[special memorial issue] THE FINALE OF NAUSICAA;
NAUSICAA of the Valley of Wind
The Purifying Darkness
of MIYAZAKI's World
The Place Where "NAUSICAA" Has Arrived.
A Heroine for Our Times
The manga series "Nausicaa" has ended. It ran over a period of 13 years, with several interruptions, any of which might have become permanent. During its run, the era changed from the 80's to the 90's. Miyazaki the man changed, as did the era that had surrounded both him and his manga. The wind of a great change swept through "Nausicaa".
The story of "Nausicaa" was the story of Nausicaa's journey. Questioning the relationship between man and nature, wondering if man were worthy of existing on the planet, and if so, how, alternating between hope and despair, sometimes affected by the tumultuous changes in the real world, sometimes reflecting the artist's feelings, sometimes leading them, the story progressed.
The total reorganization of the Dorok religion, and the change of Torumekia into a country without a king, were surely reflections of the artist's feelings about the era. This is what is meant by calling Nausicaa a heroine for our times.
Although we can't fully understand the end of Nausicaa until we see the final, retouched version, let's look back at the story up to now.
Towards the End, a 180 Degree Turn
The force that propelled "Nausicaa" may have been the artist's feelings about the state of the world or of mankind, or it might have been his own anger and irritation, but there could not have been a preconceived plan for the overall end of the story. It might be more correct to call Miyazaki a passer-down of legends, rather than just an artist. As Miyazaki explored his various creations, such as the Ohmu, the Sea of Corruption and the God Soldiers, as he racked his brain over the future of the people of Dorok and Torumekia, as he followed Nausicaa's unfortunate destiny, the story underwent a startling transformation.
The Daikaisho, the expression of the land's anger at the foolishness of humans, who continued to pollute nature and to wage war after war, was not really an act of retribution against an arrogant mankind. It was, rather, nature's attempt to heal its wounds.
In the beginning of the story, it seemed clear that the Sea of Corruption was nature's long-term, grand plan to purify the corruption caused by mankind (and in the animated version, this was the focus of the story). In fact, however, it was a man-made creation, part of a plan created by humans in the days before the "7 Days of Fire", to use poisonous matter to gently destroy the corrupted plants and animals, and build a new world.
Furthermore, the masters of the Sea of Corruption, the mighty Ohmu, who appeared as protectors of the land, were shown to be artificial beings created through the use of biotechnology.
Even more of a shock was the discovery that Nausicaa and the people of her world had been adapted by the people of the old world to be able to live in their polluted world. They would be unable to survive in a world cleansed by the Sea of Corruption.
The anime version and the manga (until the middle)seemed to share a common ray of hope-that if humans could alter their foolish behaviour, then a purified Earth would be waiting for them in some far-off future. Then the manga took a 180 degree turn. The meaning of the figure in blue, to whom Nausicaa had been compared, also changed. She could not lead people, unable to survive in purity, to a purified land. The legend of the figure in blue could only be handed down as that of a goddess of death, who leads people to the afterworld. (Although in the manga, the figure in blue was remembered as the one who had led the ancestors of the Forest People to the bottom of the Sea of Corruption during a previous Daikaisho.)
I don't know if the discussion of life that took place between Nausicaa and the master of the Shuwa cemetery at the end of the book was right or wrong. I don't even know if right and wrong exist. I cannot tell if Nausicaa's actions, judged from a broader perspective, were correct or not.
But Nausicaa said 'No!' to the heedless use, to the subjugation and sacrifice without consuming, of all of the living beings in her world at that time-not in some far distant future. In order to put a stop to the recurring history of the immeasurably arrogant humans, Nausicaa was forced to destroy both the eggs and the graveyard of the new race which was meant to purify and rule the world. She was fully prepared to perpetuate the lie that the land of hope for which people were waiting existed, when in fact it was a place they could never reach.
A far-off future. Will a world returned to purity someday take mankind back into its embrace? That we don't know.
At any rate, mankind yet lives. Because the Daikaisho has caused the Sea of Corruption to spread explosively, mankind has been driven into smaller and smaller enclaves. But even this may not cause humans to cease their foolish practices, large and small. And yet, Chikuku, Charuka, Kushana and the others who followed on the path where Nausicaa led, strive for the friendship and empathy shown by the Ohmu. Even threatened by miasma and insects, defying petrification, they strive to live as the people of the Valley of Wind did-at one with the Sea of Corruption. I wonder if the way to the land of purity doesn't lie in the hearts of people...
