Christopher Runyon at Movie Mezzanine on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind:
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is considered by many to be Studio Ghibli’s first effort, even though it was made before the studio was formed. The film was animated by the studio Topcraft, because the company that hired Miyazaki and Takahata to make the film, Tokuma Shoten, didn’t own an animation studio themselves. Created with a relatively small budget of nearly $1 million, it was more of a test run for what the studio could accomplish in the future, but it still has all the staples of Ghibli’s best work and features Miyazaki’s favorite themes: a strong female character who either equals or outdoes the men, a penchant towards environmentalism, the conflict between innocence and the darkness of adulthood, and a fascination with the art of aviation and flight in general. It’s a simple yet engaging story with imaginative visuals, likable characters, and a gorgeous score by constant collaborator Joe Hisaiashi.