In what ways is Nausicaä intended as a warning, and what attitudes does it express towards humanity, nature and the future?
In the beautifully imagined world of Nausicaä, we discover what on the surface appears to be a fantastical journey of adventure as a young girl strives to save her people from various threats. However, when the film is analysed more closely, it becomes clear that the creators intended it as a warning about the relationship between humanity and nature, and the potential consequences of the abuse of said relationship.
The world the story plays out in is a post-apocalyptic future after the destruction of industrial civilization. The humans of the story struggle to cope with the deadly Toxic Jungle and the insects who protect it. After the humans anger the insects, Nausicaä “has to calm a herd of gigantic insects before
they inflict devastation on what is left of the world.” Napier (2006). Throughout the film there is a display of how humanity is working against the environment for the most part, with combat between insects and humans common and many kingdoms more concerned about power than their own people. Nausicaä stands in opposition to them in that she tries to live in harmony with the world around her. The only overt display of violence that she commits in the movie is in her “treatment of her fathers assassins” Cavallaro (2006), where she kills them in rage, after which she is horrified by the violence she was capable of, and is nonviolent for the rest of the film. by her very nature she wishes to help others, even the insects that have killed countless humans and threaten her own way of life. She exemplifies the best of humanity; the protector of the environment in the context of the film. in her, the films creators are showing what humanity could be at its best.
As a warning, this film is almost explicit in its meaning. With the constant wars and continuing environmental decay that we face in our own day and age, this story could easily be set in our own future. The destruction that we see in the film, and the struggle for survival that the humans have to go through every day, are a stark reminder of what would happen if the environment that we depend on for our own lives were to collapse so completely. The film holds a sign up to the viewers face and shouts “listen, this could be you!”, but the view of the future that it holds is not entirely bleak, as the possibility that humans could coexist peacefully with nature, working with it to live instead of abusing it without thought is present. When “Nausica realizes that the plants underground purify the air indicating that nature recovers itself even though humans pollute the soil and air” Akimoto (2014), she is able to cultivate a garden in which the plants from the forest can grow free of the toxins that mankind has infected the earth with, showing us that there is a way to move forward with the environment that wont lead to the destruction of either group. The way that she seeks knowledge that can help her people encourages us that we should in turn find solutions for our own problems so that we do not end up in the same place as those in the film.
This film is a contentious effort on the part of the creators to convey the dangers of ignoring the negative impact we are having on the world around us. It shows the future it will bring, filled with danger and desperation as we struggle to survive in the world of our own devising, but also provides us with hope, that we can be better and work with nature to survive on this planet we call home.
Akimoto, D. (2014). Learning peace and coexistence with nature through animation: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Ritsumeikan Journal of Asia Pacific Studies, Volume 33, 54-63.
Cavallaro, D. (2006). The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. London: McFarland & Company.
Napier, S. (2006). The Anime Director, the Fantasy Girl and the Very Real Tsunami. The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 10, Issue 11. Retrieved from https://apjjf.org/site/make_pdf/3713