Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
|Kaze no Tani no Naushika|
|Also Known As: Nausicaä, Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind|
|Length: 7 Volumes (Animage, Viz Editor’s Choice Edition), 4 Volumes (Viz Perfect Collection)|
|Allegiance: Tokuma Shoten/Viz Communications|
|Mangaka: Miyazaki Hayao|
|Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen|
|In the distant future, the great industrial civilizations, finally overtaken by centuries of pollution, corruption, and violence, were destroyed in the holocaust known as the “Seven Days of Fire.” With the decline of civilization, a great poisonous forest known as the “Sea of Corruption” engulfed significant portions of the globe, rendering re-modernization impossible. Nevertheless, over the centuries two significant powers have risen, separated by the Sea of Corruption: Torumekia and Dorok. When war breaks out between these two powers, Torumekia recruits troops from its vassal states, including the Valley of the Wind. Nausicaä, as the Princess of the Valley of the Wind, leads her small contingent to join the army of Kushana, Princess of Torumekia. Little did they know that this conflict would quickly develop into something that would threaten the very existence of humanity.|
|Research Agent Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen|
|(not an average)|
|The success of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind allowed a group of stellar animators to form Studio Ghibli, widely accepted as the finest animation studio in Japan. Yet, for the director Miyazaki Hayao, the movie was unsatisfactory from an artistic standpoint. Citing the finale as overly religious, Miyazaki set out to write another version of the story of Nausicaä. This project continued for 14 years after the movie’s initial airdate, and resulted in an epic saga filled with political strife, ecological conflict, and memorable personalities. Ironically, the amount of religious symbolism and allegory far exceeds that which was featured in the film, although it is hardly detrimental.
Now, Miyazaki Hayao is a movie director, but one could assume from his artwork that he has been a famous manga author for decades. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind‘s artwork is really nothing short of stunning in terms of detail and scenery – some of the scenes involving the Sea of Corruption are breathtaking. While Miyazaki’s line style – more specifically, the lack of perfectly straight lines – may put off some, it is very refreshing to see art that is not replicated by another dozen authors. In particular, Miyazaki’s rougher style seems to breathe an additional element of life, through imperfection, into his art, something found far less frequently in more modern manga.
While Miyazaki’s proficiency in the artistic department may come as somewhat of a shock, his reputation for skillful storytelling precedes him. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind certainly does not fail to deliver, presenting a long, complex, detailed, and engrossing tale about a seemingly distant world. Each and every faction is given a detailed background, and each faction’s representative characters act in accordance with their culture. Miyazaki has even gone to such lengths as to use different fonts to indicate different dialects or languages, and in the case of the Dorok Principalities, created a glyph system to represent their language. As a result of this attention to detail, it is incredibly easy for the reader to slip into the world of Nausicaä , even more so than in other Miyazaki works.
Ironically, for all of Miyazaki’s distress over the religious overtones that the ending to the movie possessed, the manga version contains far more religious allegory, to the extent where Nausicaä winds up a little too perfect, although one would never go to the extent of calling her one dimensional. Whether or not this can even be regarded as a flaw is debatable, and it does no harm to this author’s belief that this manga, and not any of his movies, is Miyazaki Hayao’s true magnum opus.