Humanity and the planet have been devastated by a war that left behind a toxic jungle teeming with enormous insects and other frightening creatures. Those who managed to survive the war—which now is far in the past—have settled in small cities and kingdoms scattered throughout the remaining habitable land. It is in this setting that Nausicaa, the daughter of the king of her homeland, the Valley of the Wind, discovers the secrets of the toxic jungle and struggles to bring peace and safety to her people.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Picture Book is, essentially, a picture book adaptation of the popular animated movie of the same name. The movie itself is an adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s original manga that began in 1982. Having experienced all three, I would describe each adaptation as a simplification of the story it takes from: the manga is far more detailed and tells a longer story than the movie, while the picture book tells essentially the same story as the movie, but in a shorter form and lacking some of the elements that brought the movie to life, such as the acting and music.

As with the original story, the content is timely and relevant, with strong themes of environmentalism and a post-apocalyptic future based on the destruction of the planet. Despite this potentially depressing subject matter, the tone is characteristic of Miyazaki: hopeful, positive, respectful of nature, and accessible to children. The book includes some scary moments and the deaths of some characters, but is never graphic or overly frightening.

This picture book is not bad, but also doesn’t offer anything particularly new or innovative, and likely has limited appeal. The story is told in prose with one or two illustrations per page. It doesn’t stray from the story told in the movie, and the illustrations look like they could be screenshots taken directly from the film (I’m not sure if they actually are or not). The book simply offers an alternate way of telling or experiencing the same content, though due to the nature of short picture books, the pacing seems a little quicker. It may be an interesting way to share Nausicaa with a younger child, or someone who cannot watch the movie for whatever reason, and the book may serve as a fun collectible for dedicated fans.

In short, there is a lot that’s good about Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Picture Book (story, art, characters, etc.), but most of it already existed, and this new format doesn’t bring very much to the table. With a list price of $30, it may be a nice gift for a big Miyazaki fan, but isn’t an essential purchase for libraries or schools.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Picture Book
By Hayako Miyazaki
ISBN: 9781974705610
VIZ Media, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: 9-12

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Related to…: Movie to Comic, Retelling

  • Sharona Ginsberg

    Past Reviewer

    Sharona Ginsberg is the Head of the Terrapin Learning Commons at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her work fits where technology and learning intersect, and she is especially interested in makerspaces and creating. She is also interested in issues of equity and social justice, serving LGBTQ patrons, and her dog, Bilbo Waggins.

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