Part VII - Kushana is an Enemy Hero in a Skirt
The Torumekian Empire's Commander in Charge of Remote Regions is a cool and calm beauty. Seen wearing a golden armor and a helmet, with a white mantle fluttering as she rides atop a Tormekian tank, Kushana is a gallant "Evil Queen."
However, what is remarkable about Kushana is not her role as a gear in the organization, but the way she tries to disobey the nation for her own reasons. She ignores an order to dig up the God Soldier (a large, Evangelion-like monster-robot) and take it back with her. Instead, she informs the enemy people of her ambition to turn the Valley into an ideal nation. "Because of the Sea of Corruption, you're on the brink of annihilation. Follow us and take part in our cause. Burn down the Sea and revive the land! To those who choose to follow me, I promise a life without the fear of poison or bugs!"
The concept of using technology to build a human-centered civilization is a thing of the Boys' Land. Kushana embodies this Boys' Land ideal well.
The difference between Kushana's and Monsley's personalities becomes clear in the scene where Nausicaa saves Kushana's life. When she is saved, Monsley mutters, "I lose" and betrays her country on the spot. Kushana says just, "Good job." We wonder, why save her in the first place? Kushana responds coolly, "How naive. Did you think I would grovel and thank you?"
The movie doesn't enter into an explanation of how she became so strong-willed, but her body, which people would probably call "deformed," speaks well of her life story and her desire for revenge against the bugs and forest. Half of her body, including her left arm and both legs, is
covered by a gold-colored metal. Kushana takes off her arm and shows it to the prisoners in one scene, leaving a very strange impression. "The person who becomes my husband will see even more hideous things."
As you can see, Kushana is not on the same level as those other, cheap "evil queens." Instead, she is another superstar. As an enemy hero with a shadow who looks like she could eat Nausicaa up, Kushana reigns inside the film. Only a hero like Char Aznoble in "Gundam" would be cool and nihilistic enough to take her on. Drawn in the same kind of post-apocalyptic world, "Conan's" goody/baddy, enemy/ally distinction was very obvious in its time. In "Nausicaa" however, the border between the goodies and baddies starts to blur. We're able to glimpse a loss of direction on the axes between modern/anti-modern and civilization/nature that start to indicate neither one is really correct.
The climax is when the ideological differences are boiled out. A giant herd of Ohmu start heading for the Valley. Kushana responds with a strategy to use the giant God Soldier weapon to annihilate the Ohmu. Her rationale is very 'modern,' very Boys' Land. Nausicaa's strategy is to dive straight into the heart of the Ohmu stampede and try to soothe the animals' anger. Well, "strategy" might have a nice ring to it here but Nausicaa is still clinging to her magical powers. It's not a "rational" decision; it's very anti-scientific, very Girls' Land.
Nausicaa succeeds and the story ends there. She calms the Ohmu's hearts, gets Kushana and the Tormekian army to retreat, raises the banner of the Girls' Land and the movie ends. We could call it a very blunt conclusion. In an instant the Ohmu are calmed, and there is no real resolution to the conflict.
There is also some confusion regarding Nausicaa and Kushana's characters. "Conan's" Lana and Monsley were both the type of characters to withdraw into their femininity at the end. They didn't depart from the traditionally drawn category of heroines in anime. Along those lines, Nausicaa and Kushana are closer to the traditional hero image in anime. They are drawn under the main controlling ideas that "Masculinity's good points = men's strength and cleverness," and "Femininity's good points = women's gentleness and cleverness." There's room for debate over what masculinity and femininity really mean, but in this case we can take masculinity as brave
strength in the face of danger and femininity as the cleverness to avoid meaningless battle. We could call Nausicaa and Kushana boys in girls' dress or mental [seishinteki] beauties wearing men's clothes... they are androgynous; genderless.
An ideal human model? Well, certainly. However it's not reality. In fact it's a fairly transparent decision. In an age without heroes, the only way to present a heroic hero is to make the protagonist a woman. And these women are not just anybody. They are both, formally, princesses by blood. Nausicaa is the daughter of the head of the Valley of Wind's royal family and she is called "princess" or "big-sister princess" [hime neesama] by her people. Kushana is not only a military commander, but also the princess of the Tormekian imperial family, called "Your Royal Highness" by her troops. As such young women, the fact Nausicaa has the absolute trust of her people and Kushana can call her troops "omae" out loud shows that they do have real power. However this is because they are chosen by their bloodlines and are legitimate successors = daughters = princesses. To tailor girls into heroes, it's still best to do it by lineage.