Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind

I don’t remember when I watched the movie “Nausiccaa of the Velley of Wind” for the first time. I must have been in elementary school, maybe in 4th or 5th grade. I watched it on TV, on video, and also on a big screen when my junior high school nausicaa_of_the_valley_of_the_windhad a showing in a brand-new concert hall they’d just built. At that time, the movie was still somewhat difficult for me to understand, but I watched it many times over the course of many years. Every time I watched it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The creator of this movie Hayao Miyazaki made many movies after this one, some of them became famous in the U.S. Recently, a friend of mine talked about his favorite Miyazaki movie “Spirited Away”. He had never seen “Nausicca of the Valley of Wind” so I recommended it, saying that this is my all time favorite. After watching Nausicca, he asked me why I like this one so much(as he preferred “Spirited Away”), and suggested that I write about it.

I initially didn’t think there was much to say about this movie except that there are so many cool parts in this movie, the story is very unique, it was so different from any other movies I had seen. But I kept on thinking about this movie for the past 2 weeks, wondering why it still has so much appeal to me after so many years. I came to the realization that the biggest appeal for me is the character of Nausicca, and this is my attempt to explain what I love about her.

In one word, Nausicca is a great role model to me. She is a princess of a small nation (Valley of the wind), but she isn’t a type who waits for her prince on a white horse to show up. She is a different kind of princess; she doesn’t wait for someone to rescue her. After her father had been murdered, she had to be the one to rescue her people. She became a leader to her people. In contrast to another female character (also a princess), Kushana, who uses fear to get her people to obey her, Nausicca is loved by her people. She has a calm manner that disarms people (and insects!). She makes decisions quickly and firmly. She is smart, courageous, playful, hard-working, and a people- (and insects-) person. She is attractive as a person and people love and follow her. She has all of those qualities that make her a great leader.

However, her biggest appeal to me is that she has an amazing heart. She has an intense curiosity and determination to solve the mystery of the Fukai, a thick jungle whose spores are poisonous to humans (this movie is also about co-existence of human race and nature). Moreover, besides having a brilliant mind, there is also her love for all the living things and for humanity. I don’t want to spoil anything for people who will watch this movie for the first time after reading this, but what she did towards the end is nothing but an act of love, the highest kind – selfless, unconditional love. Throughout the movie, she has always chosen the path to protect life, even though it meant having to lose a battle by choosing not to fight. But when she made the decision to do what she did towards the end of the movie, her heart was filled with love and compassion. There was no alternative in her mind.  I do not believe there was any calculation on her part about preserving her own life. It is relatively easy for me to imagine that I would do a similar thing for my kids, but I am not sure if I could do the same thing for others, let alone to strangers. That is why she has been and continues to be my hero and a role model. My business is about bringing more love to the world, starting with strengthening and renewing family relationships. I guess you could say that looking at your childhood hero could give you a clue about who you want to be and what you want to do when you grow up.

4 comments on “Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind

  1. Great post again Etsuko, as usual. 🙂

    I watched the Nausicaä movie June 2nd, 2009. I’m glad I’ve seen it and plan to watch more of Hayao Miyazaki’s films.
    I’d recommend purchasing the DVD and gifting it to children since I think it’ll impact their views of an ideal role model, just as it’s impacted Etsuko from seeing it at such a young age.

    One extra aspect I liked about Spirited Away, for myself, is that it chronicled the transition of a girl from being very timid, afraid, and dependent on her parents, to a girl that showed leadership, fast decision making, belief in a positive outcome and the willingness to face insurmountable challenges. Essentially, Chihiro became Nausicaä.
    Otherwise, both are very excellent animation films. Especially Nausicaä having been made over 25 years ago now.

    Here are my notes on Spirited Away:

  2. My favorite childhood heroes were Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. I remember being facinated that, although seemed to be impossible to ever be able to communicate with the outside world, through perseverance of her teacher, and Helen’s own willpower, she overcame the obstacles of blindness and deafness. What she accomplished in her lifetime is truly amazing, but also made possible through the devotion of her teacher, Anne. Impressive!

  3. For me my heroes came from a mixture of different animations.

    Robotech- Max Sterling, Rick Hunter
    Transformers- Optimus Prime
    HeMan and the Masters of the Universe- He Man
    Gi Joe- can’t pinpoint just one char.
    Star Trek- All the Captains starting with J. T. Kirk
    Star Wars- Yoda

    I feel they all imparted something special in shaping me and my thoughts and who I have become and where my dreams tend to guide me.

    P.S. Anyone else here planning to go to Comicon09 this year?

  4. Love and sacrifice. Death and rebirth. All this makes me think of the Nausicaa manga. Nausicaa’s heart is like the heart of the ohmu. As big as the earth, rushing forward to embrace their death, and unhesitatingly giving up their bodies to become food for the next stage of life. Life is not possible without love. Love is unconditional sacrifice. Every living thing understands this instinctively. So it’s no wonder that friends, enemies, and wild creatures all adore Nausicaa.

    Also, your comment about Nausicaa giving her life without calculation made me think: Calculation is typical of a mind which is afraid to embrace death and sacrifice; a calculating mind is practically equal to the mortal state of being, since anyone conscious of mortality will fear death. Nausicaa did not calculate this way, and this is what I think brought her across into the state of immortality. Not Nausicaa’s life, but life itself is what Nausicaa embodies. Always dying, always immortal. Ikiru. So Miyazaki, so Japanese. There’s no mistaking this film’s continued influence and popularity.