Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a 1984 film by Hayao Miyazaki, based on the manga he wrote of the same name. It is animated in cel animation and utilizes long-standing animation tools such as the multi-plane camera. It uses the common anime style with dark black lines around the characters and with only a couple values of shading used for the shadows and highlights on the characters. There are some steampunk elements in this film, such as the air masks that the characters wear, the airships, and in Nausicaa’s glider. The steampunk movement was currently emerging around the time that this film was made. The environmental message of the film reflects the environmentalist movement of the 1970s.
The film features a very strong female lead character who even happens to be a princess. Having strong female leads was not a common thing at the time, and just about every film that Hayao Miyazaki makes features a strong lead female. He had worked on other smaller films before, but this was his first independent film. This film was highly successful and led to the founding of Studio Ghibli. Later films made by the studio were very much stylistically like Nausicaa and featured strong independent female leads as well. The style of Studio Ghibli is very recognizable in that while it is in an anime style, it doesn’t resort to cheap and lazy animation like the genre is often known for. The animation style of the film is pretty smooth and it is stiff for slower-paced moments and fast when it needs to be for more action-packed scenes. For the most part, it creates a relaxing feeling when watching this film.
There was not much competition from Disney at the time, as this film was made in the 1980s, during Disney’s Dark Age, when they were releasing flop after flop and their animation department was not respected or taken seriously anymore. They were mostly making live-action films at this time. This left room for other competitors to take control of the animation field.
The initial international release of this film sought to hide the “Japanese-ness” of it. The first adaptation for America was retitled “Warriors of the Wind” and was heavily edited to take out the less actiony scenes and characters were renamed to have more American names. The initial American adaptation was such a mess that it led to Studio Ghibli establishing a policy that all future films could not be cut at all for international releases.