"Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" Story Review

風の谷のナウシカ 
Kaze no Tani no Naushika
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

A thousand years after the event known as the Seven Days of Fire, in which Giant God Warriors destroyed the world, a teenage princess named Nausicaä travels on a glider into the Sea of Corruption, a massive “toxic jungle” of sorts, to gather specimens. She encounters the molted shell of a giant Ohmu, a massive insectoid, and takes one of its eye cases to be used for a variety of purposes when it begins snowing spores and so she takes a break under the “glass” to wait it out.  After some time, she senses something amiss and hearing gunshots, she takes the eyepiece and races up the insides of the petrified remains of one of the Giant God Warriors, who’s head towers above the jungle, and takes a look.

An explosion and the revelation of an Ohmu cause Nausicaä to fire a signal flare to show whomever is fleeing the insectoids how to get out of the jungle. She races out and to the desert sands to mount her mehve, a jet-powered glider, and meets the fleeing human who’s riding a large, flightless bird and leading a second bird. She recognizes him as Yupa-sama, a man from her village, as the enraged ohmu comes out.  Using a bunch of flash bombs and an insect whistle, she’s able to calm the giant insectoid down and it returns to the Sea of Decay jungle.

Greeting Yupa-sama, she learns the he’d rescued a little fox-squirrel which she names Teto and the critter stays with her like a pet. She returns to the Valley of the Wind ahead of Yupa and Yupa receives a heroes welcome when he arrives. In the palace, Yupa tells the ailing king of his travels and the spread of the Sea of Decay. That night during a storm, a Torumekian airship crashes in the valley. It is covered with insectoids and spores from the Sea of Decay. Nausicaä finds a girl her age in the wreckage but the girl is a prisoner and is too injured to live much longer. She is Rastel, a princess of Pejite, and she begs Nausicaä to destroy the ship’s cargo. Nausicaä promises and the girl dies in peace.

The people of the Valley race to burn the spores lest they consume the land and encounter a large injured, winged insectoid.  Nausicaä lures it out with her insect whistle and gets it to follow her on her mehve.  After seeing it safely away from the village, she sees a giant Ohmu in the distance, which turns back after the winged insectoid flies past. Work continues the following day on removing spores and contaminates and attempting to figure out what to do with the cargo, which was apparently was unharmed in the crash or the fire.

A fleet of Torumekian airships invade the Valley and land troops and armored units which secure the entire region. Seeing Torumekian troops enter the castle, Nausicaä races there and hears a gunshot. She arrives at her father’s room to find the troops standing over the dead body of her father. She becomes enraged and uses her staff weapon to beat the soldiers in the room, including their leader. Elite troops arrive and her weapon has no effect on their armor. Grabbing a sword, she races forward to attack when Yupa leaps into the fray, dagger wielded. Nausicaä ends up stabbing him in the arm as he holds the dagger in a weak spot of the elite troop’s armor.

Yupa is recognized and he demands to know why they are being attacked when they had treated with respect the dead Torumekian from the crash the night before. Princess Kushana, the leader of the invasion, orders her top commander Kurotowa to stand down despite the fact that Nausicaä had killed all of the regular troops in her father’s room. Nausicaä and Yupa surrender and the people are rounded up and disarmed. Princess Kushana tells the people that since the Valley stands on the edge of extinction, she will help them by burning back the Sea of Decay in exchange for Torumeki ruling this land.

The village seer, “Obaba,” warns Kushana about this course of action but is ignored. The cargo the crashed Torumekian ship carried is a Giant God Warrior which is still not fully developed. Kushana places Kurotowa in charge of the Valley and reviving the ancient weapons and takes Nausicaä with her as a hostage along with a skiff filled with some old warriors dedicated to her. She also confiscates the Valley’s lone gunship, a 2-man fighter plane, and the mehve. Before they leave, Nausicaä goes to her lab where Yupa finds her and is amazed to see poisonous plants from the Sea of Decay no longer poisonous. It seems that Nausicaä discovered that the plants lose their toxic nature when planted in proper soil with clean water.

The Torumekian fleet leaves the Valley but are soon attacked by a lone Pejite gunship, which manages to take out several planes. The Valley skiff is cut loose and Nausicaä and one her the old warriors get to the gunship. Kushana arrives as well and Nausicaä brings her too as they escape. The Pejite pilot, the brother of Rastel, sees Nausicaä and hesitates, allowing a Torumekian escort ship to shoot him down into the Sea of Decay jungle. Nausicaä goes after the skiff, which also enters the Sea of Decay.  Getting them to jettison cargo, the skiff and gunship safely land in the waters at the base of the Sea of Decay.

