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Worlds Without End Blog

SF Manga 101: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Posted at 8:25 AM by Glenn Hough


Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on SF Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of science fiction within it.

To a certain section of the population the name Hayao Miyazaki should be familiar.  If you’ve ever paid any attention to the Oscars, especially in the animated feature category, the 2002 win by Spirited Away should leap to mind.  Miyazaki was the director.

It is not a overstatement to say that Hayao Miyazaki is one of the gods of animation in Japan.  He should be mentioned in the same sentence with early Disney and Chuck Jones.  His movie My Neighbor Totoro has been compared to a perfect summers day; were both the movie and the day are equally, delightfully, plotless.  It’s said of Spirited Away that it’s a reflection of the Japanese soul, which includes bathhouses, spirits, and the ever recurrent need of youth to find and embrace their courage in the world.

What does this have to do with SF Manga?  It’s simple.  In Miyazaki’s early days, he was the mangaka who slowly wrote and drew, taking 12! years, the manga that’s in second place on my list: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

Yes, the name of the title character comes directly from Homer’s Odyssey.  Homer’s Nausicaä is a young princess.  Miyazaki’s Nausicaä is a young princess.  And that is where their similarities end.

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