Survey of Animation – Nausicaä Group project essay

History – (by Fratianni, Anna)

The Japanese animated film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, was released in 1984 by Hayao Miyazaki. It was his second feature film, and was wildly successful in Japan, which led to the founding of Studio Ghibli. The film was based on the manga of the same name, which Miyazaki wrote himself. The manga was his first story and is much longer and in depth than the movie’s story taking him 12 years on and off to finish it (Runyon).

The film speaks on many social and political issues, such as environmentalism, feminism, and war. It was made just after the environmental movement in the 70s and was at a time where animation was losing momentum, and was considered a children’s medium in the United States, due to the cheap animated children’s shows on TV. There was not much competition for Nausicaä, since most animated film studios had moved to TV. Disney was still producing animated feature films at this time, but was failing miserably, having lost direction after Walt died. The Black Cauldron was released in 1985, just a year after Nausicaä, and it was a huge failure that nearly ended the Disney studio.

An English dub of Nausicaä was also released in America in 1985 under the title, Warriors of the Wind. Since animation was still considered a children’s medium in America, this version of the film was heavily altered and was marketed to children. In this era, American studios attempted to remove all Japanese elements from the English dubs, reducing their authenticity. Many of the slower-paced sections of the film were cut out so that more emphasis could be put on the action sequences, which also resulted in the story’s message becoming muddled. Other changes included renaming characters, such as Princess Nausicaä, who became Princess Zandra. The English voice actors weren’t even informed about the story of the film, resulting in lackluster performances. The messages of the original film were distorted, such as the insect creatures called “Ohmu were made out to be monstrous villains instead of the gentle giants depicted in the original Japanese version, and the film’s environmentalist themes were almost completely excised” (Runyon). When Miyazaki found out about the horrendous dub that had been done, he was very upset and said that anyone who had seen it should wipe it from their memory. This led him to establish a strict policy that foreign dubs of his films could not be cut or changed from then on (Runyon).

In 2005, Disney released a new, uncut English dub of Nausicaä, this time with its proper title and character names, as well as quality voice-acting. This re-release was successful and brought in many new fans, since the film still holds up very well today.

Miyazaki’s Background – (by Clark, Quinton)

Before working on Nausicaa, Hayao Miyazaki worked on a number of other animated films. His interest in animation started when he was in his third year of high school. Miyazaki went to see his first-ever Japanese feature-length color anime, called “Hakuja Den,” or “Legend of the White Snake.” Upon graduating from high school, Miyazaki entered the Gakushuin University where he joined the school’s “Children’s Literature Research Club.” At the time, this was the closest thing to a comics club that one could join (Feldman).

Miyazaki graduated from university and landed a job at Toei Animation. There, he was trained for three months and was assigned to work on the feature, “Watchdog Bow Wow.” After that, he moved to Toei’s first TV series, “Wolf Boy Ken.” In 1965, Miyazaki volunteered to help out Isao Takahata, Vice-Chairman of Toei Animation’s labor union, on a feature called “Prince of The Sun.” The feature was released in 1968, and in that same year, Akemi Ota, now Akemi Miyazaki, worked on “Puss In Boots,” a project where Miyazaki was a key animator. Akemi Miyazaki also contributed to “The Flying Ghost Ship,” where Miyazaki was a key animator in as well (Feldman).

For some of the other films that Miyazaki worked on, he would travel to different parts of the world in order to find inspiration. In 1971, Miyazaki travelled to Sweden with Tokyo Movie president, Yutaka Fujioka, hoping to secure the rights to “Pippi Longstocking.” Unfortunately, their attempt at this failed. Miyazaki then travelled to Switzerland in 1973 to obtain inspiration for the feature, “Heidi: Girl of The Alps.” Another trip he made was to Italy and Argentina, in order to prepare for the film “Three Thousand Miles In Search Of Mother” (Feldman).

At this point, Miyazaki had been an instructor for beginning animators, as well as a very experienced director of television cartoons. The Tokuma production came to him, requesting that he make the Nausicaä stories into an animated feature. Thus, the film “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” was created and released in 1984. Along with Miyazaki, the production studio Top Craft helped out with animating the film. (Beetz)

After the release of his Nausicaä film, Miyazaki went on to make many more movies with the production studio, Studio Ghibli. In 1986, Miyazaki directed “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”. In 1988, he released what is often called one of the greatest children’s motion pictures ever made, “My Neighbor Totoro.” The movie, however was released as a co-feature with Isao Takahata’s “Grave of the Fireflies,” a story of misery, hopelessness, and prolonged, agonizing deaths. This almost brought Studio Ghibli to it’s undoing. Fortunately, Miyazaki was able to market stuffed toys based on figures in the movie that had become very popular well into the 2000s.