Kushana attempts to take charge by brandishing a pistol but a group of Ohmu coming to the surface changes that. They are able to commune with Nausicaä via tentacles however, they become enraged along with other giant insectoids and leave. Nausicaä gets her mehve to find out the problem and discovers the Pejite pilot Asbel fleeing insectoids and shooting at them. He is sent off the edge of where he is standing but is caught in mid-air by Nausicaä. A massively long insectoid gives chase and manages to clip the mehve, knocking them off and sending them down to the sandy floor of this part of the Sea of Decay.

When Nausicaä awakens, she finds she can breathe without the aid of a breather mask and that Asbel saved her. Further, she discovers that this region below the Sea of Decay is actually unpolluted, meaning the Sea of Decay actually cleans the soil before dying. They spend the night in this safe, clean area while back in the Valley, Yupa witnesses the Giant God Warrior being revived and growing and overhears the report of the attack on Kushana’s aerial squadron. Yupa learns from a couple of Valley children that Nausicaä’s elderly escorts are at Acid Lake and they have Kushana.

Heading down to the lake, Yupa confronts Kushana who confirms the Giant God Warrior revival plans and that it is far too late to stop it.  She suggests that the Valley people take it for themselves and then learn to live with it. Yupa takes off in the gunship to find Nausicaä while in the Valley, a spore infestation forces Kurotowa to allow the return of equipment to the villagers to fight the spores even though they can be used as weapons.Eventually, the villagers do revolt.  Meanwhile, Nausicaä and Asbel take the mehve to the Pejite capital, only to find it mostly destroyed by an insectoid attack, the result of a Torumekian plan. The Pejite plan to do the same to the Torumekian forces in the Valley of the Wind and knock Nausicaä out.

Now a prisoner on a Pejite transport plane, Nausicaä is set free by the Queen of Pejite with another girl taking Nausicaä’s place in the cell.  As this happens, a Torumekian craft attacks and boards the Pejite craft. In the chaos, Nausicaä escapes on the mehve where she is met by Yupa and Mito in the Valley’s gunship. She gets to the gunship where they soon intercept the Pejite Flying Jar, which is carrying the wounded baby Ohmu to lead the enraged insectoids to the Valley.  Despite taking a couple of gunshots, Nausicaä leaps to the Jar and forces it to crash on an island in the middle of Acid Lake.

The wounded Ohmu makes an attempt to get to the waters, which would kill it, and its blood turns Nausicaä’s clothing blue. Nausicaä’s attempt to stop the Ohmu from reaching the acid causes her to touch the water and feel pain. This stops the Ohmu, who heals her. Nausicaä forces the two Pejite soldiers to take the Jar back up and take the baby Ohmu to where the “herd” is charging. Meanwhile back in the Valley, Kushana returns and takes command to defend the area against the charging Ohmu while she goes to get the God Warrior to end the insectoid menace. As the Ohmu get closer, the Torumekian soldier start to panic until Kushana comes back on a tank with the God Warrior coming behind.

The God Warrior is not fully formed but is functional and fires a massive energy beam at the charging Ohmu in the distance, killing many of them.  Again it fires and kills many more.  However, its flesh is liquidizing and it cannot maintain its form to fire again, leaving a hoard of Ohmu still alive and charging. They reach Nausicaä and the baby and don’t stop, causing Nausicaä to be thrown into the air. This act causes the Ohmu to immediately stop and end their rage. Putting out their golden tentacles, Nausicaä is revived, fulfilling Valley prophesy of forming a connection between humans and Ohmu. With that, the Torumekians leave, Asbel goes with Yupa to explore, and Nausicaä trains a new generation of fliers.

Thoughts/Review: 

As I said in my DVD review, my first viewing of this movie came from watching the abridged, rewritten movie from New World Pictures, which they titled Warriors of the Wind. It was after viewing Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro in Japanese with no translations that I complained to Robert about viewing anime in its “raw” form. He knew that Warriors of the Wind was out on video and we set out to find a copy and watch it.  I enjoyed what I watched but I could tell that something seemed to be missing. Robert did confirm that some stuff had been cut and edited and so I never watched the video again.  However, it was many years before I was able to watch the movie unedited and of course it is so much better than that horrible, edited and rewritten version.

Story-wise, the world of Nausicaä is rather rich and interesting and within the scope of the movie, there feels like there is so much more here to explore.  For starters, there are the God Warriors that caused the Seven Days of Fire that nearly destroyed the world. While it doesn’t harm the movie, I still find myself wanting to know more about the events that caused humanity to create these giant, bio-mechanoid weapons.  This is not only fueled by the Torumekians finding one and bringing it to life, but the fact that there are petrified remains of these giant entities all over the world. There was just something so fascinating about this weapon system and I think that’s part of the reason I wanted to read the source manga and learn more.

