Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Manga Volume 1 Review

風の谷のナウシカ
Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Volume 1

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SPOILER Summary/Synopsis: 

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Volume 1A young teen girl named Nausicaä enters the toxic Sea of Decay jungle at the edge of the desert and finds the molted shell of a giant insectoid known as an Ohmu.  After taking one of they eye covers, she is resting when she telepathically hears angry cries for death. Racing to the top of the remains of a giant God Warrior from an age long past, Nausicaä can tell someone is under attack from an Ohmu and other insectoids and fires a signal shot to show them the way out.  Taking her mehve glider, she meets the fleeing man, who’s riding a large, flightless bird and leading a second filled with supplies, as a giant, enraged Ohmu emerges from the jungle.  Nausicaä is able to calm the beast with flash bombs and an insect whistle and get it back into the Sea of Decay.

Dismounting from her mehve, Nausicaä races to greet the man, “Master Yupa,” an explorer from her Valley of the Wind kingdom.  After introducing her to a wild, fox-squirrel, the critter does the unthinkable and accepts Nausicaä.  Yupa allows her to keep the critter, whom she names Teto.  Nausicaä is happy that Yupa has come back since she might be heading to the war front soon. That night, the Valley people throw a celebration for Yupa, after which Yupa and Nausicaä’s father (the king) chat.

Sometime later, Nausicaä is helping work on the Valley’s gunship, installing the Ohmu eyepiece, and then she takes the fighter up with one of the old Valley warriors, Mito, as co-pilot.  During the flight, Nausicaä senses telepathic hatred and changes course to find it. Soon, a Pejitei Brig Freighter is found, covered with land grubs from the Sea of Decay and filled with women and children.  Nausicaä and Mito attempt to guide the craft to safety but it is too damaged and crashes.  Nausicaä races to the wreckage and only finds one survivor, Princess Rastel.  She hands a small stone-object to Nausicaä, asking her to give it to her brother. She explains that their city was attacked by the Imperial Guard of the Vai Emperor of Torumekia. Rastel begs that her brother be given the stone-object and that the Emperor never get his hands on it. Nausicaä promises and Rastel dies.

Mito is surprised by news of this attack since Torumekia and Pejitei have been ancient allies. With spores from the Sea of Decay now in the wind, the wreckage will soon be consumed with new growth and so it is time to leave. Before doing so, a giant Ohmu shows up, lamenting the loss of life.

Sometime later, a Torumekian craft comes over the crash site, which already has growth of toxic plants, and dispatches “worm handlers” who quickly discover the grave of Rastel.  Unearthing her corpse and taking her crown, the worm handlers confirm that the item they seek was here but has been taken away.  They find evidence of Nausicaä’s gunship and the expedition’s leader orders they set course for the Valley of the Wind.

Meanwhile, Nausicaä and Mito have returned and undergo decontamination. Nausicaä reports the news of the Torumekian attack on Pejitei City and shows the stone-device given to her by Rastel. Yupa figures this came from the giant shaft that the Pejitei people have dug deep underground from which they harvested engines from the ancient city buried beneath.  As they talk, the Torumekian craft arrives and Nausicaä goes out to meet it, annoyed that it ignored protocol and landed in a field that will now have to be burned to remove contamination.

Nausicaä, on her mehve, takes aim at the approaching worm handlers, shooting a worm basket and scattering the worm handlers. They take up a defensive formation but their leader forbids them from attacking her or the Valley gunship. Nausicaä makes a spectacular dismount and tells the worm handlers to depart. Their leader says they are there under orders of the Emperor and the worm handlers dispatch their worms, which immediately go for Nausicaä. The large worms begin crawling up her body but using supernatural abilities, Nausicaä angrily causes the slug worms to fly off her and flee.

Nausicaä  then turns her anger to the soldiers and is met by one, who engages her in combat. She slays him but is stopped from doing more when Yupa arrives and gets between her and her prey, getting stabbed in the arm in the process.  Upon hearing his words about stopping this duel, the leader of the Imperial Guard says they will back down and leave. Before the female leader leaves, she asks to see Nausicaä’s sword, impressed by Nausicaä’s ability.  To show Nausicaä who’s boss, the troop leader lets go of the sword and before it can fall to the ground, the leader slices it in half.  Upon leaving, the troop’s leader vows to have that gunship, and Nausicaä implied, under her command at the front.

Yupa talks with this king about the incident with the Torumekian troops while Nausicaä leads the effort to burn the field where the Torumekian craft landed, which also includes a 500-year old tree that has become infected.  Nausicaä work through the night and are too exhausted at dawn to bother returning to the village, getting some sleep in the woods instead.

Torumekia declares war on Dorok and the troop leader, Princess Kushana, musters her troops outside the captured Pejitei City. She is assigned a new aide, Kurotowa, and she gets him to report on the war effort. After his report, Kushana dismisses him and her advisers tell her that they believe her brothers are plotting against her.  Meanwhile, Kurotowa goes to visit the excavation of the Pejetie and is escorted by Gowa and a troop of worm handlers. Gowa takes Kurotowa down to the bottom of the shaft where he discovers what the Pejitei uncovered — a still living God Warrior that had its control stone removed, which Rastel had given to Nausicaä.

