Artbook of the Day: Nausicaa Watercolor Impressions

It’s no secret that I love fancy (and sometimes not so fancy) art books, nor is it a secret that I love Hayao Miyazaki films. So, it’s no surprise that I own nearly all of the art books in the Viz series about his films. They’re all weighty hardcovers with gorgeous illustrations, concept sketches, and other unseen gems from the making of each film. I love looking through these books every once in a while- I find comfort in visiting his fantastical worlds, given that I grew up with his films.

One such book that sort of stands out from the rest is Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Watercolor Impressions. This book more emphasizes concept work than the others, given that Nausicaa was originally a manga penned and illustrated solely by Miyazaki in gorgeous watercolor.

One of Miyazaki’s favorite illustrations of princess Nausicaa

Nausicaa is such an amazing film (unfortunately I haven’t read the manga yet,) about a post apocalyptic (pre-apocalyptic?) and environmentally damaged planet. As a result, the planet tries to heal itself- by eliminating all humans. It’s up to the spunky, empathetic princess Nausicaa to save the day, which culminates in a heartbreaking climax where she begs the planet to forgive the human race-a theme that Miyazaki revisits in his proceeding work. It’s such a beautiful story, and even after all these years, relevant. I was always struck by how powerful Miyazaki’s female heroines were- not necessarily in physical power, but there was just an energy behind them. They seemed like real people, with real emotions and conflicts behind their expressions. They make the highly idealized, wide-eyed faces of the Disney princesses seem vacant by comparison (I guess they look kinda vacant without doing a comparison…)

Of course, you come to a Miyazaki film for the great characters, but you stay for the incredible world-building (or is it the other way around?) He almost always features incredible flying machines-

lush landscapes-

-and incredible creatures of fancy, and sometimes destruction:

It was also interesting to see some early concept art Miyazaki made pre-Nausicaa. I especially loved this gem:

I love these books. It’s so amazing to be able to take a trip into a sketchbook see the thought process of one of the greatest artists of our time through his own personal sketches and paintings.

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6 thoughts on “Artbook of the Day: Nausicaa Watercolor Impressions

  1. It’s a fantastic art book that complements both film and manga. The first picture you posted is hands down my favourite, depicting Nausicaa with an aura of “quiet isolation”.

    1. It’s my favorite too! It’s interesting because when you’re going through all the covers/”special” illustrations, his comments are mostly “I didn’t like how this turned out,” or “I was forced to paint this,” but then you get to this one and he finally has one of his own paintings that he really likes, haha.

  2. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind sure is an amazing movie with great art and a message that still need to be heard. and i agreed Hayao Miyazaki’s female heroines are more than good look and pretty face thats one thing i like about them. They have inner power and sometime both inner and physical power that some normal manga/anime female heroines can lack or lose as they fall in love ( pretty annoying sometimes).

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