Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (manga)

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Nausicaä cover #1

"Nausicaä" has been the lifework of Miyazaki. For 13 years (with some breaks) he wrote monthly installments of this complicated and thought-provoking manga (or "graphic novel") about a princess who struggles to live in the world filled with ecological disasters, war, hatred and anger. By the time the manga was finished Miyazaki had tackled some of the most difficult themes in literature: the conflicts between Nature and Man, war and peace, hope and despair, and the meaning of life and death. It's truly a great work of art and thought.

Depicting a world so different from ours, Miyazaki drew intricate and detailed artwork of a strangely beautiful forest and creatures who inhabit it, of strange looking machines such as flying gunships, and of people and their lives which seem to be set in the Medieval Era rather than in the distant future. Yet, the issues which Nausicaä faced during her journey are the very issues we are facing today. The ending of this manga is likely to surprise you and make you think.

"Nausicaä" has been highly acclaimed and is very popular in Japan. In 1994, Miyazaki received the Japan Manga Artists' Association Award. The Nausicaä series has sold more than 10 million copies total in Japan alone.

Contents

The Story

Main article: Nausicaa manga synopsis

One thousand years after the Seven Days of Fire, an apocalyptic war which destroyed modern human civilization and the world's ecology, the earth is covered by the Sea of Corruption, a vast forest of fungi and plants that give off poisonous miasma and is inhabited by large deadly insects. Life in this world is most difficult for humans, but humans are still fighting over the small portions of inhabitable lands left to them around the edges of the Sea of Corruption. A war is about to break out between the Kingdom of Torumekia and the Dorok Empire, and Nausicaä, the princess of a small country, The Valley of Wind, now has to leave the Valley to join the Torumekian army, which is about to invade the Dorok Empire.

Although she is a skilled warrior, she hates killing, and is torn between the duty as a chieftain of her people and her love for every living creature, including Ohmu, the huge insects who protect the forest. Nausicaä's true desire is to solve the mystery of the Sea of Corruption, and find the "Blue Pure Land", a place where people can live without being threatened by the poison from the Sea of Corruption.

Through her desperate attempt to prevent anyone from being killed, she stumbles onto the secret of the Sea of Corruption. But this is just the beginning of her long, hard journey. In the end, she has to face the true secret of the world in which she lives and make a very difficult decision about the ultimate fate of the entire world.

Serialization

Main article: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Animage Magazine)

In Japan the Nausicaä manga was serialized in the monthly animation magazine Animage, published by Tokuma Shoten. The start of the series was announced in the December 1981 issue of Animage, in a short introduction which contains the earliest published mention of Miyazaki's Nausicaä. The first chapter was published in the February 1982 issue. The finale, chapter 59, was eventually published in the March 1994 issue of Animage. The series was interrupted several times. A chapter guide, matching Animage issues to Collected Volumes can be found on The Miyazaki Web. It shows that most interruptions coincided with Miyazaki's involvement in the creation of animated feature films.

Other Publications and Translations

For detailed information on the various publications and translations, visit the Nausicaä Around the World page.

Characters

From The Valley of the Wind:

  • Nausicaa - The protagonist of the story. When her father King Jhil dies, she becomes the leader of the Valley of the Wind. She loves nature, and does not use violence unless absolutely necessary.
  • Lord Yupa - A wandering master swordsman who is friends with the Valley. Like Nausicaa, he is interested in the ecology of the Sea of Corruption.
  • Mito - A pilot of the Valley. She is Nausicaa's uncle.
  • Teto - A fox squirrel that Yupa finds and gives to Nausicaa.
  • Kai and Kui - Yupa's two Horseclaws.

Torumekian Empire:

  • Kushana - Torumekian princess and military commander at odds with her backstabbing family members.
  • Kurotowa - Kushana's Chief of Staff, who at first is just looking for power but eventually becomes loyal to Kushana.
  • King Vai - The king of Torumekia and Kushana's father. A jaded old machiavellian.
  • Three Princes - Kushana's older brothers from other mothers, and the sons of King Vai. They are similar to their father in both manner and appearance.

Dorok Empire:

  • Miralupa - The emperor's younger brother, who is the de facto leader of the Dorok empire. He wields magical and telekinetic powers.
  • Namulith - The Dorok de jure emperor, kept down by his magical brother for years, his psychosis has been twisted.
  • Holy One of Mani - A monk and the leader of the Mani tribe. Although Nausicaä is an "enemy", he sees that she is the legendary savior, the "Blue Clad One".
  • Ketcha - A girl from the Mani Tribe. She travels with Yupa and Asbel.
  • Chikuku - A little boy who Nausicaä meets at a deserted monastery. He has very strong paranormal powers, and uses the powers to help Nausicaa.
  • Charuka - The Commander of the Dorok Army and member of the council of monks. He is very loyal to Miralupa, and fears that Nausicaä might be the "Blue Clad One", who is supposed to destroy Miralupa and the Dorok Empire. After meeting Nausicaä in person, Charuka convinces himself that Nausicaä is not an enemy of the empire. He is a fair and practical person, and cooperates with Nausicaä to save his people.

From Pejite City:

  • Asbel - Rastel's twin brother. He is the sole survivor of Pejite, and deeply hates Kushana and Torumekians. He is a very good pilot and a mechanic. He was rescued by Nausicaä at the bottom of the Sea of Corruption, and witnessed the secret of the Sea of Corruption with Nausicaä.
  • Rastel - The princess of Pejite Royal family. She and others fled Pejite when it was invaded by Kushana's army, but the refugee ship crashed in the Valley of Wind, and she died in the arms of Nausicaä. Before she died, she entrusted to Nausicaä a "secret stone", which seems to have something to do with the God Warrior found in Pejite.

From the Sea of Corruption

  • Ohmu - Highly intelligent insects that can communicate with Nausicaä. When angered, their blue eyes turn red.
  • Wormhandlers - The people who live in the Sea of Corruption. They use small insects for search and rescue operation in the forest, and make their living from it. They can be hired by anyone for a price. They are treated as pariahs, looked down upon and hated by everyone. However, they turn out to play an important part near the end of the story.
  • Forest People - The people who chose to abandon fire in order to coexist with the Sea of Corruption. They live deep in the forest, wearing the membranes of insects, eating their eggs, and using their fluid as foam to make their tents. They are considered to be "noble", and feared and awed by Wormhandlers.
  • Selm - A boy of the Forest People. He has "the same gaze as Nausicaä", and the same kind of power. He and Nausicaä can communicate without a word, over a distance. They share the secrets of the world between them.
  • Master of the Garden - The artificial "human" guardian of the secret garden which Nausicaä finds on the way to Shuwa. It tries to persuade Nausicaä to discontinue her journey. The secret he reveals to Nausicaä totally changes the course of the story.
  • Ohma - A god warrior.
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