A unique work from a unique artist
Vol. 1 cover
Even while pursued by angry giant insects, Nausicaš will always try to find a way out that does not involve violence.
Nausicaš of the Valley of Wind is pretty much the only comic book [Miyazaki?] ever produced. This manga is Miyazaki’s life work. He wrote monthly installments (with some breaks to make his movies) for 13 years! It was originally made in order to pave the way for the animated movie (or “anime”) version of the story that was at the origin of this project.
An exceptional tale for an exceptional hero
Thousands of years from now, a small, peaceful, kingdom ekes out a living on the fringe of "the Sea of Corruption", a sprawling poisonous forest. Nausicaš, their beloved princess, is a free spirit and has a deep love of all living things. As she gets forcibly involved in the gathering war bethween neighboring empires, she is intent on finding the secret of the Sea of Corruption and the giant insects that protect it. However, the price of the knowledge she seeks may well be the very innocence that made its discovery possible.
Vol. 6 cover
Even though she tried desperately to avoid fighting, Nausicaš finds herself ineluctably drawn into battle.
During her travels she meets leaders and simple folks from all sides of this complex conflict. Against all odds, she manages to charm (or scare) them all with her guileless compassion and mysterious powers of empathy. She even become "mother" to a hundred foot giant biomechanical humanoid robot, one of the very same that was responsible for the legendary "Seven days of fire" that sealed the end of industrial civilisation. As she seeks a way to destroy the monster, she must risk radiation poisoning in order to teach him right from wrong and guide him away from his apocalyptic destiny.
Every time I read through this massive four-part graphic novel epic, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the emotional intensity of the story. As hard as I try, I am moved to tears again and again whenever I read particularly astonishing feats of kindness and sacrifice in the midst of this bleak tale. This may sound corny or sappy, and it may have been true if I was talking about some other work. But Nausicaš of the Valley of Winds is an unusually sincere and penetrating work that is rarely seen in comic book format. This is the vision of a man that will not let his love for life mask his profound awareness of the path of doom humanity has chosen to thread.
Purity and Corruption
Vol. 3 cover
Princess Kushana is another strong and complex female character. She manages to be both an enemy and an ally of Nausicaš.
Nausicaš of the Valley of Wind is a vast epic set in an incredibly desperate and violent time where principles of ecology and compassion are displayed realistically against a seemingly uncaring world.
All of the characters we meet are complex and, as in most Miyazaki stories, even the most despicable, hateful and violent people reveal hidden depths when the right circumstances appear. The opposite is also true as the weight of the world slowly crushes Nausicaš’s spirit and blood accumulates on her once virgin hands.
One of the major themes of the book eventually reveals itself by the revelation that purity and corruption should not be seen as opposites. The quest for absolute purity will inevitably lead to death unless some kind of balance can be found. Purity, in nature, can be equated as sterility just as excessive corruption equates poison and death. Life is not such a simple matter that ideology, whatever the kind, can encompass its means and purposes.