Part One: FanFiction
Based on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Branches snap and leaves rustle as a shadow frantically stumbles through a thick maze of dark green and grey hues. The figure abruptly comes to a halt behind the trunk of a large tree. A Shohki mask is revealed. The wearer tries to calm their breathing. A faint buzzing sound can be heard in the distance.
Two more shadows bound through the immense forest in unison. They descend upon the Shohki mask wearer. They tower over him and reveal an adolescent boy with familiar brown eyes.
“You won’t be young and fit forever,” says one of the figures in an authoritative tone.
“You need to think further ahead,” the other adds.
The buzzing sound is dramatically increasing. All three of them turn their heads towards the sound. They look back at each other.
The first shadow addresses the boy once more, “Remember, staying alive is the most important thing.”
Both shadow figures leap backwards and blend into the backdrop of the forest. The boy lets out a sigh before following suit.
The three of them reconvene on the desert dunes just outside the edge of the forest. They are greeted by a duo of hitched up horseclaws. The boy is hunched over panting as he unclips his mask.
Both figures remove their masks as well. Behind one mask is a friendly looking man sporting a bushy grey moustache. Behind the other is a woman with a very warm and pearly smile. They look over at the exhausted boy and exchange a laugh with each other.
“Come on now, no time to rest. We need to put more distance between us and the toxic jungle before nightfall” says the man from behind his large moustache.
The trio pack items into the horseclaw saddles before mounting them and departing. The boy rides in tandem with the woman, while the man’s horseclaw is stockpiled with more supplies and resources. They are heading towards a set of vast mountains just ahead in the distance.
Time passes by as they journey up the mountain trail and the sun begins to set.
Later on that night, the troupe have set up camp at cave entrance some distance up the mountain. There is a small campfire burning with all three members gathered around. The man is sharpening a sword, while the other two gaze up into the starry night sky. The woman turns to speak to the boy.
“You know we still have faith in Dorok,” confided the woman.
“What do you mean?” the boy asks curiously.
“Well we all grew up there, even you did for a little while,” explains the woman.
“So why did we leave then?” the boys questions.
“To find more answers,” responds the woman.
“Answers to what exactly?” ponders the boy.
“Life,” answers the woman.
“Life?” the boys replies, puzzled by her answer.
“Yeah, life… because we all want to live right?”
“Yes,” agreed the boy.
“In peace and harmony, and without war?” the woman continued.
“Sure,” nodded the boy.
“So, if we all want the same thing, why are we still fighting each other?” asked the woman.
The man strikes his sword loudly as he sharpens it, interrupting the conversation. The two look over at the man.
“Staying alive is the most important thing. As long as we are alive, we have all the answers we need,” he interjects.
The woman sighs but smiles at the man before turning to the boy.
She leaned in closer and whispered, “That’s why we teach you these things. So, one day you can live long enough to see a better world than this one.”
“Time to get some rest. We leave at daybreak,” ordered the man.
The woman put the fire out and the troupe retreat inside the cave entrance to sleep for the night.
A sudden screech from one of the horseclaws wakes the boy. The muffled sound of a struggle can be heard just outside the cave entrance.
“SWORD!” bellows the man.
The boy looks around confused. The woman grabs the man’s sword and tosses it to him as he breaks free from a tussle. He partly unsheathes his sword. A bunch of worms scatter away as the masked man draws his sword completely. He’s a worm-handler.
“Just give us whatever you have in the horseclaw packs,” demands the worm-handler. “No one needs to get hurt”.
The man’s eyes stay fixated on the worm-handler poised to strike despite his sword only being half drawn.
“It’s not worth it, just let him have it,” advises the woman.
The man glances at the woman briefly. Then, with one swift movement he disarms the worm-handler and knocks him to the ground. The man stands over the worm-handler with his foot pressed on his chest and sword against his throat. Everyone is silent.
The woman drops the horseclaw pack on the ground, narrowly missing the worm-handler’s head. The worm-handler squirms. The man grins.
“You’re right, Leo, it’s time to get going,” the man calmly remarks towards the woman.
The man sheathes his sword and helps the worm-handler to his feet. He gathers the horseclaw pack from the ground and as he shoves it into the worm-handler’s arms he recognises a marking on the worm-handler’s worm canister. He inspects it further. It was just as he had suspected.
