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You need to watch the most important post-apocalypse movie on HBO Max ASAP

Miyazaki's pre-Ghibli masterpiece still has a lot to teach us.

Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Studio Ghibli has a deep library of classic anime films, but there’s an environmental message uniting much of the work of its co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.

From Spirited Away to Totoro, Miyazaki’s films use the concept of ancient spirits to make one idea crystal clear: "The Earth doesn't belong to you."

“Modern life is so thin and shallow and fake. I look forward to when developers go bankrupt, Japan gets poorer and wild grasses take over.”― Hayao Miyazaki

But there’s one Miyazaki movie that conveys this message better than the rest, and it actually predates the creation of Studio Ghibli.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaä takes place in a post-apocalyptic world 1000 years after "Seven Days of Fire" destroyed all human civilization. In the millennium since, a toxic forest full of monstrous bugs and poison spores spread across much of the Earth.

The story follows Nausicaä, a princess from one of the few remaining nations, who’s determined to study and understand the toxic forest — rather than fight back against it.

Meanwhile, most of what’s left of society is engaged in a violent power struggle that threatens to destroy Nausicaä’s home.

Nausicaä is full of all the Miyazaki hallmarks: incredible animation, thrilling action, heart, comedy, and great voice acting. It’s no surprise this movie united the team that went on to form Studio Ghibli.

Nausicaä (along with the rest of the Ghibli library) is streaming now on HBO Max. Whether you’re a diehard Miyazaki fan or you’ve never seen a single anime, it’s worth watching this underrated post-apocalypse classic

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