The next movie Miyazaki released, in 1989, was another popular film called “Witch’s Delivery Service,” renamed “Kiki’s Delivery Service” in America. In 1992, Miyazaki released “Porco Rosso”, a movie depicting strange and wonderful airplanes based on actual planes from the 1920s. Next was Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke”, released in 1997, a fantastic movie that surpassed the success of  “E.T.” Then, in 2001, he released “Spirited Away,” yet another popular film of his. 

On January 14, 1998 Miyazaki announced that he would be leaving Studio Ghibli, claiming that his eyesight was failing, and with this, he would not be able to make the high quality art that he had done for his other films.  Yet, on January 16, 1999, he returned as the leader of Studio Ghibli and put out two more films. He released “The Cat Returns” in 2002, and “Lord Howl’s Castle” in 2004. (Beetz)

Production – (by Nieves, Luzmary)

The movie uses hand-drawn animation, which was the most popular medium of animation throughout most of the 20th century. For the film Nausicaa, animators were hired and paid per frame. Traditional animation involves creating a series of thousands of drawings, each with only slightly differences, in order to create the illusion of movement (Traditional Animation Techniques). The drawings are then either inked or photocopied onto transparent cels, which are then filled in with color on the back side. The cels are then stacked at different levels on a multiplane camera and photographed one-by-one onto film (Explore Different Types of Animation).

           The production of 2D animation goes through several different phases: pre-production, production, and post-production. Pre-production involves creating the script, storyboards, audio recordings, animatics, characters, props, location design, as well as color styling and color model sheets. The pre-production process is what sets up the whole production of the film, and should be done very well and thought through thoroughly. If it is not done with care, it will result in retakes, corrections, which can be very expensive (Production Process for 2D Animation).

           The script, storyboard and audio recordings are some of the major aspects in animation production. The script acts as a blue print for the whole film, and contains all the basic information about the plot, character dialogue, setting, layout, and important cues for the animation and sound. This is used as a basis has all the information in order for the illustrators to animate the series. The storyboard is the thing that the artist makes from the script. This is done for all animation, live films, commercials and much more. It is a something like a visual representation of all the scenes and actions which are in the script. The storyboard has dialogue, notes and it would have been created at the same time as the characters. The first one will not always be the only or final one. The audio recording is what the voice recording is. The script is needed for the talking between characters and different side effects. The voices of the different characters have to read the lines from the script in order to record the characters voices in the films or animations (Production Process for 2D Animation).

The animatic is the first part of the movie of the animation. The storyboard is the part that has to be scanned in to show sounds and dialogue. The animatic is used to help the animators and compositors. It is just the parts of the storyboard and the effects. The animators have to thoroughly look through all of the storyboard in order to know the show and how they are supposed to make it look through the creators eyes. This helps knowing the rhythm and then, because of this it would help in avoiding mistakes. These designs of the characters are all in black and white. Once the black and white drawings and characters are all done, color styling is the next step. The “color stylist” is the one that is in charge of all of the color. They will choose the colors for the balance in mostly all of the animation. They will choose the characters, effects, and locations coloring. The stylist needs to be able to create the aspects of the colors to make the mood throughout the animation. The colors have to be able to be approved in order to work, and once they are, color models are produced. The artists use this to create the rest of the film (Production Process for 2D Animation).

The second part of the whole animation making process is the production part. The layout is the first part of this part of the process. This is what puts the storyboard artist and the animator together. The “layout artist” is the person that uses the storyboard in order to help the animator be organized. The things that are included are; size of the scene, poses of characters, effects, backgrounds, and other information for animator. The next step is the background coloring. This is when the backgrounds are all created and are able to be painted (Production Process for 2D Animation).

Works Cited

Beetz, Kirk. “Miyazaki, Hayao. 1941-.” Reference for Business. Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd ed. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.

Burr, Ty. “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (2005).” Entertainment Weekly. 7 Mar. 2005. Time Inc. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.

Feldman, Steven. “Hayao Miyazaki Biography, Revision 2.” Nausicaa.net. 1994. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.

Grant, Stacey. “Miyazaki’s Nausicaä—A New Kind of Princess.” Lone Star Film Society. Lone Star Film Society, 30 June 2014. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.

Ruh, Brian. “Transforming U.S. Anime in the 1980s: Localization and Longevity.” Mechademia 5 (2010): 31-49. Project Muse. University of Minnesota Press. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.

Runyon, Christopher. “The Studio Ghibli Retrospective: ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind’.” Movie Mezzanine Movie Mezzanine, 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.

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