“Hey, you tell Zirene; Lupen sends his regards,” declares the man as he stares directly into the worm-handler’s mask.
The worm-handler nods and scurries away with the pack. The boy is still sitting there stunned by the whole interaction. Leo looks over to the boy.
“Come on, Yupa, dear. Quickly pack up your things. It’s time to go,” says Leo with warm affection.
Yupa nods and gathers his things. The trio set off again on horseclaw, scaling up the mountain as daylight begins to break.
As they rode off towards the sun Yupa whispers to Leo, “why did you just hand over our stuff?”
“Because we’re all just trying to survive out here. They must have needed it more than us right now,” Leo replies diplomatically. “There was probably more of them just around the corner,” she says as she peered over her shoulder, smiling at Yupa, “Don’t worry, we’ll get it back when we need it.”
Yupa sat there pondering about the whole situation. He was beginning to understand what Lupen means when he says staying alive in the most important thing. The troupe continue up the mountain and disappeared beyond a ridge.
Part Two: Commentary
My piece of fanfiction is an extension of the narrative and fictional universe of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984). It is the first chapter, set some thirty years before the events of the anime film and mostly follows the journey of a young Yupa and his life prior to becoming a renowned swordsman. Beyond the first chapter as the main story progresses it diversifies into other characters’ stories from other cities like Dorok and fringe groups like the worm-handlers. They all contribute to understanding the rich context of the world prior to the events of the anime.
I chose to apply the “Collective Journey Structure” by Gomez (2017) to my fanfiction as I felt it was a better way of exploring some of the themes of the anime as it has “less to do with right and wrong, or good and evil, and more to do with infinite diversity and infinite combinations.” (Gomez, 2017). There is also more creative freedom to use the various elements at different times as opposed to the traditional mythic structure. I will reference a few of the elements I used in my fanfiction below.
One of the elements of the collective journey I incorporated was the ENDLESS UNIVERSE. This characteristic involves the idea that there is a greater story narrative currently in motion, than just what is currently presented in the plot. My fanfiction chapter is really just about survival. Whether it be from the toxic forest or from rogue scavengers like the worm-handlers, staying alive is central to this part of the story. However, the larger narrative alluded to by the character of Leo is trying to find “peace and harmony” for all. Which, Lupen pragmatically thinks is less important than staying alive. The ENDLESS UNIVERSE concept also refers to the greater theme of nature versus mankind, which is central to the Nausicaa anime and underpins my entire fanfiction.
This leads into my next aspect of PATHS WILL CROSS. This element is the idea that in large collective journey narratives, characters will cross paths and intersect at various stages. Although it doesn’t explicitly happen in the first chapter, it sets the scene for these to occur in the future. We see this when Lupen tells the worm-handler to send his regards to a character by the name of “Zirene” implying Lupen has a history with worm-handlers and will cross paths with them again. In this passage, there is also another aspect in play, SIGNS AND IMAGES. Here iconography and symbols help a story’s progression. When Lupen notices the familiar marking on the worm-handler’s canisters, he is further encouraged to release the worm-handler unscathed.
The altercation with the worm-handler is also an example of MULTIPLE SOLUTIONS. This is where there are multiple ways to resolve conflict. At the chapter’s end, Yuba thinks he is beginning to understand what Lupen means when he says staying alive is the most important thing. During the worm-handler altercation it appears that Lupen may justly execute the worm-handler as a means of securing their livelihood and keeping them alive. However, with influence from Leo, Lupen decides to leave the worm-handler alive and even send him off with the goods he was trying to steal. Although, the worm-handler is in the wrong, he still ends up getting what he wants, which confuses Yuba. Leo explains there could have been more of them and that they’ll get the things back when they need them. Yuba then begins to understand that although their actions didn’t make sense to him at first, it was really still done for their own survival.
Gomez, J. (2017). The hero’s journey is no longer serving us [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBBm0we4sAU&list=LL7iRRnJ6uCdXi5MnORJYobA&index=7&t=0s
Miyazaki, H. (Director). (1984). Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind [Motion picture]. Japan: Topcraft.