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.

Week 8 Anime

 

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In what ways is Nausicaa intended as a warning and what attitude does it express towards humanity, nature and the future?

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a 1984 Japanese animated film covering various genres of sci-fi, fantasy, and adventure, it was adapted and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film was inspired by the tragedy of Minamata Bay back in the 1950s and 60s, where there was a severe mercury poisoning to people, dogs, cats, pigs and fishes. This was because the Chisso Corporation’s factory chemical “methylmercury” were continuously being dumped in to Minamata Bay (Tor.Com., 2017). This is reflected in the film, as there was a war “Seven Days of Fire” that destroyed civilization and created the vast Toxic Jungle. Throughout the film, Nausicaa shows compassion towards the insects and creates a bond with the giant Ohms. She is seen in the beginning of the film exploring the toxic jungle and comes across an exoskeleton of a deceased giant Ohm, where she then removed one of its’ dried empty eyes to show to her people. The people’s reaction shows fear but also a sense of courage as they choose to explore this creature’s shell for raw materials that could help with the village’s needs.

Unknown-2.jpegNausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is easily taken as a film which is warning audiences of the danger of climate change. The war was only caused by humans which destroyed the world, the toxins in the jungle are caused by the pollution in the soil. The people of the Valley of the Wind are able to survive living next to the toxic jungle because of the winds which prevents the toxic air from spreading to the village. As the film progresses, we later learn that the insects were protecting the toxic jungle from humans to preserve the jungle beneath it which is free of toxins. This is to show that the insects uphold the humanity that is missing within the kingdoms presented in the film. The people of the Valley of the Wind seems to be the only kingdom who lives peaceful lives because they choose to understand and empathize the jungle and its’ habitants (Reeves, 2016).

Within the film, the Tolmekians invade Nausicaa’s kingdom and kills the King, in result Nausicaa in rage and pain attacks and kills the Tolmekian soldiers and is then stopped by the swords master Lord Yupa, and expresses that violence will not stop violence. This is later shown towards the end of the film where Nausicaa, instead of choosing to fight or use the God Warrior to stop the Ohm stampede, she sacrifices herself to save her village and the people (Reeves, 2016). I believe this can be done in reality where instead of going to extreme measures of living a decent life we must help save and preserve nature through our actions, and these actions can be living a ‘green’ healthy life.

Reference:

Reeves, D. (2016, January 28). Re: A Rough Analysis of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://medium.com/applaudience/a-rough-analysis-of-nausicaä-of-the-valley-of-the-wind-816048ea376c

Tor.Com. (2017, March 29). Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: A New kind of Action Hero. Retrieved from https://www.tor.com/2017/03/29/nausicaa-of-the-valley-of-the-wind-a-new-kind-of-action-hero/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: The Intrinsic Value of Nature.

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

 

8.jpgNausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is an acclamation of curiosity, and a warning against impulsivity. While one might read it as a simple story of human vs. nature, on closer inspection it is deeper; Nausicaä’s message is that humans who respect nature and seek to understand it will prosper over those who only see nature as capital to be exploited. Hayao Miyazaki is well known as an environmentalist (Anderson, 2005), and while his stories have many themes and merits to be explored, the theme of environmentalism is continued not just by his later works but also by other animated films and series inspired by this very idea: that nature has intrinsic value (Bauer, 2018).

 

A warning against the exploitation of nature.

1_wrdzyZry-R3A1lJZ4Gt46wNausicaä is clearly a tale of caution. Miyazaki felt that there was an environmental crisis on its way, even in 1984, and he weaves his stories around this (Chan, 2015). Nausicaä is set in the future, in a poison forest that plagues most of the earth, caused by a legendary event called the Seven Days of Fire. The clear allusion here is that mankind is the culprit, perhaps through nuclear war or simply global warming, and the majority of humankind has been wiped out. It’s not really necessary to go into detail about the history, thematically, because that isn’t the point of the text. To quote Jeff Goldblum: “life uhh… finds a way” (1993). The movie is saying that the world will continue, whether or not humans are a part of the ecosystem or not; if it is more beneficial to nature to poison all humans, then nature will do as such. Even the blind rage that the Ohm fly into when provoked is representative of the wrath of nature. In later works, Miyazaki uses characters such as spirits to represent the intentions of the natural world, like the boar in Princess Mononoke (1997), but the Ohm in Nausicaä have much the same effect.

