By Leroy Douresseaux
Nov 7, 2007 - 13:41
THE ART OF NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND: WATERCOLOR IMPRESSIONS
The name of animated filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki was not well known to many film fans until the 1999 English-language release of his film, Princess Mononoke. Miyazaki later won an Oscar for Spirited Away (2002) and earned an Oscar nomination for Howl’s Moving Castle (2005). However, this prominent Japanese director of feature-length animated films was making animation long before 1999. One of those films, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), has long had a strong cult following in the U.S., and began life as a manga that Miyazaki created himself.
The Art of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: Watercolor Impressions is a book that collects watercolor illustrations (and some black and white drawings) used as concept sketches for both the manga and film versions of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Originally published in Japan, this art book also presents promotional art and drawings used for Nausicaä manga reprint and book collections and memorabilia. This hardcover book also contains a sizable collection of image boards Miyazaki drew for the film. For even more, there is another section containing “motif” art. These are drawings Miyazaki did of costumes, humans, creatures, robots, etc to inspire himself as he prepared to write and draw the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga.
THE LOWDOWN: It goes without saying that The Art of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: Watercolor Impressions is full of pretty pictures. Hey, it’s watercolor drawings! What really impresses here is that the drawings present Miyazaki’s imagination as bountiful, prodigious, and maybe even protean. The variety of design and concept in everything: people, fantastic creatures, costumes, machines, and environments is… amazing. It’s almost like witchcraft. Miyazaki even writes commentary for most of the images, which provides both humor and insight. He actually has some misgivings and complaints about these incredible drawings.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: For fans of Nausicaä, this book is essential. Those who remember the lovely “Art of” books Hyperion published in conjunction with the release of many Walt Disney animated feature films in the 1990’s will want to make shelf space for this.