Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cautionary Tale?

Last week, I finished reading the last (7th) volume of the manga: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. It is an amazingly beautiful story penned & illustrated by Hayao Miyazaki. It took more than a decade to come to its ‘conclusion’ and I’m pleased that, like Nobuhiro Watsuki of Rurouni Kenshin, HM also decided to end it while it was still going strong and no one would have been surprised if it had continued unlike Bleach!

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic ‘polluted’ world where a war is imminent (again!) between two powerful empires, which is supposed to be pre-destined. It is expected to annihilate all humans and most of the other life-forms to give way to a ‘purified’ world! It is also prophesized that “a blue-clad one walking across a golden field” would emerge as the savior. As is expected, the title character – Nausicaä – is the blue-clad one but what is unexpected is that the prophesy ‘comes true’ twice – first at the beginning and second at the end of the story! Brilliant coincidences…

The story more or less follows (Princess) Nausicaä as she leaves her small (autonomous) village at the periphery of one of the powerful empires to help avoid the apocalypse, which is going to happen (and does happen) due to the other empire’s ‘actions’. Her quest has allies in all forms imaginable: enormous insects (Ohmus), forest people, dead people / spirits, even enemies including Princess / Princes of her own empire, priests of the ‘rival’ empire, people belonging to different tribes / races, God Warrior... Intriguing, isn’t it? So you might be wondering who is her enemy and I’ll quote Nausicaä on this one: “If you divide the whole world into just enemies and friends, you’ll end up destroying everything!” (This reminded me of Princess Mononoke.)

So, that is the gist of the story but what is the title character like? Here is the answer by the creator HiMself:

I created Nausicaä as a certain kind of girl, and I had her react to various situations as that kind of girl would, but she didn't act on her own. There was one thing that did change, however. I had intended, at the start, to draw her as a more physical person. I thought I'd draw her forcefully, with large breasts. But then, if a nude scene came up, I wouldn't have been able to draw it without apologizing. That was the one thing I was sure of. Really. Not because I would be ashamed, or anything like that, but because I'd feel like drawing things that can't be published. [laughs] So I didn't want to draw her like that. That's the only thing that I can say, without a doubt, that I felt. So that was a change. Of course, if I'd started drawing her like that, I would have had no trouble with it-I don't think that I'm the kind of person who embarrasses easily at things like that. In any case, having now reached this point, I can see that there was no need to have drawn her that way. I think that the only thing that changed there at the end was my desire to depict a more spiritual story.

This answer was given by HiM in 1995 after the manga had ended in 1994 and a nude scene does appear in the last volume, which seemed a little forced but not at all fanservice-y. I guess HM’s take on bath scene here is more or less like Totan Kobako’s (author of Sketchbook), who ‘refuses’ fanservice in “Sketchbook Picture Drama” even in a fanservice setting!

Anyway, head over to bn.com and buy all the 7 volumes of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind or at least buy the movie’s DVD, which covers roughly the first two manga volumes or do yourself a favour by buying all of them! You’ll be proud for all eternity that you did. In the meantime, get to know Hayao Miyazaki’s opinions on other aspects of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in this rather

Long Interview