To date Daniel has probably seen Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind at least a dozen times. He’s watched Spirited Away twice, and Princess Mononoke only once (he keeps saying he doesn’t like it because of “all the blood,” but I suspect there’s something else he doesn’t like about it that he just can’t quite articulate, given all the battles that take place in Nausicaa), but he cannot seem to get enough of Nausicaa.
For those unfamiliar with Miyazaki’s first film, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind takes place a thousand years after a great war that practically destroyed the earth, polluting the soil and killing off most of humanity. Giant warriors had been created that destroyed entire cities, then turned to stone when they were no longer needed. The story opens with Nausicaa investigating the Toxic Forest, where the plants produce spores that will kill humans who breath them in. She has to rescue Lord Yupa from a giant insect called an Ohmu, and the two return to the valley where they live. For more on the story, there is a great summary in an article at Patheos.
The long and short of it is that Nausicaa is the hero of the story, able to communicate with the giant insects that protect the Toxic Forest, smart and curious enough to discover why the forest is toxic and how it can and will become detoxified, compassionate toward others, and yet a skilled and dangerous warrior when necessary. Her father being the king of the people of the valley, Nausicaa is a princess. Which prompted Daniel to first ask me to not tell anyone that he “likes a princess movie,” and to later say that he likes Nausicaa because “she doesn’t just sit around and do nothing, like those other princesses.”
Indeed, Nausicaa is no Disney Princess (though more recent Disney princesses have gained more agency than have past princesses). She is brave, intelligent, curious, wise, compassionate, thoughtful — she has both killed and wept over killing, and her desire to no longer kill and to prevent more killing, whether human or insect, drives even greater bravery on her part. This is Daniel’s hero.
And Daniel’s love of Nausicaa has even managed to elevate Rey from Star Wars Episodes VII and VIII to being his favorite character (a place previously held by Kyo Ren). After all, if it’s okay to admire one female hero, it’s surely okay to admire another.
In any case, Daniel has found the movie he happily watches over and over and over and over and over. And he’s even gotten to a point where he’s memorized entire sections of dialogue. But this doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not watching other things. But, as we learned last weekend, when I asked him if he wanted to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the answer is “yes” — if he can watch Nausicaa afterwards.