Gowa attempts to push Kurotowa off a ledge but Kurotowa dodges and Gowa falls to his death. Kurotowa now understands why all of Kushana’s aides keep dying. Kushana hears that Kurotowa survived and has some respect for him. With her brothers plotting against her, she’s glad to have left the God Warrior’s control stone in the Valley.

Meanwhile, Nausicaä is given a haircut and spell-infused armor as she gets ready to go to the front and join Princess Kushana’s forces along with a glider-skiff with supplies and some old warriors chosen by her.  Before leaving for the front, she goes down below the castle and is found by Yupa, who’s amazed to see her lab and all of the poisonous plants from the Sea of Decay which are now no longer toxic. After talking with Nausicaä, Yupa realizes she is what he has been searching for all his life.

Nausicaä departs in the gunship with skiff in tow and they spot an unidentified gunship shadowing them. Nausicaä joins other gunships and towed skiffs from neighboring small kingdoms, all answering to Torumekia’s call to war. The craft join Kushana’s fleet when the shadowing gunship, a Pejitei  gunship that Nausicaä realizes is piloted by Rastel’s brother. During the aerial combat, the Valley barge has its tow line severed and Nausicaä has to keep her men calm as they go down into the Sea of Decay.

The Pejitei gunship does serious damage to Kushana’s air fleet and Kurotowa proves his worth by saving Kushana’s plane while her personal guard use their bodies to shield her from bullets. Nausicaä sends a telepathic plea to Rastel’s brother to stop the killing.  This causes him to become distracted and get shot down.  Kushana silently mourns for those who died for her and orders Kurotowa to have the formation continue on course.

At the Sea of Decay, Nausicaä’s gunship and the Valley barge land safely on a lake in the jungle. Several Ohmu emerge from the water and commune with Nausicaä .  They take off and hoards of insectoids and Ohmu emerge to engage something that is killing their kind. Nausicaä has her mehve unloaded and goes to investigate, finding Rastel’s brother being pursued by angry creatures of the Sea of Decay. She manages to rescue him and he’s angry that she disarmed him until she points out they are seriously outnumbered.

Trying to flee, a winged worm gets her but the Ohmu tell it to release her. The boy is surprised that the air here is breathable and hears the Ohmu telepathically tell him that despite his killing of several of their kind, they are allowing him to live because of Nausicaä’s plea. The Ohmu leaves them in peace and Nausicaä dreams of when she was a little girl and had a baby Ohmu taken from her. When she awakens, she is surprised at where they are and finds the Pejitei boy, Asbel, has retrieved her mehve. She hands over the control stone to him, keeping her promise to Rastel, and he repairs her mehve.  After he completes repairs and after they spend the night under the Sea of Decay, Nausicaä ditches her armor since the mehve is not at full power.  Once they’ve removed all unnecessary weight, Nausicaä and Asbel take off.

Thoughts/Review:

I apologize for the lengthy summary but considering how hard the manga is to buy these days (three of the volumes are very difficult to purchase), I’ve decided to just go nuts.  ^_^;

As I’ve stated previously, there are a couple of reasons I really wanted to read Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.  First, having been a fan of the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind anime movie, I wanted to read the source manga of that movie.  After all, as happened for series like Ah! My Goddess, Love Hina, Chobits, and more, the source manga is not only more complete, but often is superior on a story and character level to the anime adaptation.  My second reason is rather unusual in that manga-ka MIYAZAKI Hayao-sensei adapted his own manga for the movie and directed said movie.  So, I was keen to see how Miyazaki-sensei did things.

For starters, I’m surprised at how different the anime and the manga really are.  When I first scored volume 1 of the manga, I quickly thumbed through it and saw imagery that looked similar to the anime with what appeared to be some differences. Reading the manga, the only thing the anime took verbatim from the source manga is Nausicaä’s rescue of Yupa.  Even then, there is a variance — Nausicaä.

In the anime, Nausicaä is a princess and leader of her people.  At the same time, she’s also an explorer, scientist, pilot and a well trained fighter.  In the manga, she is all of these things and more — she’s a soldier, a skilled fighter pilot, a telepath, and possibly a telekinetic.  As such, Nausicaä becomes an even more interesting character. Nausicaä’s slaughtering a bunch of Torumekian soldiers after becoming enraged at the murder of her father was quite impressive in the anime.  In the manga, she only duels one Torumekian soldier but it is no less impressive.  Her anger at being defiled by the slug worms is taken out on them but when she battles the soldier, she truly seems to revel in combat. This was unexpected and most interesting.

