Otaku USA Magazine
The Art of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind [Review]

nausicaäRight on the heels of its Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind picture book, VIZ Media’s Studio Ghibli Library is releasing The Art of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. The picture book is a fun item for fans and collectors of the Nausicaä franchise, but the art book offers even more. Anyone interested in animation could glean useful information from this book.

The art book is full of concept sketches from writer and director Hayao Miyazaki. You can see how he tried out and cast aside different ideas and images. But you can also see elements of the story he was obsessing over and how he eventually found what he was going for. There are some sketches in pencil with writing in Japanese to the side, but most of the concept art is in full color. There are also some screenshots from the movie. While you could say, “I can watch the movie for the screenshots,” it’s very interesting to see the final product set up against earlier work so you can compare and contrast.

Another aspect of the book that stands out would be Miyazaki’s frequent illustrations. Not concept art and not in the movie, these are nevertheless beautifully detailed. It really gives you a glimpse of how passionate he is about this story and the work he put into it.

There’s not a whole lot of writing for a big chunk of the book. The images are labeled and aspects of the story are discussed, but that’s about it. Then you get to the end of the book and everything changes. There’s a section on Animation Technique from Kazuyoshi Katayama, who was the production assistant for the Nausicaä movie. He explains how they did special effects, elastic multi construction, camerawork, telescopic effect, coloring and more. This can be of interest to anyone who likes animation and is curious how it’s done, whether or not they’re into Nausicaä.

The book ends with a twelve page article previously published by Animage (with some revisions and edits) that talks about the history of Nausicaä and how it came to be. This is a very fascinating behind-the-scenes look and could also be of interest for anyone who wants to know more about animation in general. At the same time, The Art of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is a great treat for fans and collectors of the franchise.

Story & Art: Hayao Miyazaki
Publisher: VIZ Media

Danica Davidson, along with Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya, is the author of Manga Art for Intermediates. In addition to showing how to draw manga character types in detail, the book describes how professional Japanese manga creators work, including common techniques and what drawing utensils they use.