Spirited Away was such a disorienting assault-and-battery of conceptual charm and visual elegance that the American market can no longer ignore Hayao Miyazaki, and so Disney is tying the bells and whistles to a Studio Ghibli closet-clearing, DVD’ing Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and Porco Rosso (1992). (A third, 2002’s The Cat Returns, is a Miyazaki-free Ghibli product.) It’s clear that Miyazaki is some kind of genius-poet of scale, composition, and movement, with a regard for real physics and an endearing obsession with the heroic abilities of young girls. A rather stunning, post-apocalyptic rehearsal for many of the ideas emanating from Princess Mononoke, Nausicaä is the crowd-pleaser, bound to overshadow Porco Rosso, which is by far the more original. A serial-style adventure in which a mustachioed, flying-ace pig battles air pirates in a conjectural post-WWI time when seaplanes ruled the Adriatic, it’s as coy and artful in its retro coolness as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, if substantially wittier and more wistful. All three come with an extra disc of supps each: drawings, storyboards, interviews, trailers, and so on.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 1, 2005