Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind (Editor\'s Choice Edition) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Friday, July 16, 2004
Release Date: Sunday, February 01, 2004
Translated by:David Lewis and Toren Smith
What They Say
Academy Award winner Hayao Miyazaki has created an epic environmental cautionary tale! This masterpiece is now available in a new edition in its original Japanese format!
In a long-ago war, humankind set off a devastating ecological disaster. Thriving industrial societies disappeared. The earth is slowly submerging beneath the expanding Sea of Corruption, an enormous toxic forest that creates mutant insects and releases a miasma of poisonous spores into the air.
At the periphery of the sea, tiny kingdoms are scattered on tiny parcels of land. Here lies the Valley of the Wind, a kingdom of barely 500 citizens; a nation given fragile protection from the decaying sea's poisons by the ocean breezes; and home to Nausicaa.
Nausicaa, a young princess, has an empathic bond with the giant Ohmu insects and animals of every creed. She fights to create tolerance, understanding and patience among empires that are fighting over the world's remaining precious natural resources.
Taking a lot at another title that has recently received a well deserved face lift, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. This title goes into my must read list and with the new production the packaging is as good as the manga inside.
Viz uses the original cover art here framed below the title. The opposite cover has the same image shrunk and cropped up to the right of the blurb.
Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... the logo really works. While not has heavy a font as the original it retains the same feel (similar to a type writer using a Times Roman font).
Inside this version features a brief intro on the inside cover and a fold out color poster with a map of Torumeika on its opposite side. There is also a profile on Miyazaki along with a statement from the mangaka as well. Printed in brown tone this A4 sized graphic novel is presented just like the original format.
While Miyazaki's character designs do not appeal I respect the their simple beauty. Like a master mangaka his main character is as simple as can be. Nausicaa's designs are cute and not nearly as mature as her mind. Knowing that we will see her often there really is no need to give her much detail while the rest of the cast have more distinguishing features: mustaches, beards, scars, intricate costumes and accessories. As familiar as Miyazaki's art looks (he designed the characters for most of Ghilbi works) this manga is really entire his personal masterpiece. Ink shading, detailed backgrounds, subtle layout and wonderful expressions make this look like an extremely detailed storyboard but with the dialogue sharing as much as the visuals. After reading this manga the contrast in regards to art is so obvious - there is art in every panel, characters, backgrounds, and layout always there with detail.
Presented in its original right to left this new printing is now in A4 size (Japanese manga magazine standard). SFX have been translated in a glossary at the back of the book. Viz's glossaries feature the literal kana translation as well as an appropriate translation into English. Nice. Because of the art of this series I really appreciate Viz doing this for this series.
As expected this translation from Toren Smith and David Lewis is wonderful. Full of detail and expression everything sounds just right. This translation does not use honorifics but the substitutes used work very well with the context of this story.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The advancements of science and technology may have made life easier for most of mankind. How it effects the rest of the beings on this planet and how will all of those achievements withstand the test of time is still in question. In Nausicaa we get one of Miyazaki's interpretations of what our world could be.
A thousand years after the start of the industrial age came the end of this era of electronics, biotechnology and excess. Those very things that had changed this society so drastically had come back violently filling the skies with smoke and poison. What was left was a wasteland. The technology that was so convenient and potentially harmful was left behind. Now most life forms are struggling in a world full of poisonous plant life and giant mutant insects.
Life for most of the humans left is harsh. The air is so polluted with poisonous spores breathing without an air mask can be life threatening. Most plant life must be tended to with the utmost care as spores and fungus can easily take hold and ravage a forest or field. The seas are full of pollution and almost everywhere you go there are these bugs. Large, powerful, numerous bugs. These insects in some way have turned the tide and are now doing the squishing of humans.
Nausicaa is the young princess of the Valley of the Wind. Her courage, skill and empathy are all well developed to lead her people but we do not get introduced to her as a princess in this story. When we first meet Nausicaa she is searching through the rotwood forest climbing over dead forest full of poisonous spores and the skeletons of once powerful beings. Despite the danger she seems to be quite comfortable in her gloomy surroundings. Like an adventurer she finds her treasure, escapes without incident and soon turns her attention to the danger at hand. With her quick reflexes and just as fast mind she was quickly able to rescue a legend and communicate with the giant insects that were hunting him down. This is just one of her abilities - she can empathize with the feelings of others, man, beast or plant.
To the people of the Valley of the Wind Nausicaa is their daughter or sister. Their love for her is like that of their own family. With a population of 500 people, everyone in the Valley of the Wind is like family but Nausicaa brings them hope and strength. As she is also their princess that strength reassures them when in danger and gives them hope when she leaves them for battle. But the time has come that she must leave them to protect the Valley. They can only wish her well but that is exactly what Nausicaa wants from them.
What awaits Nausicaa is still not clear. One could assume that rebellion has brought allies to war against each other but there seems to be something more to it. For the time being forces are gathering in the skies above the forest known as the Sea of Corruption heading to what is currently an undisclosed location. Unfortunately (or quite possibly luckily), Nausicaa was separated from the rest of her allies. An ambush shot down a good number of the airborne fleet she was in and now she is stranded with a stranger, who had shot down her companions in the skies, trying to get back to safety. What will this collaboration bring in the future, who knows but Nausea has touched this young man and he has decided to repay her by helping with her quest.
With Nausicaa Miyazaki takes readers to a world of despair that has been punished for all it has done up to that point. Developed communities like the ones most of us live in today are gone. This world is a wasteland where nature, as damaged and mutated as it is, is now in complete command of life on this planet. With the expansion of this forest of mold and rot the existing life is consumed and this growth leaves something new and pure behind well hidden from the eyes of man.
What Miyazaki wants to say with this world I am not sure, but as a reader I can only see frustration in present day life. Humanity has grown and prospered often at the expense of the world we live in. We manipulate life; we pollute and consume; and we go about all of this often without much consideration for others around us (animal, vegetable or mineral). Where will we be heading? What will all of this science leave us in the future? Nausicaa presents a world that has come to pay for what humanity has done to it in such a short time. This is only one future, of course, but it is one that has despair as well as hope. Nausicaa, as a character, is Miyazaki's hope. A character that understands the meaning of cause and effect. Someone who can empathize too much and is capable of being controlled and humane at one moment and wild and full of vengeance in another.
For those who can read buy this now! For those who cannot there please contact your local library for local programs that can help you read this. But you might not be able to read this right now so...
Now some people might brush this title off calling it too preachy. They may not want to receive lessons with their manga. That is fine and good, but what they are missing is what is possibly Miyazaki's true masterpiece. Being someone who felt that way a few years ago, I have to admit that I was honestly missing on a great work all that time. As I noted before, this series is practically a detailed Ghibli storyboard. Great art, complex story, good cast and wonderful direction. There are few titles that I fully endorse for all audiences but this is one of them. It may not be my favorite title but I cannot deny the level of work put into a project like this and just how well this story is presented.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: All
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left