Moving to the Valley,  Nausicaä is a fascinating character.  As part scientist, part explorer, part princess, part leader, and part fighter (based on how she fought the Torumekian troops), there’s a lot to like about her.  The anime story sets her up to be the person to complete prophecy and implies that she has some special abilities to commune with the Ohmu and other insectoids as well as animals but never goes into that aspect beyond the surface touching.  This also does not harm the anime but it was another element that always has left me wondering.  I’m hoping the manga story explores this more because I think it would make things more interesting.

When the Torumekian troops invade the Valley, one thing I couldn’t understand is the murder of Nausicaä’s father, the dying king.  I understand invading troops needing to take control of a country but what threat was a dying king?  Indeed, murdering the king would polarize the citizens and had Nausicaä not been there, things might have gotten out of control. However, if you are going to murder the king, then why leave his daughter alive?  The story does kinda address this by having Kushana and some village elders become her hostages to keep the Valley people in line but it just never fully gelled with me.  However, it is done well enough that I give it a pass when I watch, even if I note it now.

I do like how Miyazaki-sensei has Kushana be a cliched villain at times but also a character who’s motives are easily understood.  Kushana has an “ends justify the means” attitude and so for the greater good of humanity, the people of the Valley must sacrifice their freedom so that her quest to push back on the Sea of Decay will succeed.  Further to that end, she and her people were justified in stealing the God Warrior from the Pejite, taking the Pejite princess captive, and bringing the God Warrior to life in the Valley.  Seeing the horrible injury she suffered from the Sea of Decay takes her out of the cliched realm but then her classic “I’m in charge here” attitude after being rescued by Nausicaä takes her back to the cliched realm.

Kushana’s second in command, Kurotowa, also at times comes off as a cliched villain but also comes off as an OK guy despite being in charge of the team that murdered Nausicaä’s father.  His cliched moments came when Kushana was gone and he was in command of the Valley occupation forces as he pondered his own rise in power.  However, he too is moved from the cliched realms when he made the decision to allow the Valley people to have tools to fight the toxic spores that would consume the Valley, even if said tools allowed the people to rebel (which they did).  When Kushana returns, Kurotowa simply “bows to fate” if you will and accepts his role as her subordinate.

Yupa seems underutilized in this anime.  Granted, he is the one who gets things started and the one who calms down Nausicaä after her rage caused her to slaughter several Torumekian soldiers. However, he pretty much gets swallowed up in favor of other, elderly warriors of the Valley and really doesn’t have much of a role once Nausicaä leaves the village.  I found this to be rather unfortunate as I like the character a lot but as happens with all of the little flaws I find, Miyazaki-sensei manages to have the story go in such a way that even if I missed Yupa’s presence, everything was still good.

The hints of romance between Asbel and  Nausicaä is sweet, made more so by the fact that Nausicaä had been there for his dying sister.  Since both are nobility, one can imagine that in the future, they could marry and help forge stronger ties between their two nations.  It would be neat if the manga explored this aspect further.

While my remarks above may seem critical, believe me when I say that these are very minor things in the end. Miyazaki-sensei’s visual presentation combined with his well-paced plot and interesting characters makes Nausicaä a very good anime movie and one I like to watch again and again.  Miyazaki-sensei does get a bit preachy on environmental issues (which the English dub takes to a higher level than the Japanese script) but it isn’t so in your face as to be annoying.  As such, I highly recommend this movie to fans of anime AND non-anime fans alike.

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25 Responses to “"Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" Story Review”

  1. Arcane Zeal says:

    Should be high on every anime watchers list.

  2. Turtle says:

    The movie only covers portion, I strongly recommend reading the manga.
    It shows Kushana as more tragic heroine than villain.
    PS: It seemed Suikoden III creators modeled Chris Lightfellow after Kushana.

  3. The first time I watched “Kaze no Tani no Naushika” was on a screening at my local university, during the “Japanese Culture Week”, and I totally LOVED IT!! I’m looking forward to watch it again in the future… but in Japanese only! (not dumb subtitles :P)

    Thanks for this synopsis; it really brought plenty of memories back! 😀

  4. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Should be high on every anime watchers list.

    I agree.

    The movie only covers portion, I strongly recommend reading the manga.

    I just started reading volume 1 and I’m already surprised at the changes just in Nausicaa’s character. One one hand, she’s still Nausicaa and the scenes from volume 1 are similar to the anime BUT she’s not the same. She’s a soldier on top of everything else and that was not in the anime. I find I like the idea of a soldier Nausicaa.

    Thanks for this synopsis; it really brought plenty of memories back! 😀

    You are welcome. ^_^ Synopsis/summaries are the longest part of my writing and often I think that I should cut back but there are lots of folks who appreciate them, so I keep them up.

