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 don’t usually like New Year’s resolutions, but I couldn’t help but be inspired by the list over at Philosophy for Change (a blog everyone should check out). Number two on that list most resonated with me, because it speaks of a theme I’ve found myself returning to again and again on Ekostories. It’s a subject I’ve been grappling with over the past year: The power of love to affect change.
“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.
“This girl had the unprecedented power to reach the shore of that abyss. Now she stands alone on that beach that has been deserted by the Ohmu. Whether she returns or not is up to her.” (Selm, Hardcover Edition, Vol. 2, p. 32) Welcome to part six of the Nausicaä saga. I had originally intended to make it a seven-part series, but as I reread the last two volumes, there is simply too much material to condense down. As a result, I’m going to expand out the project into a ten-parter. For newcomers who wish to follow along from the beginning, you can catch up here with The Nausicaä Project. With that out of the way, let’s resume the adventure!