Against a dream-like landscape washed-out in gold, a small child protects a baby creature from the grasping hands of the adults who fear the giant beast it will one day become. In counterpoint to the terror of the child – the titular character in revered Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s 1984 animated film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind– the voice of a young girl sings a wordless folk song that captures both the innocence of childhood and the piercing tragedy of its loss.

Mai Fujisawa Mai Fujisawa. Photo supplied

The music in this disturbing flashback was written by Japanese composer and conductor Joe Hisaishi –  Nausicaäwould be the start of his highly successful collaboration with Miyazaki and the Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, famed for films like My Neighbor Totoroand Spirited Away. The child singing the melody was Hisaishi’s own four-year-old daughter, Mai Fujisawa, who will perform in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Music from the Studio Ghibli Films– with her father conducting – at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl at the end of the month.

Recording the now iconic melody is a vivid memory for Fujisawa. “It was the winter time, very cold,...

This article is available to Limelight subscribers.

Log in to continue reading.

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now