Harbouring soft spots for cute critters seems like the most natural thing in the world, and sometimes it seems like the internet runs solely on pictures of fuzzy kittens and roly-poly pandas. But it takes a different form of consideration, a different way of seeing, to extend that admiration towards the greater living community, towards the diminutive, the grotesque, and the overlooked. Over the course of my life, I’ve been privileged to meet some of those people or be touched by their work. A professor passionate about even the lowliest of parasites. A eagle-eyed guide wanting to learn the English and Latin names of all that he sees. A colleague that extends empathy towards everything from monkeys to office mice. A canonized essayist who saw beauty in one synonymous with ugliness. It was in fiction that I first became sensitized to this ecocentric worldview. Seeing Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind at the age of five, I found a heroine who loved life in all its manifestations, from puny fox-squirrels to hulking …
I had wanted to write a piece on Hayao Miyazaki last year after the release of his semi-autobiographical film The Wind Rises, but I was preoccupied at the time and it slipped my mind. When I finally got around to it, the moment had passed. So much had already been written about the announcement of his retirement from films. I recalled feeling sad with a tinge of soft shock, similar to the many fans around the world who knew the day was inevitable but also believed that it would never come. My feelings were complex at the time, and I thought it best to let the matter rest, trusting things would come around when I would be better able to articulate the influence he has had on my life. Recently, I stumbled across an article in The Japan Times that sparked my interest in revisiting Miyazaki’s work. In the aptly named piece titled “A Deeper Look at Miyazaki’s Nature“, freelance writer Ian Martin provides a brief but rich synopsis on Princess Mononoke, 15 years since its …
100,000 views. For some it may not seem like much, but for an essayist writing on about what is still a niche subject, it seems like cause for celebration. Thank you for making it possible. A writer writing in solitude, while a fulfilling exercise, is ultimately an incomplete act – it is the reader that lifts words from the screen and reconstructs new possible meanings from them. So for those who have stayed to glean a quote, skim a passage, take in a page, a piece, or a series – My sincere and heartfelt gratitude. I hope that you come away as inspired by these tales as I did. In light of this milestone and with the debut of Ekostories’ revamped look (Cocoa’s fantastic typography is what persuaded me to switch over), I thought it would be good to do a retrospective on some of the stories featured over the past two and a half years. This following piece serves both as an introduction for new visitors and to longtime readers interested in revisiting older pieces. Enjoy!
“Windrider is a project that I began in 1989 when music began to form in my mind while reading Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind for the very first time. Back then my musical equipment encompassed a couple of synths, a sound module and a MIDI digital sequencer. I was sometimes surprised when I would simply put my hands onto the keyboard and melodies would erupt from my hand movements. I did not really understand what was happening but it soon became evident that the music suited certain scenes and moods within the Nausicaa manga.” – Karl Schaal, The Windrider Project
Welcome to the conclusion of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Exiting the hidden garden, Nausicaä realizes that Ohma has gone on by itself to Shuwa. A group of wormhandlers track her down and swears fealty to their new guardian deity. Surrounded by loyal subjects willing to do her bidding, Nausicaä realizes that she is no different than the first Dorok emperor, who centuries before went off to Shuwa to “save humanity.”
Welcome to the last two entries of The Nausicaä Project. All the major themes discussed in past entries return in force in the complex, unexpected, and stunning conclusion at the end of this seventh and final volume: Purity and corruption, nature and humanity, revenge and redemption, meaning and nihilism, life and death. You know, all the light and fluffy stuff. Whew. Let’s get started.
The story resumes in Tolas, the Torumekian capital. Kushana’s father, the Vai Emperor, sits listening to the daily report of failing crops, dying children, and decaying infrastructure. He knows that his kingdom is dying, much like most of the human world. He meets with his two remaining sons returning from the war front and is furious at the enormous casualties incurred during the campaign. Desiring now more than ever to secure the secrets residing in the Crypt of Shuwa, he relegates the two princes to the borderlands and heads off to mount a direct assault on the Dorok capital.