[From August Issue 2013]
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
This is a work by MIYAZAKI Hayao, the world renowned director of animated films. It was serialized in the anime magazine “Animage” from 1982 to 1994. In 1984, an animated movie of the same title, directed by the author himself, was released, receiving rave reviews. The story is set on the Eurasian Continent in the distant future; since the “Seven Days of Fire” war, industrially developed civilization has collapsed.
The main character, Nausicaä, is named after a princess from the island of Scheria who appears in Greek myths. Nausicaä is also modeled on the Japanese folk heroine, Mushi Mezuru Himegimi (the Princess Who Loved Insects), who appears in a short story collection written during the Heian period (8th to 12th centuries) called “Tsutsumi Chunagon Monogatari.” Both the Greek princess and Mushi Mezuru Himegimi are described as being young women who delight in living in harmony with flowers, birds and insects. Just like the princesses, Nausicaä also has a deep love of nature.
Nausicaä particularly loves insects (gigantic creatures that live in the Sea of Decay) called Ohmu and she can read their inner thoughts. She occasionally visits the Toxic Jungle; a dead forest also named the Sea of Decay, home not only to the Ohmu but to a wide variety of giant mutated insects. The inhabitants of the Valley of the Wind do not approve of Nausicaä’s visits to the Toxic Jungle. This is because it’s a wasteland, contaminated with pollution from previous civilizations and covered with fungi that release poisonous spores.
In the forest, without the use of protective masks, human lungs are destroyed within five minutes. However, the forest is gradually spreading and is about to engulf the world inhabited by humans. Living close to the Sea of Decay, the population of the Valley of the Wind is dwindling year by year because of the toxins released by the forest. The human race is fated to gradually die out, but the discovery of the God Warrior, a biological weapon that scorched the world during the “Seven Days of Fire,” changes things.
The kingdom of Tolmekia has acquired the God Warrior and starts a war by invading the Doruku kingdom. As the tribal leader of the Valley of the Wind, Nausicaä joins the Tolmekian forces. To lead her kingdom to victory, the Tolmekian Princess Kushana plans to reactivate the God Warrior. At first, not wanting to annihilate life, whether it be that of friend of foe, Nausicaä stands up to Kushana.
Although a bond grows between the two during intense fighting, eventually they cannot help but go their separate ways. To reactivate the God Warrior, Kushana teams up with the king of the Dorok Empire. But the awakened God Warrior dearly loves Nausicaä and calls her mother. In order to put the God Warrior back to sleep and discover the destiny of the polluted world, Nausicaä heads for the Crypt of Shuwa which holds the secret key to the world.
Nausicaä discovers the cruel truth that “the Sea of Decay is not the cause of the pollution, but exists is to cleanse the world of toxic substances scattered during the Seven Days of Fire. Because humans have adapted to the toxins in the Sea of Decay, they mustn’t continue to live after the world is purified.” When the story concludes, this film leaves us wondering whether the decision Nausicaä makes after this was correct, or whether she has made a mistake. This work makes you ponder what you would have done in her shoes.
Text: HATTA Emiko