“But this is a period in which everyone wants to read about ‘heroes’ who are consummately normal people. If they’re not, the readers don’t believe in them. I don’t like this. That’s how things are these days, but frankly speaking, I dislike it. Making heroes who are just like you or everyone else around you. I wanted to create a character who was not like that.” – Hayao Miyazaki, Interview I remember laughing aloud while reading this particular tidbit; the blunt candor of a master not afraid to speak his mind is always refreshing. Have we really grown to appreciate average joes over saints? I can see how ordinary characters can be more relatable and how great heroes and heroines can be reduced to bland and remote archetypes. But I see that as an issue of characterization, not of character. Most of my favourite protagonists start and finish their journeys as extraordinary people, yet they are no less flawed, complex, or fascinating than any “consummate normal”. In this entry, I’d like to take a look at …
Part of The Greatest Ekostory Ever Told: The Nausicaä Project A wounded Miralupa is transported back to the Dorok capital of Shuwa, where a team of surgeons works to repair his decrepit and deteriorating body. Recuperating inside an immersion tank, he warns his older brother Namulith of the threat the blue-clad one poses to their Empire. Namulith dismisses his concerns and seizes on Miralupa’s moment of weakness, pouring poison into the tank. After a century of playing second fiddle to Miralupa with his psychic abilities, Namulith finally has the chance to emerge from the shadows. He checks on the God Warrior brought from Pejitei before mustering a force of heedras, immortal cactus-like behemoths that helped his father conquer the Dorok Lands, to head off to the front lines. ~
Overjoyed, the Dorok soldiers outside Sapata throw down their weapons to reunite with freed family members. For a brief moment, there is relief and joy. But there remains a war to be fought. The Dorok commander Charuka suspects the release of the prisoners as part of a Torumekian plot, but the Sapatan elder informs him that it was the blue clad one who commanded the release. Desiring to learn more about Nausicaä, Charuka listens to the story of a woman with two infants. The woman explains that she was approached to care for them; having lost her own children in the war, she agreed. Before leaving Sapata, Nausicaä offers her a pair of earrings in gratitude.
I remember reading through the third volume of Nausicaä for the first time and thinking to myself: This is starting to get good. Freed from the constraints of the film format, Miyazaki plunges deep into the chaos of the Dorok/Torumekian War, considerably upping the scale, stakes, and tension of the story before capping it off with a masterfully crafted battle. The two main female characters seize control of their destinies: Kushana emerges from the background to exert her considerable presence, while Nausicaä is forced to pit her ideals against real world situations. Let’s get started. ~
A friend recently introduced me to Brené Brown’s TEDx talk on vulnerability. If you haven’t seen it, check it out – there’s a reason why it went viral. Brown is an excellent speaker, or as she likes to call herself, a researcher/storyteller. There are great nuggets scattered throughout the talk: A story is just data with a soul, that numbing ourselves from the bad also numbs us from the good, that we constantly fear we are not worthy of love, belonging, and connection. What makes her talk especially powerful is that Brown doesn’t simply lecture. She reaches deep inside herself to share something shameful, uncomfortable, and genuine with a group of strangers. She demonstrates being vulnerable. Brown argues that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Anyone can boast about exploits and accomplishments, but to share one’s shortcomings honestly for the purposes of self-improvement demands true courage. As I wrote in the piece Tao Today: A Sage’s Take on Modern Society, being vulnerable is essential for cultivating empathy in others. Only when we acknowledge …
Hitching a ride on low air currents, Nausicaä and Asbel escape the Sea of Corruption, only to find themselves captured by a Dorok ship of the Mani Tribe. Telepathically determining that they are not Torumekians, the head priest allows them to stay aboard as guests. Ketcha, an aid to the elder, reveals that this is a refugee ship: The Torumekians have ransacked their tribe’s homeland. ~
The story begins with Nausicaä, princess of the Valley of the Wind. A pilot, scientist, and explorer that can communicate telepathically with other living creatures, Nausicaä finds serenity and beauty within the Sea of Corruption. Humans cannot venture into this vast fungal forest without masks due to a deadly miasma produced by the resident flora. During an excursion, Nausicaä encounters her mentor Yupa returning home from distant lands. He offers her a small creature that he saved from hungry insects of the forest, a fox-squirrel Nausicaä names Teto.