Week 8, Anime – Question Six

6. In what ways is Nausicaä intended as a warning, and what attitudes does it express towards humanity, nature and the future?

At first glance Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind can be seen as just a Japanese animated sci-fi adventure film, but, there are important messages conveyed in the narrative. While anime as a genre can be perceived as something for children, Nausicaa, in particular, contains important messages and warnings concerning multiple topics such as humanity, nature and the future.

According to Cavallaro (2006) Miyazaki, “…has brought to life intricate fantasy realm, building each from scratch… Within these domains, Eastern and Western traditions, ancient mythologies and contemporary cultures, the magical visions of children and the pragmatic outlooks of adults intriguingly coalesce” (pg 5). Ironically, during a large portion of the film, it is the adults and people in power who, as a result of their ‘realistic and pragmatic’ beliefs and actions, that there is a disassociation from one another. That disassociation can be said to have created tension between the Pejite and Tolmekia, rather than working together they lower themselves to harming one another. Their relationship can be seen as a warning to audiences, essentially when dissociation occurs, humanity lessens. Humanity can roughly be defined as a collective unity and harmony with each other. In the film, Nausicaa is the only one who shows any sympathy and humanity towards others. For example, after the murder of her father, she’s been advocating for peace and called for the violence to stop because she understood the pain of losing someone, and so she didn’t want other people to go through the same torment of losing a loved one. Audiences can see Nausicaa’s humanity again when she tries to rescue and pacify the baby Ohmu. Needless to say, Nausicaa’s actions were important and impactful.

Like many other kinds of anime films, there is usually a focus on nature and the environment. Similarly, films directed by Miyazaki commonly contain themes such as “… the fate of the ecosystem…”, and this is also evident in Nausicaa (Cavallaro, 2006, pg 7). In Nausicaa, the character of Nausicaa herself is a powerful embodiment of how the relationship humans have with nature should be like. For example, countries such as Pejite and Tolmekia express negative attitudes towards nature, both countries although enemies with each other, were willing to sacrifice the ecosystem and burn everything to the ground to spite the other. That negative representation serves as a warning to the audience, that to truly cultivate a successful society, there must be harmony with humans and nature. Additionally, Pejite and Tolmekia’s negative attitudes towards the environment can be compared to Nausicaa’s positive relationship with nature. Instead of trying to destroy something she didn’t understand, it was revealed that she was trying to learn more about the environment, by collecting samples and taking them back to her hidden room. While she is portrayed as strong and wilful, she is also portrayed as understanding and compassionate to the ecosystem. In simple terms, “Nausicaa is the cartoon princess for anyone who likes nature” (Moss, 2014). Thus, this portrayal can be seen as an example that education of the environment can be very beneficial to society.

As mentioned previously, Nausicaa is a sci-fi film and thus, is set in the future. The story takes place one thousand years after an event destroyed most of the planet’s natural and original ecosystem and is now a place where humans live in settlements isolated from each other with mutant plants and animals. In fact, according to Napier (2005), Nausicaa isn’t just a film about the dystopian future, it is an apocalyptic film which expresses a society which has a lot of apprehension about the future (pg 29). This apprehension is evident throughout the film, all the societies introduced in the film showed some kind of concern towards the future. For example, both Pejite and Tolmekia express negative attitudes towards their futures. They are both facing issues with the environment. As a result of their fear (relating to the Ohmu and toxic plants) they are concerned about the survival of their people and this fear adds to the conflict. Nausicaa and her people on the other hand, while they also worry about their future, their worry is not as prominent as what Pejite and Tolmekia express. They express more of a hopeful and positive attitude towards their future, most that that hope results in their trust in their leader – Nausicaa, who also has a positive outlook on their future. This links to Nausicaa’s relationship with animals and the environment and shows that the future depends on how to treat your surroundings.

To conclude, though an old anime film, Nausicaa teaches the audience the importance of compassion and the importance of taking care of the environment.

Cavallaro, D. (2006). The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. London: McFarland & Company.

Moss, E-L. (2014, June 11). Why I’d like to be… Nausicaa in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. The Guardian. Retrieved from
https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2014/jul/11/princess-nausicaa-of-the-valley-of-the-wind-role-model

Napier, S. J, (2005). Anime: from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle. Hampshire: Palgrave/ Macmillan.

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