The planet is in ruins with nature fighting back. Agito lives in the desolate Neutral City. As a contrast, a lush forest grows nearby that restricts the water available to the city. Yet another contrast is brought to bear when the Ragna nation enter the fray with all its military might. Agito discovers Toola, a girl who has been asleep for three hundred years. That's a lot of 'Match of the Days' she's kipped through. Maybe Toola has the secret to bringing the world back to its natural balance? Or maybe she just likes singing songs by Dexy's Midnight Runners. From the above description, it does sound a lot like Nausicaa. And it is. Even the costumes of the Ragna leaders feels very familiar. Sadly, it's nowhere near as good as Nausicaa.
The introduction is baffling to say the least with dragons made out of plants zooming through space to attack Earth, although it is pretty thrilling especially when the gorgeous music is taken into account. Reminiscent of the music from Macross Plus, it lifts this opening scene to a must-see level (Tekkonkinkreet starts with a similarly great scene). When this theme recurs later in the film it is very welcome.
It is welcome because there is a rather large lull in the mid-section of the film. I don't know whether it was because I was in stupid-mode (always a possibility) but it all seemed quite hard to follow. This is borne out by the fact I've watched it a few times recently and it's still hard work. There are a couple of funny moments to keep the interest though. Agito falls on his coccyx. Comedy gold. Agito also acquires a crop top. Stylish.
Luckily things start to pick up at the end with a battle between a walking volcano and some cannon toting mechs. Also, rather than sitting and waiting for certain death (or eagles) on an erupting volcano, like the happy couple Sam and Frodo, Agito has a much visually better way of escaping a lava flow. It is moderately breath-taking. Maybe Manga will slap that comment on their promotional materials for the film. Ah, no. Just checked. They've used the quote, "Breath-taking" from The Sun.
Origin: Spirits of the Past always seems to be available for a budget price, even in HMV. It's well worth a few of your shiny pounds for the gorgeous animation alone, just don't expect anything truly amazing story wise. Watch Nausicaa for that.
If you like this you could also try:
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Macross Plus.