  5. WMC says:

    Is “Ohmu” Japanese for “ohm,” the electrical unit of resistance? Only on the fourth viewing did I figure out what they were saying, then it became clear that the Ohm were resisting the humans’ scourge of the earth. But that mouth-beam weapon is really boss. As usual, Miyazaki’s backgrounds are fabulous and his iconic flight scenes super-duper. I agree with “How to learn kanji.” I love this movie.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I’m not sure. I seem to remember some translation using “ohm” rather than “ohmu.”

      BTW, you REALLY should read the manga that Miyazaki-sensei did. On one hand, it will impress you how Miyazaki-sensei handled adapting only a part of his manga for an anime movie. On the other hand, I think you’ll be impressed for the entire story.

      • WMC says:

        ‘Kay. Bookstore tomorrow. I’ll look. “Nausicaa(umlaut),” the manga by Miyazaki-sensei. If not there I’ll order it.

        • AstroNerdBoy says:

          BTW, I have reviewed the manga series. It isn’t your normal manga as the books are around 8×10 in dimension. I think all of the books are being sold now in a box set after Disney released the anime on Blu-ray.

  6. WMC says:

    Got it and read it. Wow, enormous enormous. — Manga preceding anime thirty years ago, Mr. Miyazaki’s beginning of his career and subsequent triumph with the Disney release —
    The hardbound books are well worth the price to witness Miyazaki’s development of manga and the derived anime. The arrangement was obviously that graphics and story be reasonably the same. Nausicaa’s personal character graphics are exactly the same!

    Nausicaa is as Joan of Arc, this time saving humankind from itself, with plausible ecological disasters as the driving theme. When the slime mold is reproducing you better get outta the way!

    And yes, if you need an example of how to extract just the right stuff from print form to generate a parallel, satisfyingly faithful movie, “Nausicaa” is a great choice. The movie necessarily emphasizes graphic action and trims off a lot of the plot, but it’s done so well that it doesn’t matter. What you MUST cut from the print form to make the movie successfully erequires genius to get it right. What do you leave in or take out or change? If there was any doubt that Mr. Miyazaki is among the 0.00001%, none remains.

    The only faint hint that crept into my mind that Nausicaa might be a warrior, after seeing the movie without having read the manga, was her sword. Why would a gentle eco-sympath like Nausicaa be carrying a specially made sword?

  7. WMC says:

    We were lucky to have a terrific Senior English teacher in 1959, Miss Casterline, and among the many good things she taught us was that if we didn’t know the EXACT usage in a foreign language, use the corresponding good English. Therefore, since I don’t know any Japanese, much less colloquial Japanese, I use “Mr.” instead of “-sensei” for fear of making enormous gaffs, either humerus or insulting. After all, “Mr.” is a sign of respect, thus my usage. I’m proud to have been born the same year as Mr. Miyazaki, 1941.

    I want to change my electronic mail address, unless of course that creates a huge mess for you. I’ll supply it below unless it won’t go

    • WMC says:

      Oh, and could I have my pink and purple godizra?

      • AstroNerdBoy says:

        I presume you mean the icon. The way things are set up, I believe that if you aren’t registered at WordPress.com, it assigns a random icon to a user. I guess it keeps the same icon depending on the e-mail address/IP. So if you change e-mail addresses, the icon would be assigned anew, which might or might not be the one you see now.

    • WMC says:

      Looking at that, it appears a little peremptory. Sorry. I like my bright pink icon, but it’s not necessary for my sanity. I’m certainly changing my e address, but I can do without my beautiful, ferocious, glowing godizra.

      • WMC says:

        Is that pink and purple icon (Godizra) so hard-linked with my old email address, which you’re welcome to delete, that it can’t be switched to my new address? Are they randomly generated? Do their shape and colors have human genesis? Just curious.

      • AstroNerdBoy says:

        Heh! Anyway, I do recommend registering with WordPress.com to always have the same icon. ^_^

        • WMC says:

          Tried WordPress, but they either want me to search a random dictionary of images or supply an exact URL pointing to the image in question. Tried several texts relevant to your site with no results. Not even close to results. The usual waste of net time. My policy is half an hour maximum at new sites or I’m gone.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Well, it may be a bit geeky of me, but since I take Japanese lessons and know that the term “sensei” is used to address writers, teachers, and masters of things, I just go ahead and use it for Japanese writers. ^_^;

      I want to change my electronic mail address, unless of course that creates a huge mess for you. I’ll supply it below unless it won’t go

      There’s nothing that stops you from using whatever e-mail address you want.

      • WMC says:

        I meant no aspersions on your use of “-sensei”. I was just explaining my own reluctance derived from ignorance. I know you’re Japanese-capable, hence my questions about the language.

        • AstroNerdBoy says:

          I wasn’t offended or anything. I was just explaining my own reasons for using the term. ^_^

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