The Decision to Shoulder
Both Corruption and Chaos
The movie 'Nausicaa' became a social phenomenon, but the focus was solely on the ecological side. The meanings of the Ohmu, the Sea of Corruption, and the legend of the figure in blue all took a 180 degree turn at the end of the story. Whether bitter reflections connect these two facts, I don't know, but when Nausicaa says, "With the world divided solely into purity and corruption, how can you see anything?!", her words must be a reflection of Miyazaki's heart.
The final denouement in the manga must be an expression of Miyazaki's own decision. In this era in which Miyazaki lives, an era with no promised land in sight, an era with no steady state of mind, he decides to face the chaos and corruption squarely. We are responsible for the way we are educated. It's not Nausicaa's responsibility-we must shoulder it ourselves. This approach resembles the way of life that Porco, the hero of "The Crimson Pig" chose.
Looking at the world of "Nausicaa", here and there we become aware of seeds of hope that have been sown. The much-despised worm handlers were awakened to their responsibilities to protect Nausicaa. The soul of Milularpa, the younger brother of the Holy Emperor of Dorok, was purified and released by his destruction, and he attained Nirvana. Kushana, who seemed to be headed for a path covered in blood, chose to follow in Nausicaa's footsteps, after Nausicaa discovered her essence to be that of a great, wounded bird. Even the evil emperor, Vu, who caused the war, awoke to the truth and died in Nausicaa's place. Nausicaa's mentor, Yupa, tried to stop the military collision between the people of Dorok and the Torumekian army, at the risk of his own life. In exchange for his survival, he passed on the teachings of the wise men. The God Soldiers, last creations of the world which they then destroyed, accepted the new mission with which Nausicaa charged them, and were reborn as her innocent children.
Finally, as if to compensate for our sins in bringing nuclear weapons to the world, the tiny body of Teto, killed by the light of the God Soldiers' poison (radioactivity?) was returned to the earth, where it became one with the land, the trees and the grass. As if he could feel the wind and the birds amidst the endless war and chaos, the violence and stupidity, he continued his life's work. This was another seed of hope sown. Even as Kai died protecting Nausicaa in the midst of war, another toriuma's egg was laid. In the far-off Valley of Wind, a child who could use the wind, who had the ability to see and understand it, was born to follow Nausicaa.
Like the first work that Miyazaki directed, ("Future Boy Conan") this is a story of upheaval and self-renewal. The land in "Nausicaa" was not the only thing to be purified.
The Future of MIYAZAKI'S Work,
with Light and Dark Unified
Unlike movies, which must take into account such factors as target audience, entertainment value and most of all, profit, one is responsible only to one's self when drawing a manga. Miyazaki has continued to draw "Nausicaa", including horrible, hellish scenes that shock those people who have seen only his 'image brand' movies, such as "Totoro". He never rejected humanity, and worked to overcome the dark side of things. He continued this for 13 years, and I for one am amazed and grateful that he did.
The 5 anime titles that Miyazaki directed during "Nausicaa"-if the manga "Nausicaa" had not existed, even Miyazaki himself would have to admit that the anime works would have taken a much different course. Although it began life as a classic adventure tale, "Laputa" became too entwined with weighty matters in the real world, and suffered for it. But it could have been worse, and his other titles could also have been affected, except that: the awareness of many of these weighty problems found expression in "Nausicaa". Now, although probably not intentionally, "Nausicaa" and Miyazaki's anime works seem to have found a kind of balance. Looking at it this way, it might be said that "Nausicaa"acted as a safety valve. However, with the end of "Nausicaa", that era is also finished. Light and dark are unified, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see major changes in future projects. Maybe one of the most affected will be "Zasso Notes"...? ["Zasso Notes": Short, personal manga, run in 'Model Graphic' magazine]
At any rate, I'd like to thank Miyazaki from the bottom of my heart, for continuing this serious drama for 13 years, bringing it to a conclusion. I would not have been surprised had it never been finished. And finally, as a fan, I want to mercilessly express my great expectations for his next work.
By the way, though I haven't mentioned it before, here, I would like to say something about the recurring needs and conflicts concerning motherhood in "Nausicaa". The only major example was the temporary mother granted the Ohma. In the next movie, "Mononoke Hime", it would make me very happy if, in the end, Miyazaki casually inserted a scene showing Mitsuhime standing next to Mononoke, gently cradling a baby in her arms....