"The Heroine Image in Anime" by Minako Saitou, Part V

The Woman that Became a Hero (eiyuu)--A Just Argument for "Nausicaa of the
Valley of Wind"

Part V - "Nausicaa" is the Battle between Civilization and Nature

"Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind" (1984) goes one step further than "Future Boy Conan." This theatrical-release film pushes the civilization vs. nature theme and the female characters to the forefront. Some make the complaint that the film is too simple compared to the manga version, which took over ten years to complete. However, the film was a more major production and many say that it is the highest accomplishment of Miyazaki anime and even Japanese animation in general.

It is 1000 years after the "Seven Days of Fire," when apocalypse destroyed civilization. A strange forest called the "sea of corruption" is spreading across the battered landscape, leaving only a few human survivors. The character Nausicaa is the daughter of the chief in "The Valley of Wind," a small kingdom at the edge of the forest. One day, the Torumekian Empire occupation force enters the Valley and kills the king.

The story that follows is very complicated. In "Nausicaa," the heads of both the friendly and enemy sides are women. Nausicaa is the head of the former and Commander Kushana is in charge of the latter. Kushana of Tormekia (Boys' Land)--trying to burn down the poisoned forest and build a new nation--versus Nausicaa from the Valley (Girls' Land)--insisting on living cooperatively with the forest. With these two on opposing sides of the axis and a third power, Pejite, also involved, a violent war breaks out. Meanwhile, Nausicaa and Kushana both hold ideals slightly different from that of their respective nations.

The modern vs. anti-modern, civilization vs. nature theme is much more severe here than it was in "Conan." It is no longer just between industry and farming; it's ultimately an opposition between the ecosystem and humans themselves. "Nausicaa" also includes a severe criticism of the Boys' Land. A large variety of unusual creatures including the giant "Ohmu" worms live in the forest. Instead of trying to drive the animals out of the forest, calling them "beasts" and "monsters" as the Boys' Land does, Nausicaa tries to reassure the animals and choose a path of harmony.

The two heroines in "Nausicaa" are unrelated to the old series' style of half-way "womanliness," which is very different from "Conan." In "Nausicaa," both women are unmistakably intelligent and powerful and they both possess excellent military skills.

No comments:

More Ghibli Blog Posts To Discover