get anime. I don’t mean that they didn’t go see it. A lot of fans got to see things like Robotech, Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years, Speed Racer and Astro Boy, just to name a few. What I mean is Western audiences didn’t understand that anime wasn’t just for children. A lot of anime was severely dumbed down when they came to the West. That was just the way things were before.
I actually saw Warriors of the Wind on local TV one night. It just so happened to be showing it and I thought, “Hey, cool! A cartoon!” To be fair, I was around 14 years old, I think. If you think that’s too old to be watching cartoons, you’re on the wrong website! Anyway, I hunkered down and watched the entire thing. I may have skipped the intro scene so I had no idea of the setting as that’s all revealed by some narrator guy. But what I saw was something so bad that it was good. And that’s not even knowing that it was butchered by the Western distributors!
First off, Warriors of the Wind had some really weird dubbing. More specifically, most of the lines just sounded weird. There were scenes where Nausicaa, or Princess Zandra (ugh) as the case may be, would ask “the spirits of the wind” to help her. Also, Princess Zandra (ugh) has a weird country accent which doesn’t suit her.
Of course, my favorite line is when Lord Yupa attacks one of the airships and the commander yells “It’s Lord Yupa! Kill him and you’ll be famous!” It just seems like an odd thing to say and even odder that they retained that line when Disney translated it! Maybe they thought it was just too brilliantly dumb to change. But my second favorite line would be the one where Princess Zandra (ugh) stops the baby Ohmu, or Gorgon in the Warriors of the Wind dub, and she burns her foot because “the lake’s acid.” When she then remarks that the Ohmu/Gorgon is feeling better and she’s “glad,” I actually burst out laughing. There was just something about the delivery of that specific line that just tickles me.
I don’t really remember much about the film. I do remember enjoying it as, well, it actually looked beautiful! You have to realize that most of the anime I’ve seen at that time were from shows like Star Blazers, Grendizer and Voltron. Not to call the animation shoddy of those shows shoddy but compared to “Warriors of the Wind,” they looked like crap! The world looked so imaginative and full of color! The animation was super fluid as well!
Even so, Warriors of the Wind was a mess. Super good visuals just couldn’t overcome how bad the dubbing was. While I don’t remember much about the actual story, what I do remember vividly was going to school the next day and talking about Warriors of the Wind with my friends regarding how bad it was! I vividly remember one of my friends mocking the movement of “the mighty Gorgons” with his hands and how we would make fun of Nausicaa, sorry, “Princess Zandra” and the way she spoke.
In hindsight, Warriors of the Wind wasn’t so bad… for its time. Oh, it definitely has a lot of problems, even if you don’t compare it to the original Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. But, taken on its own, the story is still easy to follow but does come off as rather dull. The animation is really good and I’m glad that they kept all of the original music. I honestly can’t imagine not knowing the Nausicaa Requiem, AKA the “Na-Na-Nana” song. As a whole, however, Warriors of the Wind does not hold up and is definitely a poor representation of Hayao Miyazaki’s work.
Even if Warriors of the Wind is crap in retrospect, I’m actually glad they made this travesty of a translation. When Hayao Miyazaki heard of Warriors of the Wind, he was upset at what they did with Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. It was because of this that he decided that he didn’t want any of his or Studio Ghibli’s works to be cut or edited in any way. He never entertained any Western studios’ notion of bringing his work outside of Japan until Disney came along and promised they wouldn’t edit his work in any way. It took a company like Disney to recognize Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s great work and it would be a travesty to make any changes to it.
It may seem like the fact that Warriors of the Wind was my first introduction to Studio Ghibli is really sad. But, truth to be told, I’m actually glad. Sure, I got the redheaded stepchild version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. But the mere fact that I still remember my friends talking about and making fun of it is something that will always stick with me as being a good memory for me. And isn’t having that pleasant memory more important than watching an actual good movie?
Have you seen Warriors of the Wind or Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind? Or what is your favorite Studio Ghibli film? Let me know in the comments section below!