Today marks the beginning of GKids' Studio Ghibli Film Retrospective here in Minneapolis, which launches with Hayao Miyazaki's 1984 landmark feature, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind. I thought this would be a perfect time to revisit the first time Nausicaa was released in the United States, as the notorious hack-job, Warriors of the Wind.
For those not aware, Warriors of the Wind was the US theatrical and home video release of Nauscaa, with a poorly-acted dub, extensive script rewrites, and 30 minutes excised from the running time. This was a common practice at the time for foreign animation in the West, which the suits would deride as "cheap kiddie cartoons." That Nausicaa was created as a serious, and richly complex, adult animated movie was completely lost on the American producers. It was impossible to imagine animation beyond the shadow of Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse. It remains a challenge even today, although great strides have been made.
The cuts and changes made to Warriors of the Wind were made without Miyazaki's consent or knowledge; when he discovered what had happened, he all but renounced the American market for the next decade, only tentatively granting distribution rights for movies like My Neighbor Totoro (during this period, Streamline carried the Miyazaki flame). It wouldn't be until 2006 that Americans finally saw Nausicaa in its original, uncut form, with all its complex, probing, challenging themes restored.
I haven't watched this Cinematic Nutcase video review yet, so I'll be enjoying it along with you for the first time. I'm curious to hear what younger anime fans think of the Warriors debacle. I will agree on one point: the US movie poster is rediculously awesome. It absolutely begs for parody or Family Guy cameo.
I believe Warriors of the Wind stands as a historical document, an example of the struggles of Japanese animation to crack the American consciousness and work its way into our culture. It's also a solid example of the fracture in 1980s popular culture between "mainstream" and "underground," which would explode in the 1990s alternative revolution. Of course, I'm an aging Gen-Xer, so everything in my mind is filtered through the punk & hiphop revolution. I'm just goofy that way.
daniel thomas Categories: nausicaa, video