Nausicaä being a telepath explains some things in the anime.  She can commune with the Ohmu and hear their cries of anger from even some distance away.  Her telepathically calling to Asbel is a much superior way of distracting him than the anime having her standing up in the cockpit and holding her arms out. Don’t get me wrong, it works in the anime but considering combat speeds when flying, the distraction Nausicaä causes in the anime are minor compared to Nausicaä’s telepathic contact with Asbel, allowing him to see an astral projection of her in his mind (for lack of a better way of describing it).

Next up is Princess Kushana. In the anime, she’s the ruthless leader of the Torumekian invasion force of the Valley.  She’s got a grand scheme to beat back the Sea of Decay and for her, any method she uses is justified to achieve this goal.  In the manga, she’s not so ruthless. She’s the youngest (this is a guess here since the removal of Japanese brother and sister terms removes any references to if she’s older or younger) child of the Emperor and in the game of politics, she is subject to constant schemes by her brothers to keep her in her place. She’s an obedient soldier despite the plots of her family and she’s also very smart.  She wisely backs down when Nausicaä confronts them and Yupa makes his speech.  She respects Nausicaä greatly which is why Nausicaä gets assigned to her military task force.

Her men are fiercely loyal to her, willingly sacrificing their lives for her.  In return, she greatly values her people and when some die in her service, she actually mourns for them in her own way, which surprises her aide, Kurotowa.  This alone makes Kushana so much more interesting as a character and I look forward to seeing more of her now that the cliched stuff she did in the anime won’t be here.

Kurotowa is pretty much the same as he is in the anime.  He’s a soldier doing his job and without great ambition. His being a target of assassination was interesting.  Also interesting was his salvaging the Torumekian aircraft when Asbel’s gunship attacked it, killing many inside. Yeah, he saved his own life in doing this but he also saved Kushana. At present, he doesn’t display any extra loyalty to Kushana but I get the feeling that before the manga is over, he will be as loyal to her as the men who sacrificed their lives for her.

There’s not a lot to say about Asbel at this point. He seems pretty much the same as he did in the anime, though I was surprised that the Ohmu “spoke” to him telepathically and spared his life thanks to Nausicaä.  Nausicaä returning the God Warrior’s control stone to him, since his people were the one’s to unearth the bio-weapon and thus it belonged to them, was one change between himself and Nausicaä as they stayed beneath the Sea of Decay.  Their escape on her mehve is different and I wonder how much things change after that.  After all, in the anime, they go to Pejitei City and find the Torumekians have used the Ohmu to destroy the city.  In the manga, the Torumekians have already occupied the city so I guess they will go to a Torumekian military camp instead.

The environmental elements are present here, much as they were in the anime. However, Asbel’s observations on the Sea of Decay turning the world into a barren, if clean, world had Nausicaä thinking on whether humanity is the true pollution.  I’m not going to care for that aspect if Miyazaki-sensei pushes it hard.  We’ll see though.

So, who are the Dorok and why is Torumekia going to war with them?  I’m guessing those answers will be forthcoming. I’m looking forward to reading more. ^_^

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10 Responses to “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Manga Volume 1 Review”

  1. Anonymous says:

    woo hoo

    So how about some extra art?

  2. Pillslanger says:

    Be prepared to not care for that aspect of the story then, but there is a nice pay off in the end.

    Miyazaki sticks to his usual, “man destroys Earth” theme here, but I think he puts a nice touch on it in later volumes.

    All in all, you’re right it becomes apparent very quickly how much more interesting all of the characters are in the manga compared to the anime.

  3. AstroNerdBoy says:

    So how about some extra art?

    There is a fold-out small poster. That’s the only extra art in this volume. ^_^;

    Miyazaki sticks to his usual, “man destroys Earth” theme here, but I think he puts a nice touch on it in later volumes.

    Yeah, figures he’d have that mantra. Even figures in Japanese society who are called “conservative” have bought into various extreme environmentalism even if it is nothing more than wealth redistribution. But, that’s a topic for elsewhere…^_^;;;

    All in all, you’re right it becomes apparent very quickly how much more interesting all of the characters are in the manga compared to the anime.

    Just finished volume 2 and yeah, that’s really become apparent.

  4. Turtle says:

    Thanks to you, now I am going to reread my collection.
    Here’s couple of stuff to think about:
    When you read volume 2, think of religious symbology. This is based on email I received in 1999 – “…I worship that series, but I simply can’t make Nausicaa a babe. I’ve considered it a few times, but I always feel bad about it. It’d be like lusting after the Virgin Mary. [bold letter by me]”
    For volume 3, I would suggest TVtropes on Nausicaa – http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NausicaaOfTheValleyOfTheWind – and go to subtropes called “Zip Me Up” and read the comment.
    And finally a serious reading about Nausicaa at these links:
    http://www.comicbox.co.jp/e-nau/contents.html
    and http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/nausicaa/article_ao_foundation.txt

  5. Anime says:

    I loved this artwork! Keep em coming! ~

  6. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Thanks for the links, Turtle. ^_^

  7. Guillermo says:

    Great review! What about the quality of this edition?

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