 

A celebration of curiosity and science.

3943_4Princess Nausicaä is a kind-hearted young woman and strong leader, yes, but first and foremost, she is a curious scientist. Our introduction to her is in the poison forest, collecting specimens and remarking on the beauty around her. She is wide eyed and introspective, open to the possibilities of the environment. One particularly notable moment is when she uses her gunpowder and trigger in an unusual way – not to shoot something, but to help her study it. She uses the tools of nature, but only if they don’t harm the living beings. She takes the time to appreciate nature for its intrinsic value, and doesn’t get angry at animals for being afraid of her at first, like the little fox-squirrel. She uses technology such as her glider and her laboratory to help her understand and work with the world around her. This is presented in stark contrast to the Tolmekians, who use technology to push back against forces they don’t understand, threatening destruction because of their ignorance.

Nature as valuable in and of itself.

e8632bbbbdb48075367ff0c80b884ffaMiyazaki’s films often point out the intrinsic value of nature over it’s monetary or capital value. Princess Mononoke and My Neighbour Totoro (1988) depict elements of nature as forest spirits or soot spirits, who have no desire to harm or destroy, as long as they don’t feel threatened, they leave the humans be. There are strong themes on interconnectivity, or kami, the interconnectedness of the world as understood in Shintoism (Anderson, 2005). All spirits depend on each other, as an ecosystem, and those systems need to be held in balance with each other. In Nausicaä it is revealed that there is a wealth of clean air beneath the poison forest, and that nature is, in fact, the best one at solving the problem of pollution, if only humans would stop and pay attention.

 

Miyazaki’s Legacy

I want to take a moment to point out that Miyazaki has clearly had a long lasting impression on western filmmakers. So many other stories spring to mind on watching Nausicaä, all clearly influenced by the values that Miyazaki purports (Smith, 2015). Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008) is all about restoring the natural balance of MV5BNzNiNTliMjItMmY0ZS00YTMzLTllYTQtMzE2ZDM1YTgwZjlmL2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTEwMTkwOTI@._V1_the forces of nature, Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest (1992), a labor of love by Jim Cox, is all about the destructive force of pollution and the intrinsic value of the forest. Even Pocahontas (1995) has similar intentions in its text, though it arguably doesn’t fully achieve a sense of genuineness. The point I want to make, however, is that there is something powerful in Miyazaki’s message. It clearly has lasting value.

 

 

Nausicaä as a warning is a fairly optimistic one, in a way (apart from the implication that most of us are going to die in a nuclear holocaust). The optimism is in the titular character, and the curiosity and gentleness of the human spirit. Miyazaki does not necessarily believe that humans are all heading toward oblivion, but he does believe that a value system which favours nature for its own sake over its capital potential will inevitably serve humanity much better.

 

 

References:

Anderson, M. (2005) Miyazaki, Shintoism & Ecology. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from http://environment-ecology.com/religion-and-ecology/511-miyazaki-shintoism-a-ecology-.html

Bauer, J. (June, 2018) The Philosophy of Miyazaki – Wisecrack Edition. Retrieved September 23, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es8iacHu1PA

Chan, M. (August, 2015) Environmentalism in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke. Retrieved September 23, 2019 fromhttps://www.researchgate.net/publication/309902044_Environmentalism_in_Nausicaa_of_the_Valley_of_the_Wind_and_Princess_Mononoke’

Smith, J. (June, 2015) HAYAO MIYAZAKI’S INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD OF AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER AND LEGEND OF KORRA. Retrieved September 23, 2019 from http://girlsincapes.com/2015/06/19/miyazaki-influence-on-avatar/